Where to Eat & Drink in 2023

100+ recommendations for date nights, breakfast, coffee, craft cocktails, and everything in between — all from Triangle chefs and bartenders.
by Catherine Currin | photography by Bryan Regan

From James Beard nominees to dive bars and everything in between, Raleigh holds its own in the culinary world. “There are so many amazing chefs and creative hospitality people in this town!” says Liz Porcelli, co-owner of The Raleigh Wine Shop, which has been pairing wines for Raleigh customers since 2011.After a couple rocky years due to the pandemic, the food and beverage industry is ready for an upswing.

“Between restaurants trying to reopen post-pandemic and Raleigh growing in general, I’m excited for a rebirth for Raleigh’s food scene,” says Porcelli. Andrew Ullom, owner of Union Special, agrees: “2022 was still a rocky ride! I hope that we get to see some stability and feel-good stories coming down the pipe. We all deserve that.”

The best thing we can do to support the scene is get out and enjoy it. For our annual Where to Eat & Drink guide, we’ve asked 12 chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs where to go for coffee, lunch, date night and everything in between.

Because who knows better where to go for food and beverage than culinary folks? If you’ve been on a hiatus from dining out the past few years, this list is the perfect way to get back into the rotation. Read on for more than 100 recommendations in Raleigh and the Triangle for a great culinary experience.  

Jake Wood

Chef at Lawrence BBQ

This is where Wood goes for a….

Craft Beverage: Gallo Pelón. “I order the Smokestack Lightning.”
Casual Drink: Kotuku Surf Club
Where He Takes an Out-of-Towner: Big Ed’s

Click here for more of Jake Wood’s recommendations…

Diners at Big Ed’s in Raleigh

David Meeker

Co-Owner of Trophy Brewing

This is where Meeker goes for a…

Craft Beverage: The Longleaf Lounge 
Casual Drink: Person Street Bar
A New Spot He’s Excited About: East Bower Cider Company

Click here for more of Meeker’s recommendations…

A cocktail at Longleaf Lounge

Lauren Ivey

Executive Chef at Death & Taxes

This is where Ivey goes for a…

Craft Beverage: Weaver Street Market. Great for a cold kombucha, iced coffee or sparkling water to go.
Casual Meal: The Players Retreat
New Spot: Longleaf Swine BBQ

Click here for more of Ivey’s recommendations…

Players Retreat

Liz Porcelli

Co-Owner of Raleigh Wine Shop

This is where Porcelli goes for a…

Craft Beverage: Vault Craft Beer
Date Night: Death & Taxes
Coffee Spot: Layered Croissanterie, so I can get a croissant, too!

Click here for more of Porcelli’s recommendations…

Layered Croissanterie

Ricky Moore

Chef & Owner of Saltbox Seafood Joint

This is where Moore goes for a…

Craft Beverage: Alley Twenty Six, Durham. “I order a Dirty Martini.”
Casual Drink: Accordion Club, Durham 
Date Night: Lantern, Chapel Hill 

Click here for more of Moore’s recommendations…

Alley Twenty Six, Durham

Larz Robinson

Owner of Pine State Coffee

This is where Robinson goes for a…

Casual drink: Wolfe & Porter. “Always and forever!”
Date Night: Element Gastropub or Five Star Restaurant. “My wife is vegan and they have excellent options.”
Brunch: Benchwarmers Bagels

Click here for more of Robinson’s recommendations…

Benchwarmers Bagels

Andrew Ullom

Owner of Union Special

This is where Ullom goes for a…

Craft Beverage: Crawford & Son. “Ask for a mocktail, dealer’s choice.”
Casual Meal: The Roast Grill
Date Night: Seoul Garden 

Click here for more of Ullom’s recommendations…

Roast Grill

Josh Bellamy

Co-Owner of Boulted Bread

This is where Bellamy goes for a…
Craft Beverage: Stanbury. “Whatever wine Sydney Nazerian is stoked on. Or the Chocolate-Chai Hot Chocolate from Escazu.”
Casual drink: The Goat
Coffee: Jubala

Click here for more of Bellamy’s recommendations…

Preeti Waas

Owner of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium

This is where Waas goes for a…
Craft Beverage: A’Verde Cocina + Tequila Library, Cary
Date Night: Jolie
New Spot: Glasshouse Kitchen, RTP 
Take an Out-of-Towner: Vidrio. “We’ve had some outstanding meals.”

Click here for more of Waas’ recommendations…

Brian Jenzer

Executive Chef at Rosewater & Las Ramblas

This is where Jenzer goes for a…

Craft Beverage: Oak City Brewery. “It’s a great spot for a beer outside, especially with two kids.”
Casual Drink: Mordecai Beverage Company
New Spot: Krill, Durham

Click here for more of Jenzer’s recommendations…

Photo Credit: Forrest Mason, Krill

Jessie Rossabi

Bartender at The Willard Rooftop Lounge

This is where Rossabi goes for a…
Craft Beverage: Dram & Draught. “I love the Mezcal Old Fashioned.” 
International Cuisine: Five Star. “A Raleigh staple! The food is fantastic and authentic.” 
Weekday Lunch: Morgan Street Food Hall. “There are tons of options, all fantastic in their own right.”

Click here for more of Rossabi’s recommendations…

Five Star

Lindsay Rice

Owner, Vita Vite

This is where Rice goes for a…
Craft Beverage
: Standard Beer + Food
Casual drink: High Park
Take an out-of-towner: Cortez. “It’s a great place to show off the diversity of Raleigh’s food scene.”

Click here for more of Rice’s recommendations…

Photo credit: Cortez Seafood + Bar

This story originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of WALTER magazine.