Where to Eat in 2019

We surveyed 10 local tastemakers to put together a list of more than 30 spots for any kind of dining.
By Catherine Currin

Brewery Bhavana | Photo by Keith Isaacs

The Triangle’s food scene has been stepping up its game in the Southeast and beyond. In 2018, Raleigh chefs brought home three James Beard nominations, and USA Today praised the City of Oaks’ culinary community: “From cocktail bars to coffee shops to breweries, there’s a huge sense of people coming together in the city to make business successful.” We believe coming together is the key: Triangle foodies aren’t just in it for themselves, they support each other, too. That’s why when we asked local chefs, restaurateurs, and others to share their recommendations—from dives to fine dining—for where to eat other than their own spots, they were happy to oblige (even though the Char-Grill versus Snoopy’s debate rages on). Read on for your 2019 culinary bucket list.

A burger “all the way” from The Players Retreat | Photo by Juli Leonard

Beth Littlejohn is the executive chef of The Player’s Retreat on Oberlin Road, the old-school sports bar that’s been around for over 60 years.

Go-to dive: Taqueria El Toro
Old-school Raleigh: The PR!
Hidden gem: Soo Cafe
Chef to watch: Cheetie Kumar
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Char-Grill

Hot dogs, Schlitz, and Voodoo chips from The Cardinal | Photo by Keith Isaacs

Scott Crawford is the chef-owner of Crawford and Son and soon-to-open Jolie, both on Person Street.

Go-to dive: The Cardinal
Old-school Raleigh: Big Ed’s
Place to celebrate: Brewery Bhavana
Hidden gem: Mami Nora’s
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Char-Grill

Mateo Bar de Tapas in Durham | Photo by Juli Leonard

Cheetie Kumar is the chef and co-owner of Garland. She’s also a musician—Kumar and her husband Paul Siler own and operate Kings and Neptunes.

Old-school Raleigh: The Player’s Retreat
Place to celebrate: Mateo
Hidden gem: Abyssinia’s Ethiopian
Chef to watch: Sunny Gerhart
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Char-Grill

READ MORE: Greg Cox reviews Mateo for The News & Observer

Snoopy’s on Hillsborough Street | Photo by Geoff Wood

Maggie Kane is the founder of A Place at the Table, Raleigh’s pay-what-you-can cafe. She was recently featured on the Today Show.

Go-to dive: Mitch’s Tavern
Old-School Raleigh: The Player’s Retreat
Favorite Bar: Junction West
Place to celebrate: so•ca
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Snoopy’s

Bone marrow at Stanbury | Photo by Chris Fowler

Coleen Speaks is the chef-owner of Hummingbird, PoshNosh catering and Whitaker & Atlantic. Here are some of her favorites:

Old-School Raleigh: Cloos’ Coney Island
Favorite Bartender: Matt Holmes at Capital Club 16
Place to celebrate: Stanbury
Chef to watch: Krystle Swenson at Crawford and Son
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Char-Grill

READ MORE: Greg Cox reviews Crawford & Son for The News & Observer

Macarons at Lucettegrace | Photo by Keith Isaacs

Melanie Dunia is the executive chef of Empire Eats, and has appeared on the Food Network show Chopped.

Old-School Raleigh: The Mecca
Out-of-town pick: Zeera in Fuquay-Varina
Hidden gem: Lucettegrace
Chef to watch: Konget Elias at The Mecca
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Snoopy’s

Shaved kholrabi at Crawford and Son | Photo by Jessica Crawford

Steve Mangano is the founder/CEO of CUREat, an app to curate lists of your favorite restaurants and bars.

Old-School Raleigh: Roast Grill
Favorite bar: Foundation
Place to celebrate: Crawford and Son
ChefS to watch: Eric Montagne at Locals Oyster Bar and Jake Wood at 18 Seaboard
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Char-Grill

Char-Grill’s Hillsborough Street location | Photo by Geoff Wood

Oscar Diaz is the chef-owner of downtown’s Jose & Sons and Glenwood South’s Cortez.

Go-to dive: Landmark
Old-School Raleigh: Watkins Grill
Favorite Bar: C Grace
Hidden gem: Saigon Pho
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s? Char-Grill

Key Lime Pie from Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery | Photo by Geoff Wood

Sean Fowler is the chef-owner of Mandolin on Fairview Road, where he uses local ingredients and fresh produce from his farm in North Raleigh.

Go-to dive: Pho Far East
Old School Raleigh: Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery
Hidden gem: El Rey Del Taco
Out-of-town pick: The Durham
Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Snoopy’s

READ MORE: These are the 10 best new restaurants of 2018, and the best of everything else from The News & Observer