Where to Eat in 2020

From James Beard nods to listings on Bon Appétit’s Hot 10, the food scene in Raleigh is racking up the accolades. By popular demand, we brought back our top story from last January: asking local chefs and bartenders (aka, the people who know their stuff) where we should eat and drink as we head into the new decade. These literal tastemakers passed along their list of the best restaurants in Raleigh and the Triangle, including a mix of upscale favorites, old-school stalwarts and hidden gems—and even shared what they make at home. Here’s where they told us to eat in 2020.
By Catherine Currin

Angela Salamanca

La jefa, Centro Mexican Restaurant and Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria

Go-to dive: Tacos Estilo Hidalgo #2 y Pupuseria in Cary, always order their pupusas de chicharrón!

Old-School Raleigh: Oakwood Cafe—comfort food all the way.

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill 

Restaurant for a Celebration: Stanbury—fried oysters, steak and potatoes.

Hidden Gem: The Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson. Love their burnt ends!!

Madison Tessener

Chef de Cuisine, Jolie

Old-School Raleigh: The Roast Grill. Ask for ketchup on your hotdog, I dare you.

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill 

Hidden Gem: Taza Grill

Restaurant Outside of Raleigh: Mateo in Durham

Cook at Home: Cakes, or anything with sugar for my nieces.


Van Alston, Slim’s Downtown Distillery, Cheerwine Shot

Eric Montagne

Executive Chef, Locals Oyster Bar

Old-School Raleigh: Slim’s. You have to get a mind eraser. 

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill 

Restaurant for a Celebration: Stanbury. Bone Marrow with Montenegro.

Hidden Gem: Don Betos Tacos

Chef to Watch: Angela Salamanca and Marshall Davis

Cook at Home: Mole braised chicken thighs and good white rice.


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The Locavore Salad at the Fiction Kitchen in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2019.


Jake Wolf

chef-owner, Capital Club 16

Go-to Dive: Slim’s, order the Coors Banquet.

Old-School Raleigh: The Player’s Retreat. App sampler.

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Snoopy’s

Restaurant for a Celebration: Fiction Kitchen—order anything

Hidden Gem: Not totally hidden anymore but… Pho Far East.

Restaurant Outside of Raleigh: Crook’s Corner

Cook at Home: Matzo ball soup with my son



Anthony Guerra

Dad, Oakwood Pizza Box

Go-to Dive: The Goat. Not the  mystery beer, ever. 

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill 

Restaurant for a Celebration: Lantern, the pork and chive dumplings 

Hidden Gem: Caffe Driade

Chef to Watch: Sam Ratto. What a gem. 

Cook at Home: Pancakes with Vivian Guerra

Drew Maykuth

chef-owner, Stanbury

Go-to Dive: Frank’s Pizza

Old-School Raleigh: 42nd Street Oyster Bar. I normally keep it pretty simple, but I’m definitely starting off with at least a dozen oysters. 

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill

Hidden Gem: El Rey del Taco. Hands-down best tacos in the area.

Cook at Home: I like a good ribeye, but what I get most excited about is spatchcocking a good chicken, roasting it on top of fingerlings in a cast iron, with butter and thyme.

Thirsty? Check out bartender recommendations for Where to Drink in 2020.

Mac and cheese at Poole’s Diner in Raleigh. / Juli Leonard

Sunny Gerhart

chef-owner, St. Roch Fine Oysters & Bar

Go-to Dive: MoJoe’s. Those wings tho. 

Old-School Raleigh: Clyde Cooper’s BBQ. BBQ Sandwich

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill 

Restaurant for a Celebration: Poole’s. Mac & Cheese, duh.

Hidden Gem: Carroll’s Kitchen

Restaurant Outside of Raleigh: Lucky’s Deli

Chef to Watch: Matt Kelly & Ashley Christensen—OG’s still killin’ it!


Latke Benedict at Littler in Durham. / Juli Leonard

Adam Cunningham and Marc Russell

Co-Owners, Longleaf Swine BBQ

Go-to Dive: Slim’s—Coors and shot of Evan Williams

Old-School Raleigh: Player’s Retreat—order the Pete Burger and onion rings.

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill

Restaurant for a Celebration: Stanbury—everything

Hidden Gem: El Toro Taqueria

Restaurant Outside of Raleigh: Littler in Durham

Pine State Coffee / Taylor McDonald

Mike Freeman

Kitchen Manager, State of Beer

Go-to Dive: Ruckus—one slice of pepperoni and a PBR. 

Old-School Raleigh: Big Ed’s—Fried Cajun Chicken with Eggs

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s: Char-Grill 

Restaurant for a celebration: MoJoe’s—Double Patty burger with chili and cheese

Hidden Gem: Pine State Coffee

Restaurant Outside of Raleigh: Kokyu Na’Mean in Durham

Still hungry? Find even more chef recommendations in our Where to Eat in 2019 guide.