Restaurant of the Year: Crawford and Son

618 North Person Street, Raleigh,

Chef Scott Crawford has built his career on innovative dishes imbued with equal parts technique, flavor, and presentation. At his namesake restaurant, his deft touch with vegetables is on display in the menu’s “raw” section—a winter salad of cured yellow beets with a creamy horseradish sauce has been known to convert the beet-averse, and a fall salad with shaved apples and turnips delivers the kind of can’t-put-the-fork-down reaction you’d typically associate with anything other than turnips. You’ll also find an expertly executed beef tartare, often plated with an oversize pork rind. The restaurant’s buzzy vibe and spare yet warm décor—a polished quartz bar, exposed brick walls, and honey-hued wooden chairs—makes it feel both like a dining destination and a neighborhood gem. No matter the occasion, the service is always seamless, attentive, and warm. Bookend your meal with pastry chef Krystle Swenson’s warm malted wheat rolls with hickory butter and one of her clever, beautifully plated desserts, particularly those showcasing seasonal fruit or anything that riffs on ice cream sundaes. 

Best New Restaurant in Wake County: Papa Shogun

111 Seaboard Avenue, #118, Raleigh,

For his first solo venture, chef Tom Cuomo explores the intersection of Italian and Japanese cuisines with a menu of whimsical small plates, such as beets Siciliana with shiso salsa or yaki onigiri, fried rice patties oozing mozzarella and roasted red peppers. Fresh-pulled mozzarella with kombu garlic bread and udon vongole are excellent choices for sharing, but you’ll want to slurp every drop of the smoked tonkotsu broth in the standout carbonara ramen yourself.

10 Other Places You Have to Go

Bida Manda Laotian Restaurant and Bar

222 South Blount Street, Raleigh,

Siblings Vanvisa and Vansana Nolintha opened Bida Manda, one of the few Laotian restaurants in the U.S., in 2012 as an ode to their parents’ cooking. (The name derives from a Sanskrit term for “father and mother.”) Rich with Thai and Vietnamese influences, and drawing on Laos’s French colonial history, Bida Manda features standouts like the crispy pork belly soup and pho Lao. 

Brewery Bhavana

South Blount Street, Raleigh,

Right next door to Bida Manda sits the Nolinthas’ other DTR hotspot, a gorgeous flower shop/bookstore/brewery/dim sum restaurant the siblings opened with brewer Patrick Woodson in 2017 that quickly became one of the most acclaimed eateries in the Southeast. Take a tour of smaller offerings like crab rangoon, Shanghai-style mooncakes, and pork bao, or gorge on the crab-fried rice, Peking duck, or steamed whole fish. The brewery part of the name doesn’t slouch, either; try the Sprout, a dubbel with fig.   

The Cortez Seafood + Cocktail 

413 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh,

At this Glenwood South gem from the Jose and Sons team, you’ll find North Carolina oysters on the half-shell paired with rose mignonette, beautiful ceviche, garlicky shell-on shrimp, and loads more sea-inspired fare. Wash it down with one of the creative cocktails and soak up the tropical-inspired vibes.

Death & Taxes

105 West Hargett Street, Raleigh,

Ashley Christensen’s fine-dining restaurant focuses on technique-driven food prepared using a wood-fired oven. The Southern-leaning menu showcases roasted oysters with chili butter, field peas with embered cream, and grilled dry-aged steaks and pork chops.

The Fiction Kitchen 

428 South Dawson Street, Raleigh,

Lots of locals grew up on meaty Southern staples before turning vegetarian later in life. For those who but can’t help miss the food of their youth, Fiction is both a blast from the past and a contemporary culinary adventure. Revisit Southern classics guilt-free with the delectable mock-chicken and waffle or the Eastern N..C.-style pulled “pork.” Or eschew faux-meats entirely and feast on pure veggie dishes with an Asian cast, including noodle bowls and curries. 


14 West Martin Street, Raleigh,

Owned and run by local musicians (including James Beard Award-nominated chef Cheetie Kumar), Garland is the best of two worlds—casual, creative vibe meets stylish fine-dining experience. The space is full of needlessly delightful touches (we love the use of pennies as bathroom-floor tile), and the same goes for the menu, which fuses Indian and Asian cuisine with a twist of the American South. One standout app is the chaat ($8), with potatoes, cucumbers, jicama, tamarind-mint chutney, and more. Entrées, which hover around $20, include lamb or vegetable curries and rice bowls with pork or tofu, though we usually fill up on the sharing plates. 


2519 Fairview Road, Raleigh,

Chef Sean Fowler offers a menu of approachable yet elevated Southern fare, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with bacon-mushroom foam, seasonal dishes starring produce from Fowler’s farm, or the off-menu wood-fired ribeye. Mandolin also has one of the best bar-dining deals in town: a craft beer and two plates for $15.

Poole’s Downtown Diner

426 South McDowell Street, Raleigh,

Poole’s is the crown jewel of Ashley Christensen’s Raleigh restaurant empire—and the place often credited with jump-starting DTR’s foodie revolution. You’ll always find the locally famous macaroni au gratin on the chalkboard, but there are plenty other stepped-up takes on comfort food on the seasonally inspired menu as well, from tomato pie to butternut squash bisque with triple crème brie croissant toast.


200 East Martin Street, Raleigh,

This French-American bistro in City Market is lauded for its renditions on classic French dishes—mussels, duck leg confit, frisée salad—but seek out chef Jeff Seizer’s genre-defining dishes such as garlic soup brûlée, the Royale burger (served with Gruyère on a locally baked English muffin), and fried brussels sprouts that would convert even the staunchest hater.


938 North Blount Street, Raleigh,

The Stanbury delivers on its promise of shareable seasonable small plates with a menu of creative dishes such as roasted marrow, crispy pig head, and fried North Carolina whole bass. The one dish you’ll want to keep to yourself is the ribeye burger, which sells out nightly.

2018 Best of the Triangle Readers’ Pick, Best New Restaurant in Wake County: Brewery Bhavana.

Finalists: The Cortez Seafood + Cocktail, St. Roch Fine Oysters, Pizzeria Faulisi.