5 Raleigh Restaurants to Excite Your Palate

When was the last time you had a meal that transported you to a different place? Luckily in Raleigh, you can find a number of restaurants with exotic and unexpected menu items to keep things interesting. These five Raleigh restaurants are sure to delight your senses and keep you talking (and salivating) for weeks to come.

Second Empire

Take a trip back in time and enjoy one of the best restaurant experiences that Raleigh has to offer. Second Empire is located in the restored Dodd-Hinsdale house that was originally built in 1879. You can enjoy the historical ambiance while sampling an exquisite menu and world-class wine selection. Start your dinner with the Pork Shoulder Spring Roll, which looks like anything but a spring roll but is exploding with taste. One of the most popular main courses is the Scallops with Pineapple Salsa, and if you’re not too stuffed, the Banana Coconut Mango Roulade is an excellent way to end the evening. Celebrating your anniversary? Second Empire offers a unique menu specifically for your special occasion.

Buku Global Street Food

If you savor the vibe of New York and the variety of delicious and ethnic food available in its streets, then you’ll love Buku. Be a tourist in your own town and head to the corner of Wilmington and Davie Street for a melting pot of global cuisine. You can choose from small and large plates inspired by the food served from street vendor pushcarts in cities all around the world. Travel the world sitting at your table and enjoy sushi, burgers, empanadas, and everything in between. If seafood is your jam, bet on the Baja Crab Flautas or the PIE Mussels. The restaurant’s atmosphere is cool and lively, with a great bar, decor, and ambiance that will give you plenty to discover and discuss as you dine.


When you visited your grandmother’s house as a kid, you always felt at home. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Sitti, a restaurant named for the most important, beloved figure in any Lebanese family. The restaurant is decorated with relics of Lebanese heritage, including photos of the owners’ grandmothers. Sitti is located in the heart of downtown Raleigh and has an open and airy interior and features authentic Lebanese cuisine made fresh in house daily. The secret to the pillowy pita ovals that come with olive oil as a complimentary welcome is a special domed oven. A great dish to start with is the vegetarian tasting platter featuring hummus, baba ghanouj, fattoush, and cheese rolls. For your main course, you can’t go wrong with either the Kafta Kebab or the Falafel with Vegetables. Wash it all down with a Geisha Girl cocktail or hand-crafted beer. On days when the weather is nice, enjoy your dinner in the outdoor courtyard.

Bida Manda

Bida Manda is another Raleigh restaurant inspired by the love of family and food. The name is the Sanskrit ceremonial term for father and mother, and the owners named the restaurant to honor their parents in Laos. Bida Manda is more than a restaurant; it is a thoughtful gathering place serving to bring people together with food.

The warm and welcoming atmosphere is accented by simple wood tables crafted from pieces of old barns and churches, walls decorated with wooden sticks from Western North Carolina, and an inviting bar. The Laotian cuisine on the menu combines Asian and French influences and features fresh, simple ingredients. Green Papaya Salad and Sticky Ribs are two of the restaurant’s specialties, but if you are feeling especially adventurous, try the Saffron Crepe with a yogurt liqueur cocktail. Make sure you make reservations – the restaurant is small and quite busy!


Give your usual dining experience a tune-up at Mandolin. The restaurant is small, intimate, warm and welcoming, featuring decor put in place by a local design firm that would be right at home in a modern farmhouse. Mandolin offers up everything good about Raleigh directly to your table. The seasonal menus feature fresh, farm-to-table ingredients and a modern twist on Southern food. The chef sources meats, seafood, produce, and specialty products from North Carolina farmers, ranchers, and artisans. Fork-tender ribeye for two paired with creamy grits is the perfect entree for a dinner date. Save a little room for the chocolate souffle and an after-dinner Horchata Fizz.

Once you’ve given your taste buds a sample of the best of Raleigh restaurants, be sure to stop by and say hello! We’re always more than happy to show you around. You can also schedule a tour online or give us a call at (844) 816-7095.

Hope to see you soon!