Where to Find the Best Southern Cooking in Raleigh

Sure, you can find thousands of restaurants across the U.S. with biscuits and gravy on the menu, but when you order traditional Southern food in the South, it’s bound to be authentic.

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Sure, you can find thousands of restaurants across the U.S. with biscuits and gravy on the menu, but when you order traditional Southern food in the South, it’s bound to be authentic. As the capital of North Carolina, Raleigh is home to a wide range of restaurants, but sometimes it’s nice to just go for the basics. Hit up some of these local food joints for an authentic Southern meal you won’t forget.

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

Two pieces of crispy fried chicken sit atop a golden brown and round waffle served atop a grey countertop.

Taste real Southern cooking in the heart of downtown Raleigh at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. The chicken and waffles is a classic customer favorite, but other comfort foods like creamed collards, mac and cheese, and biscuits make you feel right at home, too. The restaurant is small, so seating is at a premium during peak hours. For the best chance for quick service, try and visit after lunch hours and before the dinner rush.

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque

Fully cooked barbecue ribs sit on a dark wooden slab with a glass sauce dish of BBQ sauce paired along-side at a barbeque restaurant in Raleigh, NC.

If you’re going to be in North Carolina, at least one barbecue stop is a must. Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque fits the bill, and it’s been serving up classic Carolina-style meat like brisket, pulled pork, and chicken since 1938. When you visit, you’ll see that not much has changed over the years. This cash-only restaurant is only open for lunch, but it’s worth moving your schedule around for a chance to taste some of this Raleigh goodness. While the barbecue is delicious, so are the sides — customers rave about the hush puppies and collard greens.

Mandolin

Southern cuisine is casual, yes, but Mandolin makes it feel upscale without going too fancy. It offers its own modern, creative twist on traditional Southern favorites. While you’ll find chicken and waffles on the menu, it looks a little different than the usual. Mandolin uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, so the chicken in this recipe comes from a nearby farm and is served on buckwheat waffles with sautéed mushrooms, a bacon-mushroom emulsion, and truffle honey. If you’re looking for outdoor seating, enjoy your meal on the restaurant’s patio.

Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant

Get your fill of classic Southern cooking in a rustic setting at Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant. This restaurant is a favorite for folks looking for a hearty breakfast, so chances are good you might see a line out the door in the morning. Don’t let this deter you — the line moves quickly, and the food is well worth it. Try the grits with redeye gravy, fried Cajun chicken breast, or fried fat back. Big Ed’s is only open for breakfast and lunch, so plan your visit at the start of your day to avoid missing out.

Jack’s Seafood and Soul Food Restaurant

The name says it all. At Jack’s Seafood & Soul Food restaurant, you’ll get the best of both worlds, with Southern favorites like barbecue and fried chicken alongside oysters and shrimp. This place is super casual, with counter service and Styrofoam boxes, so it’s a great pit stop when you’re running short on time or have the kids in tow and want to grab a quick meal.

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