Ask Julia: Where Do You Like to Eat in Raleigh?

Most of the time when we go out to eat, I like to pick things that are not what we’d usually eat at home. I mean, a fancy steakhouse is great, don’t get me wrong. But Chris can make steak and potatoes at home, so we normally go for something a little outside of his normal wheelhouse. I love a good salad too, so any place that has a good grain-free, gluten-free salad has my attention.

People sometimes ask me for my favorite places to eat (especially if you have food restrictions). I love recommending my favorites to friends and family, so I thought I’d compile them in a list for you all. If you’re ever in Raleigh or the surrounding areas, I hope you’ll try one of these spots for your next meal!

Chris Loves Julia | Chris & Julia out to eat at Szechuan Mansion

Oro, Raleigh

This is a tapas place in downtown Raleigh that Chris and I went to recently, and I cannot wait to go back. We ordered six small plates and kept saying “Are you kidding me?” It was all so good we decided right then and there to come back and order the exact same things. The wok-fried Brussels sprouts. The confit fingerling potatoes. The jerk chicken. Don’t get me started about the scallops. It was such a fun night.

Seol Grille, Cary

This is an amazing Korean barbecue place, and our girls love the robot that takes you to your table. You can order a bunch of stuff, and you get to cook it on this grill in front of you. We love to bring people to it and Chris has dubbed it one of his top 3 favorites. Many of the meats are marinated in soy sauce (and contain gluten), but there are also a lot of great options there that aren’t!

a’Verde, Cary

Fun fact: This restaurant is helmed by Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe. It’s a fresh take on Mexican food with a bit of fusion flare. Their menu changes seasonally and, though it’s been sad to see some of our favorites go, they’re always replaced with new favorites! One thing that is a constant is we always get the chips and trio of salsas. The menu is marked for food restrictions, which I appreciate. I get their chopped salad a lot, and it’s gigantic.

Szechuan Mansion, Cary

Chris of Chris Loves Julia ladling broth out of a Szechuan hot pot.

This hot pot place was so good, we ate at it again shortly after our first visit. You order meat and vegetables and noodles of all kinds that you cook in a giant bowl of bone broth at the table. Plus, you can create your own dipping sauces, so you can avoid soy sauce or specific allergens like that. Their beef tallow broth is so delicious, but definitely spicy, so opt for the house bone broth if that’s not your thing. We’ll go here for dinner, walk out so full thinking we’ll never eat food again, and Chris wakes up the next morning craving it. Szechuan Mansion is a go-to place for us, and a great social dining experience.

Azitra, Raleigh

We love Indian food, so we found this place soon after we came to Raleigh. We liked it so much that we actually had our CLJ holiday party here two years ago. The great thing about Indian food is that it’s almost all gluten-free, and there are a lot of dairy-free options as well. I typically order something with lamb, which is just so tasty.

Second Empire, Raleigh

This one’s great for a fancy night out. It’s a converted 1800s historic home in Raleigh, and it just has so much charm. The scene is pressed white tablecloths and premium-level service. Great for a special occasion.

MC Modern Asian Cuisine, Cary

Chris and Julia dressed up for a dinner out

MC is just incredible. It’s in a little historic house in downtown Cary run by chef Michael Chuong. Chris and I went there last year and ordered seven things — we just shared a bunch of plates. Each bite was the best bite I’d ever had. I still think about the noodles in a fancy glass. Afterwards, it’s so fun to walk around Downtown Cary Park, which was just completely redone with beautifully landscaped paths and architectural elements.

Lucky 32, Cary

We go to Lucky 32 quite a bit. I like going there because they have something for our whole family. They even have a gourmet macaroni & cheese for the kids! My pet peeve is going to a restaurant and ordering mac & cheese for my kids and getting Kraft. It boils my blood. This is not that. I know I’m going to order a PB&J that’s great for them, and I can get the best roasted chicken or salmon I’ve ever had.

M Test Kitchen, Cary

This restaurant is at Fenton, a new premium open-air shopping destination in Cary. M Test Kitchen a newer concept from the brainchild of chef Michael Lee who has several highly renown restaurants in Durham. They have a sushi restaurant side, but we went to the test kitchen side. It’s Asian cuisine with a contemporary twist, and everything is smaller bites. We ordered a few things, which you may have gathered is one of our favorite ways to eat out.

Irregardless, Raleigh

I love Irregardless. I don’t think it’s just for people that are vegan or vegetarian, but they really do cater to that. I got a shepherd’s pie that was dairy-free and grain-free (which never happens). And Chris goes there and loves to try something different every time. It’s a great place — plus, I can order a dessert because they have options for food restrictions. Swoon.

Osha Thai Kitchen & Sushi, Holly Springs

Osha is so good!! I’ll tell you the exact thing that I get every time — I never want the meal to end. It is the pad woon sen: it has glass noodles, egg, cabbage, tomato, and I usually add chicken or shrimp to it. It has so much flavor. I usually get a 2 on the spice level, and it’s just the right amount of kick. Chris always gets the grilled pork sausage appetizer and shakes his head while mumbling “It’s so good” every time.

G.58 Cuisine, Morrisville

Another day, another Asian-food restaurant! I can’t help it — I just love all the different cuisines. G.58 is more of a high-end Chinese food restaurant. The Jiangnan Chinese Salad is a must for a starter. We are so obsessed with this salad. It’s all really finely shredded, and it is an explosion of flavor — it’s my favorite salad in the world. So much so that Chris duped this salad for Chris Cooks. For your main, if you haven’t done a Peking duck before, you should. (They call you a day in advance of your reservation to ask if you want it, because it’s that legit and takes a lot of prep). I’ve gotten their lamb, their pork rib — you really can’t go wrong with any of those.

St. Roch, Raleigh

I am not an oysters person, but they’re my sister Victoria’s favorite food. We went to St. Roch so she could get her fill, but they also have really good other menu options. After I ate there with her for her birthday, I told Chris we have to go back there to get the Beets & Squash salad I had. It was so good. Like the salad above, it had a charred citrus element that made it super interesting. They also have a really good BBQ cauliflower. Definitely worth going even if you aren’t an oyster lover.

Chris Loves Julia's Guide to Where to Eat in Raleigh with Food Restrictions

Hope this list of the best restaurants in Raleigh helps you find your new favorite spot to try something new!

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