Wowser! The restaurant scene in the North Hills area of Raleigh, or Midtown as they also like to call it, elevated my perception of this trendy district just five miles north of downtown Raleigh.
Previously, North Hills as an area was quite meh to me and I love it when my misconception is corrected and I can embrace another reason to love living in Raleigh so much!
Thanks to eating our way through North Hills in research for creating our 48 hour guide to North Hills, we were able to explore this area and see just why people rave about it. With these eating options on hand, I can imagine why many don’t want to leave the Midtown border.
Foodies will be happy to know there is diversity for your tastebuds with the restaurants in North Hills representing cuisine from around the world.
From fine dining, to burger and sushi joints, authentic Italian, Asian, Mexican, and French, you can zip around the world in just a week in either flip flops or heels.
Let’s start with these six fabulous places to eat in North Hills for brunch, lunch or dinner.
Premium oysters, craft cocktails, and deviled eggs? Yes Please! STIR is one of the popular brunch spots in Raleigh and North Hills restaurants with outdoor seating who offer signature drinks and dishes with a Southern twist.
We loved its open-air concept and large outdoor patio. We visited for a Sunday family brunch and experienced a buzzing atmosphere with a diverse crowd. Service was also exceptional.
You’ll find brunch classics like bloody marys, mimosas, craft cocktails and their made from scratch food using the finest produce, meats, and seasonal ingredients (sourced locally whenever possible.)
I recommend experiencing one of their craft mimosas, as they blend their own syrups and bitters for unique flavors such as strawberry basil and honey peach. You’ll also find them in their craft cocktail creations, which feature artisanal ice made in-house cut to various shapes and sizes for their popular cocktails.
To start with, order the deviled eggs, with its selection of four different creamy flavors – classic, pimento cheese, bacon, avocado – and then a serving of mixed oysters from their signature raw bar.
We followed up with the following meals: Filet Benedict (petite filet, poached eggs, English muffins, Hollandaise, roasted tomatoes, breakfast potatoes), a Baja Omelet (peppers, onions, cheese blend, pico, avocado, Mexican crema, charred salsa, breakfast potatoes), whilst our kids are fans of their homemade Strawberry Nutella Waffles with whipped cream.
Brunch is the main event on Saturday and Sunday, but they also serve lunch and dinner daily!
Tacos are the specialty of this upscale street-food restaurant in North Hills. As are fresh squeezed and shaken cocktails, and a fun vibe that will leave you wondering just which beach culture you’ve stepped into.
Is it the Carolina Coast, Florida, Mexica or South America?
The upbeat and friendly global ambiance is complemented by flavor combinations from a variety of cultures such as Asian, Spanish, Mediterranean, and Mexican.
There are 13 proteins to choose from with their most popular being the glazed pork belly which has a spicy arbol sauce you now want to put on all the things! And, in keeping with being a place for all – cauliflower, mushrooms, and chickpea will march on in for our vegan friends!
But to start, don’t miss their creamy guacamole which is seriously fresh and delicious, plus my favorite has to be from the ‘not-taco” taco menu and a quesadilla dish I am now calling Absolutely Sensational. Oh, and the plantains are addictive!
Let’s not forget, you can wash all that down with refreshing Margaritas – I suggest their spicy Mezcal Margarita. Otherwise their sedate traditional margarita is great too. Anyway you like it, they have it.
If you are looking for North Hills bars, you’ll notice that a sprawling bar sits at the center of the restaurant and is a hive of activity as patrons sit and laugh with bartenders shaking their cocktails (open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays).
Parents of children and dogs will be happy to know, this establishment is very kid-friendly and dog-friendly!
You can read more about this North Hills restaurant in our bartaco review post.
Who said you can’t get good Italian in Raleigh? Let this Italian restaurant in North Hills review be your sign to eat at Vivace, voted one of the “Top 20 Best Restaurants in Raleigh”.
Vivace serves up authentic Italian cuisine with unique twists, handmade pasta, an extensive wine list, excellent kids menu, and delightful mini desserts.
All this in an upscale rustic setting with dining offered indoors and on their lovely patio during the warmer months. Plus, they have signature cocktails and a solid beer selection.
It’s safe to say we overindulged on their popular dishes of Black Pepper Spaghetti, Bolognese Pappardelle, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, and Steamed Pei Mussels.
I loved their new menu item – mini desserts – enough deliciousness to fit in a full stomach and satisfy the sweet tooth without being caked in guilt.
If you are looking for semi-upscale North Hills restaurants where you can dress up or dress down with courteous service and a lovely ambiance, Vivace is your kind of place!
Rosewater Kitchen & Bar
I fell in love with Rosewater as soon as I walked into their European chic garden room decorated with flower bouquets and shelves of pot plants all leading out to a beautiful patio.
Am I in Paris?
My travel soul was happy indulging on brunch in this Midtown restaurant inspired by European romance.
Rosewater, Raleigh, is a restaurant by Giorgios Bakatsias, the Southeast’s most prolific and visionary restaurateur. It has undoubtedly become one of the best brunch spots in Raleigh!
While it feels like you’re on another continent, the focus here is on LOCAL with food sourced from local gardeners, farmers, fishermen, and foragers, plus unique cocktails and local NC craft beer.
Each dish is flavorful and well presented. The Chicken Fried Pork Chop is amazing (smoked marrow red eye gravy, sunny side up eggs, preserved lemon), and the kids will be blown away by the GIANT Cinnamon Bun (brown sugar, cream cheese frosting).
Other brunch favorites include Steak & Eggs, Crab Cakes, Eggs your style, and Fine Herb Omelet. And of course, Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s – and mocktails for the kids!
If you don’t get seated in the inviting garden room, Rosewater is another of the restaurants at North Hills in Raleigh with a fabulous patio area – on our list for next time!
Also open for lunch on Saturdays, and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations recommended.
Let’s stay in France with a wonderful meal at Coquette, a true French Brasserie. It has a classic bistro design with tiled floors, dark wood, marble table tops and an impressive zinc bar.
A meal at Coquette must begin à la française with a charcuterie board (enough for two), followed by Escargot. If you don’t have a few French terms down pat yet, now you will. Escargot is French for cooked land snails.
If you insist on skipping the food adventure this time round, their French Onion Soup is said to be fantastic, and their Brie Biscuits are another house favorite.
I highly recommend the Seafood Crepe, and for dessert their mini-desserts like Profiteroles or Macarons are delectable.
Featuring authentic French food, an all French wine list, classic French cocktails and Belgian beers on draft, dinner (or lunch/brunch) at Coquette is a lovely dining experience with warm and attentive staff and you’ll feel like you’re in a Parisian cafe.
Now to my favorite region in the world for travel adventures and flavorful cuisine, Asia.
The CO in the AC Hotel fuses together modern and traditional with dishes such as sweet and spicy Malaysian chili wings; Vietnamese fresh summer rolls or a bowl of steaming spicy pho; Japanese sushi, Thai drunken noodles; or the most delicious shrimp curry laksa that exploded with flavor with each slurp.
I was disappointed we popped in for just a light meal as I wanted a whole entree size of that. Dessert lovers will love the sweet Asian flavors of the crispy cheesecake wontons and strawberry spring rolls.
You can pair each dish with a signature cocktail, sake infusion, or beer or wine.
It’s a kid-friendly restaurant with Asian dishes on the Kid’s menu. Just ask to hold the sauce if you have a fussy child like us. Kalyra absolutely loved the pork & Ginger gyoza and keeps asking to go back to that “dumpling place in North Hills”.
The good chi of the CO runs through the contemporary interior design with communal tables and red and black leather seating, neon lighting, and a large bar dominating the side of the restaurant.
Like bartaco, it’s a chain with locations in the Southeast, but still a welcome addition to the North Hills restaurant scene. Southeast Asian food is the only cuisine I could eat three meals a day of and be happy. CO in North Hills makes me happy!
More Raleigh tips
Check out these additional post for North Hills and Raleigh:
- 48 hour guide to North Hills (Eat, drink, shop, stay)
- 12 of the best burgers in Raleigh
- 50 places to eat in Raleigh
As you can see, the North Hills food scene is very enticing. Let us know in the comments, which of these North Hills Raleigh restaurants will you be dining at first?