5 Best Restaurants in the Burbs

In Eat, September 2022 by Raleigh MagazineLeave a Comment

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You didn’t think we forgot about our burbs foodie faves, did you? While we Raleighites are blessed with scads of  spectacular sup spots in the City of Oaks (see our inaugural Top 25 Restaurants), sometimes a night out out of the city is well worth the gas. Here, Raleigh Magazine’s top five restaurants in the burbs. 

The Provincial • Apex
“There is one inexhaustible aspect of life that never dulls—namely, the simple pleasure of eating and drinking.” Enter The Provincial. Not at all provincial in the “unsophisticated” sense, but purposefully provincial in the “small town” sense, this family-owned intimate Apex eatery effortlessly embodies the above words of famed journalist Andre Dominé. But don’t let its “family-owned intimate” status fool you. While these fine folks will no doubt get to know your name and what you like, the quaint atmosphere is anything but quiet. Rollicking restaurantgoers fill the space that stays busy enough to house two bars (one upstairs)—which churn out ’tails tasty enough to rival any big-city cocktail bar sip for sip. And the fare, in a word: transcendent. A daily changing menu’ll keep you coming back, but the fish always has us on the line (find a more delicious cast, we’ll wait). Simply put, “it’s hands down one of the top five dining experiences I’ve had this year across the country—period,” says RM Publisher Gina Stephens—high praise from an industry veteran whose job, in part, is to eat her way through cities for intel. But the real standout? The service. Elevated fare can oft be associated with aloof or stuffy service. Not here. Perhaps that’s the purposeful play on “unsophisticated” after all—where provincial means personable. theprovincialapex.com

a’Verde Cocina + Tequila Library • Cary
Two words: Katsuji Tanabe. The star chef splashed on the Raleigh scene to much fanfare when he opened High Horse in 2019 for an unexpected short run (thanks, pandemic). But these things have a way of working themselves out. And a’Verde is no doubt a triumph. From his perch in Cary—and in partnership with LM Restaurants (think Vidrio, Taverna Agora, Carolina Ale House and more)—the top toque transports you to his hometown via elevated-yet-approachable spins on dishes he grew up eating at the family table, merged with the emotional, energized, creative cooking heating up America’s top kitchens. You won’t find the typical rice, beans and cheese galore. You will find an authentic reliance on the kinds of dishes you’d see in the best restos in Mexico City (think adobo fried rice with crispy pork belly, topped with a cracked egg like his dad used to make). For added flair… literal flares you carry to the patio-positioned bell where you take a shot and try to “ring” the bell by hauling a made-of-ice shot glass (so, a shot for a shot). It’s a restaurant that could open in NYC or LA or Chicago today. Lucky for us, it’s in Cary. And it’s damn good. averdecary.com

Pimiento Tea Room • Holly Springs
Breaking the stereotype that tea is only for ladies in fancy hats, Pimiento Tea Room in Holly Springs hosts teatime with a modern spin, complete with teas (natch), tea-infused cocktails (you’ll wanna try the G+Tea), wine, beer, and rotating loaded sandwiches that’ll require a fork and knife (!)—plus scones, sweets and other snacks like pimiento cheese (hence the name—and a must-try), black-eyed pea hummus, and sausage balls. The tea room’s setting in a refurbished 1840-built Brown-Holloway House effortlessly balances traditional (think antique furnishings and vintage touches) with hip (we see you, bold, colorful decor!), making for a morning, afternoon or evening worthy of royalty. pimientotearoom.com

Crawford Cookshop • Clayton
You already know star chef Scott Crawford’s Raleigh resto staples Crawford and Son, and Jolie (both RM Top 25 Restaurants, see p. 78), but allow us to tout their hip little sister, Crawford Cookshop. Situated just a quick drive from the City of Oaks in downtown Clayton, this casual eatery was born out of Crawford’s foray into takeout/delivery at Crawford and Son, during which he rediscovered several nostalgic dishes that he loved cooking and eating, but were simpler than anything he’d offer at his other restaurants. Located in a restored building circa the 1900s, Crawford Cookshop transports diners to the Americana-style eateries of yesteryear via high-end classics from a wood grill—think grilled hanger steak, smoked wings served with Alabama sauce, and a spicy fried chicken sando (pro tip: The mac and cheese is also to die for!). All in all, it’s a chic suburban addition to chef Crawford’s restaurant résumé that’s not only worth the drive, but might even give its Raleigh siblings a run for their money (!).  crawfordcookshop.com

Bodega Tapas, Wine & Rum • Wake Forest
An intimate, sophisticated space with warm wood, exposed brick, and accents of pressed tin and Prussian blue sets the stage for downtown Wake Forest’s Bodega, nee 2019, where an eclectic range of small plates are best shared with a large group (the more people, the more you can try!) and one (or two or three…) of the resto’s signature rum cocktails. The worldly tapas menu includes Parisienne gnocchi, Peruvian chicken, lamb meatballs, and an NC goat cheese dip that’ll have you licking the bowl. So, yeah, trust us when we tell you to bring your friends—because you’re going to want to try one of everything. bodegawakeforest.com

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