Welcome to everyone’s favorite meal of the weekend—brunch! Raleigh has tons of great options for brunch, so it's really just a matter of what you're hankering for this weekend. In this list, you'll find all my favorite local spots that are equally tasty, filling and not too shabby on the wallet.
One of the best brunches in Raleigh happens every weekend at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. You can usually find brunch goers lining up outside well before brunch kicks off. Even outside of Raleigh, this spot is renowned for its perfect Chicken N Waffles, the Fried Chicken Biscuit and the Pimento Mac-N-Cheese. Make sure to try the fried chicken one way or another, as it's made to perfection every time.
This restaurant provides a fun pre and post-brunch atmosphere, where you can shop a variety of local goods while you wait for a table. Of course, as always, the food is the main event. NOFO’s brunch menu showcases good old-fashioned southern favorites. Try the Shrimp and Grits or the Coastal Benedict with crab cakes. Really, you cannot go wrong with anything on the menu.
One must-have is the NOFO Bloody Mary, which has been heralded as the best Bloody Mary in Raleigh for years. Their homemade mix has just the right amount of pepper and spice.
Manhattan Café is one of the more underrated brunch spots in Raleigh. Although it has always been a popular lunch spot for people working downtown, the cafe only started serving brunch a few months ago. The menu is extensive and often changing, but the sandwiches are key. The Prosciutto De Parma combines the right amount of savory, salty srosciutto and light fresh mozzarella, and is topped with a sun-dried tomato spread. The BELT takes a standard BLT, but adds brunch flair with egg and mayo. A sandwich will run you about $8 and comes with a side of fries.
Another must-try are the donuts. There are a lot of opinions on this, but I think Manhattan Café serves up some of the fluffiest and most delicious donuts you can find in Raleigh. There are some fun flavors, like the necessary bacon-topped donut, but the straightforward options take the cake (literally).
This popular Raleigh spot serves up vegetarian and vegan dishes that taste deceptively meaty. Fiction Kitchen’s lime green storefront practically beckons you to brunch on Dawson Street. As for the menu, you immediately forget that you are not eating meat. The ingredients (again, none of which are actually meat!) are locally sourced and incredibly flavorful. Try the Fried "Chicken" and Waffle, which gives actual chicken and waffles a run for its money, and don’t miss out on the Free-To-Be Pancakes, which are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free.
The Remedy Diner is another vegetarian and vegan favorite located on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh. Every item can be customized to accommodate nearly any dietary preference. This restaurant also features a ton of local and organic ingredients and nearly everything is made from scratch. If you want to give vegan a try, order the Vegan Biscuits and Gravy. The Quiche of the Day is always a good choice, and usually features local vegetables, organic eggs and meat of your choosing (if you’re into that sort of thing). The Quiche is an even $10 and comes with a side—you cannot go wrong with the Gouda grits. The Bloody Mary and Mimosa are also fantastic, and Remedy Diner features a number of other breakfast cocktails to whet your appetite.
More breakfast than lunch, this Raleigh staple serves up customary Southern breakfast options—eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, French toast and hotcakes, to name a few. The hotcake is one of the biggest I’ve seen and takes up more space than your plate has room for. Finish three hotcakes and you get a free t-shirt (and a miserable afternoon).
I have to say the biscuits and gravy are the best I have had in Raleigh, but Big Ed’s also wins for most eclectic décor (everything you can think of is hanging from the ceiling) and friendliest staff.
Jose and Sons marries Southern cooking and Mexican fare. The brothers behind this spot took the best of their heritage and upbringing and created a menu packed with surprises and flavor. My favorite brunch item is the Guadalajara Skillet, filled to the brim with potatoes, chorizo, cheese, poached egg and a side of tortillas. For a fun twist on a Southern classic, try the Chicharron and Waffles, topped with crispy pork belly and a poached egg. If you leave hungry, you’re not doing Jose and Sons right.
For an unforgettable brunch experience, check out Iris, the restaurant inside the North Carolina Museum of Art. Not only is the food simple, elegant, and delicious, but you will dine surrounded by art. The menu is seasonal and incorporates as many fresh ingredients as possible. Given the ever-changing items, it is difficult to recommend a must-try dish—order whatever you’re craving and trust that it will taste, and look, spectacular!
You can find Mandolin situated in the heart of Five Points. Chef Sean Fowler serves classic southern dishes and each menu item features seasonal, fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. As with most of the restaurants on this list, the menu rotates to provide the freshest dining experience possible. If you like sweet, try the rotating crepe, topped with the freshest fruit in season. Another favorite is the Pork Madame, a pulled pork sandwich on Sourdough, topped with Gruyere and a fried egg. Or try one of the best Shrimp and Grits in Raleigh, featuring stone-ground grits, NC Shrimp, sausage and peppers, coming to a total of $13 and giving you a generous portion.
Every Sunday, Buku serves up the ultimate brunch buffet. This restaurant is known for a fun, rotating menu, full of globally inspired dishes, and the brunch menu is no exception. Start out with standard brunch items, like a build-your-own omelet, sliced roast beef with horseradish sauce or a fluffy waffle with tons of toppings. Then, branch out and try some curried vegetables, the Vietnamese cucumber salad and chicken dumplings. When you’ve had your fill of the main menu, make sure you have saved room for the Nutella bars.
Buku has a huge space downtown, so there is hardly ever a wait. If your brunch cravings hit during the rush hour, this is a great option for instant gratification. As far as price goes, the buffet is a bit steeper, at $20 a pop, but you’ll walk away full well into your next meal.
Provenance is possibly the newest restaurant on my go-to brunch list. This spot uses seasonal ingredients to up the ante on a classic brunch menu and it's as farm-to-table as they come. Although most of the menu items seem fairly straightforward, the freshness of each ingredient sets this brunch apart.
Try the It's Always Sunny, a fresh and lighter version of biscuits and gravy, or keep it healthy with the Endless Sun Salad, with fresh heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and bacon lardons, topped with a poached egg.