The Best Raleigh Restaurants: Tradition Rising to the Top


In our previous post, we started listing the top ten Best Raleigh Restaurants. Given your prime location at the South Lakes’ new home community, each of the first three restaurants from the last post is an effortless drive away. As we continue, you will see more of the highest reviewed and rated eateries. But as a bonus, these four entrants are even slightly closer to your family’s new home, too. Thus, some of the top traditions in one of America’s top towns are waiting, and regardless of which you choose, creating which tasty tradition will become your own is all up to you.

The Top Ten Continues

(Our list is based on customer rankings and reviews at Trip Advisor with at least 275 reviews as of June 7, 2021)

7.) Sitti, 137 South Wilmington Street, Downtown Raleigh

Not too hard to see a trend developing here as no two of these Best Raleigh Restaurants seem to be offering very similar dishes. At Sitti, we keep that pattern alive, as they feature a delicious Lebanese and Mediterranean menu unlike any other. Another developing trend is authenticity, and this was big in owner Greg Hatem’s first opening, Sitti, as a tribute to his ancestors and proud heritage. 

With an extensive menu of mezze, entrees, and house-baked flatbreads, Hatem has achieved as he set out to do, no question. Throw in the Art Deco bar complete with Lebanese liquors, wines, and beers, and I dare say you have a dining experience like no other in town. The eatery is called “consistently excellent” by one customer. They went on to add, “Sitti is such an amazing restaurant.” They add, “We have yet to have any meal that was not amazing…Every single time, the food and service have been exceptional.”

Distance from South Lakes: 20.2 miles

6.) Brewery Bhavana, 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh

Again, offering another different style of food, Brewery Bavana’s Asian cuisine offers dim sum in various sizes and numerous delicious fillings and tastes. For those unfamiliar, dim sum is a traditional Chinese meal made up of small plates that feature dumplings and other similar snack dishes. These are many times served with tea traditionally.

At this stop among our Best Raleigh Restaurants, seafood dumplings, duck egg rolls, chicken curry bao, and scallion pancakes are just a few of the literal dozens of unique options. They do have larger and more traditional serving size meals as well. A recent patron of Bhavana described the experience as follows. “This place has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. It was amazing.” They later added, “We ordered 4 of the options, and everything we ate was delicious…We can’t say enough good things about this place.”

Distance from South Lakes: 16.7miles

5.) Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant, 220 Wolfe Street, Raleigh

I think on top of great variety and proximity to South Lakes, we can add “tradition” to the list of similarities in all the Best Raleigh. Maybe none of the “top ten” scream “Raleigh” and “tradition” more than this one. Founded over 60 years ago by “Big Ed” Watkins, this popular stop moved to the site of Raleigh’s City Market in 1989. 

Even with other locations opening and a change in ownership, the farm, fresh ingredients, and delicious Southern, home-cookin’ at Big Ed’s will undoubtedly have you coming back for more of their fantastic comfort food, whether for breakfast or lunch or lunch or dinner. Maybe the atmosphere and food at Big Ed’s can be best described by a recent reviewer who had breakfast there. “Charming and delicious,” they start. “We had a delicious breakfast at this full of memorabilia restaurant. Airy and nostalgic, this establishment located on a cobblestone corner was the perfect place to start our visit…We will visit again.”

Distance from South Lakes: 16.6 miles

4.) Neomonde Mediterranean Raleigh, 38 Beryl Road, Raleigh

Somehow in our second of three posts, we find all the Best Raleigh Restaurants listed even closer to South Lakes than in our initial post. That’s good news for you and your appetite, no doubt. This holds especially true with this entrant if it’s delicious Mediterranean fare that you crave. 

A part of the Raleigh dining scene for over four decades, Neomonde has flavorful, gourmet dishes. These of course include all the classic Mediterranean favorites. In addition, they offer multiple vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings too. Summarizing the experience Raleigh residents have loved since 1977 was one happy reviewer. “Amazing taste,” they begin. “A great variety of food. Good and easy service.” They conclude, “Food feels fresh and very delicious every time.”

Distance from South Lakes: 18.5 miles

Which Will make the Top 3 ?

This concludes our detailing the number 4-7 Best Raleigh Restaurants. True to form, we continued to see the Raleigh dining scene’s unmatched variety. We also continued to see some of the long-time city favorites show up among the top ten. Maybe most important, though to you in Fuquay Varina at the South Lakes neighborhood is the distance. Each of these four entrants are even closer than were the first three. In our third and final forthcoming post, we will look at the top three Best Raleigh Restaurants. For more information on the South Lakes new home community, visit