Travel advice for Raleigh please!
November 12, 2014 2:05 AM   Subscribe

Work travel is picking up for me again and my next destination is Raleigh, but I'll be in Winston-Salem one afternoon as well. Help me find food please!

I am looking for vegetarian or vegan meals that are gluten-free, soy-free, and not tomato-based. I am partial to Indian, Ethiopian, and Mexican food but will eat and enjoy pretty much anything in my range. I will have a car.

I like tea. Is there a good place to get tea in either Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

What else is awesome here? Museums? National parks? Lefty bookstores? Weird cultural stuff? I have been to the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte and Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum in San Antonio and enjoyed both and I am always up for looking at art. What else should I know about the area?
posted by bile and syntax to Travel & Transportation around Raleigh, NC (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In winston, try Breakfast of Course on Trade St; lots of veggie options and they had a varied tea selection at one time as well.
For art, you have the Sawtooth and many galleries downtown, and both Reynolda House and SECCA on Reynolda road, not too far from downtown.
Winston is neat and I miss it. You'll enjoy its quirkiness.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:21 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There is a tea place and bead shop on Trade St. in Winston, Bubbling Well. I haven't tried it yet. I will de-recommend Angelina's in Winston, as I thought their tea was quite stale.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:59 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

It has unfortunately been several years since I was last there, but there is an exceptional Thai restaurant in Chapel Hill called Bangkok 54. It's not fancy, just a small place in a strip mall on Farrington Road. But the food is awesome. I'm sure they can do Vegan - you'd have to ask about soy-free and gluten-free, but I suspect they'd try to accommodate you. I talked to the owner a bit - this is The Real Thing, family recipes and techniques that have been passed down several generations.

The Usual Disclaimers: I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in this restaurant, except that I would love to have lunch there today (but I'm 1000+ miles away).

They had a dish - I don't know if it's still on the menu, their website looks like it's in mid-renovation - called simply "Bangkok Challenge". I ordered it, told the waitress "bring it on!" - she comes back in a couple minutes "are you sure?" and I'm like, "yes, I like spicy foods", she looks at me doubtfully, goes back to the kitchen - and the cook comes out and asks me "are you really sure you want this?" and I'm like, "yes, yes, I'm really okay with it". He goes back to the kitchen, and about 10 minutes later I'm tucking in to my Bangkok Challenge and OMG THIS IS THE HOTTEST GODDAMN THAI FOOD I'VE EVER TASTED! It was amazingly good - unbelievable heat that didn't sacrifice flavor. One of the best things I've ever eaten.
posted by doctor tough love at 5:22 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've eaten the Bangkok Challenge. I was unable to speak for about 15 minutes after finishing it. I don't know anybody besides myself who has finished it.

It's interesting as a stunt or because you're specifically craving that kind of bleach-it-red effect on your digestive tract, but it has no other purpose.
posted by ardgedee at 5:54 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Bangkok 54 is about 25 miles west of Raleigh anyway. It's not worth the trip, especially considering that you'll be driving past at least a dozen other good Thai restaurants en route.
posted by ardgedee at 5:57 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, just thought about Mooney's Mediterranean in downtown Winston. Another good option for vegetarian. Fiction Kitchen is dedicated to vegetarian in Raleigh and is also supposed to be good.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:19 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't really speak to veggie/vegan food, but I know Fiction Kitchen is new and well-regarded in that scene. If you like the sweet stuff, I believe both Videri and Escazu have vegan options.

As far as art goes, the NC Museum of Art is quite good, and has a really nice sculpture garden walking trail, if you are so inclined. There is also the Contemporary Art Museum, which is small, and while the quality of the exhibits can be a bit varied, they are generally at least interesting. There is also a really nice (if small) arboretum in town, though it's probably not the best time of year for that right now.

Also, I swear there was a really cool independent tea shop in Raleigh, but I can't think of the name of it or find it online. I want to say it was in the 5 Points area? Ring any bells for anyone?
posted by Rock Steady at 6:27 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In downtown Raleigh you want the Fiction Kitchen or The Remedy Diner. The Remedy is not 100% vegetarian/vegan but they have tons of options and it's much easier to get into than the Fiction Kitchen, which is a very small space. The Pit is our famous-ish BBQ place (although locals will tell you it's overrated) and they do have lots of vegetarian sides and barbecued tofu.

The North Carolina Art Museum is a gorgeous space and has a nice collection and a good cafe as well.
posted by something something at 6:30 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are some good restaurants in downtown Raleigh that would meet the vegetarian/vegan/GF criteria quite tastily, including Remedy Diner (where they sub GF bread for free AND have good local beers on tap), Fiction Kitchen (all vegan, super creative Southern menu), and Garland (Indian, not strictly veg but lots of GF veg options on menu).

As for museums, I am partial to the NC Museum of Art. Check out their current exhibit of small paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

About 20 minutes west of downtown Raleigh there is Umstead Park, a beautiful state park with miles and miles of easy to moderate hiking. If you're going to be here in the next week or two there should still be a fair amount of autumn color to enjoy on the trail.

If you're a tea enthusiast, you should check out Tin Roof Teas in Cameron Village (just slightly outside downtown Raleigh). Staff is great and you can get any of their teas prepared hot or iced. Also check out their fantastic honey bar!

On preview, what everyone else said basically. Enjoy your trip!
posted by little mouth at 6:33 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

I live near Umstead Park and heartily second the recommendation. As for food, there are many excellent Indian restaurants in Morrisville (RTP); a favorite (at which I am lunching today!) is Tower. I also love Neomonde (locations in Raleigh and Morrisville), which is fresh and tasty Mediterranean food (veg-friendly if you order appropriately).

In Durham, Duke's Nasher Museum is quite good.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:07 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'll admit I'm far more familiar with Chapel Hill (about 20-30 minutes' drive from Raleigh) than I am with Raleigh, and I don't visit that often. So, I've got some somewhat more mainstream places here.

Another place to check out teas is A Southern Season in Chapel Hill.

Evos is an environmentally-conscious burger place that has quite a few vegetarian/vegan options (with a location in Chapel Hill).

I've been meaning to try Fiction Kitchen. I've heard lots of good things about the place.
posted by tckma at 7:19 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to Fiction Kitchen and Remedy Diner, Irregardless Cafe has plenty of veg/vegan options. Fiction Kitchen, however, is my favorite. They're dinner (and Sunday brunch) only.

There's no particular reason to stop in Chapel Hill/Carrboro for vegetarian food--sad but true.
posted by msbubbaclees at 7:30 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you're taking 40 west to Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill/Durham are on the way.

In Chapel Hill: Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe (Indian, has some veg).
Rise Biscuits and Donuts (Biscuits, donuts).
Queen of Sheba (Ethiopian, some veg).

In Cary: Udupi (Vegetarian, south Indian, sometimes a buffet).
posted by Comrade_robot at 9:49 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

2nding Irregardless Cafe. It started as vegetarian, has been around for years, and "vegetarian options" mean something qualitatively different there from what you may be used to. You will have delicious food. They also indicate gluten status on the menu.

There is an Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh that is good. We ate there with family and it was nice. Not sure it's in walking distance.

Remedy and fiction kitchen are good, but the food feels more "comfort" than healthy. If you're traveling, you'll want to eat _somewhere_ with good actual vegetables, which is why I'd strongly suggest the Irregardless Cafe.
posted by amtho at 10:15 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Raleigh is great! You'll have a great time. Every step along I-40 has good options, too (if you get hungry driving through Greensboro, take the Coliseum exit and eat Mexican at San Luis).

But in Raleigh proper, 2nding Neomonde. And Neomonde has an associated fancy sit-down restaurant downtown called Sitti, and that's also fantastic vegetable-based cuisine with nice drinks and a good view for people-watching.

Barbecue tofu nuggets at the Pit are some of my favorites.

Not sure if it's still a great place like it used to be, but in Five Points, Lily's Pizza has super-excellent vegan options and some of my favorite salads ever. There's a coffee shop next door, the Third Place, that's really pleasant for sipping on tea.

There's a Contemporary Art Museum (CAM, obviously) downtown that's worth checking out. Lefty bookstores...the Internationalist in Chapel Hill is the leftiest (and was described at length in a song called the Anarchist Bookstore). Otherwise, there's Quail Ridge, a nice independent bookshop, and Nice Price, then Reader's Corner, on Hillsborough Street. Nice Price is a fun option because they're also a music store, mostly used stuff but some new, too, and a music venue here and there.
posted by magdalemon at 10:24 AM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Depending on when you're here, there are art walks that allow free access to galleries and arts spaces, and there are often performances as well. In Durham, it's the third friday of each month. In Raleigh, it's the first friday.
posted by ardgedee at 4:34 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

ardgedee: Congratulations! To whatever extremely limited extent you now "know" me via AskMe, you now know someone else who finished the Bangkok Challenge!

Bangkok 54 is about 25 miles west of Raleigh anyway.

Well, yeah, although I note that the OP says they'll be spending some time in Winston-Salem, so they may well pass it on the way. Also, the way I found the restaurant in the first place is via business travel: my company's (arguably brain-dead) travel reservation system put me at a hotel about 200 feet away from the place. So it might be a convenient option.

you'll be driving past at least a dozen other good Thai restaurants en route.

Care to share?
posted by doctor tough love at 8:28 PM on November 12, 2014

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