In years past, the quest for late night food in Raleigh/Durham, seemed like a daunting pursuit. Unless in the restaurant biz or a late night food foraging fanatic, familiar with a few hidden treasures, many late night hungry souls were left contemplating how to satisfy their insatiable hunger. That was a long time ago and the vibe has changed. The revitalization of both downtown Durham and Raleigh have attracted food savvy folks searching for funky, eclectic eateries to low maintenance watering holes with good pub grub. Here are a few cool places to check out the next time late night food is on the agenda!
Pooles Downtown Diner: In Raleigh – Retro diner meets French bistro. Unassuming from the outside and dating back to 1945 this location has morphed from pie shop, sandwich shop, and pool hall to Chef/Owner Ashley Christensen’s food haven supporting local growers and artisan producers. Horseshoe bar, red leather booths, Lucite chairs and massive chalkboards highlight their daily offerings. The Macaroni Au Gratin is a must have staple and a Poole’s signature dish. You might just find a 10oz. burger with brie, cheddar, and piquant pimiento cheese with house roasted pepper when you stumble on in.
The Raleigh Times: A neighborhood eatery situated in the old Raleigh Times newspaper building, is a local favorite hangout. Exposed brick, weathered concrete walls with worn wood floors are all part of the character of this great food joint rich with history dating back 100 years. Hand crafted classic pub food favorites with a twist such as beer steamed pastrami on rye or chicken fried pickles are hard to resist.
The Federal: Durham’s hole-in-the wall stomping ground for great value food and drink. Bistro-like with chalkboard specials and an unpretentious menu, hipsters and suit bearing patrons mix with a quest for house-made items made with locally sourced foods. Offerings like duck breast, corn and mushroom risotto and roasted asparagus for $14 is what you’ll pay. Best bang-for-your buck in Durham. The late night famish can be cured with abundant blue corn nachos cradling fantastic chicken or pork topped with rockin’ cheese, avocado and sour cream.
Cosmic Cantina: A Durham late night hot-spot to get good Mexican food until the wee hours of the morning. Located upstairs in a loft style studio setting above Perry Street, most people are guided there by other locals who know all about it. Duke students claim the territory but young and old professionals find their way there when late night hunger strikes for a bang-up burrito, kickin’ chimichanga or awesome cheesy quesadillas.
Chubby’s Tacos: A Triangle staple with two Durham locations, Chubby’s is an awesome hidden retreat in strip mall land. Whether it’s Taquitos and Tamales or Gorditas and Tortas there’s no way you’ll leave without adding it to your late night list of food finds.
Red Room: Located in Raleigh’s Glenwood South district, late night tapas and dancing are in store at the Red Room if an evening of high energy action is on the itinerary. Industrial open setting with sleek red comfy leather furniture, sponge painted walls and accents with dim lighting entices the mood for some hot salsa dancing by some of the areas finest Latin bands. Try a toasted noodle paella, coriander crusted tuna, or a grilled vegetable napoleon.
Busy Bees Cafe: Head over to another Raleigh hot-spot where the modern, urban professional crowd abounds. Late night food and music appeal to the senses and makes the Busy Bee another cool neighborhood eatery to add to the list of downtown stops. Yummy small plates such as tuna tartare, goat cheese bruschetta and loaded tater tots are sure to satisfy the soul.