Our Five Faves

Best romantic restaurants in Raleigh

Posted February 12, 2014
Updated February 18, 2014

The salmon at Margaux's Restaurant in Raleigh.

— Earlier this week, we ranked our favorite romantic spots to dine in Durham. Now, it is Raleigh's turn. 

We have ranked our favorite date/romantic restaurants in the Triangle before. A few years ago, our friends in the newsroom, including David Crabtree, Bill Leslie and Renee Chou, gave us a list of their favorites. 

Here's our 2014 list for the best date restaurants in Raleigh: 

18 Seaboard - This contemporary American grill near Peace College is a favorite of Ken Smith, David Crabtree, Bill Leslie and Elizabeth Gardner. A great atmosphere described by Renee Chou as "trendy without being intimidating" combined with their amazing food make it a great date night selection. We are also a fan of their commitment to local ingredients. 

Margaux's - Located off of Creedmoor Road, Margaux's is the type of place where people tend to linger. It could be the decor – a mix of pieces from local artists that rotates every two to three months – or the rich cuisine – a blend of French, Southern and Asian. Their menu changes daily and they have a tasty three course Valentine's weekend menu ($49.95 per person) that includes oysters on the half shell and grilled black grouper. 

Angus Barn - This has become a go-to place for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries in my household. I especially love it around Christmas because of their decorations. A great intimate environment with outstanding service. Love their complimentary cheese and yogurt crackers, and don't even get me started on their award-winning Chess pie. (Order it warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!) Known for their top-notch steaks, I also recommend their ribs. You will need a take-home box. 

Second Empire - Located in a restored 19th century house, this restaurant was another popular pick in the newsroom. "I’ve never seen more gorgeous presentations of food. Service is stellar," Renee Chou said. David Crabtree called it one of his favorite places not only in Raleigh but anywhere! 

This last spot is a tie: 

Poole's Downtown Diner - Ashley Christensen's retro-chic diner, located near the Raleigh Amphitheatre, has great drinks, fresh cuisine and some of the best mac and cheese we've ever had. (And you know how much the Out and About team loves their mac and cheese.) Just make sure to get here early or expect a wait. They don't take reservations. 

Hayes Barton Cafe - This WWII-era themed cafe is known for its dessert case - their slices of cake are huge! But this is also a great place to share a romantic dinner and enjoy some home-cooked food. We love the meatloaf! Get here early or expect a wait. There is limited seating and they don't take reservations. 

We couldn't possibly name every place that we love. Please tell us your favorite places by clicking the comments bubble to the right.


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  • Dunkin Barnes Jul 22, 2015
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    18 Seaboard was ok but it wasn't #1 on my list

  • Debbie Sawyer Jan 28, 2015
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    How in the world could Holly's on Hargett (previously Mo's Diner) not be on this list. Beautiful, quiet atmosphere, fantastic food and wonderful/unassuming service. Try their Candle Light Christmas Dinner - not a bulb on in the house!

  • Hope Lives Feb 13, 2014
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    The last 2 times my husband have been to Angus Barn in recent years, the steaks were pretty bland tasting. My husband has a saying - if you need to put steak sauce on a steak then it's not a good steak. I think my husband does better steaks on the grill than what we have gotten at Angus Barn the last two times we've been there. The last time we went was probably 5 years ago. I doubt much has changed.

  • Brenda Matthews Feb 13, 2014
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    I have had some nice dinners at Sullivan's.

  • harrisjl Feb 12, 2014

    The peddler steakhouse on 70 is a great place to take a date; nice ambiance - quiet, secluded.... excellent salad bar and steaks (you get to choose the cut and how thick you want your steak)

  • Don Donaldson Feb 12, 2014
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    Please don't forget Saint Jacques Frech Cuisine. The food is fantastic and the ambience is truly romantic.

  • sscurrin Feb 12, 2014

    Don't forget Bellini in Fuquay, a true New York style Italian restaurant just a short drive south from Raleigh and Cary, and the best Italian food I've eaten. Every menu item is superb! And quite romantic, Sinatra-style music, cozy quarters, and tablecloths! My favorite...

  • Terry Watts Feb 12, 2014
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    My wife and I hit Margaux's whenever we have a date-night... Love that place!

  • texasncgirl Feb 12, 2014

    I 100% disagree with Angus Barn. While I'm aware they have those wine cellars that you can sit in...I have a hard time paying $150+ for a meal in a barn, surrounded by hay, at a picnic table, with red and white checkered table cloth, and it's LOUD. That's not romantic. I'm extremely shocked that Saint Jacques French Cuisine did not make it to this list. I have been to all listed places in this article and agree with all but Angus and Barn and Poole's (I LOVE Poole's...but...the sound level is such that you cannot hear people you're with). Saint Jacques is the epitome of romance. Check that out instead! It's just as expensive as Angus Barn...but better quality food and service for your money.

  • dgilvary Feb 12, 2014

    Irregardless of course