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Our Five Faves

Best Special Occasion Restaurants

Posted November 12, 2012
Updated November 16, 2012

Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas... the list of holidays and special occasions goes on and on! We have all been there before where you wait until the last minute or just can’t seem to find a great place to take that special someone, so we have compiled a list of our five favorite special occasion restaurants in the Triangle. Hopefully, you will not find yourself in that same predicament again!

An (Cary) - Though some feel that sushi is not the way to go for a date night or special occasion because it tends to get a little messy, An makes taking that risk completely worth it. An has been mentioned in countless magazines and won many awards for their food and wine, but it is not only the food that won our hearts and helped get this restaurant onto our list of Five Faves. With unique décor and a one of a kind atmosphere, An is the perfect restaurant for date night, Valentine’s Day, business meetings or a night out with family and friends. An also has two private dining rooms available for groups, seating up to 35. Both of the dining areas are intimate and look out into the main dining room, conveniently located next to the wine cellar. Semi-private dining rooms are also available for up to 60 guests. This makes An the ideal destination for birthday parties, engagement parties, business parties, Christmas parties and just about any other party you can think of.

Angus Barn (Raleigh) – Angus Barn has become the go-to restaurant for special occasions in Raleigh and it is not hard to see why. Angus Barn is just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside and depending on which room you choose to sit in, you can enjoy uniquely different experiences. For a casual drink, or if you are a little nervous on a date, take advantage of pre-dinner drinks in the Wild Turkey Lounge. If you are looking for something different to really wow that special someone, opt for seating at the Chef’s table - located in the kitchen where you can get a behind the scenes look.. If you are looking for something a little quitter and intimate, have a seat at The Captain’s Table which seats up to 4 guests and is located in the wine cellar. Angus barn is the perfect venue to share time with that one special someone or with a huge group of friends. Before you leave, be sure to stop by the Country Store for unique gifts and fun old-timey gadgets!

Washington Duke Inn (Durham) - The Inn is located on the campus of Duke University so being the Carolina Fan that I am, I had a hard time putting this on the list. I swallowed my pride and made the trip to Durham and then I knew this Five Faves would not be complete without the Washington Duke Inn. The Washington Duke Inn was put on my radar because of their exceptional Mother’s Day brunch. Though Mother’s Day is not until May, it is never too early to start planning! The Washington Duke Inn in the past has featured a prix fixe bruch in the Fairview dining room, as well as a buffet brunch in the Vista restaurant. With both options priced around $40, it is a little on the pricey side, but well worth it in the end. I guarantee your mom will love it!

Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary) - Hotel restaurants seem to get over looked for special occasions but one trip to Herons at The Umstead will change your mind. The dining room offers space for about 100 guests and features a full-view kitchen for an intimate dining experience. The owners of the Umstead pay great attention to detail and this is not only seen in their food but also in their décor. Original artwork can be found all around you and there are floor to ceiling windows with views of the terrace, lawn and lake. The flowers are changed weekly and the menu changes daily. All of the vegetables and herbs that are used are grown on site in the Umstead garden and all of the entrees are based on locally grown and farmed products. There is also gorgeous outdoor dining available for the spring, summer and fall. If you are looking for a place for Valentine’s Day, to propose, or just to show that special someone how much you care, Herons provides an ideal intimate dining experience.

Nana's (Durham) – You can tell a restaurant's offerings are going to be fresh when there is no set menu and what's available changes based on the local fish and produce that comes in on a daily basis. However, the food is not the only thing that makes Nana's a special occasion dining destination - the restaurant has a very cozy and local feel and when you enter you will see why. The hardwood floor at Nana's is actually true heart pine that was reclaimed from a warehouse built in downtown Durham over sixty years ago and the paintings around the restaurant are from local artists. Nana's can accommodate parties of nearly any size and you can select specific menus and wine for your party. The local feel, fresh food and commitment to detail are what make Nana's a perfect restaurant for any occasion.

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