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Help a Mom: Family-friendly restaurants in downtown Raleigh

Posted October 2, 2012

Sitti's golden glow is welcoming on the corner of Hargett and Wilmington in downtown Raleigh. (Photo courtesy Empire Eats)

Here's an email from a mom who is planning a fun day out for her son's fourth birthday:

I'm planning an outing for my son's birthday. We're going to see "Shrek the Musical" in November and I'm looking for a good place to have dinner before the show starts. What's a good kid-friendly restaurant near the Progress Energy Center?

He likes chicken, pizza and pasta, but isn't a big fan of steak or hamburgers, she tells me.

I worked for years in downtown Raleigh and live not too far from the area. So I'm familiar with many restaurants down there, though with all the growth and change in the last few years, I'm definitely not on top of all of it.

Here's what I recommended:


Vic's Italian Cafe & Pizzeria in City Market.
Tir na nOg, an Irish pub, next to Moore Square
Dickey's Barbecue Pit on Davie Street

A bit less casual

The Pit, on the other side of Davie Street. The food is absolutely amazing and they are very family friendly. In my opinion, this is a great place for kids.
Sitti on Wilmington Street. This is actually my seven-year-old's favorite restaurant. She asks me all the time when we can go back. It features Lebanese cuisine. She loves the hummus. Next door, Gravy is a yummy option for Italian food. (The Pit, Sitti and Gravy are all owned by Empire Eats).
Market Restaurant on Blount Street. The restaurant focuses on fresh, local food. Their kids menu, which includes chicken fingers and fish tacos, made my top 5 kids menus.


Beasley's Chicken + Honey and Chuck's on Wilmington Street: They are right next to each other and owned by chef Ashley Christensen. It's amazing food in a couple of fun spaces. These are very casual restaurants that feature fried chicken at one and burgers at the other.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance has links to 130 restaurants in the area, including these. Click here to find it.

What would you recommend? Please share in the comments box below. (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

Help a Mom features questions from readers every Wednesday. If you have a question that you'd like to ask Go Ask Mom readers, click here to email it to me.


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  • hockeygalnc Oct 8, 2012

    Mellow Mushroom on Peace and Glenwood is child friendly. I also really like The Oxford on Fayetteville St mall. Really nice staff and they have chicken tenders and fries which my 8 year old loves.

  • smdavis9 Oct 4, 2012

    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I'm the mom planning this trip. I'm considering visiting Marbles the same day but am sure about wearing him out too much. Great ideas from everyone!

  • kwenzel Oct 3, 2012

    Fayettville Street is awesome and well lit. It has all kinds of small sandwich shops and a pizza place. If you go at the right time of day ,they can see the news being broadcast too. It is walking distance of the Marbles Museum which is a huge favorite for kids if you have a couple of extra hours . Morning Times is great little coffee shop and a nice cookie for the kids.

  • americaneel Oct 3, 2012

    Peter's Pan Pizza Pies...

  • americaneel Oct 3, 2012

    Clucking Chicken or Dickey's Diner

  • wishful Oct 3, 2012

    If it doesn't have to be dinner, Big Ed's is great for kids. I second the recommendation for Tir na nog - very kid friendly and the food is good.

  • linlin161 Oct 3, 2012

    For something off the beaten path... I recently ate at Sushi Blues with my 17 month old. The server was great, drawing funny faces on his cup, bringing out a "fruit face" appetizer free of charge, and stickers to play with afterwards. They have veggie rolls with sweet potatoes and other interesting combos that my guy loved! I highly recommend it if you are looking for something different.

  • shall6 Oct 3, 2012

    Good tip on ZPizza Lovey!

    And great recommendations jefffrancoeur ... you really can't beat the free entertainment for kids that is the RLine.


  • Lovey Oct 2, 2012

    ZPizza down near Memorial Auditorium is good. If the weather is nice, you can sit outside. The fountain is there and great people watching. The pizza is good. Wiggling is Acceptable.

  • jefffrancoeur928 Oct 2, 2012

    Great ideas. Having 5 kids and living downtown, us Dads know how to make for a fun evening too! I would add Busy Bee to the restaurant list (tater tots) and then an R Line ride to S. Glenwood for ice cream at the Purple House. The Rline will also drop you off at the venue and after you can walk down Fayetteville st to the car. The kids love the lights and fountains at night.