Our Five Faves

Mike Maze & Elizabeth Gardner: fave date places

Posted February 9, 2012 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:19 p.m. EDT

WRAL meteorologists Elizabeth Gardner and Mike Maze give us their picks for great date restaurants and also places that have just great food! 


Mike Maze

Mike Maze

Chef's Palette (Cary) - This restaurant is at the top of my list at the moment and has been for the past year. This surprising hit is a modest location in a strip mall but is large on AMAZING taste! Everything is fresh and delicious and creative as well. I have never been disappointed when eating here and have recommended thiis restaurant to all of my friends. I hope you will find it just as tasty!

Maggiano's Little Italy (Durham) - When I want to eat big I go to Maggianos. I always eat here with friends and we always eat Family Style. We never leave hungry and always have more food to take home with us. You must try the mozzarella marinara and the chocolate zuccotto cake, YUM!

Red Robin (various) - For a variety of burgers and salads, Red Robin is my favorite stop in Cary!

Sweet Tomatoes (various) - Love salads and love Sweet Tomatoes!

 - This is my favorite stop for my Asian food fix!



Image: Elizabeth Gardner

Elizabeth Gardner 

Bloombsbury Bistro (Raleigh) This little neighborhood restaurant has fantastic food. Chef Toler picks local, seasonal items for the menu. The portions are substantial and the prices are very good for the great quality here. The atmosphere is intimate enough to qualify as romantic. The service is superb. Occasionally Chef Toler does a special tasting menu at a reduced price. It’s a great deal and I recommend asking to see if they are offering it when you go.

Gravy (Raleigh) - This relatively new spot downtown has great Italian food. Their marinara sauce is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. They are packed most nights but take reservations and really stick to them. I’ve walked in to a crowd at the door and have always been seated right away because I made a reservation. This is my daughter’s favorite restaurant.

- Chef Smith does a great job with creative “fancy” southern food. He also goes out of his way to pick local seasonal items for the menu. The atmosphere is sleek and modern and definitely qualifies as romantic. One of the things I love about Chef Smith and 18 Seaboard is their involvement in the community. They do a lot of great charity work.

J. Betskis (Raleigh) - I fell in love with the unique food on the spot! It’s Polish/German and not something you find at many other restaurants in the Triangle. They have fantastic homemade brats and knockwurst. They have traditional spaetzel and schnitzel but modern creative dishes as well. The tables are close together but you could still call it romantic.

Hayes Barton Grill (Raleigh) - Another neighborhood gem. This place is known for its huge dessert case but don’t overlook the rest of the menu. There’s a wide variety here from an inexpensive meatloaf and mashed potatoes to a fancy filet mignon. It’s all fantastic! It’s a very small place so you definitely want reservations.

Honorable Mention - The Roast Grill (Raleigh) - Now this was supposed to be your favorite romantic restaurants. There’s really no way you could claim that Roast Grill is romantic but it’s a restaurant not to be missed. It’s only hot dogs…no cheeseburgers, no French fries…. You won’t miss ‘em!