Category Archives: Raleigh

REVIEW: Capital Club 16 – Raleigh, NC

I’ve driven by Capital Club 16 many times but it always looked too fancy to go for dinner without an occasion. But one of my friends had a going-away party there, so it was a good excuse to dress up and go out for dinner to “Cap Club.” We started off with the Pimento Cheese and Fig Crostinis. I am not usually a fan of Pimento Cheese but with the figs, the dish was just the right amount of creamy and smoky.

Pimento and Fig Crostinis

Pimento and Fig Crostinis

I ordered the shaved brussel sprout and frisee salad with local blue cheese and sweet potatoes. I loved the texture of the shaved brussel sprouts and the crunchy strips on top. The salad and the harvest quinoa made for a healthy and filling meal.

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Harvest Quinoa

Harvest Quinoa

Some more adventurous eaters in our party ordered the butcher plate: grilled artisinal sausages, smoked pork chop and seared pork belly with sauerkraut, spaetzle and gravy. At $20, this dish seems like a great deal for meat eaters, however I just admired it from afar.

Butcher Plate

Butcher Plate

For dessert, we got the brownie sundae – can’t go wrong with that! Capital Club is one of Raleigh’s fine dining gems without the snobbery that can tend to go along with fine dining. Maybe it was the dynamic group I went with, or the great food, but I know I’ll be back – they have so many vegetarian options I’d like to try; the portobello grilled cheese sandwich sounds like a winner.

Dreamy Chocolate Sundae

Dreamy Chocolate Sundae

Enjoy your dining experience at “Cap Club,” and be sure to let me know your favorites.

-Haley

Capital Club 16 on Urbanspoon

Where to Eat in the Triangle During Graduation Weekend

It’s that time of the year…college seniors are getting ready to graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. The most important part of graduation? Where you take your family to eat, obviously. Friday night, your family arrives, hungry and ready to eat – where do you take them? Then there is Saturday lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. So much to eat in so little time!

Your family is from out of town and wants to experience something authentically southern:

Take your out-of-town family to get an authentic dish of chicken and waffles at Dame’s in Durham. Dame’s has a laid-back, casual atmosphere and a delicious selection of chicken and waffle creations, including choices of sweet potato waffles and vegan waffles.

Looking for something more elegant? If you didn’t already make a reservation, it may be hard to get into Elaine’s on Franklin, but if you can get a reservation, enjoy a refined, scratch-made meal in this Chapel Hill establishment. The menu at Elaine’s revolves around the best local ingredients available, so it is constantly changing but consistently exquisite.

The Pit serves North Carolina barbecue in a fun atmosphere, but be sure to book a reservation because this is a popular restaurant and tends to get busy on weekends. Ranging from North Carolina pork barbecue to turkey barbecue and a selection of scrumptious sides (mac and cheese, black eyed peas, sweet potato fries…the list goes on), The Pit has something for everyone.

Another good option is Watt’s Grocery in Durham, a distinctively North Carolina restaurant. With items ranging from Bourbon Brined Pork Loin to Seafood Gumbo, Watt’s serves southern food just right. The menu is limited and I have only been to Watt’s for brunch, which was fantastic. I would love to try their lunch and dinner menus as well.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Acme is another North Carolina restaurant that is good for dinner and Sunday brunch. If you go for Sunday brunch, expect a wait. The coffee cake and beignets (if they have them) are delicious ways to start out your brunch. If you are a UNC graduate, and you can’t make a reservation at a Chapel Hill restaurant, try Acme in Carrboro – you will be pleasantly surprised!

Your family is from North Carolina but you want to show them something different:

I had a great dining experience at Venable in Carrboro, serving local food since May 2012. As a relatively new restaurant, Venable is a good place to take your family if they are from North Carolina. Venable serves dinner and brunch as well as a late night menu. The Chèvre Salad and the local fish selection make for quite a tasty dinner.

Another option is Bida Manda, a fairly new Laotian restaurant in downtown Raleigh. You will need a reservation for Bida Manda; since it’s opening, Bida Manda has taken the Triangle food scene by storm. With authentic Laotian tastes and North Carolina decor, this is a perfect place for a nice dinner on Saturday night with your family.

Green Papaya Salad: Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of: Grilled Flatiron Steak Grilled Duck Breast Grilled Ginger and Garlic Pork Neck Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Grilled Vegetables

Green Papaya Salad at Bida Manda

The Lantern is an Asian fusion restaurant: Asian flavors made with North Carolina ingredients. Since its opening in 2002, Lantern and its chef/owner Andrea Reusing have won awards in “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” and “best farm-to-table restaurants” categories.

Family a little crazy? Don’t want to take them out in public?:

Sometimes, it’s easier to order in since restaurants tend to fill up quickly around graduation time. One of my favorite casual lunch restaurants in the Triangle is Neal’s Deli. Neal’s is a family business and uses local ingredients to create simple yet tasty deli sandwiches. Check out their catering menu here.

Turkey Reuben: Turkey with Swiss, kraut and Russian on rye

Turkey Reuben at Neal’s Deli

Nantucket Grill and Bar offers an expansive catering menu. However, if you decide to cater from somewhere else, you must at least order your celebratory cakes from Nantucket. The Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Bliss are two of my favorites. Nantucket has locations in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.

You’ve taken your family out for lunch and dinner. Time for the best meal. Brunch:

If you can’t get into Watt’s or Acme, don’t worry – there are plenty of brunch options in the Triangle. Big Ed’s City Market is a Raleigh establishment, serving fresh local eggs and house-made hotcakes since the 1980s.

When I was a student at UNC, I loved going to Breadman’s for brunch because I could always expect a delicious pancake that was almost larger than the plate it was served on. Breadman’s is perfect for the group who can’t agree – the restaurant serves breakfast all day along with a variety of lunch options, including sandwiches, burgers and salads.

http://breadmens.com/gallery/food-location/

http://breadmens.com/gallery/food-location/

Another choice for families who can’t agree is Elmo’s Diner, with locations in Carrboro and Durham. Elmo’s makes for a good local brunch or lunch restaurant because of it’s vast options. One person from your party may order an omelette, while another orders a burger and yet another person may order a large salad or a wrap. Elmo’s is also a kid-friendly environment. However, they do not take reservations, but the wait usually goes by quickly.

If you don’t mind driving a little bit out of the way, Guglhupf Bakery and Cafe will satisfy your inner European with German-inspired delicacies. Guglhupf has a large outdoor seating area and an attached bakery, so you can take home some pastries.

Wherever you decide to take your family, enjoy this special time with them. And congratulations!

-Haley


REVIEW: Trophy Brewing Company – Raleigh, NC

Looking for a trophy wife or a mail-order bride? You can find both at Trophy Brewing, a small, cozy brewery and pizzeria in downtown Raleigh. According to the website, the trophy wife  is “light and approachable; this beauty shows off a bright and a clean finish.” Okay, now get your mind out of the gutter. Those are beers I am talking about! I chose the Best in Show, which is an easy drinking beer with citrus undertones.

This small brewery was started by the owners of Busy Bee Cafe, who teamed up with brewer Les Stewart, to create small-batch craft beers. Trophy also offers a selection of artisan pizzas made with local ingredients. I ordered the Farmer’s Market pizza, which was full of root vegetables and goat cheese. The pizza does not normally come with goat cheese, but I highly recommend adding it. Ben ordered the Most Loyal, a pizza with roasted chicken and pesto. His also had the slightest hint of honey, which tasted surprisingly good with the pizza.

Farmer’s Market: basil pesto, roma tomato, swiss chard, vegetable medley, red onions

Farmer’s Market:
basil pesto, roma tomato, swiss chard, vegetable medley, red onions

Most Loyal: basil pesto, herb roasted chicken breast, mozzarella blend, roma tomato, and honey

Most Loyal:
basil pesto, herb roasted chicken breast, mozzarella blend, roma tomato, and honey

 

 

Trophy Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Bida Manda – Raleigh, NC

For a land-locked country surrounded by much larger countries, Laos has its own flavors. Bida Manda serves authentic Laotian food and is one of few Laotian restaurants in the U.S. Bida Manda is the Sanskrit term for father and mother; and in the spirit of family, siblings Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha created this restaurant to honor their heritage and culture. The food takes you to another place, but the atmosphere is created from locally sourced items, such as the wooden sticks from Western North Carolina that decorates the walls.

Laotian food uses some of the same ingredients as the more familiar Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, but with more subtle flavors. Laotian food also lends itself to its French history with items such as the baguette used for sandwiches in Laos. For a more in-depth analysis of the differences between Laotian and Thai food, head over to Victoria’s Food Secrets.

Green Papaya Salad: Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of: Grilled Flatiron Steak Grilled Duck Breast Grilled Ginger and Garlic Pork Neck Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Grilled Vegetables

Green Papaya Salad:
Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of meat, fish or vegetables

I ordered the green papaya salad, one of the restaurant’s specialities. It comes with your choice of meat, fish or vegetables. I got fresh caught N.C. flounder, which was seasoned with salt, pepper and aromatic herbs. The salad tasted fresh and had some of the same ingredients as pad thai sauce, but it was lighter and the taste was more subtle.

“Differences are often subtle to the non-native palate, but generally speaking, Laotian flavors tend to be a little earthier, a little less bright than those of their neighbors,” writes Greg Fox for News & Observer.

Javier ordered the pumpkin curry, which had a variety of root vegetables. It is served with rice, which helps with the spiciness. However, we both liked my dish better. I recommend the green papaya salad for your first time at Bida Manda.

Pumpkin Curry: With root vegetables and jasmine rice

Pumpkin Curry:
With root vegetables and jasmine rice

Bon Appetite!

-Haley 

 

Enjoy these recipes from Bida Manda, provided by Walter Magazine:

Crispy Rice Lettuce Wrap

2 cups cooked jasmine rice

1 teaspoon curry spice

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped mint

1/3 cup chopped green onion

1 tablespoon crispy fried garlic

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

Lettuce leaves

Mix jasmine rice, curry, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Mold the mixture into thick patties. Fry the patties until golden brown. In another bowl, break the patties into small pieces, and add cilantro, mint, green onion, fried garlic, peanuts, and lime juice. Toss until fully mixed. Wrap the mixture with fresh lettuce leaves.

Serves 4

 

Caramelized Ginger Ribs

1/2 rack pork ribs, sliced into individual rib pieces

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup black soy sauce

1 cup sliced fresh ginger

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 shelled hard boiled eggs

Firmly rub the the ribs with soy sauce, black soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar, and let the ribs marinate overnight. At medium heat, braise the ribs for three hours. Once done, strain the sauce from the ribs, add shelled, whole hard boiled eggs to the sauce, and reduce the sauce in a pan over low heat until it thickens. Add the ribs back to the sauce, remove and slice eggs, and serve together.

Serves 2

 

Bida Manda on Urbanspoon

 

 

REVIEW: Sitti – Raleigh, NC

If you work in or near downtown Raleigh, there are so many dining options that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Let me help. Start eating at Sitti once a week. The healthy options will make you feel good about your decision to dine out, while the freshness of the meal will keep you coming back.

I am a huge fan of baba ghanouj (bah-bah guh-noosh), a dip made from roasted eggplant, olive oil, tahini and spices. Sitti’s version of this dish is garnished with pomegranate seeds and bursting with freshness. Along with the restaurant’s warm pita bread, this could be a meal!

Baba Ghanouj – roasted eggplant whipped with tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice

Baba Ghanouj – roasted eggplant whipped with tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice

My friend ordered the goat cheese & orange salad. It was full of fresh fruit, goat cheese and walnuts. This is what I would have ordered too, but I didn’t want to get the same thing – I wanted to be adventurous!

Goat Cheese & Orange Salad – mixed greens, sliced orange, goat cheese, dates and walnuts in a lemon vinaigrette

Goat Cheese & Orange Salad – mixed greens, sliced orange, goat cheese, dates and walnuts in a lemon vinaigrette

I ordered a falafel wrap, but the real star of this dish was the deliciously seasoned french fries. The fries are seasoned with thyme, parsley, sea salt and olive oil. Is your mouth watering too?

Falafel Wrap – crushed chick peas, seasoned and fried, with lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce.

Falafel Wrap – crushed chick peas, seasoned and fried, with lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce.

Sitti has a selection of appetizers, sample platters, wraps, salads, kababs and flatbreads. Take advantage of their special deals during Triangle Restaurant Week.

 

Happy eating!

-Haley

 

Sitti on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Relish Cafe and Bar – Raleigh, NC

Now that I have eaten at Relish for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I can truly say it is delicious. Relish does southern comfort food in a way that no one else does.

Breakfast – I took my parents here for breakfast and they both enjoyed it, but we all agreed that my dish was the best. My dad got the “Southern Comfort Breakfast,” my mom got a veggie omelet and I got gingerbread pancakes. Everything was delicious, from the sweet potato biscuits to the fresh fruit cup. The gingerbread pancakes had bananas cooked into them and it was a surprisingly delicious combination.

Veggie omelet

Veggie Omelet

Southern Comfort Breakfast

Southern Comfort Breakfast

Gingerbread Pancakes

Gingerbread Pancakes

Lunch – Relish has a bunch of options for lunch, ranging from sandwiches to grilled cheese sandwiches. They have a selection of “Mac and Cheese Skillets” that sounded delicious, but I was in the mood for a sandwich. My friend Eric got the “Alfredo Mac,” which is macaroni and cheese with blackened chicken, garlic and parmesan cheese. My other friend Edith ordered the “Black Eyed Pea Burger,” which is essentially a fried veggie burger. We all enjoyed our meal – this is a great, casual lunch place!

Turkey Reuben IMG_2441IMG_2442

Dinner – If you go here for dinner, get the fried avocados as an appetizer. They are on the Tasting Menu, so hurry before they change it up. Although I hope they add this to their permanent menu! For dinner, I ordered the Strawberry Fields Salad, which had strawberries, mandarin oranges, pecans and feta cheese with poppyseed dressing. It tasted very fresh and was a good healthy option to go with the deep fried appetizer. The salad came with homemade pita-like chips which were amazing! They were golden, flaky, crunchy pieces of heaven. My friend Sallie ordered shrimp and grits, which she enjoyed as well. We both got sangrias – I got red and she got white. They were very tasty, and the white was especially sweet!

Fried Avocados

Fried Avocados

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Strawberry Fields Salad

Strawberry Fields Salad

I hope you enjoy whichever meal you decide to try at Relish!

-Haley

Relish Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

Five Brunch Spots in Raleigh

Brunch: That special meal reserved for the weekend, sometime between getting out of bed and actually waking up. Here are my top five choices for brunch in Raleigh, with #1 being my favorite.

#5 State Farmer’s Market Restaurant

After hearing great reviews about this restaurant, I had to try it. The biscuits were phenomenal, home-made from NC ingredients. Breakfast is served everyday until 3 p.m. and it gets rather crowded on the weekend. I ordered pancakes which were tasty, but not the best I’ve ever had. They have a large variety of options ranging from pancakes and french toast to omelets and breakfast sandwiches. Because this restaurant has such good reviews, I would give it another try.

#4 Brigs

I was looking for a casual Sunday brunch spot, and this restaurant seemed to have a lot of good options. I ordered strawberry pancakes and my friend ordered french toast. He finished it all before I could try it – so it must have been good! – and my pancakes were also good. Brigs has a combo deal where you can get pancakes, waffles or french toast with two eggs any style and one of their sides. While this seems like a good way to get something sweet and  salty in one meal, I would not recommend it because the eggs were bland. I suggest going here if you are craving something sweet for breakfast. They have a special Eggnog french toast dish during December.

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#3 Buku

This is the place for you if you like to try a little bit, or a lot, of everything. Don’t know what you want? They have something from almost every region to satisfy your omelette craving, taste for hummus or fried chicken needs. They have a brunch buffet with made-to-order omelets and waffles, a meat carving station, pastries and fresh fruit. Brunch is about $20 per person, but luckily I had a Groupon deal that got me two brunches for the price of one. I got a waffle with strawberry syrup, an omelette with smoked salmon and spinach, a biscuit and fruit. Everything was delicious, especially the omelet and the buttery biscuit. The name “Buku” comes from a twist on the French phrase “merci beaucoup,” which means thank you very much.

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#2 Beasley’s Chicken and Honey

Even if you’re not a fan of chicken and waffles, Beasley’s is worth checking out for Sunday brunch. This hipster-esque restaurant sits on the corner of Wilmington Street and Martin Street. Minimally decorated and maximally delicious, Beasley’s gives simple dishes a makeover – honey drizzled fried chicken, red bean rancheros and creamed collard greens are just a few of the options.

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Of course, I recommend trying the chicken and waffles, but there are many other options. We split an order of the signature dish and we also got an order of “Eggs Beasley,” 2 poached eggs with creamed collard greens and grilled cornbread. The chicken was drizzled with honey, making it deliciously sweet. The flavors in the poached egg dish were quite complementary to one another. The creamed collards had a kick that I was not expecting, but the cornbread helped to soak up that flavor.

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#1 Irregardless Cafe

This is my top choice for brunch in Raleigh because you can taste the freshness in the ingredients and you can tell that they take pride in every dish. I ordered a smoked salmon dish, and it was very good. My sister ordered crab cake eggs Benedict, which was also tasty! I usually don’t eat hashbrowns, but these were seasoned in such a way that made them addicting. Irregardless Cafe prides itself on using local ingredients, and it is noticeable in their dishes! The restaurant even has a community garden. Not only do they serve delicious brunch, but they also have great options for lunch and dinner. There is a large selection for vegans and vegetarians, but for the carnivores, there are also plenty of meat dishes. The fresh food is complemented by live music performed by local musicians.

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Leos: Classic N.Y.C. Lower east side specialty dish of house cured salmon scrambled with eggs & onions. Served with toasted bagel and apple sauce. $13.00

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict: Fresh crab cake griddled and set on a toasted English muffin with poached eggs, and fresh Hollandaise sauce, served with home fries. $14.75

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict: Fresh crab cake griddled and set on a toasted English muffin with poached eggs, and fresh Hollandaise sauce, served with home fries. $14.75

 

 

State Farmer's Market Restaurant on Urbanspoon Brigs Great Beginnings on Urbanspoon Buku on Urbanspoon Beasley's Chicken & Honey on UrbanspoonIrregardless Cafe & Catering on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Plates Neighborhood Kitchen- Raleigh, NC

“Globally Inspired. Locally Produced.” That is the motto and exactly what you will find at Plates Neighborhood Kitchen, a new restaurant in the Glenwood South neighborhood near downtown Raleigh. Plates opened November 1st and you will need to make reservations if you plan to go during the weekend. The atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming. The food is elegant yet the prices are reasonable. The servers and bartenders are helpful and friendly. What more could I ask for?

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I went with two friends on a Friday night and we did not have reservations but luckily there were three seats open at the bar. The bartenders were very personable and we had a great evening. I started out with a lavender julep which was carefully made and thoroughly enjoyed. For dinner I ordered a smoked salmon and leek salad with a citrus vinaigrette. I would definitely order it again!

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My friend ordered chicken with grits and kale. He especially enjoyed the grits and finished every last bit. For dessert, I saw that Plates had a persimmon creme brûlée. I don’t usually eat creme brûlée but I love persimmons, so I ordered it. I also tried some port with my creme brûlée. It was a perfect dessert.

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The menu changes often because Plates uses fresh ingredients that they try to source locally whenever possible. You can expect local food with an international inspiration, served by friendly people.

The menu provides just a few options which is nice because you won’t be overwhelmed with choices. Until it comes to dessert… chocolate chess pie, creme brûlée, sticky toffee pudding and cheesecake.

Check out the New Year’s dinner menu at Plates.

I hope you enjoy Plates as much as I did.

-Haley

Plates Neighborhood Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

REVIEW: Busy Bee Cafe – Raleigh

I love a good veggie burger that is overloaded with black beans, corn, mushrooms and other vegetables. But the Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Raleigh serves a different kind of veggie burger.

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Busy Bee Cafe originally opened its doors in 1913.
(source: http://www.busybeeraleigh.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=43&Itemid=77)

I had my first spinach and artichoke “burger” at Busy Bee Cafe. And it was delish!  I was expecting a messy burger but the spinach held together nicely. This was one of the freshest tasting veggie burgers I have ever had.

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Spinach and artichoke “burger” with feta

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Spinach and artichoke “burger” with feta

My friend got the “Tom and Jack” burger with tater tots. He enjoyed that as well. The atmosphere at Busy Bee is casual, and I would recommend eating on the rooftop. It’s not the best view of downtown, but with the nice fall weather and good food, the rooftop provides a nice setting for a casual dinner with friends. Out of the three times I have been to this restaurant, I’ve seen couples, groups of friends, families and a bachelorette party. Needless to say, Busy Bee Cafe has something for everyone. Check out their menu here: http://www.busybeeraleigh.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Itemid=60

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Tom & Jack Burger: pepper jack, fried green tomato, lettuce

 

NC Food Vendors at Wide Open Blue Grass Street Festival

Many of you may be heading to downtown Raleigh this weekend for the Wide Open Blue Grass Street Festival. With 100+ bands, multiple music stages and the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship, the event draws a large crowd. The event also has multiple food vendors and you can find such items as gluten-free BBQ sauce from Baldie’s BBQ and homemade old-fashioned cookies from Tonya’s Cookies (Tonya is Mama Dip‘s granddaughter).

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If you are looking for N.C. products, head over to Fayetteville Street between Martin Street and Davie Street for the “Got to be NC” area sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. Walk towards Hargett Street and you will find the “Beer and Wine Tasting” tent. If you’re still hungry, head to City Plaza for the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship, where chefs compete to become the state’s whole hog barbecue champion. After the judging on Saturday, the barbecue will be chopped and sold in sandwiches.

If the hog competition does not cut it for you, and especially if you’re an out-of-towner or someone who does not get downtown often, try The Pit Authentic Barbecue. I’ve even had their turkey barbecue and tofu barbecue, and those were phenomenal. The Pit deserves its own review, which will be coming in the near future.

The festival will take place Friday and Saturday, September 27-28, from noon-11 p.m.

If you’re not one for big crowds – the festival is expected to reach 60,000 attendees – there is a “Bluegrass Ramble” leading up the festival. Some venues have been hosting “rambles” since Tuesday night and will continue up until the festival.

Bluegrass Rumble, Raleigh, NC

Enjoy the festivities and let us know what food you decide to try!

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