Above: The smoked fish dip and the skate plate from Whiskey Kitchen in Raleigh, North Carolina

Best Restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina

Surrounded by farmland and steeped in Southern culinary traditions, the area encompassing the cities of Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill would be a great place to eat, even without the industries that take it over the top. But the North Carolina Research Triangle, as it’s known, is also home to three major universities — Duke, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State — and it’s a booming hot spot for medical and tech companies. The region’s 21st-century economy gives residents a hunger for the new that supports sophisticated restaurants by nationally known and up-and-coming chefs alike. Here are some top-notch places to try.

The Durham

Sticky rice from The Durham in Durham, North Carolina - Betsy Andrews

At Chapel Hill’s Lantern, James Beard Award winner Andrea Reusing makes spectacular Asian-style fare. Now she’s brought her talents to the boutique hotel, The Durham. Her restaurant fills the lobby, and her bar spans the rooftop. With its sky-high windows, the airy dining room is a natural for brunch. Start with a Tequila Mary, whose zingy salt-and-zest rim balances brooding mezcal and smoked chile. The menu sounds global, but Reusing sources locally, and her cooking is homespun. North Carolina’s pork-scraps-and-meal cake is dubbed “livermush.” Can you blame her for calling her version “scrapple?” Whatever the name, it’s outstanding, the crisp-fried exterior yielding to a toothsome shredded-meat filling.

Hangtown fry is a Californian invention, but here, the plump Atlantic oysters and deep-fried bacon, perfectly fluffy eggs and tangy, buttery hot sauce feel more Southern comfort than SoCal. Same goes for “sticky rice.” Really a porridge of local rice loaded with soft-boiled eggs, fat North Carolina shrimp, greens and kimchi, it’s a fusion-y soul soother. Come back at 5 p.m. when the roof opens, and sink into an Adirondack chair with a vibrant, apple shrub-based “Chapman Is My Name” cocktail and smoked-trout-stuffed picnic eggs. Under Reusing’s watch, sunset tastes terrific. All-day dining. Reservations recommended for dinner and brunch. $45 at brunch; $100 at dinner.

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Above: The smoked fish dip and the skate plate from Whiskey Kitchen in Raleigh, North Carolina