Spanning 500,000 square feet and equipped with a 32,000-square-foot ballroom, 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 20 dedicated meeting rooms and space for nearly 800 exhibit booths, the Raleigh Convention Center is no stranger to meeting-goers and travelers of all sorts.
And with countless hotels in the vicinity, many of the locality's 16.45 million annual visitors -- visitors with hearty appetites, might we add -- are setting up shop in the same central location as the convention center. Fortunately, the area is also rich with delicious restaurants and hotspots. In fact, more than 70 places to grab a bite sit within walking distance of the facility. Nearby culinary highlights include the following.
Though technically three minutes away, attendees never have to step outside to arrive at Rye Bar & Southern Kitchen in the 400-room Raleigh Marriott City Center.
Chef Anthony Parise works with local farmers and purveyors to supply local meats and produce for the menu of modern southern cuisine. After munching on the signature bread board served with house-made pickles and southern honey butter, try the appetizer of coastal shrimp pan-seared over aged cheddar grits. Main courses to savor include smoked butternut squash mac with chai tea, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and brown rice pasta. This southern establishment offers private dining for up to 70 attendees, as well as semi-private spaces for up to 50. View the full menu.
Raw, roasted and fried oysters take center stage on the seafood-centric menu at St. Roch's. With Chef Sunny Gerhart hailing from New Orleans, the restaurant claims to offer the area's finest oysters and Carolina produce dressed up in NOLA style.
On ice, the Tchoupitoulas Street Special is piled high with a dozen oysters, six clams, peel-and-eat shrimp, Swanquarter crab legs and all the "fixins." For casual dinner fare, one-up the usual chicken and waffles with the fried oysters and waffles entree -- a buttermilk waffle paired with two sunny-side-up eggs, fried oysters, crispy chiles, creole cane syrup, crème fraîche, chives and cajun caviar. St. Roch's offers full venue buyouts and can host groups of up to 80. View the full menu.
The signature restaurant of the 353-room Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, Jimmy V's dishes up wood-fired pizzas paired with an assortment of handmade cocktails and craft beers. For starters, try the calamari appetizer served with sweet and spicy peppers and chili aioli, or the wood-fired crab dip with spinach, artichoke and lump crab. One offbeat creation is the funky pizza with a black garlic olive oil base, caramelized onion, spinach, vegan mozzarella and exotic mushroom blend.
If you enjoy cocktails with a kick, sip on the Sweet Heat — a blend of Absolut peach, lime juice, peach purée and jalapeño simple syrup. Private-dining options include the restaurant's outdoor front and back patios, each with room for 40 seated or 60 for a reception, and the Wolf Den, which holds 10 for dinner. View the full menu.
At street level of the downtown Hudson condo building, the Sono has a vibrant interior for enjoying the menu of fresh fish and fusion fare. At night, the restaurant is lit up in red, a hue with various meanings in Japan, including fertility and wealth. From the bar to the walls, the color sets a spicy scene an evening of sushi rolls such as the surf & turf (blue crab, tempura shrimp, ribeye, avocado, balsamic soy, garlic crisps and green onion) and hamachi tale (seared yellowtail, spicy crab, avocado, cucumber, jalapeño, chili garlic oil and sweet soy). A number of "farmland entrees" are available for those who would prefer to forego the fish. The establishment holds 146 people for a buyout. View the full menu.
Perfect for attendees craving a different kind of bite, Garland serves up Indian and Asian-inspired dishes with a southern twist. Menu favorites include the local catch of pan-seared Carolina fish with perilla seeds, sautéed local greens, shiitake muschrooms, shaved fennel, puffed rice salad and chili oil; and the osso buco served with north Indian spices, chana dal fry, yogurt, crispy french lentils, quick-pickled daikon and basmati rice. The establishment seats up to 80 guests indoors; add in the outdoor patio space for a party of 100. View the full menu.