When you talk about shopping centers in Raleigh, several immediately come to mind: Crabtree Valley Mall, Brier Creek, Cameron Village and more. But probably one of THE most popular shopping areas is North Hills. With an interesting assortment of high-end shopping, restaurants and more, this growing area has evolved quite a bit when it comes to dining. And all in a good way!
To start with, there are two main areas at North Hills: the older section west of Six Forks Road and the newer development east of Six Forks. Not surprisingly, you’ll have a different feel in each area. While the older more established part of North Hills has a traditional, ITB (Inside the Beltline) Raleigh feel, the newer side feels a bit younger and has a more non-traditional crowd. The new area also is more of a mixed use space pairing the shopping plaza with apartments and office space.
Let’s start on the west side first with long-time fave Mura! Mura is the original and first restaurant for the Eschelon Restaurant Group and is known for its great Japanese eats and sushi. The interior is modern and clean without being over-stated and includes several tatami rooms for private group dining. It’s got an open and airy feel to the front but Mura gets subdued and quieter in the back with its more traditional dining room.
I’ve primarily done lunches and event dinners here but I can tell you that a lot of attention is paid at Mura to their food. From ingredient selection to plating, Mura is one of the better sushi and Japanese restaurants in the area and can still hold its own after all these years. Great for a group meal or a dinner date, Mura also has a nice bar and lounge up front for a more casual dining experience.
Next up is Coquette, a French cafe and restaurant from the Urban Food Group. This classic brasserie sports some nice Continental touches such as a long polished wood bar with brass step rail along with the white and black tiled floors. Staff is decked out in traditional white shirts and black pants to complete the Euro-centric ambiance.
Coquette’s smallish lunch menu of classics include croque madame, crepes, salads and sandwiches. I recently stopped in and did a very nice steak frites with brandy peppercorn sauce that totally hit the spot. Service at Coquette is excellent and about right for its slightly higher price point. But beware, the place is popular so if you need a seat in the dining room at prime hours, call ahead. Or dine casually at the bar if you’ve got some flexibility.
Moving across Lassiter Mill Road you’ll find the recently refreshed Midtown Grille. I always knew it as a tony and mature restaurant that focused on classic American eats but new chef John Childers has switched things up a bit. A recent beer dinner that I attended at Midtown Grille shows the same focus on classic American and Southern but with a more gourmet twist.
During my dinner I was able to sample a variety of plates including a fantastic chicken confit with apricot glaze and seared broccoli. Midtown Grille also served up a wonderfully soft sweet potato with pork belly which was presented beautifully on some rock salt. Service at Midtown Grill is fantastic and they’ve got a great wine list to boot so if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale at North Hills, Midtown Grille will do it for you.
Moving across Six Forks Road you’ll find the newer side of North Hills. Complete with a Harris Teeter and Kings Bowl, it definitely has a more modern feel to the place. You’ll also find North Hills favorite Cowfish Sushi and Burger Bar restaurant which specializes in both sushi and gourmet burgers. A favorite with families, as soon as you step in you’ll notice the kitschy decor and amazing cylindrical aquarium. If your kids aren’t mesmerized by that bad-boy, I’m at a loss!
Cowfish can keep nearly anyone pleased given its gargantuan menu. From eclectic and interesting sushi rolls to gigantic 1/2 lb. burgers, you’ve got a ridiculous amount of eating options. I typically go for the Brento box which includes a mini-burger, sushi roll of your choice along with edamame, spicy cucumber slices, and fries. Service at Cowfish is professional and prompt, you should be able to get out quickly here but need to work through potential waits on the front end.
Another dining option in the newest section of North Hills is the Tex-Mex eatery, Chuy’s! Based out of Austin, Texas you’ll find all your Mexican favorites but with a bent towards the spicy green hatch chile. Chuy’s has a very vibrant and kitschy decor full of colors and sass. They have a great patio in back that I have yet to try but it looks great! And if you’re here during happy hour (Mon to Fri), don’t miss out on their complimentary nacho car full of chips, cheese, spicy beef and more.
The Chuy’s menu sticks to the basics: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, For mains, I’ve tried out their enchiladas and burritos, it’s all been solid if not amazing. Tortillas are made fresh, onsite and everything else on the Chuy’s menu is from scratch! While it may not be the best Tex-Mex in the area, it’s decent and reasonably priced for the hood.
And finally, Yard House! A modern brewpub hailing out of California, the Yard House offers up a slew of fresh beers on tap along with a very eclectic menu. Choose from Asian, Mexican, American plates, sandwiches and entrees amongst the very large menu. Like Cowfish Sushi which is right next door, it’s hard to imagine someone coming here and NOT being able to find something to eat.
Inside Yard House you’ve got a monochromatic, dark and grey feel to the space. Modern and a bit austere, with a hit of hipness. Staff here is well-trained but it does have a national chain-like feel to it all. My most recent visit was for their happy hour special (Mon to Fri, 3 – 6pm) and we ordered up a slew of plates out on their patio. The highlights for me were the spinach-artichoke dip which comes with crispy and large fried tortilla chips along with some excellent onion rings and kung pao calamari. While the food at the Yard House won’t blow you away, it’s a bit different and a good dining experience overall.
If you’re hungry for Italian, you may want to check out the casual but delicious Piola! An international chain based out of Italy, Piola has one North Carolina location in North Hills and serves up some great pizzas and pastas on the cheap. Decor at Piola is bright, cheery and casual, perfect for the family. Pretty much the entire menu is from $6 to $14 for appetizers, entrees and desserts.
I’ve tried out their margherita pizza (Neapolitan style) along with a penne rosate (tomato-cream sauce with smoked salmon) and both were tasty and satisfying in good portions. Toss in their solid service and you’ve got yourself a winner here for Italian eats in North Hills!
So there you go North Hills lover! Whether you’re in the area for bowling, a movie or some shopping, I’m sure you’ll need some delicious eats to fuel your way through the day. And here are seven solid choices to keep you happy and humming along with quite a few others outside of these suggestions. Whether you’re hungry for Japanese, French, Sushi, Tex-Mex or American, North Hills has got you covered in delicious style…
Best Restaurants and Dining at North Hills, Raleigh
4321 Lassiter at North Hills Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27609
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