As Raleigh continues to grow, the local dining scene has expanded beyond the downtown boundaries to areas like Gateway Plaza off of Capital Boulevard. This whole corridor off of Wake Forest Road has been growing rapidly and what used to be a strip of tire shops and automotive mechanics, along with the long-lost Foxy Lady 😁, is slowly being transformed into more “proper” businesses! Fine Folk Restaurant & Wine Bar is a newer addition to the area that debuted during the pandemic and I’ve finally had a chance to stop in for a couple of visits and meals. Overall it’s impressed me in a way that’s a bit surprising, offering down-home comfort food in a cozy neighborhood setting that’s very affordable.
Fine Folk, Raleigh – Location and Interior
If you’re visiting Fine Folk for the first time, be aware that they sit in the far, western end of the plaza by Union Special Bakery! There are about 10 or 20 parking spaces in this section but they will often be filled up given how popular Union Special is. Fine Folk sports a dark brick exterior with their name stenciled in yellow, overhead. The front of the restaurant is pretty much all glass windows and doors so there’s plenty of natural light in the space. The large open dining room feels a bit industrial with the concrete floors, metal powder-coated chairs, and high ceiling but it’s all very comfortable. There are also wood booths (4-tops) to the right along with a small side dining room to the left that’s illuminated with cheerful lights. Overall the space feels very open, casual, and quirky!
Fine Folk, Raleigh – Menu and Food
So how’s the food at Fine Folk? I’d describe the menu as basic American comfort food that hits all the primary proteins offering about 20 menu items. And it’s all quite affordable with appetizers in the $7 to $15 range and entrees in the $15 to $25 range. For appetizers, I definitely recommend the fried tortellini which is a pretty interesting take on the traditional fried ravioli! You get a large bowl of perfectly fried tri-colored tortellini with a side of house marinara sauce perfect for dipping.
Moving on to the entrees, you have to get their classic smashburger! Fine Folk does an excellent rendition that is up there on my best burger in Raleigh list. Take two thinnish patties with some char, add two melty pieces of American cheese, some lovely pickles, white onion, and shredded lettuce all stacked on top of a fresh bun topped with sesame seeds and you’ve got some hamburger happiness in your hand. Take a bite and all those layers of savory, cheesy, crispy, and a bit of tang come together nicely! Pair up that Smash-burger with some fresh salt and vinegar chips and you’ll be a happy camper with this classic combo.
The classic grilled pork chop has more of a Southern tinge to the dish. A nice, lean center-cut piece of pork loin, brined, and grilled perfectly. Served with some sauteed black-eyed peas and buttered Carolina Gold rice makes for a great meal that even feels a bit healthy. I’m definitely excited to try more off of the Fine Folk food menu and also dabble in some of the cocktails here.
Fine Folk, Raleigh – Service and Conclusion
While I admit to being a bit of a late-comer to Fine Folk, I definitely enjoy this low-key neighborhood eatery after a couple of visits. Note that there’s no patio dining here which is interesting given it opened during the pandemic. But don’t let that stop you from stopping by! Delicious and affordable menu, check. Comfortable and casual dining room, check. Solid service, check. Fine Folk covers all the bases, making it a popular destination for fine folk in the area and in the know that enjoy fine food!