Last updated on December 10, 2022 by Wandering our World
You know what we like about Cary? It has the perfect blend of suburban charm and downtown hustle and bustle. But you know what we absolutely love about this city? The thriving food and restaurant scene.
Here, your taste buds can go on one of the best culinary expeditions available in The Triangle area, as downtown Cary has developed exponentially in recent years, with many cute cafes and bougie restaurants ready to serve you. There’s even a fantastic bar scene, as we’ve written about previously.
So below are what we think are some of the best restaurants to dine at in Cary, NC – experience everything from fine dining and American comfort food to cuisines from all around the globe, including Turkish, Indian, and Irish fare!
Our Top Eight Restaurants In Cary, NC: Food Worth Waiting For!
1. Peck and Plume
Boutique hotel serving New American cuisine in sophisticated dining rooms and a spacious patio with occasional live music
One of the finest fine dining restaurants in Cary, NC, Peck and Plume serves up New American entrees with a Southern flair.
The restaurant is located inside The Mayton Hotel, so prepare to be dazzled by the elegant and breathtaking dining spaces here. Every room looks chic with luxuriously upholstered chairs, including the cozy bar area and the airy main dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows.
There’s even a library-themed room, where you can nestle into big armchairs and sip on fancy cocktails!
It’s all very bougie, but the atmosphere is pretty calm and relaxed, especially on the spacious terrace where you can sit back under lit umbrellas and hum to some live music.
With a modern twist on American favorites, this place can impress even the harshest of critics. Expect stuff like a fluffy ham and cheese omelet with garlic cheese grits for breakfast, and innovative egg benedicts that vary weekly for brunch (on weekends).
Lunch and dinner both come in shareable plates and single-portion entrees, and although the menus are pretty short, everything is made of top-tier quality ingredients and presented beautifully. Expect gourmet sandwiches for lunch, such as the Tuna Salad Melt with granny apples and Swiss cheese on an English muffin.
Dinner has more luxurious picks, like the melt-in-the-mouth Braised short ribs with a celery root mash, bell pepper caramel, and horseradish cream. Just trust the chefs, because all the complex flavors in their dishes work together beautifully!
Reservations are highly recommended as this is one of the most popular restaurants in Cary, NC, especially on weekends when they’re packed with hungry patrons throughout the day. Find them open every day except for Tuesday, and check out their website for more details on their operating hours.
Address: 301 S Academy St, Cary, NC
2. Kababish Cafe
Pakistani and Indian cuisines served in a vibrant and casual dining space with outdoor seating
Featuring the bold and raging flavors of Pakistani specialties and Indian dishes, Kababish Cafe has been winning hearts and satisfying bellies since 2015.
It’s a woman-owned and family-run eatery, where Nasreen’s talented husband/Chef Yousuf cooks vibrant meals while she manages the front house. The ambiance here is pretty nice too, as mood lights, lanterns, and eastern decor set a magical mood in the dining room, while the covered outdoor area (with heaters) lets you chow down their food with a side of natural light.
Even though it’s a casual and easygoing restaurant, it brings a serious and seemingly endless menu of hearty and intensely-flavored dishes. Start with their shareable appetizers, such as the Garden Platter with samosas, onion fritters, and some fresh Chaat before moving on to the delectable mains.
Try the Karahi that features your choice of meat in a spicy and gingery sauce with rice, or go for the Chana Masala that has chickpeas simmered in herbs and spices (they’ve got plenty more of such vegetarian entrees, by the way).
The Chef’s specials proudly showcase some of Pakistan’s most loved dishes, such as Nihari and Haleem, both of which are luxuriously thick stews. Or you could skip ahead and devour their juicy and spicy BBQs, tender and perfectly seasoned kebabs, and Tandoori-style seafood. Adjust the heat according to your spice tolerance, and finish off with some traditional Gajar Halwa.
You can also BYOB with no corkage fee, so do get your favorite red wines to pair with these aromatic dishes. They’re open on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4 pm onwards, and noon onwards on Fridays and weekends.
Address: 201 W Chatham St #103, Cary, NC
3. Doherty’s Irish Pub and Restaurant
Traditional Irish cuisine and beers served in a buzzy atmosphere with outdoor seating and regular live music
Music, good food, and a fish tank worth of beers – if that’s your idea of a fun night out, then you’re going to love Doherty’s.
This 2012 established pub is the locals’ go-to place for authentic and traditional Irish fare alongside a flight of beers. They’ve always got great service, multiple live music events and trivia nights throughout the week, and a buzzy atmosphere where you can rejoice over delightful food and drinks.
Doused in warm and dark colors, the dimmed-out dining area feels very comfortable to settle into, with lots of TV screens at the cozy bar. There’s also some patio seating available when the weather permits.
And while the sports screenings and music events are fun and all, the main reason why this place draws big crowds is its impressive food. We don’t know how they do it, but all of their dishes are known for always coming out looking and tasting fantastic!
Stuff like brisket poutine and Irish egg rolls work well as starters, and you can also order some of their traditional Boxty for the full Irish experience.
As for the mains, we highly recommend their shepherd’s pie that has a perfectly crisp top and spot-on flavors inside, which is why it’s one of their best sellers. Corned beef and cabbage, beef and guinness stew, and many other traditional Irish dishes also grace the menu, alongside some stellar grilled Reubens and juicy burgers stacked high with toppings. They’ve also got homemade black bean patties for vegetarians, and a few gluten-free picks as well.
Sunday brunch (9 am – 2 pm) comes with all the usual suspects like corned beef hash and omelets, along with a traditional Irish breakfast platter bound to make you lick your fingers.
Drop by any day from 11 am to as late as midnight (on Fridays and Saturdays) at the bar, and don’t forget to check out their website for live music schedules!
Address: 1979 High House Rd, Cary, NC
4. Bosphorus Restaurant
Turkish and Mediterranean picks served in a quaint and relaxed atmosphere
On days when you want good food without shelling out too many bucks, head towards Bosphorus Restaurant.
Located in a small strip mall on Harrison Ave, this unassuming family-owned place is one of the most popular restaurants in Cary, NC, where people can get their hands on Turkish food in its most authentic form.
Settle inside their spacious yet quaint dining rooms, where the atmosphere is casual and family-friendly as owner Mustafa welcomes you. Meanwhile, his brother Chef Adil Berk shows off his skills in the kitchen, cooking up a big menu of traditional Turkish and Mediterranean picks.
You can’t go wrong with any of the options here – they’re all skillfully prepared, scratch-made, and served in an unpretentious manner. Once you’re seated, you’ll be served Pide (Turkish bread) that’s freshly baked throughout the day along with some dipping oil, so you can nibble on that stuff as you wait for the food.
Appetizers include everything from stuffed grape leaves and Turkish lentil soup to hummus, baba ganoush, and more. The entrees range from gyros, grilled kebabs (their Adana kebab is one you shouldn’t miss out on!), falafel, and Turkish Pizzas. Everything is served with Pilaf (flavored Turkish rice) and cucumber sauce, and the hearty portions will leave your belly full and happy.
On Sundays, you can get your hands on doner kebabs cooked on a vertical rotisserie, but mind you – they’re packed on weekends, so prepare to wait!
Oh and, they serve halal food, so naturally there’s no alcohol on the menu, but you’re more than welcome to BYOB or go for their amazing Turkish tea instead!
Find them open from Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am onwards, and noon onwards on Sundays for some affordable yet delicious Turkish food.
Address: 329 N Harrison Ave, Cary, NC
5. La Grassa Pastificio
Upscale Italian restaurant serving elegant entrees and desserts in an intimate atmosphere
Italian restaurants are all about intimate surroundings, rich food, and exquisite wines, and that’s exactly what you should expect at La Grassa Pastificio.
Founded just over a year ago, this restaurant features a concise handcrafted menu of elevated Italian dishes served in a romantic and quiet atmosphere, where the chef himself often checks up on you and ensures a personable experience.
Their dining room is pretty small, adding to the intimate vibe. Navy blue walls surround the room with minimalist decor, floor-to-ceiling windows, and candle-lit white marble top tables and chairs, giving a very clean, simple, yet chic look to the place. A few bar stools in front of the open kitchen are also available for guests.
As for the dishes here, they’re a prime example of what Italian food dreams are made of – high-quality imported ingredients prepared with utmost care and served with finesse and style. And although their menu is pretty short, they change it seasonally and add new stuff every now and then.
For starters, we recommend the Arancini (Italian rice balls) and the freshly-baked Focaccia, which is some of the best Italian bread you can get your hands on around here. Creamy risotto with butternut squash, roasted duck with duck leg and foie gras ravioli, and homemade spinach pappardelle with slow-braised wild boar are the kind of exceptional entrees you can expect here.
And although their wine list isn’t too extensive, they have some of the finest picks from Italy, most of which are available by the glass. Find them open between Tuesday-Saturday from 5.30 pm onwards, and reservations are a must since this place is one of the most popular restaurants in Cary, NC, and remains jam-packed every day of the week!
Address: 908 NE Maynard Rd, Cary, NC
6. Noodle Boulevard
Many varieties of Ramen and rice bowls served in a casual and friendly atmosphere
Bringing Ichiran-quality, authentic ramen flavors to the heart of little Cary, Noodle Boulevard is by far the most popular ramen spot in The Triangle area.
With a wide array of ramen and rice bowls, this place feels like a warm hug on days when you just need something comfortable and easy to munch on.
The venue itself is pretty buzzy, with lots of people popping in and out throughout the day, but the warm colors and laid-back seating make it all feel super casual and comfy to settle into. If you want quieter surroundings to dive into your bowl, their patio tables are always available under umbrellas.
Believe it or not, this place has over 16 ramen varieties, including the most sought-after Shoyu, Miso, and Tonkotsu ramen!
Their noodles are springy and chewy, the broths taste rich and complex, and most of them are served with moist slices of Chashu pork and an Ajitsuke egg. There are vegetarian types too, and you can always substitute the regular noodles with kale, rice, or udon noodles.
Oh and, extra toppings like Naruto (fish cakes), fried wonton skin for that extra crunch, Nori, and kimchi can take your bowl to a whole new level. Don’t forget the chili oil either!
Their rice bowls like the Unagi or chicken teriyaki are pretty good too, especially if you get some of their fried enoki or edamame as sides. Adjust the spice level to as high or mild as you want, and wash it all down with the many Sake and beers up for grabs.
The place is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am – 2 pm for lunch and 5 pm-9 pm for dinner. There’s a bit of a wait on most days, but service is always quick, smooth, and friendly.
Address: 1718 Walnut St, Cary, NC
5-star hotel offering prix-fixe meals in a magnificent ambiance with terrace seating and live music
Being Cary’s version of The French Laundry, Herons is an award-winning five-star restaurant located inside The Umstead Hotel and Spa, with a prix-fixe menu of Chef Greene’s artful interpretation of American cooking.
Surrounded by luxurious decor and creations from various artists, the ambiance here is hushed, classy, and grandly upscale. The center of the dining room showcases a gorgeous glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly, and every corner of the room offers an elegant backdrop (they also have a private art collection that you can tour!).
Live harp, piano, or guitar plays in the background to create a romantic atmosphere. You can also settle at their bougie bar, or sip cocktails on the terrace overlooking green grounds and a lake.
Since the restaurant’s theme incorporates art and nature into food, the plates here act as the chef’s canvas as he paints with his delectable food. Each course invokes all five senses, whether it’s with the addition of dry ice for dramatic effects or the servers adding the last few details to your plate.
You can choose between the chef’s 8-course tasting menu that changes every now and then with wine pairings, or go for the 4-course meal that has a handful of options to choose from.
All of the dishes come with complex flavors and various elements that work harmoniously on the taste buds, such as the dry-aged duck entree with black tea consommé and fermented gooseberry. So whether you come for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, expect to be dazzled!
Of course, all of this comes at a steep price compared to other restaurants in Cary, NC, so prepare to shell out several hundred bucks for a meal you’re probably going to remember for a lifetime.
Reserve your table well in advance, and dress to impress – the place has a strict dress code that prohibits jeans, shorts, and sandals!
Address: The Umstead Hotel and Spa, 100 Woodland Pond Dr, Cary, NC
8. Papi’s Cuban Sandwich
Small food trailer offering authentic Cuban sandwiches and coffee with outdoor picnic tables
Not everyone can do a Cuban Sandwich justice – unless it’s from Papi’s Cuban Sandwich, of course, where Jorge uses family recipes to recreate the Cuban delights he grew up with.
Located inside a small food trailer, this is one of those hidden gems that not many know about, but those who do have become regular customers and have never looked back since.
Since it’s a small truck, you’ll have to either do take-out or settle on one of the few picnic tables at the back. They’re currently busy relocating with a reopening date yet to be announced on their socials, so we’re hoping for a bigger and better setup to enjoy these wonderful sandwiches!
The family-run business uses authentic Cuban bread to make traditional Cuban sandwiches, such as The Miami which features family-recipe pork with swiss cheese and dill pickles. Their Sloppy Papi is just as popular, with Ropa Vieja, swiss cheese, and some aioli.
Breakfast picks include the Breakfast Jerk sandwich – spicy chicken, cheese, egg – along with pastries, toasts, and coffee made with Cuban espresso beans in an authentic style. All the sandwiches are stacked high with fillings and are very sizeable – enough to have leftovers. Do try their rice bowls too!
They’re typically open on Thursday from 8 am – 3.30 pm, and Friday-Sunday from 8 am to late in the evening. These timings tend to change, so check their socials or better yet, call them before you arrive.
Address: Yet to be announced
The Best Restaurants In Cary, NC: Our Final Thoughts
There are way too many amazing restaurants in Cary, NC, so if you feel overwhelmed with choices, just drop by our eight favorite picks, and thank us later. Bon appetit!