From classic diner food to fresh farm-to-table fare, both Raleigh and Durham are full of exceptional eateries serving up top-notch breakfast and brunch grub.
NORTH CAROLINA—While weekday breakfasts are often rushed—or skipped entirely—once the weekend rolls around, we love slowing things down to tuck into a delicious morning meal with all the fixings. The neighboring cities of Raleigh and Durham, two-thirds of the Research Triangle, have no shortage of spots serving up breakfast eats worth getting out of bed for, so we’ve rounded up our favorites.
Whether you’re looking for an upscale brunch with a globally inspired menu or a casual café with all your favorite childhood dishes, this list features plenty of spots that’ll leave you satisfied.
1240 Farmers Market Drive, Raleigh
Breakfast: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
After a fun-filled day at the State Farmers Market, refuel with a delicious selection of Southern breakfast and brunch classics at the market’s onsite restaurant. Every meal at this family-owned establishment starts with a serving of handmade biscuits, which are so beloved they even have their own section on the menu and can be ordered as an entrée too. With options ranging from the NC Country Ham Biscuit to the “World Famous” Jim Graham Biscuit (named after the former NC agriculture commissioner), there’s something for everyone.
Not into biscuits? Explore the extensive offering of country breakfasts, opt for one of the many omelets and hot cakes, or indulge in the Signature Granny Cone’s Sampler. Menu items are crafted with care and feature local, fresh-grown ingredients.
901 W. Morgan St., Raleigh
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
For a vegetarian and vegan-friendly brunch that meat lovers will also enjoy, check out Irregardless, which has been serving the Raleigh community since 1975. The vegan burrito is loaded with housemade vegan chorizo, pickled onions, beans, rice, and guacamole, while the Belgian waffle (vegan and gluten-free) is topped with fresh berries, plant-based whipped cream, and maple syrup. The chicken and waffles, brisket hash, steak and eggs, or crab cake benedict are just a few of the carnivore-centric dishes on offer.
At Irregardless, you can also listen to live music performed by North Carolina musicians six days a week and view local art on the space’s gallery walls.
301 Glenwood Ave., Suite 100, Raleigh
Breakfast: Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Breakfast and brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
At Plates Neighborhood Kitchen, diners are invited to come “taste the world” with its globally inspired menu full of international dishes infused with regional Southern flavors and local ingredients. Starters range from a pimiento cheese dip with herbs, pickles, sesame seeds, pepper jelly, and sesame rice crackers to house deviled eggs with roasted jalapeno, chili oil, herbs, and crispy garlic. Main courses include a crab cake Benedict, shrimp and grits, and a bacon-and-cheddar quiche, among other choices.
Plenty of the menu items are gluten-free, and several can be made vegan upon request.
13 E. Martin St., Raleigh
Breakfast: Monday-Friday, 7:30-11 a.m.
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
For a classic diner experience, head to The Mecca Restaurant, a Raleigh staple since 1930. Get cozy in one of the antique booths or grab a stool at the bar and get ready to tuck into a hearty, soul-soothing meal. Breakfast plates are served with three eggs, grits, and your choice of bread. A variety of omelets and breakfast sandwiches are also available, as well as pancakes, French toast, a fried shrimp po’boy, a breakfast burger, and more.
The Mecca Restaurant is located just a couple blocks from the State Capitol, making it a great option if you’re touring the area with hungry out-of-town visitors.
2519 Fairview Road, Raleigh
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
For a fancier brunch, Mandolin—named one of the 50 best Southern restaurants in America—should be on your radar. Mandolin is the debut restaurant from Raleigh native Sean Fowler, whose seasonal Southern-influenced menus emphasize high-quality, fresh ingredients. Fowler takes local to the next level by sourcing as many ingredients as he can from Mandolin Farm, where Fowler grows a variety of produce. It’s located just 20 minutes from the restaurant.
Sourdough waffles come topped with seasonal ingredients and chantilly cream, while the pork madame—a Southern twist on the croque madame—features Mr. Soul’s BBQ Sauce, pulled pork, Gruyère cheese, and a fried egg.
237 W. Wilmington St., Raleigh
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
James Beard Award-winning chef and North Carolina native Ashley Christensen offers up childhood classics with an elevated twist at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. The namesake fried chicken and honey can be ordered with waffles or, during brunch hours, enjoyed in the Reunion sandwich, which is served on a buttermilk biscuit with a fried egg, cheese, and hot sauce.
Multiple locations, hours vary
Breakfast is served all day, every day at this laidback greasy spoon founded in 1958 by Wake County native “Big Ed” Watkins. With unique antiques hanging from the rafters and memorabilia on display throughout, breakfast at Big Ed’s is more than just a meal. Come for the homey vibes and great service and stay for the mouth-watering, down-home cooking.
The menu is a meat-lover’s dream, with dishes such as fried chicken livers over rice, local country ham (served with gravy, of course), and Big Ed’s meatloaf. Creamed potatoes, deviled eggs, and mac and cheese are just a few of the “vegetable” options you can choose to accompany your entrée.
300 W. Hargett St., Suite 50, Raleigh
Breakfast: Tuesday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
We love the concept at A Place at the Table as much as we enjoy the food. This Raleigh restaurant is the city’s first pay-what-you-can café. Breakfast is served all day, and diners have various payment options: Pay the suggested price to help cover the cost of the meal, pay what you can, volunteer for one hour in the café, or pay it forward to cover another patron’s meal.
Build your own biscuit sandwich or grits bowl, choose from a number of other entrées like huevos rancheros and the hummus pesto sandwich, or indulge in a rotating selection of pastries and seasonal offerings.
2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham
Breakfast: Seven days a week, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Foster’s Market is a family-owned, neighborhood restaurant that’s been serving up delicious dishes to the Durham community for more than three decades. Everything is made in-house, and the breakfast menu has all the classics—from the breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheddar, potatoes, black beans, and salsa to the grits bowl with stone-ground yellow-cheddar grits, two fried eggs, black beans, and salsa. There’s also a salmon bagel, avocado toast, and BLT option.
As the name implies, Foster’s Market also acts as a market with tons of local products for sale.
530 Foster St., Unit 103, Durham
Brunch: Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles puts a tasty twist on the classic comfort food combo with its homemade schmear flavors like orange honeycomb, maple bacon, and peach apricot. Brunchgoers can choose the build-your-own chicken and waffles option to select their own chicken, waffle, schmear, and drizzle—or select from a list of house specialties.
776 9th St., Durham
Breakfast: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
A Durham favorite for more than 20 years, Elmo’s Diner is a family-friendly eatery where everyone feels like a regular—even if it’s their first time visiting. The breakfast menu is expansive, with multiple omelet, pancake and waffle varieties on offer in addition to favorites such as biscuits and gravy, salmon cakes, and French toast.
1200 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham
Breakfast: Seven days a week, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Grub is a service-station-turned-restaurant founded by veteran restaurateurs Stacey Poston and Wendy Woods in an effort to cultivate community through food. The vibe at Grub is decidedly “upscale diner,” and the menu is a reflection of that. Try the Cowgirl Bowl, which includes stone-ground cheddar grits, scrambled eggs, BBQ beef brisket, black bean, salsa, and heirloom cherry tomatoes. Or go with Cathi’s Big Easy, with fried or scrambled eggs, maple pepper bacon or sausage, and cheddar cheese on a buttermilk biscuit.
If you’re looking for something lighter or simply need a caffeine fix, there’s also an impressive selection of smoothies, pastries, and coffee drinks.
5410 Highway 55, Ste. AJ AK, Durham
Breakfast: Thursday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Breakfast plates, French toast, omelets, hash, biscuits, chicken and waffles—True Flavors Diner has it all. This quaint diner serves up modern takes on homestyle Southern fare. Some weekend brunch menu highlights include a butter-poached lobster and arugula omelet, Puerto Rican pernil and grits, and roasted peach mascarpone French toast.
2200 W. Main St., Durham
Brunch: Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
For a boozy brunch that doesn’t sacrifice flavor, head to Local 22 Kitchen & Bar on Sunday. The creative cocktail menu was designed for fun with options like the Fat Bottom Brunch, Mocha Latte Martini, and Berry Fields Forever. Plenty of hearty main dishes and shareable “amusements” are a delicious way to soak up your Sunday Funday libations.
Originally published by The 19th BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — LaTorya Beasley had her first child through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 2022, and by...
Leading up to the 2016 election, Donald Trump crafted an image of himself as a successful businessman and a winner. But in reality, Trump has a long...
Public interest lawyers help tens of thousands of people a year. So why does NC’s latest budget target them?
In September, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a budget excluding Legal Aid of North Carolina attorneys from receiving tuition...
As this small Bertie County town sees its population fall, a rich history is being left behind. Here's a closer look at the historic landmarks that...