We walked through the first five of our top 15 Oldest Raleigh NC Restaurants in the previous post. In this the second of our three-part series, we will move forward and, in doing so, take a step back. So, here we give you a look moving along to our next five oldest and traditional spots to eat in the “Oak City.” Conveniently for you, all of these fine establishments are just a short distance from your new home at Knightdale Station. With the time they’ve been satisfying hunger and bringing folks together, it’s safe to say you have plenty of time to plan and get out to check these classic stops out.
So, as we move along we continue taking you to the most iconic Raleigh eateries. Here we dive face first (or fork first) into these classic establishments. These Raleigh NC Restaurants have all stood as staples of the social fiber of this great city and the surrounding area for at least 60 and as many as 75 years. So there is good chance they will be around for quite some time to come
Moving Through the 1960’s and Back to the 50’s
10. Char-Grill- 618 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC (Opened in 1960)
(Distance from Knightdale Station: 14.2 miles)
Yes, we know that there are quite a few locations around the Triangle area for Char-Grill in the current day. However, the original site we speak of makes our top ten Oldest Raleigh NC Restaurants listing. All locals are pretty familiar with its classic look and location at 618 Hillsborough Street. It all started there.
Char-Grill became an area favorite behind its delicious, signature hamburger steaks and fries. But its humble beginnings came in 1960 when owner Bruce Garner built this iconic cinder block building which only served take-out. Its popularity has grown to include ten Raleigh area locations in the past 60-plus years. Their late-night hours (open until 2:00 a.m.) n Friday and Saturday at the Hillsborough Street location have long been a hit. With excellent prices and the same great food that started it all six decades ago, Char-Grill is a safe bet to be around Raleigh for a long time to come.
9. Ashworth’s Drugs- 105 West Chatham Street, Cary, NC (Opened in 1957)
(Distance from Knightdale Station: 23.3 miles)
This iconic pharmacy/soda shop/hot dog joint has been a Raleigh area favorite for 65 years as of this year. Set in Cary, NC, this is a no-brainer when we think of legendary Raleigh NC Restaurants. Still a full functioning pharmacy today, Ashworth’s likewise has seen their soda shop, and lunch counter grow to serve and please generation after generation.
With a menu chocked full of Southern staples, it’s no doubt people have enjoyed this true throwback year after year. Longtime favorites have included pimento cheese sandwiches, homemade chicken salad, and their iconic neon red Jesse Jones hot dogs. Of course, don’t forget their soda shop with freshly squeezed orangeades, milkshakes, sundaes, and more.
8. State Farmer’s Market Restaurant- 1240 Farmers Market Drive, Raleigh, NC (Opened in 1955)
(Distance from Knightdale Station: 14.8 miles)
Although there is a cloudy early history, it is believed this famous entry in our Raleigh NC Restaurants first opened in 1955. Regardless, the farm-fresh taste of Southern goodness has grown to become one of the most popular stops in town. It simply grew too big for its original location, which is when it moved to the location you have all come to know since 1991.
The State Farmer’s Market Restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, using the freshest local products in all dishes. It’s a good idea to come early for weekend breakfast, though. You can always count on their signature hotcakes, grits, chicken and waffles, omelets, country ham, and much more. Just like all the others among our Oldest Raleigh NC Restaurants, you can also count on this classic being around for a long, long time.
7. The Player’s Retreat- 105 Oberlin Road, Raleigh, NC (Opened in 1951)
(Distance from Knightdale Station: 16.2 miles)
To long-time customers, this is just known by its initials “PR.” But now in its 70th year of operation, Players’ Retreat is just as it always was. “PR” has been part dive bar, part college sports bar, and part neighborhood gathering spot since 1951. It sets on the edge of the NC State campus, and one walk inside will scream red and white and may even “howl’ Wolfpack pride.
The Players Retreat has long been known for its extensive Scotch and Wine listings. Likewise, the simple yet delicious menu has kept its regulars coming back for more. Whether it’s their house-ground burgers or their signature sides like the famous pasta salad, this go-to “lunch, and a ballgame has them always coming back for more. With ample outdoor seating and a loyal late-night crowd, too, The “PR” after all these years is still “A-OK” in the “Oak City!”
6. Watkins Grill- 1625 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh, NC (Opened in 1947)
(Distance from Knightdale Station: 11.8 miles)
The year 2022 will mark the 75th anniversary of Watkins Grill, serving up what many have long felt is the best breakfast in town. But how does one become one of the top five Oldest Restaurants in Raleigh and stay relevant for over seven decades? Well, how about opening at 5:00 am on Monday-Saturday? Add to that their famous grits, corned beef hash, omelets, biscuits and gravy, and more. Then, toss in all the diner classics once lunchtime approaches.
This family-owned Raleigh institution first opened its doors in 1947. It continues to be the greasy spoon favorite whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Burgers, roast pork, BBQ chicken, and so much more. This family-owned gem is unmistakenly the epitome of Southern cooking and Southern charm. For the past three-quarters of a century, they have been proud of it, and it seems they will be for as long as they would like to.
The Oldest Raleigh NC Restaurants the Five Longest Standing “Oak City” Eateries
This brings us well into the Top Ten and beyond in our walk through the Oldest Raleigh NC Restaurants. In the upcoming third and final installment of this series will bring us to the five longest-standing Raleigh area establishments. As we mentioned earlier in the post, the one great convenience you are afforded is close vicinity to your new home. All of these are under 25 miles from the Knightdale Station new home neighborhood. So, as long as these establishments have stood, it is safe to say they will be a part of the Triangle area’s culture for a long time to come, and they will be waiting for you to join in the tradition.
For more information on the Knightdale Station new home community, visit knightdalestation.com.