Greg Cox Names Top 25 — Er, 24 — Restaurants in the Triangle

News & Observer restaurant critic, Greg Cox, has named his top 25 restaurants in the Triangle, with Herons named as his restaurant of the year.   There are a few new additions to his list, including Herons’ going from a no-show to the top performer. Others new to the list include Poole’s Downtown Diner, the Fearrington House, Second Empire, and Watts Grocery.  Interestingly, the online version of this article only has 24 restaurants, unlike the print version, which included Fins on this year’s list. This is because this list went to press before the announcement was made that Fins is closed as it transforms to bu•ku.

Last year Cox included a number of value-type restaurants in his list, such as Allen & Son and China Palace, but no such cheap eats place remains on this year’s list.  Cox has a completely separate list of top “Bargains.” Other restaurants that are no longer on the Top 25 are Bin 54,  Dos Taquitos Centros, Enoteca Vin (closed).

This is a solid list and serves as a guide to the best of the best in the Triangle.  One can argue about a restaurant here or there, but in the end, Cox does a super job helping his readers find the best places to eat.

For a geographic breakdown, of the top 24 restaurants, 10 are in Raleigh, 4 are in Chapel Hill, 6 are in Durham, 2 in Cary, 1 in Pittsboro and 1 in Hillsborough.  Raleigh only has one of the “Best Bargains,” interestingly enough.

Greg Cox’s Top 24 Restaurants of the Triangle — 2010 Edition

Herons (Restaurant of the Year)

18 Seaboard

Bloomsbury Bistro

Bonne Soirée

Elaine’s on Franklin


Fearrington House

Four Square


Il Palio

J. Betski’s


Magnolia Grill





Poole’s Downtown Diner

Saint Jacques

Second Empire

Vin Rouge


Watts Grocery

Zely & Ritz

Top Newcomers of the Year

Busy Bee Cafe

Chef & the Farmer


Cypress on the Hill

Dos Perros


Queen of Sheba



Super Wok

Top Bargains

Allen & Son

China Palace

Neal’s Deli


Rockwood Filling Station


Skipper’s Fish Fry & Market

Taqueria La Vaquita


Udupi Café


10 Responses to Greg Cox Names Top 25 — Er, 24 — Restaurants in the Triangle

  1. aburtch says:

    Of course all lists are the opinion of their creator, but I would have included Rue Cler. It’s definitely worthy.

  2. Chops says:

    Has anyone been to Bloomsbury Bistro or Margaux’s in the past year? It has been years since I have been to either and I wonder if they are still top 25 restaurants. Piedmont is a personal favorite and he gave it 4 1/2 stars, so I am surprised that is not on the list. The bargain list to me is a little more off. How can you not have Federal on the bargain list?

    These lists are always fun to debate……..

  3. drew says:

    Seriously, where the f is Piedmont? And yeah, Rue Cler as well. Hard to believe some of those restaurants mentioned who seem to be stuck in the 90’s could make the top 25.

  4. Sarah says:

    Where are Hayes Barton Cafe and Mo’s Diner?!

    Chops –

    I was a Margaux’s last month and was not impressed. I had not been in 5 years and was really excited to go again. I remembered it as being elegant and delicious. This time I was disappointed with the service and atmosphere. My meal was good, but not one of my top 25 in the triangle.

    My parents go to Bloomsbury all the time and claim that it is still as wonderful as always.

  5. burgeoningfoodie says:

    I have heard a lot of consistency problems at both Piedmont and Rue Cler (be it food or service). I for one had no problems at either, but I’ve only been once. Has anyone been to Savoy? Isn’t that a top performer or a good newcomer? Surprised that there isn’t a sushi place listed on any list. I thought there would be maybe one more from Hillsborough and maybe and maybe a little more ethnicity on the list. Surprised there was no Indian in the either Top 25 or newcomers. Sorry but I don’t think SandwHich is a bargain if I were to compare to the other sandwich shops.. it is just a tad too pricey to be a bargain to me.

  6. Methinks says:

    Don’t know if Village Kabob (Peace St. in Raleigh) was open when Greg drew up his list of Top Bargains…but it is stellar. So much so it should be listed in the Top 25, in my opinion. Very plain setting, but everything they service is flavorful, freshly prepared, and delicious. And the fellows who own the restaurant are very kind and gracious souls.

  7. Todd Morman says:

    2nd Village Kabob as both a newcomer and a great bargain – $10 dinner entrees that are unusually delicious and even cheaper lunches. Has Cox reviewed them yet? If not, it’s past time for him to get over there.

  8. says:

    How can Crook’s Corner be a 2010 Beard Award semi-finalist and not be on Greg Cox’s Top 24/25 List?

  9. Tom from Raleigh says:

    Based on my most recent visit, I think the reputation of Crook’s far exceeds the current level of execution.

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