May 13 2016

5 Ridiculously Good North Hills Raleigh Restaurants You Need To Try Right Now

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar

Itching for an evening out? Us, too. One of our favorite things to do is sit back, relax and let someone else take care of your meal – wine included, obviously. We rounded up the five best North Hills Raleigh restaurants we’re craving below. Dive on in!

The sun’s up longer, the air seems to have a renewed freshness and your shorts are returning from exile – something about this weather just makes us want to have fun, right down to our dining. We like these five local hotspots for an ideal Raleigh night out with friends.

The Cowfish

Are you a total sushi addict, but members of your crew don’t consider it a satisfying meal unless they can pile toppings high on a burger? Lucky for everyone, The Cowfish excels at both. The calamari is always a good bet – fried to perfection, with just a hint of coating that avoids the overwhelming “bread-y” misstep of fried foods. If you can’t pick between the sushi and burgers (we don’t blame you), never fear. Bento boxes come with a sampling of everything, so you can leave the tough choices at the door.

The atmosphere here is a winner, too – there’s a giant fish tank created by the team from Animal Planet’s Tanked. Alert your group – everyone can leave full and happy.

Fox & Hound Sports Tavern

Between the ongoing NBA and NHL playoffs, and with the MLB season in full stride, it’s arguably the best time of the year to grab seats in a sports bar. We suggest the Fox & Hound – grab a beer, and turn your attention to one of their 28 TVs.

While you can expect the Fox & Hound to excel at traditional bar foods, like the drunken chicken tenders and buffalo wings that are literally finger-licking good, there’s unexpected pops to the menu, as well. The sweet & spicy bacon flatbread has never once gone unfinished at our table, and the barbacoa tacos are addictive.

The Q-Shack

A laid-back evening out with friends doesn’t mean your food can’t be high-quality. Q Shack, who sources all of its BBQ and sides locally, using only the freshest ingredients. Additional #locallove bonus – the restaurant is owned and operated by a local family! So while you can never really go wrong with great barbecue, you really hit a home-run with Q Shack’s smoked-on-premise offerings.

Take our word for it and start with the hush puppies, which work well as a side but make a tempting appetizer, too. Mac n’ cheese is a classic accompaniment to barbecue, and Q Shack’s is perfection : gooey and flavorful. Load up with your bbq plate (are you a pulled chicken or pork fan?) and make sure you take full advantage of the sauce options scattered on the tables in squeeze bottles. Vinegar or molasses base? Let us know your vote.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

Nothing screams spring and summer dining more than seasonal ingredients cooked to perfection on a wood fire grill. The appropriately named Firebirds Wood Fired Grill boasts an impressive (and expansive) menu of American classics.

There’s a reason Firebirds’ Yelp reviews underline that the restaurant “never disappoints.” Service is always swift and above average – but the cuisine is where Firebirds truly shines. We firmly believe that you haven’t lived until you’ve tried fire-grilled lobster tail. And if anything can tempt you into ordering multiple dishes and DIYing a surf and turf meal, it will be the expertly cooked (and yes, expertly fire-grilled) steaks.


When the weather is nice, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the only meals we want to have are al fresco meals. Combine that patio atmosphere with Vivace’s selection as one of the Top 20 restaurants in the Triangle, and we’re finding any excuse we can to gather our friends for a meal.

Let’s get this out of the way : the wine list is downright impressive. So if you’re inclined to order by the bottle, this is the place to do it. The rest of Vivace’s fare is classic, rich Italian foods. Start lightly, and with seasonal ingredients, by enjoying summery tomatoes in either the Caprese salad or some bruschetta. Traditional pasta dishes are, of course, excellent. And if you’re feeling adventurous, Vivace serves up branzino, a whole bass fish served with head and tail included that you delicately de-bone while enjoying the tender, flaky meat.

We hope you didn’t read this while hungry – or, if you did, that you’re about to head out the door to investigate our finds for yourself. You can read more about each of these restaurants (or explore all of our other options!) and find their contact details on the Dine section of the North Hills website. Happy eating!