by Erica Hinton

Every year, Wake Living celebrates the best of Wake County by inviting you—our readers—to vote on your favorites. Everything from restaurants and breweries to dog groomers and realtors—and everything in between. In part one of two posts, we’re highlighting something everyone has in common: food and drink!

Start your day off right with breakfast at Brig’s, where premium ingredients are showcased in dishes like eggs Benedict topped with fresh crab. On Sundays, head over to Driftwood Southern Kitchen for a rustic farmhouse-style brunch buffet that would make even grandma proud. Breakfast favorites are served all day at Metro Diner, where pancakes, along with fried chicken and waffles, top the menu.

City Barbecue doesn’t serve breakfast, but they will tell you they get up at the crack of dawn to make their slow-smoke award-winning barbecue, homemade sides and desserts. Wild Wing Cafe also offers up barbecue (sauce, that is) as one of their 33 sauce options if you’re in the mood for the area’s best-rated wings.

Steak lovers need to look to further than Vinnie’s, which has been serving up the area’s best cuts alongside their extensive wine selection since 1987. Steak and wine also take center stage at Rey’s, which boasts a romantic atmosphere with a French Quarter flare.

Fairly new to the restaurant scene, Bodega Tapas, Wine, and Rum has quickly made its mark in downtown Wake Forest with a global menu perfect for sharing. Meanwhile, Sassool (a new addition to Morgan Street Food Hall, with a second location in Cary) serves up Lebanese and Mediterranean recipes passed down from the owner’s family.

With the ocean just a couple of hours away, it’s no surprise this area abounds with the freshest seafood. With a name like the Shuckin’ Shack, you know oysters are the name of their game, along with shrimp. Also visit Full Moon Oyster Bar, saddle up to their horseshoe-shaped bar, and watch as a shucker delivers you bite after bite right before your eyes.

Cary’s Tribeca Tavern is the place to go when you have a hankering for a handcrafted burger and a beer from their very own brewery. If it’s just a beer you’re looking for, head to Raleigh Brewing with 32 fresh beers on tap (bonus: you can even bring your dog). And there’s nothing like a local draught freshly pulled in a good Irish pub with live music playing in the background, which means a trip to Doherty’s Irish Pub. A little more off the beaten path is Pittsboro Roadhouse, a hidden gem in downtown Pittsboro, that combines a restaurant, lounge, general store, and stage for live music on the weekends.

When you just want to stay home and fire up some charcoal, call on The Butcher’s Market, your go-to butcher shop and first step to great summer grilling. At this family affair, the father and son duo will impress with their vast selection of premium meats—cut any way you like. And sometimes, all you want to do is sit back and enjoy. Let the talented team at Catering Works bring the food, party and event planning to you.

After all this great eating, you may still have a sweet tooth calling. That’s when a Carolina Concrete at Goodberry’s is in order. This famous treat incorporates frozen custard (made fresh hourly) mixed and mashed with any toppings you choose.

Check out our complete winner profiles, along with features on patios, homebuying, coastal travel, entertainment, and a list of what’s happening around town this summer—all at

Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll highlight all of your retail and service favorites!