After a seemingly relentless summer of record-breaking heat, the cooler weather has finally returned. The chill in the air and shorter days not only signify the transition to a new season but also the desire to find something warm to fill our bellies. Whether it’s cozy Southern classics or sweet treats served with a cup of Joe, Raleigh is home to all sorts of tasty ways to defrost.
Big Ed’s Chicken and Pastry
A true Raleigh institution, Big Ed’s classic Southern cooking has fed the Capital City for the last 34 years. Opening their flagship downtown location in 1989, the restaurant has expanded in recent years to North Raleigh and Garner. With a homey vibe and staff that treats you as part of the family, Big Ed’s hospitality can warm up the soul even without serving a plate of food. But what they do put on their plates are comforting, satisfying, and hearty Southern classics.
Big Ed’s chicken and pastry is a quintessential showcase of tradition and simplicity. At the heart of the dish is a nourishing chicken stock simmered from the restaurant’s baked chicken. Hand-rolled dough is dunked into the bubbling stock, giving the dish its pastry, then it’s partnered with a generous helping of chicken.
Despite the recipe being a Big Ed original, there’s no secrets to the dish or special ingredients vaulted away. “It’s such an easy dish; that’s what I like about it,” mentioned Nick Culpepper, Downtown Big Ed’s general manager. But it’s in the simplicity where this dish finds its purpose, allowing the few ingredients to shine. Chicken and pastry is the down-home delicacy that can thaw even the chilliest of bones.
Little Blue Bakehouse’s Coffee and Treats
For those who have a sweet tooth, the journey towards winter intersects with baked goods, sweet treats, and toasty beverages. East Raleigh’s Little Blue Bakehouse has earned a reputation as a dessert wonderland by combining a small-business incubator, dessert food hall, and coffee shop in one space.
The Bakehouse is the actualization of owner Allison Vick’s vision. After years of selling her Little Blue Macarons goodies at festivals and markets, Vick saw an opportunity to expand opening a brick and mortar for her own business into hosting four different dessert businesses in one location.
- Pho Tai at Pho Far East
- Chicken Pot Pie at Hayes Barton Cafe
- Mac And Cheese at The Oak
- Khao Soi at Zanyu Asian Noodles
- Chai at Cheeni Indian Food Emporium
- Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate at Escazú Chocolates
For those who find their solace from chilly weather in a freshly brewed cup of coffee, the Little Blue Bakehouse’s coffee program captures the essence of the season with peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes that feature house-made syrups. Hot chocolate — made from the Bakehouse’s own mix — provides a non-caffeinated heated indulgence.
Little Blue Bakehouse has an entire menu of decadent treats to pair with their suite of warming elixirs. Little Blue Macarons’ gingerbread macarons and Eat, Sweet, Repeat’s caramel snickerdoodle bar lean on the festive flavor of gingerbread to spice things up. Known for their oversized and stuffed cookies, Bitten Bakery stays true to form by offering Toffee Cookie Butter Cookies that utilizes warm cinnamon-spiced dough and a gooey cookie butter center.
The bakers at Boozy Bakes bring a mature twist to their Hot Cocoa Cupcake with the introduction of merlot. Even Little Blue Bakehouse’s in-house ice creamery, Bold Batch Creamery, offers a way to heat up. Their Mexican Hot Chocolate ice cream sandwich stuffs dark chocolate chili ice cream and marshmallow fluff inside two dark chocolate cookies.
David’s Dumpling and Noodle Bar Malaysian Curry Noodle Soup
Situated on Historic Hillsborough Street is David’s Dumpling and Noodle Bar. Since its inception in 2010, David’s has been an ideal sanctuary from frigid weather. The restaurant’s namesake, acclaimed chef David Mao, made his mark as a figurehead of Raleigh’s Asian cuisine through a decades-long career. Since his retirement in 2020, the restaurant continues under the leadership of David’s former chefs and managers, who are still serving his trademark noodle dishes.
Out of the vast variety of noodle soups served at David’s, the Malaysian Curry Noodle Soup seems as if it was specifically formulated to battle back the season’s chill. The soup is served streaming hot and immediately provides refuge from the cold with its bold yellow broth. A multitude of goodies like noodles, dumplings, and fried tofu swim in a pool of the rich coconut curry soup.
Per General Manager Chilton Sheppard, “It’s the coconut milk that really sells it.” From the initial sip, the warmth of the broth provides the kind of comfort you get from putting on your favorite sweater. Each slurp of the tender noodles and broth acts as a satisfying antidote to the bitter cold.
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