For the very best in southern country cooking, try "Big Ed’s" in the City Market in downtown Raleigh. Fine breakfast with fluffy biscuits, country ham and other traditional breakfast meats; lunch with old south favorites like chicken ‘n dumplins, meatloaf, great vegetables; jars of molasses on every table. DON’T MISS BIG ED’S! His son has a place with a similar menu at the Farmers’ Market south of downtown.
"Captain Stanley’s" off South Saunders Street for Calabash style seafood as good as it is in Calabash. Boy, I wish I could get some of that shrimp, flounder and hushpuppies in Milwaukee!!
"Char-Grill" on Hillsborough Street (next to the North Carolina State University campus) for outstanding burgers.
"Piccollo Italia" in the Cameron Village shopping center, and "Brothers" on Hillsborough street for Pizza.
"Snoopy’s" for hot dogs.
"Leo’s Delicatessan" in Cameron Village for good deli sandwiches.
"Steve’s" on Hillsborough for ice cream.
"Finch’s" on Peace Street for meat & 3, good breakfasts and sandwiches.
"Greenshields" in City Market for a good brew-pub and yuppie type food.
MORE UPSCALE: For one of the best steak houses in the U.S.with a wine cellar to match, go to "The Angus Barn" on highway 70 near the airport between Raleigh & Durham and try their chateaubriand. The "42nd Street Oyster Bar" near downtown is owned by the same family (the Eure’s). Local power brokers (especially when the legislature is in town) gather at these and at "Big Ed’s".
During my 10 years in Raleigh, I always went out of town for my BBQ fix-usually to "Wilber’s" in Goldsboro (50 miles) or "Allen & Sons" in Chapel Hill (20 miles).
There are many more good places, but these are the ones I preferred and enjoyed often during my Raleigh years.
AND I hope the azaleas are in bloom when you get to Wilmington. They have an azalea festival in late March or early April and the whole area is BEAUTIFUL, especially in the Spring! There are several good restaurants on Oleander Drive.