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“You MUST try this place...it isn't even an option not to”

Second Empire Restaurant
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Ranked #10 of 1,456 Restaurants in Raleigh
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $31 - $80
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions, Local cuisine, Business meetings, Large groups
Dining options: Dinner, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Harrington St.
Description: Located in downtown Raleigh’s historic Victorian Dodd-Hinsdale House (circa 1879), Second Empire combines history, atmosphere, exceptional service and gourmet cuisine for an unforgettable dining experience. Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern features our award winning Contemporary American Cuisine in two dining atmospheres. Upstairs enjoy the ultimate dining experience in an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere of charm and grace. Downstairs in the Tavern and beautiful Atrium room enjoy a lighter fare menu and more casual environment. The Capitol Room, Raleigh Room, Pine Room and Atrium Room are available for private parties seating up to 55 people or various combinations of rooms for parties up to 300 people. Second Empire is very proud to be the recipient of the DiRoNA Award (Distinguished Restaurants of North America), the AAA Four Diamond Award (Raleigh’s only restaurant with this award) and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 1998.
United States
Level 6 Contributor
151 reviews
69 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 178 helpful votes
“You MUST try this place...it isn't even an option not to”
Reviewed August 25, 2014

We wrapped up restaurant week with a visit to Second Empire. For some basics.

It has some limited parking behind the restaurant and there is a reasonably priced paid lot across the street from the main entrance. The restaurant has a tavern downstairs as well. The place is large enough to accommodate a number of people yet feels quiet and intimate.

The staff are the best in the area. Attentive, helpful, professional. The wine list is awesome and the menu offers a number of various options. The cheese options alone will impress you. Highly recommend a cheese selection so you can also get the red onion marmalade. Trust me, it is delicious.

The flavors of the dishes are several steps beyond traditionally American cooking. And the portions are right-sized: not too large, not too small. We left very satisfied and will be visiting again soon.

The atmosphere is perfect for date night, a business meeting, or a celebration.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank prs2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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411 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
325 reviews
211 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 184 helpful votes
“Delectable !”
Reviewed August 24, 2014

Lovely ambience, great service and the flavors were delectable!
Our daughter ordered the mussels as her first course. All I can say is it was probably the most divine dish I have ever had the pleasure of tasting! The mixture of flavors on each dish are so creative and interesting. My husband raved about the duck , my son-in-law raved about his filet and I loved the scallops. Don't forget the
chocolate soufflé (if you still have room) kudos to this artistic chef !

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Pchee72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tucson, Arizona
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
30 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Historic and delicious in Raleigh”
Reviewed August 5, 2014

I was working in Raleigh for a week and did a search for top places to eat. Second Empire came out in top 5, so I gave it a shot. The building is beautiful inside and out. The food was some of the best. I had the polenta/pear salad wihich was incredible (see picture). The halibut entree was succulent and flavorful, to finish it off I had a desert with pistachio cream. Overall, the best meal I had in my 7 days in Raleigh. It was a little pricey, but worth it.

  • Visited May 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank John M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida, USA
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“Second Empire”
Reviewed August 2, 2014 via mobile

We were directed to this restaurant by friends, who told us this place has some of the best reviews in the city.

Were they wrong.

We arrived punctually at 8:30 and were seated promptly by a nice hostess. That was the best part of the experience.

We were offered both the Tavern menu and the main menu from the upstairs restaurant. I chose one dish from each.

The mesclun salad arrived quickly but was totally inedible. It was dressed and over dressed. I had one mouthful of some horrid honey mustard vinaigrette and had to send back the salad. It was simply swimming in dressing.

I then ordered the chicken breast on top of lentils. It was simply terrible. The sauce/lentils were over powering and the chicken was really not any good. I had two bites before I had to stop eating that too. Over seasoned, over cooked.

I ordered a wine but they were out so we tried a recommendation from our server. That was simply ok.

To defend the restaurant, the manager offered to comp the salad. She was quite nice and accommodating.

Nice staff
Quick service
Quaint ambiance.
Up stairs is romantic and quiet. The tavern and bar downstairs is more relaxed
Pretty old building

The food was inedible
The food was inedible
The food was inedible

1 Thank Giovanni T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“The best in a Raleigh”
Reviewed July 22, 2014

This is the place in Raleigh. The staff are awesome and the food is great. This is a 5 star restaurant at its best. We always eat here.

Visited June 2014
Thank Rookie1111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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