Tazza Kitchen menu

Add These NC State Restaurants to Your Bucket List, Y’All

Hope you’re hungry! There are plenty of restaurants scattered around NC State’s Main Campus, but most of the student hangouts are in these four places: Western Boulevard, Hillsborough Street, Mission Valley shopping center, and Cameron Village shopping center. (There’s always Downtown Raleigh, too, but ain’t nobody got money for that.)

You’ll find your fair share of fast food franchises mixed in with one-of-a-kind gems.

This Map Solves the “Where Do You Want to Eat?” Question

In the mood for ice cream or a nice (affordable) restaurant? Stop wasting time figuring out where you want to go and check these NC State dining essentials off your bucket list.

Of course, your restaurant choices aren’t just limited to off-campus places. There’s always on-campus restaurants in Talley Student Union and the Atrium, plus the C-Stores and Port City Javas sprinkled throughout campus.

But there’s nothing like eating with your friends or classmates at the true NC State icons of student life, the restaurants or coffee shops that you absolutely have to taste before you graduate.

enchilada and taco entrees at gonza tacos y tequila
Mitch's Tavern sign
waffle house near ncsu

The Student Saver’s Top Picks

Every college has its share of holes in the wall, budget-friendly favorites, and late-night restaurants no student can live without. NC State is no exception. When you’re picking a place to eat, don’t settle for ordinary. If you’re dying to try something new, we’ve made a list of the noteworthy restaurants on Western Boulevard and on Hillsborough Street. Enjoy!

Don’t Graduate Without Trying These Iconic Restaurants

NC State has been around for a while. You can find a few restaurants that have grown up with the campus and made a name for themselves at hands-down the best places to eat near NC State. Here are the current student favorites.
mural in The Alley

The Alley: It’s a bar, it’s a restaurant, and it’s a bowling alley. Formerly known as the ManMur Bowling Center (1939) and then Western Lanes (1960), The Alley is well known for its retro roots. Today, it’s still a fun place to relax with friends after a long week of classes, where you can still bowl on the original hardwood lanes and keep your own score on paper but be surrounded by all the modern comforts of high-def TVs and games.

Unfortunately, The Alley is closing on November 26th and is moving to Downtown Durham. A Target may be replacing it.

Mitch's Tavern sign
Mitch’s Tavern: Featured in the movie Bull Durham, Mitch’s Tavern is an NC State classic, with the affordable food all college students crave and the atmosphere of a cozy English tavern. You’ll notice it immediately on Hillsborough Street across the street from DH Hill Library; it’s a brick building with a terrace and flags fluttering off the rooftop.

Amedeo’s Italian Restaurant: It’s an affordable fine dining location that’s a beloved campus icon. The cozy booths are each named after a Wolfpack sports player or coach, and there are pictures and other memorabilia hanging on the walls like you would see at a fantastic history museum. And the food is unbeatable.

hot dog restaurant near ncsu

Cloo’s Coney IslandThis is a hidden gem in the Mission Valley Shopping Center. Tucked away behind Uptown Cheapskate, Cloo’s has all the makings of a ’50s diner with modern flair. The hot dogs, of course, are amazing.

Sign above the Cookout menu at NC State University

Cookout: Though Cookout is not unique to NC State, this one is a treasured student hangout. Since it’s open until 4 AM (5 AM on weekends) — and doesn’t have an indoor dining area — the Cookout on Western Boulevard is perfect for your late-night cravings for a milkshake, hush puppies, or whole burger tray to take back with friends.

the creamery in dh hill library

The Creamery: NC State offers its own brand of ice cream, and it’s delicious. And the best place to get Howling Cow ice cream, as it’s called, is The Creamery within DH Hill Library. The Creamery is open until 1 AM all days but Friday (until 8 PM) and Saturday (closed all day), and is another perfect place to get your late-night ice cream fix.


Cup-A-Joe: It’s a popular off-campus spot for NC State students to hang out and have good coffee. There’s a Cup-A-Joe on Hillsborough Street and one in Mission Valley.

Players’ Retreat: “A Raleigh tradition since 1951,” the Players’ Retreat is a cozy restaurant/bar that is a favorite among students and alumni, and was featured in the documentary Survive and Advance — about NC State’s 1983 championship basketball team — with a reunion of the former players.

Check out the NC State Student Commuter Guide to see a full list of off-campus dining options at NC State.