Hope you’re hungry! There are plenty of awesome restaurants scattered around NC State’s Main Campus, but most of the student hangouts are in four places: Western Boulevard, Hillsborough Street, Mission Valley shopping center, and Cameron Village shopping center. (Downtown Raleigh’s close by, 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 around NC State. So the question is, what are you in the mood for?
This Map Solves the “Where Do You Want to Eat?” Question
Craving some ice cream or a nice (affordable) restaurant? Stop wasting time figuring out where you want to go. Explore the map below for a list of all the great restaurants near NC State!
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, the restaurants or coffee shops that you absolutely have to visit before you graduate.
The Student Saver’s Top Restaurant 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. Check out these bucket list-worthy restaurants!
(We’ve also got a pretty lengthy list of restaurants worth trying throughout Raleigh, not just near NC State. But if you’re going to do Raleigh right, start with the places listed below.)
The Icons: Unique Restaurants to Try Before You Graduate
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.
Mitch’s Tavern: Featured in the 1988 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.
Bonus: Everything on the menu is under $8! If you’ve never been to Mitch’s, we recommend getting Roldolfo’s Feast, a combination of Italian pasta and Mexican chili.
Amedeo’s Italian Restaurant: It’s an affordable fine dining location and a beloved campus icon. The cozy booths are each named after a Wolfpack sports player or coach, and the pictures and other memorabilia hanging on the walls make the restaurant look like a history museum.
And the food? Unbelievable.
Cloo’s Coney Island: This 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 and burgers, of course, are amazing.
A personal favorite is Nemos Cheeseburger, which is topped with Worcestershire sauce and seasoned with black pepper.
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 except Fridays (when it’s open until 8 PM) and Saturdays (when it’s closed all day).
Besides Talley Market, The Creamery is the perfect on-campus spot for your late-night ice cream fix.
Cup-A-Joe: This Raleigh-based coffee shop’s a popular off-campus spot for NC State students to hang out and have good coffee. You can find two Cup-A-Joe locations near NC State, one 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. It was featured in the documentary Survive and Advance — about NC State’s 1983 championship basketball team — during a reunion of the former players.
Sushi Nine: Known for its BOGO deals, Sushi Nine is a go-to for sushi near NC State. The place burned down in January 2016, but don’t worry: Sushi Nine has risen from the ashes! The restaurant is open and still serving buy-one-get-one-free sushi.
The Fan Favorites: Fast Food Restaurants We Love
Cookout: Though Cookout is not unique to NC State, it’s still a treasured student hangout. Since it’s open until 3 AM (5 AM on Fridays and Saturdays) and doesn’t have an indoor dining area, the Cookout on Western Boulevard is perfect for late-night cravings for a milkshake, hush puppies, or whole burger tray to take back with friends.
If you’re not familiar with Cookout, we recommend getting a tray — it’s by far the best deal with your choice of entree, two sides (and yes, a corn dog or quesadilla totally counts as a side), and a drink. Upgrade your drink to a milkshake and your meal is only $6. Seriously.
Bojangles’: Southern comfort food doesn’t get any better than Cajun fries, sweet tea, and fried chicken. Bojangles’ is a North Carolina-based fast food chain that is a staple of NC State student life, so you can often find people munching on it at football tailgates. (This awesome fast food restaurant is just one of 11 reasons why North Carolina is the best state ever.)
The Dearly Departed: Great Restaurants That No Longer Exist
The Alley: It was a bar, a restaurant, and a bowling alley. Formerly known as the ManMur Bowling Center (1939) and then Western Lanes (1960), The Alley was well known for its retro roots. You could bowl on the original hardwood lanes and keep your own score on paper but still be surrounded by all the modern comforts of high-def TVs and games. In fact, NC State’s PE department held bowling classes at The Alley.
Unfortunately, The Alley closed on November 26th, 2016 and was replaced with a Target. The store did keep the old mural, though, which you can see as soon as you come up the escalator.
H-Street Kitchen and La Stella Wood Fired: The historic Varsity Theater transformed from a run-down theater-turned-bookstore into a modern upscale restaurant back in 2016, but H-Street Kitchen closed in May 2017. La Stella Wood Fired took its place, but it announced it was relocating to Cary in May 2018.
Want a List of Every Restaurant Near NC State?
We’ve made a list of the noteworthy restaurants on Western Boulevard and on Hillsborough Street before. But if you want the full list of all restaurants near NC State, check out the latest NC State Student Commuter Guide for all the details!