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The 15 Best Cafes in Raleigh: A Local’s Guide

It’s no secret that I adore living in the beautiful city of Raleigh. I’m also a huge fan of great aesthetically pleasing cafes with great food and environments, so I want to share my favorite Raleigh cafes with you all. I’ve lived here my entire life and I have loved getting to know where to find the best coffee in Raleigh, the best Raleigh breakfast spots and cute cafes Raleigh has to offer.

If you’re ever in Raleigh and have a hankering for some tasty delights and coffee, don’t miss the best cafes in Raleigh! (And if you run into me since I am always eating in these cafes, make sure to say hello!)

Best Cafes in Raleigh


This coffee, cocktail and dessert lounge—you decide on the order you want those items in—is a perfect spot to start your morning with coffee and a house-baked pastry, fuel up during the day or cap off a fun night downtown. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask your barista for a recommendation—you may end up with a drink like the Black & Coke (chilled espresso and Mexican Coke) or the Daywalker (chilled espresso with bitters and ginger beer). You can’t go wrong!

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Heirloom Brewshop

Named one of America’s best new restaurants in 2019, Heirloom Brewshop is eager to impress Raleigh visitors with its Asian-inspired food, drinks and aesthetics. You can find this coffee shop/sake bar in Raleigh’s booming Warehouse District, not far from Morgan Street Food HallFather & Son Antiques and Junction West. It’s the ideal nook to enjoy a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of a busy season. The coffee shop not only serves up masterful drinks but also seamlessly blends the different cultures the shop incorporates into its offerings. Husband-and-wife team Chuan Tsay and Anna Phommavong spent weeks traveling through Asia doing research before opening the space in the fall of 2018. Settle for a spell and enjoy the ambiance with a sake cocktail or pour-over coffee.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Pine State Coffee

Pine State started as a roaster, selling beans around town before opening its own shop in 2019. While wholesale beans and delivery are still a big part of what they do, the company has expanded into barista territory offering a standard menu of both coffee and non-coffee drinks. Drop in to grab a hot cup and a warm pastry or snag a variety of blends by the bag. You’ll find beans here that hail from far off places like Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia and Peru. With indoor and patio seating as well as a rustic, wood-forward design aesthetic, a stop at Pine State is most welcomed and an absolute must.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

The Mill

The Mill, a true Fuquay-Varina favorite, is great place where lovely afternoons can turn into lively evenings. Get your work done, fueled by delicious coffee and teas, and later, celebrate your productivity by enjoying one of the 20 local beers on tap. This two-story, community-centric shop also features live music on Fri. nights and special events throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for a caffeine fix or the buzz of a social event, The Mill has got you covered.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Sola Coffee Café

Morning, noon and night, Sola Coffee Café is producing some of the most delicious food, tea and coffee in the North Raleigh area. Home to the gorgeous “I Believe in Raleigh” mural, this family-owned neighborhood cafe has been an inviting community space since 2012. Getting that perfect mural photo isn’t the only reason you should check out this shop in the Greystone Village Shopping Center. There’s also the indoor and outdoor seating, a dog-friendly patio and live music every Fri. and Sat. night. Best of all, you can order from a selection of delicious hot mini donuts, the perfect accompaniment to any steaming mug of java.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Cup A Joe

Cup A Joe is an old-timey, classic coffee shop with two locations in Raleigh—one on Hillsborough St. and one in Mission Valley Shopping Center, both just steps from the campus at North Carolina State University. The shop’s bright colors and artsy wall posters coupled with the delicious coffee will guarantee you stay wide awake on those sleepy winter days. For the perfect gift idea, grab a Cup A Joe-branded mug and T-shirt before you leave.

Insider tip: The black-and-white cake is pretty famous in the area and should definitely make its way into your tummy. Also, check out the daily specials calendar so you don’t miss the next “Milkshake Monday” or “Wired Wednesday.” 

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Morning Times

On downtown Raleigh‘s E. Hargett St., Morning Times is a great place to get updated on the day’s news while munching on an omelette, breakfast sandwich, the morning mac (yes, it’s super) or another breakfast item fave. Morning Times also has lunchtime eats, such as their spicy chicken sandwich and Reuben melt. “Morning” is in the name but the shop’s open through 10pm every day. For a cozy coffee shop vibe, head up to the second-floor room, with interesting art and a laid-back atmosphere.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

The Optimist

It’s a fitting name for a coffee shop that opened during the height of the pandemic and has enjoyed steady business ever since. Today, The Optimist is known as the “neighborhood” coffee house and local haunt for residents of Oakwood and Mordecai. Through partnerships with Raleigh businesses like Black & White Coffee Roasters and Trophy Brewing Co., The Optimist provides patrons some of the best coffee, pastries, baked goods and snacks locally available. Their menu also regularly offers truly satisfying weekend eats and new and unexpected sips.

When it comes to the vibe, familiar and inviting perfectly describes The Optimist. Come in and instantly feel at home whether you’re there to enjoy a relaxing afternoon, listen to live music, get into a rousing round of trivia or try your luck at one of their outdoor patio games. 

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Sir Walter Coffee

A staple in downtown Raleigh, Sir Walter Coffee is known for an amazing retro atmosphere as well as a fabulous menu. Open all hours of the day, you can get your perfect beverage at the perfect time. This cafe is a treat for the senses with its vibrant orange and grey furniture, magnificent artwork and optional outdoor seating. Whether it’s morning waffles and coffeehouse classics, afternoon espresso and bubble tea or evening tea cocktails and beer, you’ll enjoy whiling away the hours at this delightful cafe. Cater to your pumpkin obsession with a fall menu featuring the unforgettable Pumpkin Pie Latte.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Benelux Coffee 

Benelux Coffee is roasted in Raleigh’s Village District with a cafe serving made-to-order Belgian waffles. Admire the coffee-bean mural constructed from beans of various shades while you enjoy your warm cup of coffee. And take some coffee beans to go—a perfect holiday gift for all your coffee-loving friends.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Thanks A Latte

Tucked away in Holly Springs is a small, family-owned boutique and coffee shop with the most adorable name. Thanks A Latte was started by a mother-and-daughters trio who wanted to make a welcoming and encouraging space for people to enjoy a tea or coffee. While you’re there, sip on a Charleston latte while enjoying a warm white chocolate baguette. You can also get a head start on your Christmas shopping by exploring the shop’s boutique. One visit, and you’ll truly get why this place exemplifies “Southern charm at its finest.”

Photo credit: Follow them on Facebook here!

Jubala Coffee

This North Raleigh cafe in the European-style Lafayette Village weighs, grinds and brews to order. Delicious coffee—the best from around the world is sourced—is prepared by the cup, ensuring every cup is as great as the next. Their waffles are stand-out and especially delicious when topped with fresh fruit. There’s also a location at the Aloft Raleigh on Hillsborough St., right near all the downtown Raleigh action.

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

Idle Hour Coffee Roasters

This coffee bar features amazing pastries and desserts like Matcha Cheesecake with pistachio cookies. All of their pastries are made from scratch or by local vendors. Not only are these desserts delicious but also beautiful to look at. With indoor and outdoor seating, pull up a cozy chair and try the highly recommended Banh Mi sandwich. 

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!


Named for the owner’s two daughters. More than just a coffee shop, Lucettegrace is a contemporary patisserie mimicking a French bakery. The desserts and pastries created by the owner/pastry chef are just as beautiful as they are delicious. All ingredients are locally sourced. Don’t forget to try one of the show-stopping macarons. Highly suggest trying, in my opinion, their best drink the Lucettegrace Iced Coffee. 

Photo credit: Follow them on Instagram here!

42 & Lawrence

A local coffee shop with local faces surrounded by a European vibe. Guests will find bowler hats hanging from a tin ceiling that serve as lighting. There is indoor and outdoor seating available. 42 & Lawrence offers a seasonal menu plus cold brews, lattes, coffee sodas, and kombucha on tap.

Photo credit: Follow them on Facebook here!

There are so many amazing cafes in the area but these are some of the best cafes in Raleigh that I love to visit all the time when I am home. You really are spoilt for choice but you can’t go wrong with a good coffee and the ultimate chilled out cafe vibe here in Raleigh!

Love, Dani

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