Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern

4.8
2849 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Contemporary American
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 more casual environment. The Capitol Room, Raleigh Room, Pine Room and Atrium Room are available for private parties seating up to 50 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.
Dining Style
Fine Dining
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Cuisines
Contemporary American, Southern, French
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Hours of operation
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm

Please note under special requests if you prefer tavern/ atrium seating instead of the formal main dining room.
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Phone number
(919) 829-3663
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Payment options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Business Casual
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Executive chef
Daniel Schurr
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Private party facilities
Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern offers four private dining rooms for day or evening receptions and/or dining. We offer our Pine Room which seats 40 people, the Raleigh Room which seats 25 people, the Capitol Room which seats 25 people and the Atrium which seats 50 people.
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Private party contact
Nicolle Roberts: (919) 829-3663
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Harrington St./ Edenton St.
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Parking details
Parking is available on the surrounding streets & our private lot in the rear of the Restaurant. Additional parking is also located behind the Restaurant in the Reynolds Building parking lot.
There is a public parking lot across from Second Empire on Hillsborough Street owned by the City of Raleigh & is available for parking, however, there is a $3.00 parking fee that must be paid online. If you do not pay you will be towed.
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Special events & promotions
Thank you for your interest in planning a special event at Second Empire. The Special Events Package will describe for you the areas of our restaurant that are available for your special dining, business and entertaining occasion.
For further information and to make plans for your special event, please call Nicolle Roberts, our Special Events Coordinator at 829-3663. She will gladly offer recommendations in your planning and design a menu for your event.
The Owners, Chef, Management and Staff have combined their efforts, commitment and talents to develop and present for you a special and unforgettable dining experience.
Thank you again and we look forward to seeing you!
Additional
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Chef's Table, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine
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OT
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Surprise birthday dinner for girlfriend’s birthday.
She received a signed menu to keep from the Head Chef.
Extremely hospitable staff and knew the ins and outs of the menu.
Food was delicious!
Experienced the Fois Gras as First then followed with the Filet Minion and Lamb Rack for entrees and chocolate soufflé for dessert.
Overall fantastic first experience and will definitely return.

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OT
1 review
Dined on September 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wedding anniversary

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l
Raleigh
23 reviews
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was beautifully delicious

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OT
Raleigh
30 reviews
Dined on September 9, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 1ambience 5

With 3 table servers it was impossible to get any help. It was entertaining to watch that setting an empty table was more important then a guest.

Food was great !! We will try again

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A
Raleigh
8 reviews
Dined on September 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Our food was beyond reproach. The wine list was very interesting and well priced, with some unusual selections. My husband and I shared the calamari as an appetizer and it was superb. I had the scallops and he had barramundi for our entrees, both of which were beautifully prepared. Our only concern was the speed with which the food was delivered. We had barely finished our appetizer before the entrees were brought to the table; in fact, the appetizer plates were still in front of us. We noticed the same thing happening at other tables near us. The restaurant was hosting several large parties the night we were there but a restaurant of this caliber should be able to manage graceful service at all tables. One small note is that our server did not mention the specials to us as we were preparing to order. She otherwise did a great job.

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A
London
1 review
Dined on September 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great time. Great service. Delicious food. Who knew collard greens could taste yummy? We highly recommend.

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JH
Phoenix
1 review
Dined on September 7, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Our waitress was friendly and professional. A dessert was brought out for my girlfriends bday, which was very thoughtful

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DW
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on September 7, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Awesome evening! Service exceptional, food great...place amazing!

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MS
New Orleans
7 reviews
Dined on September 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding location, food and service. The setting for the restaurant provides a unique opportunity for a romantic dinner with very creative and flavorful food. The service is always impeccable.

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B
Raleigh
42 reviews
Dined on September 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I think this is now the best restaurant in the RTP area. The menu has something for everyone and the taste and presentation were outstanding. The wait staff was professional and helpful from the entrance to the exit. We will return soon!

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TS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 5, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service is outstanding. Wine was excellent. Beautiful ambiance. First courses are generously portioned. Delicious.

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l
Charleston
8 reviews
Dined on September 5, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went for an anniversary dinner asked for seating in the tavern since it's more causal. The atmosphere was nice enough for a special dinner. Our server, Zander, was attentive, no intrusive, and provided excellent descriptions of the daily specials. The seafood "cigar" first course was rather pricey for a 2.5 inch cigar (similar to a wonton); however my wife's first course was adequate sized. Both were tasty. Our main dishes were fairly priced and very good (Duck / Crab cake). My wife loved her after dinner drink and my cognac was served over a glass of hot water to warm the cognac --a surprising excellent touch. Over all an extremely pleasant night.

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TC
Raleigh
13 reviews
Dined on September 5, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 4

The food never disappoints at Second Empire, the Paella was outstanding and loaded with proteins. My mom if thoroughly enjoyed her swordfish entree and lobster and corn empanada, as well as her chocolate coconut cake for dessert. Our server and her assistant were very pleasant and attentive, though did not know the tap list very well. Overall another memorable evening for us.

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h
Raleigh
6 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

A beautiful setting with exceptional food. Our waitperson was wonderful - not only with explaining the specials but also the history of the house. Her recommendations were spot on. We will definitely return and recommend this restaurant to friends.

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AB
Atlanta
11 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Other than a crying baby it was grand.

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MI
1 review
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent service, very attentive, professional-yet friendly wait staff. Excellent food-we would not normally partake.

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CN
1 review
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and very creative dishes. Definitely a bit pricey, but worth it for the experience. I came with the family for my birthday, but it would be even better for an anniversary or similar with the spouse. I ended up getting a steak on challenge from the waiter that the steaks were better than the Angus Barn. The steak was fantastic, but it wasn't better than the Angus Barn in my opinion. I would say it was about as good though, which is not a bad thing. What really does set this place apart is the uniqueness and creativity of the first course options and the sides with the entrees.

Worth it.

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OT
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was delicious and Matthew took care of us. Everything was excellent.

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S
1 review
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This place continues to outshine other restaurants simply be maintaining southern hospitality traditions and the same wonderful chef as always! Can I skip all the fluff and simply talk about the bread alone that's brought before anything else? fantastic! Warm! Delicious! the knowledgeable staff not only delivers quite a presentation when explaining the dish, but their individual interpretations of the food is just what a customer needs in order to make their best choice. EVERYTHING was perfect, and as my server mentioned..."we are fancy, not dainty" in a way to explain that the meal would definitely be plated with visual perfection but it would not land on the skimpy list like those cutesie meals that look like toy food (HA!) My soup filled me up just fine and my dessert portion was enough to share. Its a perfect date night, a perfect way to celebrate my children's hard work in school, and a perfect quality 'me time' dining delight! I come for all of those occasions and I'll keep coming!

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R
1 review
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was superb . What I enjoyed was the fact that the servers always filled our drinks. The portions we just right . The rabbit salad was out of this world . The quail was Devine the empanada was to die for . The duck was delicious .The ny strip steak was mouth watering . The filet mignon was superb. We had the time of our life and we felt pampered . I have told everyone I know what a fantastic time I had and how great the food was.

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WH
1 review
Dined on August 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Celebrating our anniversary and the experience was fantastic! The waiter Mathew was informative and enthusiastic, the food was absolutely perfect. My wife loved her scallops and my Pate appetizer was extraordinary. Very friendly staff, and great value for exceptional food. Look forward to a return soon.

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s
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on August 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I had the lamb, it was superb. My wife had a filet which she enjoyed totally. For an appetizer I had Fragua. It was incredible. Our waiter was spot on and knowledgeable of the food items as we asked questions regarding several choices. Drinks were excellent, as was desert
We would definitely go again

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MB
1 review
Dined on August 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

William and Chris did a great job meeting our needs and identifying our personality while maintaining the je ne sais quoi of the establishment.

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SA
1 review
Dined on August 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We took a chance and found a wonderful restaurant great for a friendly diner and casual conversation. The service was superb, knowledgeable and attentive . Thank you for a great evening.

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b
Birmingham
3 reviews
Dined on August 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We have been there a number of times and have never been disapointed.

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J
1 review
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Second Empire is a near-perfect gem because of the quality of entrees and service. You feel so welcome when dining here and the food comes out so well prepared. The building that houses Second Empire is amazing and I found myself just wanting to walk around to admire the details. Our service felt warm and genuine, yet not overbearing. From 1st Course to dessert, there wasn't a single bite that was not enjoyed. If the coffee weren't so expensive, Second Empire would be an absolute gem.

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PS
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

To my pleasant surprise, this cuisine can compete internationally and is—with the possible exception of Stanbury's in Raleigh—the finest food that I've personally experienced in the Triangle area. The service lacks the finesse and refinement of the food, but it is, nevertheless, good, earnest, and warm, and the ambiance is marvelous; it could be improved only with addition of tasteful live music. I'll definitely return to Second Empire and recommend it highly.

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C
Raleigh
10 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

We have been to SE several times and brought/recommended it to friends. We had a lovely evening there, celebrating our anniversary, but were disappointed in the food for the first time. I had the lobster empanadas which had little if any lobster meat, and my husband's swordfish was also disappointing. The service and ambiance was great as always.

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TT
1 review
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This place was recommended by a friend. It was our anniversary, and we asked to be seated in the tavern where it would be a little quieter. Our waiter,Zander, was probably the best we have ever had from all perspectives. Great personality, knowledge of all dishes on the menu, and most importantly the ability to make sure everyone was served exactly what they ordered and at the same time.
The food was outstanding, quail appetizer was cooked perfectly, my wife's crab cakes were tender and full of crabmeat not fillers, and my veal chop was as good as I've had anywhere.
Can't say enough great things about this restaurant. I will be back, and I'll definitely ask for Zander again!

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PC
1 review
Dined on August 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place. Great service and wonderful stsff! Great atmosphere

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OT
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on August 24, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 2

Anniversary celebration. Food was excellent

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OT
1 review
Dined on August 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Perfect dining experience. I reserved a table in the bistro to celebrate my friend's birthday ... the host welcomed her by name and a happy birthday, then while seated she was presented with a personalized menu with her name, a birthday message and a handwritten note from the chef. Pure class. And the food and service was outstanding ... Bravo

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NM
Raleigh
236 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We have dined here many times. I think 2nd Empire is (and has long been) one of the best restaurants in this area. The wait staff is professional and the service is elegant. The food is exceptional and the plates are always visually magnificent. The wine list has plenty of interesting options. Highly recommended!

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3
Philadelphia
6 reviews
Dined on August 22, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

Service and ambience was excellent prices good for the quality of the food. I had the quail salad appetizer the quail was prepared perfectly and the combination of the flavors was a delight. I had a rack of lamb as an entree and even though it was cooked perfectly it was tough and chewy. Our other entree duck breast, flavors and presentation was excellent but it tasted like it had been steamed prior to roasting. They ask if it was a special occasion and it was 47th wedding anniversary. They didn't offer any type of dessert, drink, appetizer to celebrate. Why ask? All in all a good experience.

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P
Philadelphia
20 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Probably one of the best meals I’ve had
The service was outstanding and the food was incredible
We had the white bean soup, the tuna and
The barramundi fish entree which was
Simply outstanding
We r very particular and eat out quite a bit and this place is my new favorite
They made
Our anniversary very special as well with a menu with our names
On it and signed by the chef
The waiter was truly one of the best and so patient explaining the menu
Can’t wait to
Go
Back

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WD
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We went for our anniversary. Staff was attentive and very knowledgeable including with regard to gluten intolerance. Historic house is beautiful. Food was impeccable with stunning presentation. Go hungry - ample portions. We did not have room for dessert.

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JP
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on August 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A wonderful place for relaxed dining. The food choices are excellent. A delight for the palate and the eye. Warm ambiance. We enjoyed our evening very much

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JM
New England
1 review
Dined on August 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing way to celebrate our anniversary! Highly recommend!

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OT
Baltimore
1 review
Dined on August 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service provided to my husband and me was flawless. Starting at the tavern bar, and continuing through our entire meal. The waiter was very knowledgeable and able to answer any questions we had. The chef was more than willing to easily accommodate my food allergies, the food was absolutely delicious and we were served the perfect portion sizes. We will most definitely be returning in the future!

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JS
1 review
Dined on August 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a great time and the food and service was the best.

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