Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern

4.7
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3079 Reviews
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$31 to $50
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Contemporary American

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About

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
What 3079 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.7based on all time ratings
4.7
food
4.8
service
4.7
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Quiet
98% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
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1
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HG
Raleigh
1 review
Reviewed on November 11, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

One fo my all time favorite restaurants. We've done family dinners, anniversary dinners, and more at Second Empire, and it is SUCH a favorite.

AD
Raleigh
1 review
Reviewed on November 3, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

I consider Second Empire Raleigh's premier restaurant for fine dining.

CR
Raleigh
1 review
Reviewed on November 3, 2019
Overall4foodserviceambience

Great food and ambiance for a formal dinner but it is very pricey.

OT
Raleigh
1 review
Reviewed on October 14, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

First class experience. Excellent service, food, and atmosphere.

EN
Raleigh
36 reviews
Reviewed on October 8, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

The food is unique. Wine list requires descriptions from staff as the selections are not what you find often.

Price is premium. Really premium, but my girlfriend loves it so I shut up and enjoy.

AK
Raleigh
43 reviews
Reviewed on September 17, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

Most professional wait staff of any restaurant in the area. Outstanding meals, and cocktails.

AP
Raleigh
1 review
Reviewed on September 9, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

Superb and professional attention, good quality and food selection, impeccable table presentation, excellent infrastructure, fair priced.

SS
Raleigh
1 review
Reviewed on August 8, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

Always good. Consistent. Special Birthday present for me a few years ago was Chef's Table. Fabulous.

LZ
Raleigh
3 reviews
Reviewed on June 21, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

Our favorite spot. Drive in from Sanford for special events and always take guests who visit from out of town.

JB
Raleigh
1 review
Reviewed on June 18, 2019
Overall5foodserviceambience

Professional and friendly service. Delicious and unique menu. Wonderful ambiance for date or anniversary. Not overly priced for the experience.

KM
Denver
3 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We have come to Second Empire for the last two years for our anniversary dinner. Wonderful place. Food is delicious, the service is impeccable. The duck is a favorite but I loved the steak that I ordered also. Dessert, wow! The staff really goes out of its way to anticipate needs through out the dinner service. Very nice gentlemen waiters.

EM
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience2

We enjoy coming to Second Empire on special occasions and on April 20 we were looking for king forward to eating upstairs. I had made the reservation at least 6 weeks in advance and when we arrived, the waiter took us downstairs. It was my date’s birthday and he preferred eating upstairs. They seated us in the Oak Room which was dark, and furnishings were “tired”. Very disappointing.

M
Raleigh
5 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Amazing as always.

LS
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on March 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent service, creative and delicious food.
Highly recommend.

OT
Raleigh
5 reviews
Dined on March 16, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

By far the best restaurant in Raleigh...Beautiful space, innovative menu, exceptional service...

MB
1 review
Dined on March 12, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The staff was very accommodating. Our group thought the closing time was later than it actually was. We stayed past closing enjoying our desserts and conversation without realizing that the place had closed.

Staff showed kindness and patience. They did not tell us they were closed and did not rush us. Had we known the place was closed, we would have left much earlier.

We’ll be back to enjoy the great food and service. Next time we will mind the time.

h
New England
29 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food, excellent service. Great spot for date night.

PL
Raleigh
5 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

An evening in the upstairs main dining room was perfect for several hours visit with relative having a birthday. The quality food, the beautiful preparation, and the great service are always standard for Second Empire. The choice of scallops was perfect, as were the recommended wine, and dessert of chocolate soufflé. Always a pleasure to dine at Second Empire in main dining room or Tavern (which I did 2 weeks ago).

LW
Houston
4 reviews
Dined on March 7, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It is a beautiful restaurant in a restored Vivaldi’s war era home. The chef does a wonderful job drinking foods from all regions of the east coast. Wish the restaurant was in Houston.

NC
Raleigh
32 reviews
Dined on March 7, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

For a special occasion dinner Second Empire is a great choice. Varied menu, but everything had a unique touch that made it special. I am a lamb snob and the rack of lamb was outstanding. The bread pudding it came with was almost as good. My Ciopini app was probably the best thing we had. Great wine selection and service was top notch.

JS
1 review
Dined on March 7, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Clearly the best restaurant in Raleigh area. Superb food, excellent and polite service.

OT
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on March 5, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The service was great and the food was delicious. Jason, our server, went above and beyond to make it a special experience for my mother-in-law's birthday dinner. We will definitely be going back for future celebrations!

OT
Raleigh
3 reviews
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This was our second visit to Second Empire and both visits have been superb. The food, service, atmosphere and attention to detail is first class. Also, the staff really goes out out of their way to make sure it is a pleasurable and memorable experience. Easily one of our favorite restaurants and one of the best in Raleigh (and probably North Carolina) too.

MG
Raleigh
3 reviews
Dined on March 1, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was our 27th Wedding Anniversary. We were given a special menu with our names and wedding anniversary date signed by the chef. Our dinner was delicious and dessert was to die for. They also gave us a complementary dessert. Wait staff was fabulous!

It’s my favorite restaurant and most definitely will be back.

OT
Charlotte
4 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our server was outstanding. He told us the history behind the building and the restaurant. The food was excellent. Second Empire is one of a kind.

MB
Miami
1 review
Dined on February 27, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

One of the best restaurants I ever been in.
Excellent, creative food meets perfect service and this all in a great ambiance. I’ ll go back!

ND
1 review
Dined on February 26, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

There is too much to say about this dinning experience then this page can hold. The food was wonderful, the service was outstanding. I took my wife here for our 25th Wedding Anniversary, the staff went out of their way to provide a wonderful evening of conversation and food. The Pastry Chef even provided us with a treat of Key Lime pie, a dessert that we shared on our wedding night. Thank you to the Staff for this memorable evening.

BS
Raleigh
13 reviews
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

My company gave my wife and me a gift certificate to Second Empire for Valentine's Day. We had never been and were really excited to read about the restaurant and to hear the rave reviews from friends. We were not disappointed. The house is a cozy and unusual setting for a meal out; while we sat in a somewhat brightly lit room off the downstairs tavern that did not have quite the ambience of the upstairs rooms, it was still very lovely. The service staff was extraordinary; from Ben who welcomed us to our table, to our main waiter Jason, to everyone who brought us water or bread or our meals, they were highly attentive and personable without hovering or being overbearing. Jason was especially knowledgeable, helpful, and engaging. He would have made a wonderful guest to share a dinner! The food was equally fantastic. We appreciated that the bread serving was four slices, not a whole loaf that we would have left behind. My wife began with the autumn salad ("Fantastic!") while I had the French onion soup. Both were delicious. The soup was extraordinary in that the outside cheese was perfectly crispy on the edges and soft in the center, without leaving the broth inedibly hot. For our entrees we chose from the menu; my wife had the Icelandic char ("Outstanding!") while I had the paella. It was absolutely marvelous; plenty of fish and just the right amount of rice, all with strong but not excessive spice. The wine list was extensive without overwhelming a novice like me. We had a sauvignon blanc that was a bit more buttery than our normal choices but was still plenty crisp and complemented our food perfectly. We were too full for dessert but I had a coffee (driving) while my wife had a Bailey's coffee ("Delicious!"). We look forward to returning, perhaps for a more casual stop in the tavern.

OT
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

One of the best dining experiences we have had in a long time! Our server, Destiny, was engaging, knowledgeable and prompt; we couldn’t have asked for better. We will be back very soon!

AP
Chicago
13 reviews
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience3

Enjoyed our anniversary meal here. We received a personalized menu, signed by the chef, which was a great way to start our evening. Food is fantastic, but you need to be an appreciator of unique dishes. Sadly it wasn't our favorite ambiance, it felt a little tired and dark. Still a great evening, wonderful food, I would recommend to a friend for a special dinner.

OT
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Birthday for wife

OT
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I have been here several times and have never been disappointed!

OT
Charlotte
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall2food4service1ambience5

It started of very well with personalized attention upon arrival and very informative walk through the menu, however after the first course our waiter disappeared for 30 minutes. This was disappointing because we had requested the wine list when our first course arrived to be able to enjoy some red wine with the filet and aged strip. We finished up the first course and the kitchen brought the steak and we were faced with the option of eating a hot delicious steak sans wine, or have a cold steak with red wine. When the waiter did return, my wife had already finished her filet and I was almost finished with my strip, it had already spoiled the mood for me. Come to find out our waiter was looking for a lost umbrella for another table which is absolutely mind boggling that the restaurant would put that responsibility on him, to the detriment of all the waiter’s other guests.

All in all our experienced was soured from what was a great level of service upon arrival through ordering, to poor service after placing our first and second course order.
.

OT
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and service. My new favorite restaurant.

CC
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Second Empire is always a great experience and has yet to disappoint. The food is delicious, the ambience is elegant but not stuffy. The staff is very attentive to our needs. While it is an expensive place, the overall experience is among the best in Raleigh and worth the money.

WH
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

A wonderful eating experience. This historic home has a warm, cozy and welcoming ambiance throughout. Someone obviously paid close attention to every detail and you feel like you're in someone's historic home (other than all the tables). There are different rooms (just like an old house would have) so every dining experience is going to be unique. While there were many people, the restaurant has many sound-absorbing qualities (including thick carpet) so its not too loud and tables are oriented so you felt like you could have a private conversation. Our server memorized, in careful detail, each of the specials (which took several minutes to articulate) and we were absolutely amazed with how much preparation that must of taken (and told him so)! Every employee was polite, friendly, professional and seemed happy to be there. The food was outstanding and so beautifully presented that my date took several photos. Top notch.

OT
San Diego
8 reviews
Dined on February 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Absolutely love the fare in this beautiful environment. The staff are authentic & kind and nice effortlessly throughout the space. I especially love the downstairs alcoves that I learned served as the owners bootleg operation. The food is beyond delicious, perfectly paired Libations and umm desserts...worth the calories! They have delicious soups, salads, specialities adorned with fancy delicacies but not so fancy that you are left starving. Scallops, French onion soup, filets, salads, you can’t go wrong. Every-time I come to Raleigh I try to get here

LS
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on February 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Everything was perfect. Thank you

j
Raleigh
10 reviews
Dined on February 21, 2019
Overall3food2service3ambience5

The meals all lacked identify. No distinct experience from one to the next. Wait staff knowledgeable however was attending 4+ tables simultaneously. Felt like eating at a Panera. Very disappointing.

LR
Salt Lake City
3 reviews
Dined on February 20, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

One of the most wonderful meals I’ve ever had, period. Impeccable service. Wonderful recommendations. My teenagers enjoyed it just as much as I did. We will definitely be back. A truly memorable dining experience.