About Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern
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 lighter fare menu and more casual environment. The Capitol Room, Raleigh Room, Pine Room and Atrium Room are available for private parties seating up to 55 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.
Raleigh, NC 27603
Contemporary American, Southern, French
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.
Harrington St./ Edenton St.
$31 to $50
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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.
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.
Private Party Contact:
Nicolle Roberts: (919) 829-3663
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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Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern Ratings and Reviews
Lovely experience. Beautifully restored and maintained historic building with two distinct atmospheres between the Restaurant and Tavern. Upstairs a little more formal and downstairs tavern a little more energy.
Appreciated that we were able to order from both menus.
Staff excellent, knowledgeable and friendly.
Food was sublime.
Will definitely return soon.
The filet was outstanding. But on the other hand, the New York strip was very over done. Ordered medium and received well done. No pink at all. Grey coloring the whole way through. Don't know if I would come back and spend another 150 dollars for one good steak and one that would be in last place at a low end steak house.
Second Empire has got to be one of the best restaurants in Raleigh. The food is just plain awesome. The service is great. I am somewhat a food critic and I can honestly say....I could eat here everyday. Now I cant do that on a teachers salary but if I could I would. I highly recommend you give Second Empire a shot!
Usually this is a great stalwart with professional service and excellent cuisine. We have always enjoyed the original menu and service during our past visits. However it is clear they are losing their touch. The service is haughty dripping with condescension. Our waiter Josh was simply awful. Polite in every way but helpful in no way at all. He should not have been tipped. I recognize the ratings in general for this restaurant are typically high and quite frankly from past visits I would be inclined to agree. However, our two visits have shown they are no longer the bell of the ball when it comes to Raleigh restaurants. Josh and his service unbearable and the food undercooked and overcooked barely edible. What a shame.
This continues to be one of the top restaurants in the Triangle. Upstairs dining is quietly elegant and downstairs has more hustle and bustle but the food is spectacular in either setting. An extraordinary menu with amazing appetizer and entree selections and dazzling desserts. My wife and I have eaten at Second Empire many times and are never disappointed. The service is outstanding and the wine list is comprehensive. Highly recommended. A special treat for holidays, birthdays, etc.
This was my fourth visit to Second Empire. We arrived ten minutes early, and the hostess said that they were seating at the reservation time. Had a cocktail in the lounge downstairs and was seated a few minutes later.
The restaurant is beautiful, with a great ambiance. The food was great. Unfortunately, the service did not match. Cocktail glasses were never cleared even after the meal; wine glasses never refilled, pepper not offered. Server (or assistant) did not check on us once.
Very poor execution of what could have been great.
I enjoyed this dinner so much I took a friend for a special occasion and they had a great time. I so look forward to coming back to dine with you again, I plan to have a formal girls night out soon and this is my first choice thanks again for great dinner experience all I can say is WOW.
Both the upstairs formal dining room and the downstairs bar and dining room were wonderful. The service was immaculate. I highly recommend the formal dining room at Second Empire for a special occasion and just a night out for dinner in the tavern/downstairs dining room.
I just returned from Afghaistan and wanted to take my wife out on a date. I chose your restaurant since we had never been there before. The ambiance and staff were wonderful. The food was adequate even though I found my NY Strip very fibrous. I realized just how fibrous after having some of my wife's NY Strip to find that even though hers was cooked longer was more tender. We enjoyed a nice bottle of wine that was recommended by the sommelier in training which not only paired with our meal, but the desert also.
We were in Raleigh for the Krispy Kreme Challenge and wanted some interesting food to balance that sugar overload. Picked Second Empire because the building was nice and the menu interesting. We had a FABULOUS experience! Our waiter (Jeremiah) was knowledgeable, helpful, and extremely nice. The service was attentive, but not overbearing. Wine list had a nice variety of prices and wines. But the food-oh my oh my-the food was out of this world wonderful! If we are ever in Raleigh again we will make a bee-line for here!
This was an elegant restaurant with very attentive service. We were quite surprised at how quickly we were served each course. The food was excellent - I've never had a filet mignon so tender. The desserts were awesome - buttermilk coconut pie and creme brulee! It was my 70th birthday and I felt very special! Thank you!!!
Where to begin. The Vodka martini with blu cheese stuffed olives we started out with was perfect! We got a small cheese plate and then on to the appetizers. Mr. Wonderful enjoyed a Duck Comfit salad and I devoured the Chef special appetizer, Foi gras which was totally the best. Then on to the Tenderloin special of the evening and I ordered the Scallops. Superbly cooked! We had asked our waiter to pair our dinners with wines and Alex did an excellent job! For dessert we enjoyed cappuccino's and Coconut Chess Pie with homemade pecan ice cream. Heaven. We ate in the Atrium in the Tavern so it was quite loud. Next time we'll go to the suede covered dining room on the second level so we can enjoy our meal with a little more quiet.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Second Empire! Our server, Destiny, was excellent, and her recommendations were delicious! My filet mignon was so tender I didn't even need a steak knife, my husband's foie gras was the best he'd ever had, the wine list was superb, and the coconut chess pie (our server's favorite) was divine!
The Pros and Cons of a dinner meal in the tavern:
Very odd to receive a signed copy of the menu for a birthday, and not, let's say, a complementary birthday cup of coffee or something else. It seems very egotistical on the part of the chef. We can't even imagine doing what the waitress suggested and framing it for a wall in our home.
Only in the tavern can you order from both the tavern and the restaurant menu. This should be explained on their website so a customer can decide where they would like to sit.
The food was not as pricey as we thought all the menu items would be. However, $18 for 3 tiny portions of cheese and 2 crackers & 2 dry toasts, 1/4 c. fruit and nuts and onions does not make a cheese tray. More onions than cheese. Mark-up is higher than normal.
If there are 2 of you, they bring out 1 pat of butter and 2 slices of bread in a basket. Period.
Trout was excellent.
Chocolate souffle was excellent
Short ribs were fair to good, but given too much of a chef-y hand and less of a "these are incredible tasting short ribs in a delicious sauce " hand. Short ribs are surrounded in bacon & fat and then fried and put in a ring mold on top of greasy bits of potatoes. The waitress said "tower of short ribs". Knock down that tower.
Atmosphere of tavern is wonderful--lots of brick, and felt very warm.
Excellent waitstaff and deliverers.
My wife and myself really enjoyed everything. The food and the atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for especially since it was my wife's birthday. It was also a surprise and she didn't know where we were going so kudos to 99.9 the fan for the recommendation and kudos to your good staff.
First time eating here after hearing rave reviews! It was well worth the wait but will definitely be visiting again! We were able to have a drink near the bar as well waited for our table. We were then sat upstairs. Beautifully decorated inside to fit the Victorian style outside. Waiter was nice, professional and very educational on all the menu items. The four of us all ordered different menu items and everything was outstanding! I opt for a vegetarian item which was not on the menu. However, our waiter was helpful with this and wow it was amazing. Lentils with stir fry veggies was made with such flavor, I could not put the fork down. Ahi Tuna, salmon and Pork Chops were the other entrées ordered. There was not a bite left over from any of us! After dinner we ordered a couple desserts and the Cream Brulé was made just right! How they recommend this to anyone looking for a nice quiet night out with spectacular food.
Dinner was enjoyable, service in a timely manner and friendly as well as knowledgeable. A lovely atmosphere and tables nicely spaced amongst other tables. Available parking in the back of restaurant. Chef has a hint of sweetness in his palate, yet balanced. Food presentation is eye appealing and combination of garnish with entrée is well appointed. Found the sauce to be a bit heavy on the plate is my personal opinion. Wonderful dinning experience and highly recommend Second Empire.
Second Empire always serves to excellent food and the service leaves nothing to be desired. We generally go to Second Empire for anniversaries and milestone birthdays. We choose Second Empire for the incredible ambiance of the main dining room. On our most recent visit, we were seated in one of the front rooms of the top floor. The room was beautiful and we were enjoying a quiet intimate meal. Unfortunately, a group of businessmen were seated in the room and they were extremely loud. We were able to hear every word of their conversation better than we could hear ourselves at our own table. Later a group of 8-10 people were seated in the room as well. The noise level multiplied. I don't know that there is anything the restaurant could have done because they don't know who is coming and they have to find room for all of its diners. I just wish all of the larger, louder parties could be sat together so that the other diners can enjoy the intimate dining experience to which they have become accustomed. Despite this one mediocre experience, we will be back. Second Empire remains one of the true culinary gems of the Triangle.
Our dining experience was wonderful. Three of the four of us had never been here before and our server did a masterful job from relating specials of the evening to allowing us time for conversation. The food was delicious -- especially the salmon dish and the accompaniments.
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