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.
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 deposited in the box located on the South side of the parking lot. If you do not pay you will be ticketed $30.
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 48 people, the Raleigh Room which seats 30 people, the Capitol Room which seats 24 people and the Atrium which seats 55 people.
Private Party Contact:
Marilyn Akers: 9198293663x
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Chef's Table, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Private Room, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
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Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern Ratings and Reviews
Yet another memorable evening at Second ...
Yet another memorable evening at Second Empire. We started with a cocktail, followed by a cheese plate, a selection of three from a good array. I had a pork loin chop, and my spouse had a filet, both presented beautifully and cooked perfectly. We accompanied it with a very pleasing Chateauneuf du Pape. Dessert was their chocolate soufflé and key lime pie. It was an anniversary dinner, which chef commemorated with a nice note. Food, service and ambience was all top notch.
My wife and I celebrated our 35th weddin ...
My wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary at Second Empire. It was both of our first choice of places to go, and we were not disappointed. The atmosphere is historic, the food is awesome, the attention to details were spot on, and three days later we are still talking about what a great time we had. Thank you to Jordan and Valerie our two waiters. They both did an awesome job of making our evening very special, and they literally took care of everything. Seriously, it doesn't get any better than this! Thank you.
Excellent meal and service marred by a r ...
Excellent meal and service marred by a rowdy, rude, drunk group seated near us. One other couple left as the group clearly ruined their evening. Don't mind a little lively conversation but these people should have asked to tone it down
My wife and I went for our anniversary. ...
My wife and I went for our anniversary. We both decided it would be our yearly spot to celebrate. The staff are friendly and fun, the food was absolutely delicious, and the restaurant is wonderful to look at inside and out. Just an overall wonderful experience!
Our family has celebrated many birthdays ...
Our family has celebrated many birthdays at Second Empire but recent dinners there are showing a lack of polish that was once the signature of this fine establishment. Reservations were at 8pm and I arrived 15 minutes early (coming from out of town) and decided I'd order wine and appetizers to have waiting for my family when they arrived. I was told the "table wasn't ready" and I could wait in the bar for 15 minutes but I could see it was waiting for us with menus so I objected and the hostess let me sit down. I ordered the appetizers and then requested the sommelier to assist in wine choices and the manager/sommelier came to help. She suggested we try a new wine, which took a while to get to the table, and we declined. Another 10 minutes passed and by this time the element of surprise was gone as the rest of my family had arrived. The sommelier never came back to the table so we ordered a wine we knew and loved and continued on with our dinner order. Everyone ordered a soup as well as a main course and they were served beautifully and were delicious. To top off the meal, we ordered desserts and coffee which took another little while to be served (which was OK, we were enjoying the conversation) and again, the desserts were beautifully presented and were delicious....but halfway through the dessert course the other servers started stripping the tables, turning the tables upside down and pushing the chairs into soldier courses in one end of the dining room. Needless to say, this wasn't the best way to end the meal. So the food was great, the wine service was poor, and I forgot to mention they tried to clear our plates before we were finished (a pet peeve) and then with the dining room being cleared out while we were finishing dessert and coffee ruined the excellent efforts of the chef which is very sad. I complained to the manager as we left and she apologized, but we couldn't get back what had been lost. Hopefully SE will get their groove back soon.
We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversa ...
We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and we dine here every year. We have never been disappointed until this past Fri. evening. The beef short ribs seemed fried like a crab cake and it was very dry. My filet was cooked fine until they had forgotten to omit mushrooms from my risotto. (I'm allergic) So my filet became overcooked. Our waiter did not ask how our food was. So disappointed to have spent our money and time on not so great food. I have had much better experiences at Second Empire before.
This is our favorite restaurant in all o ...
This is our favorite restaurant in all of Raleigh/Durham. We visit for special occasions as well as business dinners. The menu is great, wine list varied and with good value for the quality, and the service is the best in the triangle - hands down.
We went here for an anniversary and real ...
We went here for an anniversary and really enjoyed it. Fancy dining room, quiet atmosphere, fantastic food. They knew we were coming for an anniversary and printed out a menu with our names and the date on it which was a nice touch.
A phenomenal experience. We were there ...
A phenomenal experience. We were there for a late dinner during NC State's Parents' Weekend. The food was excellent. The service superb. They were very accommodating with our changing reservation time due to a delayed airline flight. The prices are what I would expect at a 4 star restaurant and are appropriate.
This is a great spot for a special occas ...
This is a great spot for a special occasion. When you call to make a reservation, they will even ask you if you are celebrating anything special. My husband and I came here for my birthday and upon arrival, I received a copy of the menu signed by the Chef, with a birthday salutation printed at that the top. The service was very high quality, everyone we interacted with was very professional and attentive. We ate in the Tavern which--with its brick walls and ambient lighting-- seemed cozier and more private than the restaurant upstairs. I had the veal and my husband had the braised short ribs. Both were very delicious. For dessert we split a chocolate souffle which was just outstanding and paired well with the specialty ice cream that was given to us as a treat for my birthday. My husband and I are definitely interested in returning for a future special occasion!
Our evening was very enjoyable. Staff wa ...
Our evening was very enjoyable. Staff was excellent and professional. Food was wonderful and beautiful. The ambiance of Second Empire is very desirable for a quiet and evening out at a very special restaurant. The four of us loved it. One member of our party forgot his reading glasses and could not believe it when the waiter brought out a box of glasses for him to choose the right ones for him. Great service! Can't wait to go back!
Great service makes any food taste bette ...
Great service makes any food taste better…BUT
Great food AND great service make the entire experience memorable for everyone! That was our experience at Second Empire! I left thinking, "Why has this place been hiding from me for the past ten years?" From the moment we walked in the door to the moment we walked out after finishing a PERFECT dining experience, the staff couldn't have been more professional, helpful, and friendly. Just the right amount of attention to detail without being intrusive at our table. Looking forward to returning again and again!
Superb food. Top notch service. Waiter A ...
Superb food. Top notch service. Waiter Alex was very helpful and knowledgable of all items on menu. Made us feel important. Taste quality of food was high level. This is a go to place.
First of all this is a beautiful spot fo ...
First of all this is a beautiful spot for an elegant dinner. I had a friend in town and have always wanted to go to this restaurant. We ate in the Tavern area and were offered both menus to order from. We were escorted to the downstairs tavern by the upstairs hostess which was very nice. From my point of view, I have to say my meal was a disappointment. My husband and I both ordered the French onion soup. It was mostly all cheese that was so stringy it was impossible to eat in any kind of dignified manner. It was very salty.
For my main course I ordered the Crab Cakes. The presentation was beautiful but the crab cake tasted like an entire salt shaker was dumped into it. I did not inform the waitress until I managed to eat most of it. While not expecting a free meal, I did not feel my concerns were taken seriously. I don't think we will be going back.
We had an absolute wonderful time. The f ...
We had an absolute wonderful time. The food was fabulous and the atmosphere was exquisite. We went there to celebrate our one year anniversary and we could not have picked a better spot. The restaurant is in an old Victorian house with so much character. The mood was romantic and cozy. The wait staff was superb. I would definitely recommend this place for a special occasion. It was a great experience.
We celebrated the upcoming marriage of o ...
We celebrated the upcoming marriage of our friend at Second Empire. The historic features are beautiful, service was perfect, and the food was amazing. The most tender filet I've eaten in my life. It's pricey, but worth it!
We dine ar Second Empire fairly often an ...
We dine ar Second Empire fairly often and have always enjoyed the meal and the entire dining experience. That is, until last Friday evening, when we were underwhelmed by the service. The waiter was clearly overwhelmed and those helping him out were also inattentive at best. We are not difficult diners to please. Greet us, give us water and take a drink order and we're fine. We watched our waiter scurry about for a good bit before he greeted us and said he'd be back for our drink orders (no issue)...we sat for about 20 mins...watching as he came in several times, turned in circles, got napkins for the demanding (& loud) ladies behind us and did nothing at all to flit over to our table for basic drink orders (issue). By the time he made it to us for that we had reviewed all the menus and wondered if there would be an opportunity to know the specials...finally he makes it to us and proceeds to take a drink order and gives us a rundown of the specials. He had to be asked what the fish in the off the hook special was...we ordered drinks.
Brought my drink but not my husbands as he explained that every appropriate glass was dirty...didn't offer any sort of different drink (that had a clean glass available) and tried to leave as he wasn't really ready to take our order. My husband had to tell him we were ready to order. One of the managers brought my husbands drink and plopped it down a bit later, without comment.
As always, our appetizers, meals and dessert were all quite delicious and well prepared.
Dining out is an experience that is made up of not only the food but also the service and environment. This particular evening was not a resounding success. Typically we are discussing when we can return but not this time.
A great experience and worth the cost. M ...
A great experience and worth the cost. My fiance and I had our anniversary dinner and enjoyed every moment.
The ambiance was great, server knew the menu well, and the food was spectacular.
Enjoyed a special dinner in this unique ...
Enjoyed a special dinner in this unique classic historical restaurant. Except for parking, which is awful, the evening was delightful. The building maintains it turn of the century look and atmosphere. We enjoy the charcuterie plate as an appetizer - was unique and tasty. We also ordered the fish of the day - a local NC fish - three tail. It was a delicate mild fish, not really flaky. It could have used a bit more spice, etc. to bring the taste alive. For desert we had the chocolate soufflé - took about 10 minutes to prepare and was delicious. With two cocktails and the above menu, the bill was quite reasonable.
Each course had fresh ingredients, maste ...
Each course had fresh ingredients, masterfully arranged, beautiful in appearance and every layer complemented the next. Wonderful old historic home turned restaurant. The service was top notch. Can't say enough good things about The Second Empire. Go, you won't be disappointed.
Took my wife there for her birthday whil ...
Took my wife there for her birthday while traveling through the Raleigh/Durham area. Actually we drove from Durham and it was worth every minute of the trip. The food was amazing...the service was to die for and the overall experience was top notch. The chef personalized and signed a message on a souvenir menu for my wife which I thought was a great touch. Soup to nuts, it was an amazing experience and the place was very beautiful and the service was exceptional from the reservations to dessert!
We had six in our party. the service was ...
We had six in our party. the service was impeccable. We chose to sit in the Tavern, although the upper level is absolutely charming and next time I'll ask to sit there. The food was creative and deliciously prepared and presented. The service was outstanding. All of us were from out of town and travel quite a bit, so the level of sophisticated taste was high. This restaurant met all expectations. The portions were perfect, well seasoned, and artfully presented.
I can't way enough good about this place.
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