Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Poole’s Downtown Diner

Although Poole’s Downtown Diner has many decades of Raleigh history under its belt, you won’t be greeted with the typical soul food you may have come to expect from a diner. The owner is Ashley Christensen, a nationally renowned chef recently featured in Bon Appetite Magazine.

The menus that change daily are only listed on the blackboards. Additionally, most of the ingredients originate locally so many of the rotating items are seasonal. The evening I stopped by featured entrees such as a 10oz Royale with Scotch Whisky Cheddar, Duck Confit served over white beans, and Macaroni au Gratin.

This was my first time at Poole’s. I hadn’t planned on staying for the evening, but I found myself thirsty and in the area on a late Saturday night. I was really surprised to learn that they stay open until 2:00 A.M. (with dinner served until midnight).

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The sign in the image above says If you don’t use profanity you will not offend anyone. The photograph between the tall translucent glass bottles is of Leon Jordan who together with his wife Shirley (daughter of the original owners, the Pooles) lease the building to the current Owner/Chef. All around him in that same photo are members of his big band, the Continentals. They’ve played Big Band music for over forty-five years.

Personally, I find it refreshing to not have the traditional paper menus. Even in the back of the place, the day’s menu is easily accessible. If you look closely at the back wall, you can find the same phrase referencing profanity as seen on the plaque behind the bar in the photo above this one.

Visible in the photo above are reflections of progress: the new Mariott and the new Convention Center. While modernity and progress are enveloping, a hidden cult classic lies for those willing to travel to a more quiet part of town.

I asked Luke, one of the bartenders (not pictured), if business had improved since the reopening of Cabarrus Street. He stated that “Business has been growing steadily since we opened in December, but yeah, the increased traffic flow has improved things quite a bit.”

Here’s hoping it continues that trend. I really enjoyed my stay.

Poole’s Downtown Diner is open Wednesday through Saturday evenings, in addition to Saturday brunch.

Located at 426 S. McDowell Street.


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