We first visited this casual dining restaurant located in Raleigh’s 5-Points neighborhood in 2020. Yes, a year we all would like to forget. We can assure you that the NOFO experience was most pleasurable and one that we have savored for years after. What a little gem of a restaurant and gift shop.

Read on to learn about its history, find out what we enjoyed about the food, and what we shopped for. 

Let’s Talk Pig – Oink Oink

Miss Piggy said  “Love is where you least expect it. So look there first.”

Why did we not listen to this pig logic? We have to admit we have lived in the Raleigh area for over fifteen years and had never been to NoFo at the Pig. 

Maybe the name was just a little too folksy for this new Southerner? Maybe we had to wait till we were a bit more acclimated. 

For all the new transplants in the area, let me explain this Raleigh staple has been here since 2001.

The name comes from the fact that NOFO is located in the old Piggly Wiggly Food Market.

We love that NOFO moved into the space that was once an old Piggly Wiggly grocery store. 

They have kept all the original signs from the Piggly Wiggly Grocery. 

The History

North Fourth, Inc. opened its first store in 1997 on North Fourth Street in Wilmington’s Historic Art District. The store was called NOFO, a word-stump of North Fourth.

The store moved to the Forum Shopping Center and added a cafe. NOFO @ the Forum closed in 2012.

In 2001, after extensive renovations to the old Piggly Wiggly grocery store building, NOFO @ the Pig opened in Raleigh’s Historic Five Points shopping district, where it sits today. 

The Atmosphere

Part cafe, part bookstore, part gift shop, part grocerette and gourmet candy store.

Southern cookbooks sit atop antique stoves. 

Charming display cases that are repurposed from an old supermarket refrigerator case are the homes for all the gift shop dolls. 

You can even take out their premade meals to reheat at home.

Colorful chandeliers adorn the ceilings. We especially loved the one made with little glass pigs following each other aimlessly. 

The Food

 Here is a restaurant that allows you to have some fun, but serves up serious cuisine. We truly fell in love with the food.

The Starters 

On our weekday lunchtime visit, we ordered some tea to start.  For anyone reading this who is not from the South tea is served cold, over ice. If you don’t want sugar you have to state you want your tea unsweet. The way most southerners sweeten their tea will make your teeth ache.

We instantly knew the food would be good based on the fact that the tea was brewed to perfection. Yes, there is an art to brewing the right blend of tea and NoFo has this down pat. 

Don’t the Fiestaware plates looked fun on the colorful polka dot tablecloths? 

Looking at the menu the Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese and Red Tomato Jam spoke to me. The menu said, and we quote, “If you do not taste these you will regret it.”

When they arrived they were just as we pictured them. Nice thick round slices of green tomato coated in a cornmeal breading and fried a perfect golden color. Sitting on top was a generous portion of lovely pimento cheese. The tomato jam sat off to the side but you can be assured a dollop was added to each bite of the tomato. It was so yummy! 

 

The Meal

Based on our appetizer experience we were quite confident that no matter what would be selected from the menu it would be fantastic 

 A plate of fried oysters caught our eyes as it was being delivered to a table nearby. The seating is pretty close quarters so we got a good look and a nice whiff of those plump little golden brown sea treats. 

Yes, our minds were made up even before we even realized they would be served with delicious homemade french-fried potatoes with the skins intact.

Fried Oysters Nofo Opt

To explain how good my fried oysters actually were, you have to know a couple of things about us. 

Originally from the Northeast, we consider our area the ruler of the best cold-water seafood. We consider ourselves kind of shellfish junkies. Lobster, clams, crab, oysters; We love it all cooked, raw, steamed, baked or fried we enjoy it all the same. 

We just came back from a recent visit there where we ordered fried clams from a local fisherman’s seafood shack and while they were freshly harvested from the Northeast water and sand, they did not hold a candle to the fried oyster heaven we were eating at NOFO. 

We usually prefer our fried oysters served with tartar sauce, however in the South they are traditionally served with a cocktail sauce. 

One finger dipped into it that sauce taste gave lots of insight as to why their Bloody Mary cocktail is so famous. We plan to go back on a weekend for brunch!

 

We asked the server if they had anything like a tarter or an aïoli sauce and she suggested a remoulade. Great suggestion! 

We have not had a proper remoulade this flavorful since a chef friend from New Orleans made it for us.

Those round plump and juicy, fried nuggets were generously dipped into that sauce. When the oysters were gone, we went back into the sauce cup this time dipping the french fries. That is how fantastic it was! 

A guest dining with us opted for the salad with fried chicken tenders which she also enjoyed, But look at the beautiful salad dressing on that plate! I would bet that is a homemade dressing. 

 We will for sure be coming back for a sit on the outside patio on a spring Saturday to have a Bloody Mary and those Oysters with the Remoulade Sauce!

After we finished our lunch we took a bit of time perusing the art, antiques, and decor that was placed strategically all around us in the dining areas. We were pleased to see Vivian Howard’s Deep Run Roots cookbook prominently displayed for sale. I thought to myself “she would love coming here and trying the food and soaking in all the southern charm!”

Want To Go There? What You Need To Know

Hours & Reservations

Reservations are available for any of the cafe open times with the exception of Sunday brunch.  NOFO does not take reservations for Sunday brunch. 

Cafe Hours 2024

Open Tuesday – Friday For Lunch 11AM-2PM

Dinner Wednesday-Saturday 5PM-9PM 

Brunch Served Saturday and Sunday 10AM-2PM

 

Market Hours 2024

Monday-Tuesday 10AM-6PM

Wednesday-Saturday 10Am-7Pm

Sunday 10Am-3PM

Location

2014 Fairview Rd  Raleigh NC 

www.Nofo.com

NOFO has two levels with the main dining room on the lower level. You can enter NOFO @The Pig from either Glenwood South or from Fairview Road. The Fairview Road entrance has some outdoor seating as well. 

As far as parking goes it really is the luck of the draw. If you have anyone in your party who may not be able to walk far you may want to consider dropping them off at the Glenwood Avenue entrance. 

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