(Closed in late 2012 but will be re-opened under different ownership) When you think of coffee shops inside the beltline (ITB) Raleigh, most people mention Helios or the Morning Times. We’re talking great java, nice sandwiches and some free wi-fi to keep the work moving along. But there’s one lesser-known option out there for your daily caffeine injection, the Wilmoore Cafe on Wilmington Street! Located right next to Busy Bee Cafe, the Wilmoore Cafe is a coffee nirvana with fresh and tasty sandwiches on the side. What’s really cool about the Wilmoore Cafe is the unusual store front. Converted from a men’s clothing store, large plate glass windows line the front of the Wilmoore on either side of the entryway. Sitting in this showcase area gives you a cats-bird view of the action on Wilmington. The Wilmoore Cafe also sports an old-fashioned striped awning out front, heavily grained wooden floors and a tin-stamped ceiling which gives the place a feel of times gone by.
Inside you’re find two registers and lines, one for food and one for coffee. The owner of the Wilmoore Cafe, David Fowle is a coffeenista, barrista and just general lover of java. So yes, they do take their coffee seriously here and it shows in the latte’s I’ve had from the Wilmoore. At the sandwich line you’ve got a choice of fifteen or so variations with some side options like a pickle, slaw, fruit cup or salad. Lunch is served on 1/4 sheet aluminum pans used for baking, very efficient and cool! My favorite sandwiches are the pork banh mi and Cuban, all on high-quality artisan bread. The banh mi is not going to be traditional but a spin-off made with organic ingredients and Vietnamese flavors but still very good. The sides are always fresh and well-prepared, portion sizes at the Wilmoore are on the average side which is not always a bad thing. It makes for a nice quick lunch without being weighed down with an abundance of food and calories. And I’ve heard the salted chocolate chip cookies are out of the world but have yet to try one.
There’s plenty of space for relaxing inside, don’t miss the small elevated patio out back which overlooks the Moore Square bus station. But yeah, I enjoy the seats out front where you can watch the traffic pass by and be part of the scene. And while they do have a beer and wine license here, it’s really not a major part of their business here. The Wilmoore Cafe really deserves credit for bringing great coffee and solid sandwiches to this corner of Raleigh. While the Busy Bee Cafe next door is more restaurant and bar, the Wilmoore fills the needs for a more casual quick visit. With the great decor, small patio out back and focus on high-quality caffeinated beverages and sandwiches, add one more great coffee shop to the City of Oaks!
223 S. Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601