The Angus Barn at Christmas is a family tradition that locals reserve at least a year in advance to ensure that they get to continue their tradition. For many families, The Angus Barn in Raleigh North Carolina is synonymous with Christmas, and there are plenty of reasons why!
Angus Barn in North Carolina is an upscale steakhouse with barn-like setting and decor; however, don’t let that fool you. The Angus Barn is not an ordinary barn. Guests have the opportunity of enjoying an intimate dining experience along with access to an extensive wine cellar, cigar bar, and lounges where they can rest while taking in the festive atmosphere. And by festive, I mean the most over the top holiday decorations you will ever experience in a restaurant.
The Angus Barn’s Christmas decorations give Disney a run for their money. Yes, the food is phenomenal, the service is impeccable, but the decorations alone lure people to The Angus Barn at Christmas.
Due to the popularity of the Christmas decorations and the tradition for many families, getting a reservation at Christmas can be impossible. That is unless you are prudent and book way in advance – like a year in advance. During the Christmas season, The Angus Barn transports you into another world; it’s an experience that will forever change your expectations for fine dining during the holidays.
In 1950, Thad Eure, Jr. and Charles Winston became the owner of 50 acres of land on Highway 70 in Raleigh for $6,750. They had a dream of opening a restaurant with 275 seats. To set up the restaurant, they estimated it would cost approximately $200,000. Banks were not willing to take the risk, deeming their dream impossible. Eure and Winston did not give up. They borrowed from everyone and anyone who had faith in them which weren’t enough. Ultimately, they turned to Eure’s father, Thad Eure, the Secretary of State of North Carolina. Eure Sr. mortgaged his own house for the loan because he believed in the boys.
From there on began the journey. The owners, along with their wives, Alice and Flo, who meticulously concentrated on every small detail of the restaurant went through many trials, as they were amateur restauranteurs with no experience.
Up and Running
Using a three-compartment sink the first week, the staff warned them it wouldn’t be enough. Naively, the owners did not listen. When experienced their first crowd on their first Saturday night in 1960. There were so many dishes that the dishwashers walked off the job. Ultimately, the couples ended up cleaning dishes themselves.
From that day on, they learned their kitchen staff’s experience should be tapped into and that they could learn from them.
Eure and Winston learned to extend this courtesy by listening to customers. With a new perspective, they adapted the idea that the customer is king. When the food of the Barn didn’t meet the expected quality one night, the owners made it a point to sit at every guest table, apologize for not meeting the expectations, and then did what they could to fix it.
The families learned that the guests and their employee’s opinions were crucial to success. And this is what helped accelerate The Angus Barn’s popularity. They learned from their mistakes and molded The Angus Barn precisely into what the guests and employees asked for.
The Current Owners of The Angus Barn
The current owner, Van Eure., continues to follow this tradition. She makes it a point to hire the best employees and train them to be their best. If she encounters a problem, her rule is to rely on any employee physically available, because she knows all of her employees are capable of providing the perfect solution. This trust between the employees, owners, and their relationship with the customers is what makes The Angus Barn so successful. Successful enough to win numerous industry awards, The Angus Barn is repeatedly listed on the United States’ 100 best restaurant list and is one of the 50 highest-grossing restaurants that operate independently.
The Angus Barn Holiday Traditions
Angus Barn loves holidays, especially Christmas. Outside of the accolade The Barn receives for its food and drink; it’s equality as famous and praised for its Christmas decorations.
During the Christmas season, you will be greeted by children dressed as elves who decorate and hand out gingerbread men. Now a tradition, the elves give gingerbread cookies away to anyone who walks through the door. This is just the start of holiday cheer.
One inside, you’ll see the enormous Christmas tree. Van’s father had the idea to have a giant Christmas tree inside the restaurant. However, it was Van who came up with the idea of decorating every room in The Angus Barn in a separate theme for Christmas. Now, they rotate the themes every year for every room. This individual attention towards Christmas had led to elves peeking from trees, Christmas trees that were hanged upside down, and even a train that went straight through the main tree for Christmas. The train is so famous that it’s now a permanent part of the decor.
The act of decorating the Barn begins a month before Christmas, but coming up with ideas for it happens throughout the year. In some ways, everyone at The Angus Barn always has Christmas at the back of their mind.
Getting a reservation at The Angus Barn for Christmas isn’t easy. Your best bet is to call now or as far in advance as you can and ask for a reservation. We tried to make a reservation in June for December with no luck. However, we were able to get in after Chrismas and before the decorations and festivity had ended.
The decorations stay up until the middle of January, so even if you can’t get in before Christmas, I still recommend you go during the Christmas season.
The Angus Barn holds sentimental value to most of its customers. They know their parents or grandparents have sat on the same table once upon a time.
The Angus Barn Awards
It might be easier to list the awards Angus Barn doesn’t have. From being crowned The 2004 Gold Plate to Food Service Operator of the Year at IFMA to Wine Spectator’s Grand Award- a total 29 of them to Fine Dining Hall of Fame, Iron Chef America 2006, NCRLA’s “RESTAURATEUR-OF-THE-YEAR” AWARD. It’s impossible to list Angus Barn’s awards collection.
However, these awards are proof of the dedication of The Angus Barn in continuing to be one of the best restaurants in the United States. If the restaurant continues the way it has under Van, it will inevitably continue to collect more well-earned awards.
The Angus Barn Menu
The Angus Barn is a traditional steak house. The ingredients used are mostly harvested from North Carolina. Every month, Angus Barn serves over 20,000 grilled streaks that have been aged to perfection to melt in your mouth. There are nine different cuts of steak that come with your choice of sauce and toppings. Every meal comes with a choice of caesar salad, garden salad, or soup. And, every table enjoys bread, crackers, pickles, and cheeses that are homemade.
Don’t stress if you don’t eat steak or meat. The inclusive menu offers seafood, poultry, pasta, and they do serve a few vegetarian options. They also cater to any allergies or food restrictions – just let your server know.
The food is impeccable. If any of you know me personally or have read any of my articles, you’ll see that I am not easily impressed by the food at many places claiming to be the best. To get impeccable from me, it’s top-notch. This restaurant is not all show. It would be as popular without any of the other attractions for the food alone.
It was a ten out of ten for me, a scarce grade that few places get from me. Trust me when I tell you, my friends and family cringe when they have the misfortune of dining out with me in the event it does not live up to the hype.
Lastly, the drinks are exactly what you would expect from a high-end steak house – spectacular.
The Angus Barn Kids Menu
Your kids might be tempted to avoid the kid’s menu. They may be tempted by the size of the main menu but have them avoid it.
Not ordering from the kid’s menu would be a mistake!
While the kid’s menu does not have elaborate and pricey items, but it does come with a trip to the ice cream bar that is inside the kitchen.
The kids get to go into the working kitchen and create their own ice cream Sunday with all the bells and whistles.
As you can imagine, this experience is something the kids all love!
The Angus Barn Salon
The Salon, which is at the entrance, is where your Angus Barn experience begins. The lane of Hillsborough street is where the full-service bar now lies, with unusual stonework, large wood beam structures, and huge fans. It feels as if you are transported to a slightly older era. While you can’t enjoy the food here, you can enjoy the cheese and crackers, which some people look forward to more than the food. The Salon is open from 5:30 pm to 10 pm from Monday to Friday and from 5 pm to 10 pm on Saturday and 5 pm to 9 pm on Sunday.
The Wild Turkey Lounge
In the Wild Turkey Lounge, you can sit back and enjoy watching something on the HDTV on the leather couch, while you browse through the list of spirits and listen to the soft tune coming from the deft hands of the live musician of the day.
This is where the customers wait before they can eat in the dining room. The name of the place is a courtesy of the decanter collection, a total of 600 of them, and deemed the most extensive private collection the world has seen of it. You can’t miss out on this if you visit The Angus Barn.
The Angus Barn Gun Collection
In the waiting room of Angus Barn, on the west wall, you will come across a gun collection that’s considered the largest on the east coast- though it has only single action colts. The guns housed here are the ones that have been used in western movies by actors such as Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. The collection even contains a gun that belongs to Hank Williams, Sr, the music pioneer.
If you’re into guns, this might be one of those things that attract your attention.
The Angus Barn Country Store
Do not miss The Angus Barn country store. It’s not a gimmicky collect shot glass or kitchen magnet gift shop. Instead, it’s a classy store packed with fashionable t-shirts, the cheese and crackers you experience at dinner, and much more. The store carries the chocolate chess pie whose taste matches its reputation. If that’s not enough, take home some homemade BBQ sauce. You can even buy the brass papermill used at the tables!
Image Courtesy of The Angus Barn
I purchased myself and my niece the Angus Barn Soy Candles. We choose the Carolina Frasier Fur scent, and they were $16.50 each. I love this candle, it’s very sentimental to me. It reminds me of a fabulous Christmas with family and The Angus Barn. And, the scent is fresh and festive.
Lastly, you can make your custom gift basket or buy a pre-packaged one. And, the country store accepts all cards and you can place online orders.
The Angus Barn Humidor
There isn’t anything you can’t find at The Barn. The Angus Barn offers an extensive array of premium cigars. Premium cigars such as Partagas, Dunhill, Ashton, among many. Please ask for your favorite selection, and the staff will try to accommodate your request.
Smoking isn’t allowed in bars and restaurants in North Carolina. Fear not, the Meatlocker, an open lounge, and patio at the outside of The Angus Barn accommodates smoking.
Tobacco enthusiasts and loyal customers rave about The Angus Barns elegant cigar collection. One upon a time, this was not a challenge, that is until smoking in restaurants was banned in North Carlina. As such, The Barn had to figure out a way to ensure that patrons could enjoy their chosen vice on site.
Using a pre-existing space on the outside of the restaurant, Van converted an old refrigeration area into an open-air smoking lounge and patio in the summer of 2009. Doing so has enabled tobacco enthusiasts to continue to enjoy great food and cigars alike.
The Angus Barn Wine Cellar
The Wine Cellar is operated like a separate restaurant, a completely different part of The Angus Barn that functions on its own. It has a private staff, a fully functioning kitchen, and consists of two dining rooms. Both of them have a separate bar with full service. The wine cellar rooms are called Alice’s room and Thad room.
The best part of the Wine Cellar is the wine! This collection is one of the best in the United States, it holds approximately 27,500 bottles of wine!
The wine menu is something to gawk at. The wine type is divided based on the region and takes 82 pages to list all of them. They also have alcohol-free specialty wines and adventure pages where the wine comes with surprises.
In total, the wine cellar presents you with 1826 types of wine. The price range for the wine can be as low as $20 or as much as $8,000. From Kenwood to La Tâche, there isn’t a type of wine that you won’t find here.
Wine Cellar Tours
To get a tour of the Wine Cellar, you have to walk down a winding staircase that leads straight to the dining room of the Wine cellar. On the way, you come across the Wine Spectator Magazine Grand Awards decorating the wall, a total of 20 of them. The hallways or staircases aren’t ordinary by any means. They were constructed with hand shovels and took weeks to finish the grandeur.
The wine cellar tour is a must. Not only do you get to ramble through the cellar taking in the private rooms, but you also get to navigate through the working kitchens. This is more than just a tour of the basement.
TIP: You need to request the wine tour once you are seated or inadvance of arrival.
Once you have requested the tour, you will have to fill in a form with your information, the occasion, guests, date and time, and whether you want to have audiovisual equipment with you.
Angus Barn has unique private rooms for guests that you can reserve in advance. The private rooms are available from Sunday to Friday, except for Saturday. To book a private room, you must have a minimum of 15 guests. The maximum capacity of the private rooms is 100. If your guest count exceeds 100, you need to talk with the restaurant to explore other options.
You can decide how formal or informal you want your party to be. No matter what you choose, The Angus Barn would provide you with homemade crackers, cheddars, and cheese spread as part of the packages.
The Angus Barn Bathrooms
No review or article about The Angus Barn is complete without discussing the bathrooms. Before our experience here, our family described these bathrooms in great detail, articulating how opulent they are. My niece’s favorite thing about The Angus Barn is the bathroom. Having seen them in person, I can attest to why!
Shall we say opulent is an understatement? These bathrooms are like a format lounge from the renaissance period. Forget visiting a mansion; you can get your historical luxury fix right here.
Bathrooms done well are something people often overlook but not here. These bathrooms are over the top and draw a crowd! All of the young ladies congregate in the lounge section, trying to capture the perfect Instagramable selfie.
The Angus Barn Dress Code
The Angus Barn encourages you to dress well. You don’t need to be in a tuxedo or ball gown, but shorts and a t-shirt will not cut it here. Business casual might be the best way to describe what The Barn expects of you. Men aren’t allowed to wear sleeveless t-shirts or shorts and women aren’t allowed to show midriffs. Other than this, if you want to wear baseball caps, you will need to hit the Wild Turkey lounge as this is the only area that will allow this.
The Pavillion at The Angus Barn
In addition to the private event rooms in the cellar, there’s a pavilion. The Pavilion accommodates from 70-400 people. The Pavillion can be rented out for events such as a wedding, and they offer all-inclusive wedding packages!
Where to Stay Near The Angus Barn
If you are planning to celebrate and have more than a drink or two, you might want to consider staying close by overnight. Here are accommodations close by:
What You Need To Know
The restaurant is located at 9401 Glenwood Ave. Raleigh, NC 27617.
Reservations can be made by calling 919-781-2444.
Entrance to The Salon, The Meatlocker, and Wild Turkey lounge are accepted on a first-come, first arrive basis.
For the Holiday season, reservations should be made as early as possible.
Agnus Barn does accept walk-in diners. Try your luck without a reservation – just know you might end up eating late.
You can celebrate Thanksgiving and Easter Sunday at the Barn.
The Angus Barn is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
If you plan to take the wine cellar tour, you need to factor in an additional thirty minutes.
When my cousin first suggested The Angus Barn to us, I was mesmerized. Hearing about the elves and the decadent bathrooms immediately caught my attention. We were planning to spend Christmas in North Carolina, but The Angus Barn soon became a focal point for us all.
This is not an average restaurant, far from it. And, it’s not a place to just eat at. The Angus Barn is an experience centered around food. Being there, seeing it all in person, and trying to take it all in is something you will never forget.
Whether you are a food connoisseur, a wine expert, cigar enthusiast, or experience seeker, The Angus Barn has you covered. If you’ve got kids, well this is the next best thing to going to Lapland at Christmas time.
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Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.