Poppyseed Market Café and Wine Bar, a North-Raleigh Favorite

Poppyseed exterior seating

If you’ve never been to Poppyseed Market Café & Wine Bar (8801 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, N.C. 27615) I totally recommend it – either for takeout or dine-in. Chef/owner Julia McGovern offers a number of specialty sandwiches, fresh salads, entrees, gourmet pizzas, desserts, wines, beer and microbrews in this deli/café/wine bar. In addition to the menu items, you can purchase Boars Head® meats and cheeses, wine and beer to go. There are plenty of great vegetarian selections as well.

Poppyseed deli counters

You may know Chef Julia when she was chosen as sous chef to Angus Barn’s executive chef, Walter Royal, on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” program in 2006 — they won! That was the year she opened Poppyseed, and since then she has turned a small deli into a large sit-down restaurant (which also includes outside seating) with a great wine bar, much to the delight of those who live in North Raleigh. To learn more about the history of the restaurant as well as about Chef Julia, please go to: http://www.poppyseedmkt.com/aboutus.htm for a great read about Poppyseed’s beginnings and how it has evolved.

Poppyseed Outside seating

Poppyseed wine bar

Poppyseed is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. I have not had the pleasure to dine there at night, but if the entrees are anything like the lunch offerings, I need to make a trip soon. There are monthly wine tastings and local musicians frequently play on the weekends. Plus Poppyseed has a thriving catering business, in case you need someone to cater your next event.

Poppyseed Market dining area

Here are some of my favorites at Poppyseed (so far). The first three I have mentioned in previous blog posts, which I think says a lot about how great I think the food is. I just wish Poppyseed was closer to my home!

Not Yo’ Mama’s Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich ($8.50) This sandwich is excellent but messy. Made with white cheddar and pimentos, there is no mayonnaise in this delectable pimento cheese, which has won chef Julia McGovern accolades. It’s amazing how creamy it is without the mayo. True comfort food!

Poppyseed Market pimento cheese

Tuna Salad Sandwich ($8.99) The tuna salad sandwich comes on white toasted bread and is huge! The tuna is mixed with celery, onions and mayo and comes with lettuce and a slice of tomato. It has lots of tuna and is served with yummy homemade potato chips and a pickle (as are all sandwiches at Poppyseed.) I included it in one of my “Ten Tasty Tuna Salad Sandwiches in Raleigh” blog (click here to read more) and it is truly delicious.

Poppyseed Tuna salad sandwich

“Right Way” Chicken Salad on Croissant ($9.25) This chicken salad is excellent, with big chunks of moist, roasted chicken, onions and celery in a light mayonnaise and Dijon mustard dressing. It comes with lettuce and tomato, and the croissant is buttery and nice and flaky.  A winner, indeed, as it made my Raleigh’s Best Creamy Chicken Salad list (click here to read more.)

Poppy Seed chicken salad sandwich

For the Veggie Lover Sandwich ($8.99) This great sandwich is served on whole wheat bread with an herbed cream cheese spread and stacked high marinated cucumbers, roasted red peppers, baby greens, onions and avocado slices. I love the herbed cream cheese spread, and you can’t go wrong with avocado and roasted red peppers on a sandwich. Even though it’s all veggies, it is quite filling.

Poppyseed For the Veggie Lover 2

Quiche of the Day with Side Salad ($9.25) I had the Quiche Lorraine, which had a good amount of bacon and Swiss cheese. This quiche was fluffy and had a great consistency, with a nice and flaky crust. You may substitute the side salad with chicken, egg or tuna salad or a cup of soup for $1.00 more. I opted for the soup and had an awesome Chilled Spicy Cucumber Gazpacho, which was garnished with feta cheese. Yum! I wish this was a permanent offering on the menu – it is so tasty! Oh, and it comes with  cheese straws that are melt-in-your-mouth awesome.

Poppyseed Quiche and soup

Salad Plate ($9.50) You select a combination of any three salads in the deli case and my choices included the broccoli salad, macaroni salad and a black bean salad, all of which were great. And those yummy, yummy cheese straws come with it as well!

Poppyseed Market salad plate

The broccoli salad had red grapes, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, tossed in a mayo-based dressing that was sweet. The broccoli was nice and crunchy – a great combination of flavors.

The macaroni salad was made from small elbow-shaped pasta that was cooked perfectly – not too soft or too chewy. It was mixed was carrots, cucumbers, orange cherry tomatoes and a mayo-based dressing that was tangy, not sweet. Very nice, especially the addition of the carrots, which gave it a great crunch.

The black bean and white corn salad was my favorite – this stuff rocks! It is mixed with fire roasted tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings. I liked it so much I ordered a container of it to go for later in the week. A must try!

There are a number of other salads that you can try and are in one of the deli cases right next to where you order so you can take a look at them first.

Poppyseed salads

Poppyseed runs daily specials and posts them to its website. For lunch I usually try to get there a little bit before noon or after 1:00 to avoid the long lines. But definitely get there – you’ll be glad you did!

Poppyseed entrance


  • Price: Medium. Excellent fresh food and plenty of it.
  • Service: 4.75.  Counter service, where you order lunch, is professional and quite friendly.
  • Food: 4.75. Everything I’ve had has been fresh and tasty. Lots of meatless offerings, too!
  • Recommend: Absolutely, especially for lunch.
  • Kid friendly: Yes. There is a small Kid’s Menu that includes PB&J, grilled cheese and mac & cheese, served with fruit or chips ($4.75).

1= hater, 2=poor, 3=adequate, 4=above average, 5=superb

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelscafe

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