No one has done more for Downtown Raleigh’s food scene than James Beard Award Winning Chef Ashley Christensen. She discovered her passion for food and cooking while in college, throwing dinner parties for friends. She started her first professional cooking job at the age of 21.

After working in several top kitchens in the Raleigh – Durham area, Christensen opened her own restaurant, Poole’s Diner, in 2007. Since then, she’s opened several restaurants in Downtown Raleigh, delighting locals and visitors!

In addition to her 2014 James Beard Award, Christensen has been featured on The Food Network and in several publications such as Bon Appetit, Southern Living and The New York Times.

Here’s a quick guide to her famous Downtown Raleigh restaurants:

Poole’s Diner

Poole’s Diner is the restaurant that started it all! Poole’s Diner serves up some of the best comfort food in Raleigh. The menu changes frequently, but there’s one menu item you can always count on – mac and cheese. It is the best you will ever have! Poole’s Diner is also known for its famous brunch, It’s not unusual to see a line out the door on Sunday mornings, but it’s worth the wait.

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

There’s nothing like a hot plate of fried chicken with traditional southern sides, and that’s exactly what Beasley’s Chicken + Honey is all about. Popular menu items include Fried Chicken and Waffles, Ashe County Pimento Mac and Cheese Custard, and the Chicken Biscuit. This restaurant also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-4pm.

Chuck’s

Located right next to Beasley’s is Chuck’s. Chuck’s serves up unique burgers, fries, and milkshakes. You can even get boozy milkshakes!  My favorite burger is The High & Valley, which is topped with crushed avocado, bacon-onion jam, and blistered red peppers.

Death and Taxes

There are three things certain in life – death, taxes and that Ashley Christensen restaurants are going to be amazing! Death and Taxes is Christensen’s latest venture. Unlike her other restaurants, Death and Taxes has more of a fine dining atmosphere. Meats, seafood, and veggies are cooked using wood-fire, and the plates are all meant to be shared. It’s a fantastic foodie experience!  Upstairs from Death and Taxes is the Bridge Club, which hosts private events and cooking classes.

In addition to these awesome restaurants, Christensen also opened her own craft cocktail bar, Fox Liquor a few years ago. This basement bar features over 50 craft cocktails in addition to wine and beer. It seems that Christensen always has another project on her list. Be on the lookout for her next venture, Pooleside Pie, a pizza place expected to open in 2018.

So what are some of your all-time favorite Ashley Christensen restaurants, and why? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.

This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Raleigh Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication via TBN