hearty meatballs, homemade sauces, sides + a cozy vibe
by Avivah with Offline
What: Scratch-made meatballs (plus chicken, veggie + vegan options), plus indulgent sides, salads, and extensive whiskey offerings served up on the reg in a beloved and cozy DTR spot.
When: Tues-Thurs: 11:30a-10p; Fri: 11:30a-12a; Sat: 11a-12a; Sun: 12p-10p
Why we love ‘em:
- You can basically design your own meal, choosing between 5+ different kinds of meatballs, sauces, and more.
- In addition to their standard staples, they’ve got a rotating number of daily seasonal specials
- Their sides are F-I-R-E (special shoutout Mac & Cheese).
- It’s an intimate spot, perfect for date night.
- They’ve got an impressively extensive whiskey selection, with the option to DIY your own flight or score a single for ½ off on Wednesdays.
Oak City Meatball 101
Ready to ball out? With over 30 combinations of scratch-made meatballs and homespun sauces (plus a helluva lot more)—you better be. Inspired by NYC’s famous The Meatball Shop, Oak City Meatball brings a baller attitude to downtown Raleigh with a choose-your-own-adventure style menu of hearty balls and cravable sides, served however you like ‘em.
Admittedly, on paper, it might not make sense to plan your entire restaurant concept around the humble meatball. But step inside to their inviting Davie Street spot and you’ll quickly see why Oak City Meatball has been a popular DTR mainstay for years. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s high time to revisit and see how they’ve evolved: made-to-order dishes that can accommodate dietary needs, healthier options, and an evermore creative number daily specials, sides, and balls.
They grind their meat in house, season, and lovingly hand-shape each ball into perfect spheres of meaty (or veggie!) goodness. Pair your ball of choice with whatever sauces, cheeses, and sides you want and voila—you’ve got yourself a fully-customizable, stick-to-your-ribs meal that’s the very definition of comfort food.
But before we get any further, we’ve got to be sure you don’t get fooled by their name: yeah, these guys do meatballs (and do ‘em damn well) but that’s really just the beginning. They’ve got a cozy date-night vibe, an impressive whiskey selection, and plenty of healthy sides to balance it all out. Peep their warm interior, bustling bar scene, and seasonally-focused specials available on the daily, and you’ll understand pretty quickly that this place ain’t your average grab ‘n go sub shop—it’s way better.
What to order
Choose your own adventure
In short, OCM’s menu asks you to pick a ball, a sauce, and a side. Then tell ‘em what style you want it (on a roll, atop the daily risotto, over salad, etc.). There’s a seemingly unlimited number of ways to go balls to the walls here, all of them hearty.
There are eight “core” types of delicious balls: Traditional, Chicken, Veggie (which is broccoli-based), Spicy Pork, Buffalo Chicken, Gluten-Free Beef, vegan Beyond meatballs, and a Ball of the Day. The Traditional ball, a succulent blend of beef and pork is the most popular, with Spicy Pork riding right on its coattails.
And if you think choosing the style of meatball is tough, we dare you not to get lost in their sauces, which include classic tomato, parm cream, blue cheese cream pesto, meat sauce, mushroom gravy, and another scrumptious sauce of the day. Decisions, decisions.
Next, you’ve got to figure out your format. Will you go hoagie, slider, or bun? Or maybe you’re like us and enjoy them best buck naked. Yep, we’re talking just straight up sauce and balls (with a side underneath if we’re feeling fancy). Spicy pork balls with pesto with creamy risotto is a sleeper fave, as is the Chicken with parm cream.
Just be sure you save room for sides
Beyond balls, OCM’s got a S-O-L-I-D selection of healthy salads and hearty sides. The collard greens and risotto are fire but the uncontested champ of the menu? The Mac & Cheese, hands down. It’s not made with any “fancy” cheeses, but it’s won multiple throwdowns and—controversial option alert—*might* just be one of Raleigh’s top Macs.
We like to get a few family-style sides for the table (the polenta and daily market salad never disappoint), but we never, never skimp on our ride or die boo, Mac & Cheese.
Balls + Beer + Bourbon = the b-b-best
OCM’s got a surprisingly extensive whiskey and beer list, both of which pair perfectly with their comfort-forward menu. You can DIY your own Whiskey Flight for just $25, plus they’ve got 20+ craft brews, seasonal cocktails and vino to round out your night.
- Weekends are PACKED. If you want to walk in, weekdays are going to be best.
- Want to know what their daily special is? Check their Insta for the update.
- Sliders are the (only) way to go if you want to mix and match different balls and sauces. You can even order them sans buns if you want to DIY your own meatball flight.
- Design your own whiskey flight for $25, any day of the week.
- Got dietary stuff? These guys are super accommodating. Just ask.
- If you’re into the heat, request their new Ghost Pepper Cheese. It’s too hot to handle for most, but if that’s your jam, it’s already become a fan fave.
- Weekly specials:
- Turn up on Tuesday with $3 hard seltzers.
- Wednesday are for half-price wine and whiskey.
- Thursdays get you $2 off all beers, including cans, bottles, and drafts.
- On Baller Maker Fridays, you get two meatballs and sauce with a shot and a beer for just $16. Add a side for $4.