New Restaurant Alert!  The Depot on First is Coming To Knightdale!

The Depot on First Restaurant sign in Knightdale NC

**Update September 29, 2023** We had an opportunity to attend a soft opening dinner tonight at The Depot on First. It was phenomenal! I wrote about my experience directly below, and will maintain the original blog post further down. Spoiler alert, this beautiful restaurant will be a new, elevated dining option in Knightdale and beyond!

Here’s Your Sneak Peek! The Depot on First is Finally Here!

We had the unique opportunity tonight to attend a soft opening dinner at The Depot on First in downtown Knightdale, NC. I am so happy to see that this level of dining has come to Knightdale! Now, I want to preface this write up with reminding you all that I am not a food critic or professional food journalist. I just love and enjoy food, and can only give you my personal opinion and plenty of pictures so you can make up your own mind if this is some place you would like to try. So without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Depot On First’s Exterior

Cafe lights, huge oak trees, modern lighting fixtures, large covered front and back porches and a back deck are all beautiful elements of this new dining spot.

The Depot on First exterior front in Knightdale, NC
Exterior front
The Depot on First- front porch
Front Porch
The Depot on First with mature oak tree in back
Maintaining the mature oak trees

The Depot On First’s Interior

The inside of this historical home, once owned by the town physician, Dr. Joseph R. Hester has been beautifully restored and updated with a modern addition. While there is more to come with some decor per the owner, Christopher Critzer, here is a sneak peek of the interior.

The Depot on First Interior dining space with addition

The Depot on First Bar area
The Bar

Rear view of banister at the Depot on First
Dr. Joseph R. Hester's degrees, framed
Dr. Hester’s diploma and the NC Board of Pharmacy physician’s certificate
The Depot on First dining room section inside the home

Tonight’s Tasting Menu- A Sample of What’s To Come

Tonight’s menu highlighted a few of the options that will be available on the full menu once the restaurant officially opens on October 6th. The executive chef, Kevin Stratton, came out to discuss each course. One element that was continuously highlighted was that each dish’s ingredients were locally sourced. The produce comes from a farm in Wendell and seafood comes from North Carolina shores, when able. Our duck came from a farm in Chapel Hill. So when you eat here, not only are you supporting local for the employees and business owners, you are also supporting our local farmers as well.

Below are all the courses that we tried. I can wholeheartedly say that we enjoyed each and every one of them.

Tasting Menu for the Depot on First Friday September 29 2023
Lobster roll
Lobster sliders- “Butter poached Lobster, lemon chive aioli, minced celery, potato roll”
Lobster slider open
Open faced lobster slider
Spinach salad
Spinach salad- baby spinach, candied almonds, apples, cranberries, maple Dijon vinaigrette
seafood mac and cheese from the Depot on First
Seafood Mac and Cheese- Cavatappi pasta, lump crab, shrimp, Lobster, four cheese sauce
Duck Scarpariello
Duck Scarpariello- Seared duck breast, Italian sausage, rosemary, fingerling potato, green beans, balsamic pepperoncini sauce
Red snapper and scallops from the Depot on First in Knightdale, NC
Red Snapper and Scallops- Seared red snapper, seared scallops, blistered tomatoes, arugula, saffron risotto, red pepper &
lemon beurre blanc

We felt that each dish was outstanding. I told Chef Stratton that I wanted to just sop up the sauce from the duck scarpariello, and I could have eaten at least eight more of those outstandingly tender, perfectly cooked seared scallops. The lobster mac and cheese came with such sizeable pieces of lobster. I am already craving more bites from each of the dishes as I am writing this!

The Depot on First’s Unique Cocktails

For an idea of some of the cocktails that will be available, please take a look at some of the samples below. My personal favorite was the Gandy Dancer and my husband enjoyed the Hell on Wheels and Old Fashioned.

The presentation on the above cocktail, the Smoked Paloma, was phenomenal!

Looking Forward To The Grand Opening and Beyond

We genuinely had such a wonderful time tonight. The service was excellent. Our server, Ashley, was so kind and attentive. My husband and I both agreed we haven’t had an upscale dining experience like that in a very long time. It is wonderful to know that this beautiful restaurant and delicious dining experience is now just a stone’s throw away for those in Raleigh, Eastern Wake, and beyond!

The Grand Opening Date Has Been Announced!

The Depot on First has announced that their Grand Opening date will be October 6th, 2023. In the next few days, they will be launching their newly updated website, where you can make reservations. For the first few months, the restaurant will be reservation only! So keep your eyes peeled for that new website if you want to get in and try it out any time soon! Here’s their Instagram reel announcement for additional info.

—Previous Posts For the Depot on First—

This past Sunday, my husband and I got a very much-needed break from the kids (Thank you, Mimi and Papa!) and decided to enjoy the beautiful spring weather with a bike ride through the park and into downtown Knightdale, North Carolina. We left around lunchtime with plans to give The Depot on First food truck a try.

The Depot on First’s Location

Located at 608 N. First Avenue in Knightdale, NC, this location is right next to Oak City Brewing Company. I have watched the soon-to-be restaurant being renovated/built for the past year, and I was curious to check out the food scene. Located in a historical home, the restaurant’s building has undergone an amazing transformation. There is a new building addition, including a beautiful covered back porch and deck. The back of the restaurant faces gorgeous old oak trees and a shaded lawn area.

They’ve also obviously invested in some landscaping where magnolia trees were just planted to line their back parking lot. Situated right behind the restaurant is the Ashley Wilder dog park at Knightdale Station Park. To say that we are excited about having another beautiful, locally-owned restaurant to visit within walking distance is an understatement!

Trying The Depot on First’s Food!

According to the business’s website, “We will strive to be the most sustainable restaurant in Knightdale by sourcing local NC ingredients and giving back to the community.” Okay- Farm-to-table concept. Love That!

Everything was hot, fresh, well-seasoned, and delicious. My husband got The Depot on First’s Choo Choo shrimp, which reminded us of Bonefish’s Bang Bang shrimp but with a southern flair to it (I picked up a hint of Old Bay). The shrimp were also huge and so tender! I got the signature Knight Riders chicken sandwich, and the chicken breast was large, juicy, well-seasoned, and crispy. The lettuce and tomato were crisp, juicy, and fresh. We both agreed that the fries were hot, salty, just the right level of crispy, and well-seasoned. Everything I want in a fry! We finished our meal satisfied and ready to hit the road.

The Depot on First’s Outdoor Ambiance

With permission from the folks working at the food truck, we sat out by the back of the restaurant on the sidewalk, where they were doing some landscaping work surrounding the backyard area by two huge oak trees. The potential for that lawn space is amazing, and I can’t wait to see what they do there (Lawn games? Twinkly cafe lights? Benches? A farm-to-table garden? Open lawn space for the kids to rip and roar? Pet-friendly outdoor dining for folks coming from the dog park?). The options are limitless!

When Does The Depot on First Open?

We were told that the hope is that the restaurant will open by the end of summer 2023… so fingers crossed for just a few more months! We can’t wait… as I have a feeling if the inside is done as well as the outside, it’s going to be a really special place and a place where we will take our family for years to come.

**Update: June 15, 2023**

The Depot on First in Knightdale, NC Taken June 10, 2023

Hey everyone! The Depot on First is really coming along! They have their signage up, their lighting looks like it has been installed, and their back porch and deck have furniture sitting out on it! The grey paver brick sidewalk also continues down the length of the restaurant, which is a nice detail. It’s nice to see more details being added to First Avenue!

They are starting to advertise for hiring and have posted some pretty awesome pictures to their Facebook page about the interior progress. We can’t wait to give it a try!

Author: Taylor

Taylor, the founder of Eastern Wake Love and resident of Knightdale, NC, created the platform to celebrate Eastern Wake County’s community and lifestyle. Driven by the lack of substantial information about the Eastern Wake communities during her move to Knightdale, she wanted to create a resource for this beautiful area's potential and current residents and visitors. In her spare time, she’s chasing after her two young kiddos, getting involved in her community, and laughing with her husband about the chaos of parenthood.


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