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State of the Triangle chow report?

I'd like to compile a categorical chow report for the area that DOES NOT BASH THE TRIANGLE FOR NOT BEING NY/SF/BOSTON/CHICAGO. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. categories will include (and i'm happy to take suggestions on more)
taco truck/taqueria
sandwich (not burger)
<$10 meal of any type
>$50 meal of any type
chili (this is one i have been searching for high and low, to no avail)
best new restaurant (less than 1 year)
this is in raleigh, durham, chapel hill, and reasonably located outliers.

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  1. i'll start...
    burger: gotta go with porter's... just had my first the other day. that was righteous. close second is town hall grill.
    taco truck/taqueria: super taqueria
    sandwich (not burger): BLT at Merritt's, followed by hot dog at roast grill
    <$10 meal/pp of any type: above notwithstanding, banh mi and pho dac biet at 9n9 for 8.50 total
    >$50 meal/pp of any type: gotta go with mag grill. time after time, the guy impresses me with the food. service is consistently very good, room needs help, but the food is as good as i've had almost anywhere.
    sushi: waraji
    chili (this is one i have been searching for high and low, to no avail): help! i haven't found one that is really good... had some decent lamb chili at james joyce, but not what i'm craving (which is why i usually just make it at home)
    indian: saffron. what a great addition to the area
    thai: thailanna, NC 55
    pho/vietnamese: 9n9, followed by lotus leaf cafe
    breakfast: guglhupf. hands down.
    best new restaurant: jibarra, north raleigh. gotta get back there. some of the best cocktails i've had. times bar is a close second.

    1. Hmmm, I'll respond to only a couple of your categories.

      Burger: I agree that Porters knocks it out of the park. Raleigh Times Bar also is quite good.

      Hot Dog: Roast Grill is classic and timeless. Order it very dark. Cloo's is also good, but again, you need to tell them to cook it a bit longer.

      Sandwich: Once again, I'm in agreement with Merritt's. I drive from Raleigh to Chapel Hill just for this sandwich. I really can't explain why it's so good. The homemade pastrami at the Raleigh Time Bar is excellent.

      Expensive Meal: Magnolia Grill continues to put out the most creative food in the Triangle. I may be disappointed occasionally, but I think it's because Ben takes a chance that others won't. It's by no means the 11th best restaurant in the country, but it's damn good.

      Sushi: Waraji -- no question

      Breakfast: My house. Oh, after that, I like Elmo's solely because they actually serve shrimp and grits for breakfast -- when it's supposed to be served!

      New Restaurant: I'll go with the Times Bar, solely because it brought top notch bar food to Raleigh. But I won't argue with your Jibarra nod, as it's a type of food that can't be found anywhere else in the Triangle.

      1. I'm glad you threw this question out there. I've been missing Triangle posts here of late and actually wanted to put the breakfast question out there after having had an amazing breakfast in a hole-in-the-wall diner in Maryland this weekend. We passed diner after diner after diner and I was bemoaning the fact that I didn't know of many around here. Don't get me wrong - I think we have a lot of great stuff here, but the breakfast offerings are somewhat meagre. I'm also realizing I may not be as much of a chowhound as some of the more hardcore posters here. While I love fabulous food, I can't weigh in on half of your categories, and I generally don't even go to Raleigh unless there's a political protest of some sort, but here are my few meagre comments:

        burger: Where is Porter's??

        taco truck/taqueria: super taqueria

        sandwich (not burger): beet/goat cheese sandwiche at Guglhupf

        $10 meal of any type: 9N9/Crab cakes at City Beverage

        $50 meal of any type: I'm in the Nana's camp, but haven't been to Magnolia Grill in forever.

        indian - in Durham: Sitar

        pho/vietnamese: 9N9

        breakfast: Nowhere I'd rush to, but Elmo's is fine.(haven't had Guglhupf's breakfast for some reason, although I've been going there for years, but I'm German and make an excellent grilled nutella sandwich myself. Make it on brioche bread and you'll die, it's so good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: suse

          where's city beverage? good crab cakes are something i've had two places in this area-- my house and jujube. charlie's are, admittedly, better than mine... *grin*

        2. Porters is on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, across from the NC State campus. It's two doors down from Frazier's.

          One other sandwich nomination, and this is for the 2AM crowd: the chicken and cheese biscuit at Time Out. Yes, it's gross, but there's nothing better after a beer or nine.

          1. breakfast - Current Cafeteria , Durham, NC. Get the link sausage.

            1. 1. Burger-- Joe & Jo's in downtown Durham has huge, tasty burgers but the service can be spotty.
              2. Tacqueria-- tie b/w Los Comales and Super,, again in Durham.
              3.<$10 meal-- Federal in Durahm or Med Deli in Chapel Hill.
              4.> $50 meal-- Tie b/w Four Square and Mag Grill, Durham.
              5. Sushi-- Warraji, raleigh.
              6. Chili-- The Dog House, though I've only gotten it as a topping for my hot dog.
              7. Indian-- Saffron in Morrisville, a cut above Sitar India Palace in Durham. For something different, try Cool Breeze in Cary Indian fast food/street snacks.
              8. Thai-- Thai Palace, Chapel Hill.
              9. Vietnamese-- Don't know; can I sub in Merlion, the Singaporean restaurant, here instead?
              10. Breakfast-- Elmo's Diner, Carrboro or Durham.
              11. Best new place-- Saffron.

              A needed additional category, pizza. I'll go with Mellow Mushroom in, you guessed it, Durham.

              I don't get over to Raleigh or Cary much so I freely admit that my choices are biased toward the western half of the Triangle.

              1. Where's Current Cafeteria??

                1 Reply
                1. re: suse

                  Roxboro Rd. In Durham, up the street from Sper tacqueria. Only only for breakfast and lunch though.

                  And another category that needs mention: barbeque. I say Rub's in Morrisville or Allen & Son in Chapel Hill if you must have NC style.

                2. i left bbq off because it is so frequently discussed... i'd have to agree w/ both choices on bbqme's part, tho.

                  pizza-- IP3 in chapel hill

                  1. I'm not sure why Heelsoxhound is so vehemently opposed to comparing the restaurants of the Triangle to restaurants elsewhere. A restaurant like Alain Ducasse may be possible only in a very different economic environment, but surely the Triangle can be expected to compete in less rarefied categories of cuisine. This being said, here are some of my local favorites:

                    Chinese -- Red Palace
                    Asian -- Thai Palace, Merlion
                    Indian -- Udupi
                    Burger -- Tyler's
                    Fries -- Town Hall Grill, Tyler's
                    Bread -- Weaver Street, Gugelhopf
                    Middle Eastern -- Bosphorus
                    Pizza -- none
                    Ice Cream -- Maple View Farm
                    Sushi -- Waraji
                    Tacos -- Superior
                    Cobbler -- Elmo's
                    Pastry -- Gugelhopf
                    $50 or more -- none
                    Red sauce Italian -- Bella Napoli (with reservations)
                    Sandwich -- Sandwich (Franklin Street)
                    Obscure BBQ -- Blue Mist (I-64)
                    Out-of-town -- Red Rocker Inn (Black Rock)
                    Kids -- S&T Soda Shoppe (Pittsboro)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Sinophile

                      i'm opposed, if not vehemently so, to preceding posts with "well, if i HAVE to pick something around here, i'll pick this, but i could get better in x place in aforementioned city". it runs counter to what i think this board (and, because i started it, this post) should be about--exposing the best of what this area has to offer to people who are excited about food and happy to find new places in their given locale. effectively saying that one person's taste is better or more highly developed than another does nothing for a productive post on this board; in fact, it's pretty presumptuous. the fact that i've travelled a lot (and yes, sometimes specifically to eat at a particular restaurant) doesn't prevent me from enjoying lots of meals all over the triangle. i would venture a guess that i'm not the only one on this board who's in that camp--but i don't feel the need to point it out every time i post.

                        1. re: HeelsSoxHound

                          Heelsoxhound -- don't you think you're reading a helluva lot into my post? My comments above suggest none of this. It has nothing to do with saying "one person's taste is better than another," but with holding the local restaurants to a national standard. I'm not sure why this is not okay. I myself find this clarifying, part of the process of imposing a kind of critical order on the local food scene. Take a look at the other boards. I believe this kind of comparative commentary is very common.

                        1. Ah, but you MUST know where Guglhupf is. It's the only real German bakery I've ever encountered in the States. It's on 15-501 Business in Durham - between Foster's market and the Asia Market (aka "Asia Hut" - used to be a Pizza Hut).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: suse

                            "It's the only real German bakery I've ever encountered in the States."

                            Given my admittedly limited travel in Germany, Gughupf is much *better* than most of what I've had in Germany. The real compliment would be, "It can almost compete with my European grandmother."

                          2. Where is Merrit's (in Chapel Hill)?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: herzoge

                              if you head south on south columbia away from downtown, it's on the left as you come down the hill. low white brick building, blue sign. looks like a gas station (because it used to be one).

                              1. re: HeelsSoxHound

                                Yes, it's just a convenience store. I'm still flummoxed over why their BLTs taste so good.

                                1. re: ldixie

                                  I recommend that you try the BLT at Enoteca Vin. It's only available during their weekend brunch.

                            2. As far as the pastries go, Guglhupf cannot compete with my European grandmother, nor with several of the small artisan bakeries and pastry shops in and around my hometown in southern Germany. Guglhupf's pastries are just okay, but they may well be better than much that I've encountered in northern Germany. Guglhupf's breads are very good, however. A lot of the bakeries in Germany now get much of their dough, if not their products from somewhat larger production houses than they used to, which compromises the quality substantially. Guglhupf makes everything in house, which is fantastic. If you go to a "Baeckerei" in Germany, you'll find bread and some pasteries. To find truly good pastries in Germany, you ususally have to go to a "Konditorei". Guglhupf is a "Baeckerei". But, in the spirit of HeelsSoxHound, we shouldn't really be comparing. My initial comment praised Guglhupf. I say, support Guglhupf - they do produce quality products. We're lucky to have them.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: suse

                                Hmmmm... I wonder if I can contribute to the conversion. It sounds like you know your stuff.

                                While I don't like the company's name because it's incorrect French, "La Farm" in Cary seems to be the best all-around European style bakery around. They also sell their breads at the Farmer's markets.
                                Hereghty's in Raleigh focuses on those lovely European desserts. Not only are they delicious, but it's great to see them featured in an authentic dessert case.

                                1. re: Menina

                                  I maintain that the Gourmandises de France pastry shop in North Raleigh does far better pastries - croissants, eclaits, fruit tarts, etc than either Le Farm or Hereghty's. Alas, it doesn't do baguettes anymore, but when it did it it was the best bread in the Triangle. Hereghty's looks fancier (and costs more)but doesn't have the same quality. Don't understand why this gen is so consistently overlooked. It's different style, of course and has has less of a selection but I rate it higher than Guglhupf. And the baker is French and trained in France as a pastry chef. Wonderful atmosphere and service.

                                  Oh and it's located next to the Food Lion at the shopping center at Millbrook and Creedmoor.

                              2. can anyone recommend a great place for
                                -- Jamaican or Jamaican/Chinese food
                                -- Green coconuts for drinking

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sapphos

                                  A lot of the asian grocery stores that have a produce/veg section carry green coconuts.

                                  1. re: sapphos

                                    "cool runnings" is MUCH better than 'jamaica jamaica'. off of harrison ave in cary i think...small family owned joint, nice stuff, super casual..

                                  2. I must say I am happy to find a group of triangle food lovers that are not a bunch of snobs like on some other boards..

                                    Porter's burger is supreme!

                                    1. Sapphos,
                                      Jamaica Jamaica got raves from an ex-Brooklynite, he says it's the real deal. I haven't been there yet, but I yearn for a patty, peas n rice, & maybe maubee.

                                      1. I can only comment on a couple of the categories mentioned, as I have yet to find satisfactory solutions to all of our culinary problems. Note that we live inside-the-beltline in Raleigh, so my answers skew in this direction.

                                        Burger: Sullivan's, albeit a chain, always has a solid burger. Another alternative to Porter's is the Hayes Barton Diner.
                                        <$10: Pharoah's also makes a great hot dog (I love the Roast Grill too). Hereghty's has terrific little quiches at this price point. If you're not familiar with Heregty's, it's a truly European bakery that focuses on desserts. By authentic, I mean that Chris Hereghty lived in Europe for over 15 years and trained there. They are located in the Glenwood Village shopping mall, across from the Glenwood Grill.
                                        >$50: We are consistently delighted with Enoteca Vin/Vin and Frasier's. Vivace (owned by the Porter's and Frasier's folks) is also consistent. Of course, we love the Mag Grill and the original Nana's.
                                        Breakfast: Enoteca Vin, hands down the best brunch we've found in the Triangle. In fact, while the food isn't uber trendy there, Vin remains the most authentic, local Euro-style bistro in our minds.

                                        1. Thanks for the location of Guglhupf. I will have to check it out.

                                          1. Here's my 2 cents for the "best of the best" list:

                                            burger: haven't found one.

                                            taco truck/taqueria: I'm lovin' Los Comales. Went to try "El Superior with suse, but the place was too noisy for our 14-mo old. Will try it again soon. Super Taqueria is great too.

                                            sandwich (not burger): if we're not counting calories, I'd have to say a steaming hot chicken or steak biscuit from Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen on Franklin Street. It's a greasy, guilty pleasure. They're drive-through only.

                                            <$10 meal of any type: Q Shack's beef brisket with mac & cheese and onion rings.

                                            >$50 meal of any type: Nana's or Four Square. Both have problems with being consistent, so it's just the luck of the draw as to which is better.

                                            sushi: Waraji, hands down.

                                            chili: Q Shack again. They make their chili out of bbq beef brisket. Topped with cheddar, sour cream and chives. Served with hush puppies. Yum.

                                            indian: many will disagree, but I say Sitar. When it comes to Indian, I'm all about the dosas, and nobody around here does a better dosa than Sitar. And you gotta try their bindi masala (okra); it's one of the most fantastic vegetables I've ever eaten. And I'm not generally into okra. Cool Breeze is also excellent.

                                            thai: my favorite cuisine, and I'm sorry to say, I haven't found anything around here that's really decent. Thai Cafe's chicken larb and masaman curry will do if I'm really desperate. This is the biggest hole in Durham's restaurant scene.

                                            pho/vietnamese: Pho Cali in Raleigh.

                                            breakfast: probably Foster's. Or Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen (see above).

                                            best new restaurant (less than 1 year): Vit Goal