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The Best Restaurants in the Triangle

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Hi everyone,

A few weeks ago I posted saying that I'm relocating to Cary for business. Well, I accepted an offer on my house today, so I'm ready to start thinking of where to move exactly. So, since I'm a foodie, where in the triangle would you recommend living. I'm considering, Cary, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. What area has the best yummy food options!! Keep in mind that I'll be opening up the office, so where I move is where the office is going to be. So that's not an issue.

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  1. Ethnic or fine dining?

    Friends in Cary are constantly complaining about the lack of good places down there, but they've actually got a pretty good sampling of ethnic (particularly Indian) food.

    Pound for pound, Chapel Hill is pretty nice (I know of at least one hound who will argue against this but plenty that will support it)and has the added advantage of being rather close to Durham so good Mexican joints as well as some of the areas nicest top end places (4 square, Mag Grill, and Nanas). You can also better justify aligning yourself with either Duke or UNC and spare yourself the indignity of being a Wolfpack fan. Something that should hardly be taken lightly.

    1. Most parts of the Triangle are fairly accessible from the others, and all the places you mentioned have their share of good restaurants. That said, I'd pick Chapel Hill because of the abundance of food and wine *shopping*. Weaver Street co-op, Southern Season, Whole Foods, Earth Faire, big chain groceries and smaller places like Mariakakis - all within a reasonably short drive. I know some 'hounds may like some of these places more than others, but as someone who has lived in places where much more effort must be made to find the same selection (Charlotte, Greensboro, even Brooklyn), I just appreciate the sheer plenty. As my parents, who live in Beaufort, will attest - I am spoiled rotten when it comes to food shopping!

      Also, every time I go to Cary I get stuck in a traffic jam. I think that might put me off my food.

      1. Huh! Many times (not every) I go to Chapel Hill I get stuck in a traffic jam! :)

        On the Cary side, for food shopping you also have the chains, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and soon to be Trader Joe's. As well as several ethnic markets. I know it's heresy on these boards to say that I don't think Weaver Street is that big a deal (gasp!) but I do think A Southern Season is nearly reason enough to move to an area all by itself.

        Franklin Street in Chapel Hill represents as fine a collection of foodie joints as you will find bunched together anywhere in the Triangle. And proximity to Durham for its high-end fine dining spots is also nice. Cary's places are more spread out.

        If you are opening a real office though (rather than a home office), I think you'll end up finding more open space on the Cary side of things.

        Good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: klmonline

          this ex-New Yorker thinks Chapel Hill is beautiful & foodie bliss. When I lived in Manhattan I had to trek further to find such great produce, Farmer's Markets, Lobster Mushrooms at Whole Foods, Weaver st. Eco Farms Arrugua - the best plus Franklin St. with Lantern,
          Elaines, Tallulah, & how 'bout Queen of Sheba, Ethiopian down the block?
          Well Hillsborough is very pretty & right near Chapel Hill too.
          welcome & enjoy:)!

        2. I'll go ahead and plug Chapel Hill myself. People have covered most of the reasons why, but my cliff's notes version involves a virtually community-wide dedication to local, fresh ingredients in their cooking; independent restaurants are the norm rather than the exception; Maple View Farms (unbelievable dairy, including ice cream) is right down the street from my house and available in Harris Teeter; excellent taquerias; the carrboro AND durham farmers markets; Milltown's beer selection; and, I'll second the wine and food SHOPPING as well as dining out. This is not to say that Raleigh doesn't have lots of great places to go, or even really to denigrate Raleigh at all-- but I happen to agree that rather than living in the middle of that mess, it's better to make a 1/2 hour drive every once in a (frequent) while. Durham would be a second choice because of the economic reasons already mentioned--but it's widely recognized that the schools aren't quite as good. Tit for tat, you might say.
          oh yeah... and you picked a good year to move to chapel hill and become a die hard heels fan for life--the year of the HANSBROUGH!!! (if this doesn't yet make sense, it soon will)

          1. Another vote for the Durham-Chapel Hill orbit. Housing values in Durham are phenomenal--my wife and I live in a wonderful house about 10 minutes north of the city in the quiet countryside and our mortgage is less than our rent on the ass-end-of-Astoria two-bedroom we rented 7 years ago. Your choices are more limited if you are not willing to become a 'car person.' The adjustment wasn't as difficult as I feared it would be.

            If you come here expecting NYC-quality innovation and variety, you will be bitterly disappointed. If you are looking for well-prepared and occasionally surprisingly good fare, you will be content here. You will find your favorite taqueria and your favorite cheap Southern food place, you will be disappointed by the Chinese food, and you will be delighted to find not one but two very good Korean restaurants on the South end of town. You may fall in love with the Federal, a Durham bar with consistently good and reasonably priced food, or you may prefer Tyler's Taproom, which is dependable if less creative in its menu.

            Personally I've found this is a great area to learn to cook everything. You will find everything you need to cook Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Greek, you name it--shopping here is very good, although (again) it may require some driving. Great wine shops--my personal fave is Chapel Hill Wine Company, because the owners are incredibly service-oriented and the prices are pretty good. A Southern Season is a godsend; Whole Foods, Mariakakis, Capri Flavors, the little Korean grocery next to Vit Goal Tofu, the giant Asian market in Cary... all wonderful. IMHO you can't beat the ROI/QOL here. QED. ;-)