Raleigh "Junk" Food tour - suggestions?
This is how its gonna go -- my buddy and i are gonna jump in the car, head to raleigh from chapel hill, and spend a bunch of hours roaming the town and stuffing ourselves sick - in a good way (?). This idea started as a hotdog tour, but then we figured we'd hit up some distictly raleigh institutions, trying out what they are famous for. It started when i read on chowhound about The Roast Grill (a raleigh institution) whose famous hotdogs will be stop #1. My bud has eaten Snoopy's previously and says those doggies are pretty damn good, so we figured we'd compare. He has never had Char-Grill, yet another old school Raleigh joint, so we're throwing that in the package deal as well. The only other place i can think of off-hand is the Raleigh Farmer's Market Seafood Restaurant for some fresh fried underwater goodness.
What we're looking for is the best of the worst-for-you raleigh has to offer. Any more suggestions? Obviously, none of this is unique food, but distictly Raleigh. Classic raleigh BBQ joints that really are still good (whats that don murray place - is that what its called?)? Dessert? we have no dessert locations, a suggestion would be nice there..... and I dunno - maybe some ethnic joints that have been established for some time....open to any and all suggestions, and feel free to suggest stuff that strays from the junk food theme (just for our own info)......
While not necessarily "junk food" - but certainly "fast food" --- and sticking to ITB/downtown...There'e the Mexican place on Peace Street near the junction of St Mary's, Las Brisas de Acapulco, for a burrito or quesadillla or some such. (A stone's throw fromyour Roast Grill/Snoopy's/Char-Grill trifecta.)
And how about Neomonde (Beryl Rd, off Hillsborough St, across from Meredith College, for some felafel.
For dessert, one of my old stanbys is always Krispy Kreme. While ubiquitous these days, the one on the corner of Peace Street and Person Street is one of the originals.
Other thoughts include the BBQ place downtown....(What's it called? Is it still there?)
And you could always grab a slice at Lilly's pizza at Five Points. At 15 years old or so, it probably qualifies as an institution.
Depending on how seriously comprehensive you want to get, the burger at the Player's Retreat could/should be on your list, as well as the hot dogs at Cloos Coney Island. Clyde Cooper's is the BBQ place downtown, but I have no idea if it's still there; it was slated to be demolished to make way for one of the phases of the downtown "revitalization" or whatever, but I don't know how far along that project is. I rarely get to downtown Raleigh anymore.
Definitely dessert = Krispy Kreme, preferably at like 11:30 p.m. (since nowadays they close the dining room at midnight, right? Otherwise I would've said 2:30 a.m. for the *real* KK experience)
While you're out at Mission Valley to check out Cloos, (since you asked about ethnic joints) you can stop at Nur Deli, which is not as good as Neomonde, but which is closer to the "oldschool Raleigh junk food" vibe, at least as viewed through the NC State University lens. They've only been open since 1980, but in Raleigh, with the exception of Roast Grill & Char-Grill, there's not much left from the old old Raleigh.
Speaking of NC State classics, a PBR (and a sandwich, if you still have room) at Sadlack's should make it onto your route as well, even though they recently remodeled & thus your experience won't be quite as authentic. They've been serving the crusties, hippies, freaks (and grad students) of Raleigh since the dawn of time.
I should also mention, as i stray further and further from your stated goal, that the Banh Mi (vietnamese subs) at Dalat (also in Mission Valley) are sublime. They used to have a separate sub shop, but they closed it & now the subs are sort of semi-off-menu at the main restaurant. Get the BBQ Pork.
If you were going on a weekday, though it isn't "junk food," a trip to Mecca Restaurant downtown for lunch would be in order. It gives the appearance, like Clyde Coopers, of not having changed since 1940 or so.
by the way -- any famous fried chicken (not a chain) in raleigh? that would fit the bill nicely. i think we're gonna have to split this carnage into a lunch and a dinner session.
(not to get off my own topic, but if you want the best fried chicken i've had in these parts, check out "The Know Bookstore" in Durham, up fayetteville rd close to nc central's campus...)
Don Murray's closed, damnit!!! Where did all those wonderful people go that cooked the most wonderful Southern food????
And, Murray's on Old Poole Rd., (also in Raleigh) closed about a year ago. It was the last place, to my knowledge, in Wake County that still cooked with wood. Now the closest place near Raleigh is Allen & Son in Chapel Hill (not Pittsboro) that cooks with wood.
Another great place for 'real' barbeque is Doug Saul's in Nashville, NC - about an hour east of Raleigh and well worth the drive.
Coopers is definately still open and still great...and has pretty darned decent fried chicken. Although it is not junk food, you should pop across the street from Coopers and hit up Sosta for a coffee. Their sandwiches are great, but not in the category you are looking for (you really shouldn't veer off your "junk" roll for roast beef, carm. onions and arugula....just wouldn't seem right...but if you need a joe-fix, it is the best in that area to me.)
For fried seafood, Captain Stanley's head out of town towards Garner on South Saunders, everyone says "Calabash style", the man who owns this is from Bricklanding 10 minutes away from Calabash, NC. Great for sweet tea, hushpuppies & tartar sauce, did I mention seafood?
At Roast Grill, if they have pound cake on the counter wrapped in saran wrap. you must buy some. and they also have 10oz bottles of coke. whatever you do, don't ask for ketchup.
Coopers BBQ is an institution, but I also love Old Time BBQ on Hillsborough Street, out towards Cary. It doesn't have the cool building like Coopers, but it has good food.
You may want to hit Big Ed's in City Market, love their breakfast and lunch.
Finch's on Peace Street is a distinctly Raleigh place. I think it is only open for breakfast and lunch. It's hard to find (right near where Capital Blvd exits on to Peace) and looks like it used to have an old fashioned drive-in or something out front.
The food is somewhere between eh and okay, but the atmosphere is so peculiar and distinctive, it's worth a stop in. Lots of old timey famer looking guys side by side with state legislators with a dash of Raleigh hipsters thrown in.
Think about the slickest, most modern restaurant you've been to -- then think of its exact opposite. That's Finch's.
I love Finch's just for the atmosphere. When I lived off Capital Blvd I was a regular, also there is a old place off Capital Blvd on Atlantic Ave (or is that Old Wake Forest Rd) that has great atmosphere.Can't think of the name but something grill.
Nur Deli, Clyde Coopers and Cloos are are good choices
not definitely in raleigh, but you might as well hit it up if you need an appetizer before your hot dogs: rub's smokehouse in morrisville, nc. it's on nc-54 on the way from chapel hill if you prefer not to take the all-too-beaten path of i-40. once again, not in raleigh, but the proverbial icing on the cake.