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Jul 6, 2007 11:52 AM

Non-chain restaurants in the Triangle

Started a blog ( and am on the lookout for decent places to eat that aren't national chains. So far It's been pretty underwhelming by the food here. The strip mall restaurants are earning their strip mall status. Definitely missing NYC cuisine. However, Dos Taquitos stands out, as does Saffron in Morrisville. Wake up wired and Percolator in N. Raleigh are filling in nicely for Starbucks.

Where would you go for — italian, turkish, steak, entree salads?

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  1. great, authentic London Fish and Chips. If you are used to Captain D's for fish and chips, you might not like it but if you want the real thing give them a try. Great Med fusion. TheFood Factory has great deli food.

    Udipi and Suchi for great Indian food on East Chatham in Cary. Abby Road for great burgers Great southern food in Fuquay Skippers has great fried seafood in Apex The Roast Grill has great hot dogs Finch's has country cooking and WiFi

    There are a ton of locally owned, good places to eat in this area.

    1 Reply
    1. re: blewgo

      Thanks. Top stuff. Will report back.

    2. Wow, you're missing out on a bounty if you haven't yet found the non-chain gems in this area. I moved out here from the Bay Area and have found the Triangle to be one of the best cities of this size in the nation for variety and quality of cuisine.

      Just a sampling:

      Panciuto -

      Bin 54 -

      La Shish -

      Bonne Soiree -
      Magnolia Grill -
      Herons -

      Merlion -

      Waraji -

      J. Betski's -

      Vietnamese fusion
      An -

      Asian/fresh local ingredients
      Lantern -

      N. Indian
      Sitar -

      S. Indian
      Udipi -

      Neomonde -

      BTW, as of next Saturday, I'll have lived in the Triangle for exactly a year, and in that time I have not been to one chain restaurant, not even for coffee...and I eat out at least five meals a week So it can be done, easily.

      4 Replies
      1. re: mikeh

        If you are interested in NC BBQ, Allen and Son, on Hwy. 86 between Hillsborough and Chapel Hill is the best in NC, IMHO.

          1. re: batdown

            Two stores, which aren't even run by the same people any more, do not a chain make. The OP was referring to *national* chains (says so right in his post).

        1. re: mikeh

          Yeah, the only chain I ever cheat with is Cook-Out, and that's mostly because I work in RTP and sometimes I get so tied up at work that lunchtime becomes a 15-minute window at 3:00 p.m. . . .

          Truth be told, I can't even really imagine this alternate universe you're describing where it's difficult to avoid chains. Trauma for me would be moving to some godforsaken place where there are nothing *but* chains. Like Brier Creek. <shudder>

          There are a ton of excellent places in this thread. I'd also suggest making a trip to Durham to check out Federal, Piedmont, and/or Rue Cler. Or, if you want someplace that's sort of comfortingly chainlike (I bet they have an entree salad), but which isn't a chain, *and* has 60+ excellent beers on tap, check out Tyler's Taproom.

          Good luck, and I predict that within 6 months, you'll be the guy in your office who knows all the good lunch places.

          p.s. y'all, try out the new "link to a place" feature . . . makes the links far more useful . . .

          Piedmont Restaurant
          401 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701

          Rue Cler Restaurant
          401 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

          The Federal
          914 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

          Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom
          324 Blackwell St Ste 400, Durham, NC 27701

        2. Authentic Chinise - Red Palace (Raleigh, and as good as any restaurant in either Flushing or Chinatown, even better Sichuan than Spicy & Tasty), Mama Wok (Cary), Cafeteria at Grand Asia ( Cary)

          Vietnanese - Pho Cali (Ralegh)

          Korean - Chosun Ok (RTP), Vit Goal (RTP), Seoul Garden (Raleigh)

          NY-style pizza - Pizza Italia (Raleigh), Bella Italia (Wake Forest)

          Casual Italian - Gianni & Gaetano (Wakefield) but it won't be anything like you got in NY

          Jamaican - Jamaica Marketplace (Raleigh)

          Authentic Mexican - Los Cuates (Raleigh), Los Comales (Durham), Superior (Durham), and many, many others

          Thai - Thai House (Raleigh)

          Turkish - Bosphorus (Cary)

          BBQ - Holden's (Youngsville), Cooper's (Raleigh)

          Please try to get over two things. This isn't NY. Almost nowhere else is. But this area can be pretty darn good if you're willing to be open.
          Also, strip malls are the status quo around here. Just because a restaurant is in a strip mall doesn't mean it's a low end grease trap. Some of the better fine dining restaurants are in strip malls. Location isn't everything.

          Happy dining.

          1. You MUST try the New Oakwood Cafe. Mouthwatering Argentine fare, as well as Cuban (at lunch primarily) and Italian (at dinner primarily). This is a hole-in-the-wall treasurer with the most amazing creations. The Churassco steak is luscious and perfectly tenderly marinated. The tres leches cake and tiramisu will make you cry they are so divine. The empanadas and fried plantains.... oh my, I could go on and on. (Just ate there last night - they are only open Fri. and Sat. nights for dinner and lunch during the work week - and cannot wait to have the left-over sundried tomato and shrimp pasta)

            300 E Edenton St, Raleigh (adjacent to the New Bern Ave. post office) (919) 828-5994

            1. The BBQ Joint, Sandwhich and Jujubee in Chapel Hill are a few I haven't seen mentioned yet and that are worth checking out. Other than that, I think previous suggestions are great.

              Caveat: I've never had the BBQ at the BBQ Joint, but I've enjoyed the other stuff I've had there.

              2 Replies
              1. re: LulusMom

                I've never had BBQ at the BBQ joint either.

                Another great non chain place is the new Havana Grill in Cary. I had a great potato and cheese omlette, Cuban toast and cafe con leche there this morning. All that for $5 plus tax.

                Here's a link to a newspaper announcement about it:

                1. re: blewgo

                  The BBQ at the BBQ Joint is ... pretty good - and fairly consistent. I was going to write up a compare and contrast with A&S, but then scanned below and opted not to.
                  Their BBQ, however, is not the reason to go there (as above posts indicate) - it's the sides. (And, er, definitely not the atmosphere. Allen & Son, for better or worse, is dumpy in the venerable institution sort of way. As for the BBQ Joint, it may be the least thoughtfully decorated restaurant I've ever frequented.)

                  Among other CH/DUR BBQ places mentioned... While a mixed bag overall, Dillard's has a good, albeit diabetic coma inducing, carrot souffle. Plus, their sauce is fairly unique to the area (right? did I miss somebody?). The Original Q-Shack is pretty good as well, if you'd like a more Texas-oriented perspective.
                  Something I haven't seen in any of these types of threads (and there's tons of them from what I can tell, I've been on this board for, like, 2 days) is Chapel Hill's Cafe Parvaneh. Persian food, most of which is quite good. The polos are good and (to my shock) my 2 year old goes insane over the Fesenjun (walnut and pomengrate based sauce over rice). They've slipped a teeny, teeny bit over the last few years, but still highly recommended.
                  In Durham, there are a host of taquerias worth going to - some of which have already been mentioned. If you're curious, Roxboro Rd just north of I-85 has several good ones (plus Mami Nora, a really good Peruvian rotisserie) or you could hit La Vaquita near the 15-501/Durham Freeway interchange (and hit other popular food spots while you're at it - Guglhupf, Foster's Market, etc...)