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New to Greensboro - looking for good, down-to-earth restaurants!

We have just relocated to Greensboro, NC from Chicago. I've been to some of the finer restaurants in the area (typically for work-related dinners), and have been pleasantly surprised. However, for everyday eating, I'm particularly interested in the unsung heroes...the hole-in-the-wall neighborhood bar where you can get a good pint, the corner restaurant that's really great but not necessarily well known. I think that could be the biggest shock coming from Chicago - I'm not so worried about fine dining, because I know there are some wonderful restaurants here, but am looking for those cool hidden places that have been around for a long time and have some history about them. Any suggestions?
Thanks everyone!

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  1. Welcome to G'boro! At the risk of being to obvious, here are some ideas:

    Yum-Yum for great hot dogs and homemade ice cream (Spring Garden Street across from UNC-G)

    Old Town Draught House next door to Yum-Yum is a nice place for a beer and a sandwich. Ditto Natty Greene's, brew pub downtown with a great beer and a nice outdoor patio. Cafe Europa, also downtown in the Cultural Arts Center on Davie Street, is a nice, casual, fun place for a drink and and a meal.

    Fisher's is a great hole in the wall place on Elm Street in the Fisher Park neighborhood neighborhood near downtown. Excellent burgers in a Cheers-like atmosphere.

    Saigon on High Point Road serves wonderful vietnamese food.

    Spring Valley Restaurant (Randleman Road) and Alpat (E. Bessemer Ave.) used to be great breakfast and "meat and three" places, but I will say I haven't been to either in a while, and I'm not sure if they are open or still good. Perhaps others can enlighten.

    Anton's (Battleground Ave) is an old school italian place, that I will freely admit holds a place of nostalgia in my heart. Others may not think much of it, but to me, it is SO Greensboro.

    I'm sure there are others...those are the ones that come to mind at the moment...

    1 Reply
    1. re: carolinadawg

      you can find a menu for Old town draught @ triaddiner.com. There is also a link to their site. Alpat is dead. Try harper's in friendly for solid meals. Also try any of the Vietnamese restys in the area

    2. You can also ride over to Burlington for hot dogs at Zack's (downtown, on Davis St.) - they've been a local icon since the 1920s. Try one with chili and slaw, but watch out for the onions, which can be bitter from the metal chopper. The fast service is also legendary; your server will shout your order to the cook and it will probably be up by the time he or she walks back to the counter!

      1. Best Secret Food's in Greensboro are: Beef Burger on Lee street, Hayble's Hearth on Spring Garden, Cook Out on High Point Road, and Country BBQ on Wendover. You can read alot reviews for these on Greensboring.com

        1. Oh yeah...just thought of another good one...Bianca's (Spring Garden Street at Chapman Street). A wonderful, hole in the wall italian place with great food and a fun, funky vibe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: carolinadawg

            Bianca's alas, has gone the way of the doe-doe. It is now "It's Your Roll" a fairly decent sushi joint. Fish is fresh and the concept is decent. The tempura green beans are addictive.

          2. Add to the list: Stamey's barbeque and Smith Street Diner (old southern breaksfasts)

            I do love Bianca's as was mentioned before - price fixe - used to a gas station then a topless bar - now just serves the best italian around

            5 Replies
            1. re: gso

              Has anyone been to Stamey's lately? I went a couple of months ago and it was terrible. The Q had no flavor and the service was awful. I'd hate it if an institution like that was now rapidly sliding downhil...

              1. re: carolinadawg

                I would agree. Not sure where in gso to get a cue fix

                1. re: quazi

                  Well, you're just a little ways from Winston (and Lexington), and that's where the BBQ lives.

                  Though I think that modern pigs, lean as they are, don't bring the Q the way they used to when I was a kid. Back in the '70s. Back then, Lexington BBQ was orgasmic. Not so much, anymore. Gotta have that fat.

                2. re: carolinadawg

                  My experience six weeks ago was very good, as it has been for meny years. Stamey's isn't the best barbecue in NC, but they're perhaps the most consistent. If your meal was substandard, let 'em know about it. The last problem I had with them was cold hushpuppies (ugh) that were quickly replaced with a fresh order.

                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    Agree with this, Stamey's is not especially good. Drive to Wilson or Lexington for BBQ.

                3. I must unfortunately agree with others' reply re: Stamey's. I've only been here for 2.5 yrs so I can't comment on its past, but the BBQ (pulled pork shoulder 'round deez parts) did not suit my taste. It was dry and the sauce albeit of the "western style" didn't wow me like others. Strongly recommend Short Sugars in Reidsville. My other suggestions:

                  - Minj Grille ( http://www.minjgrille.com/ ) - best wings in town, no competition.
                  - Van Loi 2 - most authentic Vietnamese (for soups and rice dishes, unfortunately Banh Mi's are illigit) check out post at: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/137962
                  - Brixx Pizza - OK wood fire/brick oven style pizzas but they really shine in the draught beer Dept. - esp. Mon. nights $1.50 domestic pints. They've sadly recently pulled the DogFish 90 min IPA.
                  - Saffron - ( http://www.saffronindiancuisine.com/ ) best Indian in town.
                  - Mario's Pizza ( on New Garden) - Supposed legit NY slice. Despite my handle, I am man enough to admit that I've yet to partake but I've heard good things.
                  - La Vaca Super Romana - legit Mexican food/Taqueria. Tacos de lengua, de tripa, de cabeza, Seis mares, pozole, horchata, etc.
                  - Seoul Garden - std Korean BBQ. Although std, very satisfying from BBQ beef ribs to proper Kim Chee soup.
                  - Rearn Thai - unfortunately have never been (West Market St.), but Thai natives swear on it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Pizza4Life

                    minj has gotten a lot of praise but I have yet to try their wings. I agree that the van loi banh mi are second even third rate. look at that overly hard bread in the case and you will understand. I consider them mainly a pho place but a great one

                    1. re: Pizza4Life

                      Rearn is definitely worth it. All family owned, and, as far as Western eyes can tell, very authentic.

                    2. If you're new to GBO, you've probably not found Giacamo's yet. Wonderful italian deli with sausages and mozzarella made from scratch. There are two stores - one I think is on Spring Garden and the other south of 40, south of the big shopping center. As you can tell, I'm not from GBO but we do go there for sausages and pizza dough. Anyway both have tables where you can get a hot or cold sandwich. Giacamos calls itself a pork store like they do in NY. I think it's a North Carolina treasure.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Parsley

                        Giacomo's is great...They are located at 4705 High Point Road and 2109 New Garden Road. Website is www.salamis-by-mail.com

                      2. Italian--Try Villa Rosa off Wendover
                        Great Sunday Brunch--Tripps
                        Favorite--Revival Grill

                        1. I would second the previous recommendation for Short Sugar's in Reidsville. The pork is good, but the sauce is fantastic. I buy a gallon jug when I visit my grandmother and use it here in Richmond for local (and lesser) bbq.


                          7 Replies
                          1. re: kim shook

                            Didn't see it mentioned and I have a feeling some won't agree, but Elizabeth's Pizza is quite a decent place. Cheap Ital-American subs and some very well priced pasta dishes. I only recommend the traditionals like aglio y olio, pesto, and the carbanara. Their "real italian" pizza is quite good as well.

                            For vietnamese which is what the city is best known for ethnically I second whoever mentioned Van Loi BBQ off of High Point Rd. Their bbq dishes over rice, vermicelli, salads and anything on their special menu are the best you'll find in NC as far as I'm concerned.

                            Seoul Garden is also very good and nicely priced. The seafood pancake and stir fried squid were two things that I had that were very good.

                            Had lunch at Natty Greens in downtown 2 weeks ago and the beer is pretty decent and the sandwiches cheap and relatively good. One of the best people watching spots that I've found in Greensboro. Crazy how much the downtown scene has changed in 4 years since I lived there.

                            1. re: insectrights

                              I miss Hayble's & Beef Burger so much, those are the two joints I hit when I go to gso.

                              I've heard there is a church that has an awsome lunch business. Anyone?

                              Is Rearn (spelling I know) Thai still around?

                              1. re: RaleighRocker

                                My (Thai) wife and I were in Greensboro over 11-12 Oct for the USATF XC 5k
                                championships and decided to try Rearn Thai since that seemed to be the most appreciated Thai restaurant in the city. We got there to find that it has been replaced by an auto parts store. Does anyone know if it relocated or has just been closed? On the way back towards the hotel we spotted a Thai-Vietnamese place on Spring-Garden St. so we went in there. Normally I'd steer clear of any place that tried to serve two different Asian cuisines but we were hungary and did not know where else to go. We had the fresh spring rolls, pad thai with shrimp and a beef with basil dish. All were EXCELLENT and authentic Thai. Wish I could remember the name of the place.

                                1. re: ThaiNut

                                  The "Pahk Sandwich Shop" on the corner of Florida and Freeman Mill Road (right of I-40) makes great Banh Mi!!


                                  1. re: ThaiNut

                                    you were a one block off. The old place is still there but they moved across the street. They are now in a glass building on your right if you are headed out of town. THe place on spring garden is pho vien huong. never had their thai dishes but the vietnamese ones are good

                                    1. re: quazi

                                      Pahk Sandwhich Shop moved to the glass building?

                                      1. re: ToothTooth

                                        no rearn thai moved into the glass building diagonally across the street from their old building.

                                        Pakse Cafe is still at freeman and florida. Last visited on Tuesday had a wonderful roast pork and some papaya salad. Don't forget to check Butler's for some Blenheims ginger ale

                            2. Tripps on Wendover is always good. www.trippsrestaurants.com $$$
                              Adelina's Pizza on High Point road is the best pizza in town. adelinaspizza.com $$
                              Phoenix is okay, but Changs is better phoenixasiancuisine.com/ $$$$
                              Leblon on Market Street is great for all the meat you can stuff in your gullet $$$$$
                              El Mariachi on High Point Road is good for Mexican $$$

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sunbeam150

                                The best hole in the wall places in the city.
                                Osteria- tied between Giacomos.
                                Giacomos deli. Tied between Osteria.
                                Southern roots Jamestown. Best southern cooking.
                                Dames Chicken and Waffles. Best Mac and cheese and of course chicken and waffles.
                                Crafted-the art of the toco. Best unique toco joint.
                                Emperial Koi Asian cuisine. Best Asian food.
                                Lucky 32. Best local use of local and organic food, and delicous. Elizabeth's pizza- north battleground!!!
                                Monezi Brazilian buffet. Best international.
                                Big burger spot. Best burgers in town.
                                Casa vallartas. Best Mexican.
                                Natty Greens. Good beer selection.

                              2. Try @elm st. Grill, you may be pleasantly surprised!

                                1. Has anyone mentioned Saigon Sandwiches Bakery? I did a quick scan of the posts and didn't see it. If not, my God man, get yourself over there ASAP for the best banh mi you will ever put in your mouth! I am tempted on almost a daily basis to drive the 45 minutes from Chapel Hill just for a taste of the #4 grilled beef banh mi. I once had a 10 minute conversation with one of the butchers at Whole Foods in Durham about Saigon's banh mis! LOL

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: bbqme

                                    It is the closest I've had in NC to the casual, delicious Vietnamese counter-service places in northern Virginia e.g. in Eden Center in Falls Church.

                                    1. re: D R C

                                      They are good and the staff is really nice. I do think Pakse Cafe on Florida has a better rendition. But if Pakse is closed when I'm driving through Greensboro I will happily go to Saigon Sandwiches instead!

                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        I'll try those. I can't remember if I told y'all this: Mama helped resettle many of the Vietnamese families that live here. One of her resettlees (is that a word?) has a place called Binh Minh across the street and out a little from Rearn. I like it a lot and go when ever I'm on that side of town.

                                        1. re: meatn3

                                          Pakse is good but I like Saigon better for 3 reasons: 1) Pakse's location is dreary and a bit scary; 2) the staff was not friendly like they at Saigon; 3) Saigon's bread is better, likely because it's freshly baked on premise.

                                          1. re: bbqme

                                            I agree on all 3 points. But Pakse has the perfect flavor combinations for me. If they had Saigon's bread I would be in heaven!

                                            I was at Pakse in late June. The grocery store is no longer in the plaza. Consequently it's lost much of the scariness- now it is a very quiet and rather empty shopping center.

                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              I agree with meatn3. I've been to Saigon Bakery many times, but when I've stopped in the last few times to pick up an arm load of sandwiches I've been pretty underwhelmed. I appreciate the fresh baked bread (still not as crispy as the baguettes at Pakse), but all the flavors in the sandwich were quite tame. The carrots and daikon didn't seem to have much pickling on them, the jalapenos weren't spicy, and the pate was hardly present at all. The sanwiches at Pakse seem to pack much more flavor.

                                              1. re: ToothTooth

                                                I concur toothtooth. I always expect the bread to be better at Saigon since it is made in house but the combo of ingredients at Pakse just come together better. More luscious pate,crunchier bread, crisper pickles etc.

                                                The added benefit is they have a great papaya salad and sometimes have homemade Lao specialties.

                                                I do wonder what would happen to pakse if they a redecorated and got a square card reader

                                    2. Just my two cents as I have very little dining experience in Greensboro. I have however eaten in many Indian restaurants all over the US and in four or five other countries. I thought Saffron's lunch buffet was excellent (and a bargain). I'll definitely try it for dinner next time I'm in town.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                        I was just there last week. It is exceptional.