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Jul 9, 2009 07:37 AM

NO's Top 50 for Triangle area - what's yours...

As relatively new to the area, I am interested what hounds think of this list and what has been left off.


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  1. Just flipped through that yesterday. I thought it was really light on Raleigh stuff, big CH focus. Notably missing from Raleigh were top notch: Fins, Jibarra and Second Empire. Also disppointed to see the oft-headlined Lillys pizza on the top of the pizza list. I'm a transplant and really can't embrace the bizarre near pastry crust, but I guess it is a Triangle institution so it made this top 50 deal. They put Le Farm bakery and Guglehopf on split page with Le Farm getting top billing - I would have given Gugle a page of their own - if you havent been out there it is a must - great bakery and excellent lunch.


    2 Replies
    1. re: gbandu

      As far as nearly all the "Institutions" go, just because something is an institution doesn't mean it's any good. You can say that about a number of the places listed as institutions.

      Great photography, though.

    2. Sandwich is NOT a newcomer and I believe Local Yogurt and La Vaquita could have been on that list. The new Food Tours maybe as innovations for this area (unless they've been around for some time). I had initially thought Clyde Coopers but someone said they disagreed. Guglehupf has gone down in quality and I can't compare to La Farm because I've not been there. Some people have mentioned Matthew's Chocolates in Hillsborough, but that isn't really the Triangle is it? With all lists people are going to complain that something was left off or should be added. I also don't think that Fair Food should be added to that list when it's not unique to NC as you can find that fair food at other fairs and some of them at other major events in general.

      8 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        I don't really disagree with you, bf, but have you been to the State Fair yet? No, it's not unique as far as State Fairs go but apparently we have one of the better ones in the country and it really is a local happening. There's something about the atmosphere that makes all that pedestrian fried food seem almost magical. If you haven't been yet, by all means go.

        1. re: rockycat


          I've been the past two years. I just wasn't sure what they were deeming so special. Are you saying we have one of the better State Fairs or better food options at a State Fair? I mean as far as the food options at our fair compared to other states.. I can't comment on because I haven't been to other state fairs. I was just commenting on the fact that those fried foods can be found in other states even when it's not a state fair. So originally I wasn't sure why it was inclusive in the list when a better representative could have probably been used.

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            FWIW, Southern Living reader have voted our fair the 2nd best, after Texas, in the country. Of course you can find the same fried abominations at many other fairs. My point is just that there's something about the whole package - the odd food stuff on a stick, the 4H kids with their animals, the rip-off midway games and wild rides, etc. - that somehow adds up to way more than the sum of its parts and makes all of it special.

            Is the State Fair food especially Chow-worthy? Unlikely. Is it a great time and highly representative of the Triangle? Absolutely.

            But I really could do with some more variety in the bands they book for the Dorton Arena. Many of us really do like to hear something other than country music and Christian pop.

        2. re: burgeoningfoodie

          I am shocked to hear that about Guglhupf.....I havent been in a couple months maybe. What's changed? Lunch was always fantastic and the custom cakes and holiday special order stufff is always top notch.

          You should check out Le Farm. My beef with them is the 'sourdough' base to all the french breads - maybe that has changed by now.

          1. re: gbandu

            Do not be alarmed. As a regular patron of Guglhupf, I have noticed no decline in quality.

            1. re: Shag Waits

              Me neither, and I would most certainly consider Hillsborough as a part of the Triangle. It's only afew miles from Durham and Chapel Hill.

                1. re: gbandu

                  We're new to the area so I can't comment as to whether the quality has decreased but my meals at Guglhupf have been mediocre at best (too sweet muselix and chai, boring egg dishes) but I'm officially sworn off of it after the HORRENDOUS service we received. Cold weekend, party of 6 seated outside rather than wait for a table inside---after numerous discussions with the staff who offered no proactive help---we ended up leaving without eating after waiting for OVER an hour. I kept wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt---give them another chance but the staff basically admitted that their service was a disaster and threw up their hands rather than proactively try to resolve the situation. We had guests in from out-of-town and, frankly, it was embarrassing. In brief: Their food is NOT good enough to make up for the abysmal service.

                  Guglhupf Bakery & Patisserie
                  2706 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, NC 27707

          2. I'm a little disappointed to see them still beating the Mama Dip's drum. Mildred Council helped with my community placement when I was in grad school. She is a wonderful woman, kind and generous, but the food at Dip's just isn't all it's cracked up to be. I always just accepted the spotty service as part of the restaurant's character, but the quality of the food is inexcusable. I loved her daughter Bon's restaurant, and wish it were still open...

            2 Replies
            1. re: mpjmph

              Ugh. I don't mean to offend anyone, but Mama Dip's is just foul. That throws the whole list into question.

              1. re: Suzy Q

                I don't know if I would go that far, Suzy Q, but mama dip's has been a disappointment ever since it moved to the new location. I miss Bon's terribly, although I went there during their last two weeks of business and noticed that they had stopped caring.

            2. Had to note a post and my reply, well, just because I hope someone will back me up a bit here. Not that I was in love with everything on the list... but still.

              Triangle Top 50
              Sat, 07/11/2009 - 10:17 — WCARowe

              I find it really shocking that you excluded Giorgios Bakatsias from your Top 50. He is responsible for so much of the evolution of the dining scene in and across the Triangle that you, yourselves, (whomever made up this list) must be newcomers! Each of the GHG restaurants was, in it's time and still is, a unique concept to this area and in the case of some, unique to the restaurant industry. For the N&O to provide years and years of praise of GB's talents and them omit him from your list makes me wonder if you had amnesia or forgot to check your N&O archives' column inches devoted to Bakatsias' ventures when making up your list. While it's nice to profile Beard Award winners and female chefs, and , other, new fangled "local restaurant chains", get back to us in 20 years and let me know if they are still standing!

              * reply

              Re: WCARowe
              Sun, 07/12/2009 - 21:57 — Pigloader

              I had to read this twice to make sure it wasn't a joke. I'll grant you that Bakatsias was partially responsible for the birth of the local fine dining scene in the mid eighties. Save for Vin Rouge, however, he has not had a restaurant with his name attached that has put out good food in several years. Name me one of his restaurants that puts out anything other than mediocre food in a big fancy room. The man has taste in dining room decor, but he has long since lost the ability to judge talent in the kitchen or on the floor, and it shows across the board in every one of his restaurants. For the most part, this list pays tribute to some local talents who have more than enough ability to keep them going for the long haul-- and who aren't resting on their laurels.

              BTW, last I checked, Ben and Karen, the James Beard award winners you derisively refer to have been around for almost 30 years. Roast Grill since the 40s. Time Out as long as I can remember. Southern Season since 1979. Crook's since 1982. Angus Barn in the 60s. Seems to me that the veterans the editors of this list, rather than being 'newcomers,' just chose not to include people who didn't make the grade.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Pigloader

                I'm a little confused. To whom was your orignal post directed and who replied to it? Was it a writer/editor from the N&O, or someone else?

                1. re: rockycat

                  the original post is on the n and o website, and is in response to wcarowe's post (also pasted here) following publication of the list.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    I was mostly responding to the vituperative nature of the original post, and the use of the words "new-fangled" to describe the people on the list, some of whom pre-date Giorgio in their involvement in the Triangle food scene.

                  2. re: Pigloader

                    Having eaten in 3 of his restaurants I can somewhat agree with you, but not whole heartedly. The thing with George's restaurants are that you can go and know you'll have a decent meal in a usually more than nice environment. I have found that his foods aren't bland, but just aren't anything memorable either. Maybe he is closing down garage aside from lease being up because he felt he was starting to stretch himself too thin? He isn't a youngster (not that he is old either).

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      you make it sound like giorgio actually works at/checks up on his restaurants after the first week of being open. he doesn't. giorgio knows how to open a restaurant better than anyone, but he needs some lessons on how to run one. I like vin rouge and even though the prices are CRIMINAL, I like the food at Bin.

                      1. re: batdown

                        When were you there last (Bin 54)? I've been fairly disappointed the last few times. We used to go about every other month, but in the last 6 months, maybe only twice, and each time at least something wasn't really that good. And (as you point out) at those prices, that isn't going to work.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I heard from a Bin 54 employee that there have been some management issues, and this person acknowledged that the food has been spotty. I hope they get it together. I haven't eaten there is about 6 months or so, but they have for a long time been my favorite restaurant in Chapel Hill.

                          1. re: durhamois

                            For a while there they were our special occassion place - birthdays, anniversary, you look especially nice today - that kind of thing. So it has been a let down to get less than great food. I'd like them to get it together so that I feel like it is worth the risk of spending that kind of money on a meal there again.

                            If nothing else, though, it is has a nice bar, and is a good place to go for a glass of wine. Comfy and clubby.