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Sep 21, 2009 02:48 PM

Unique and quirky finds Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill

Hi All,
Manhattan foodie here. Traveling to the area for two nights, two full days and staying at the Cameron Park Inn. Love little nooks, ethnic eats, and local must finds.
If anyone has some suggestions, for any meal (other than breakfast), drinks or snacks, I'd love to hear. Sorry for the late post. (Not looking for super pricey but mid level price ranges are fine).
Thanks in advance for any feedback.

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  1. I bring all my out of town visitors to Loco Pops. It is a local company doing Mexican style frozen treats. The flavors change frequently and there are some fantastic combination's.
    They now have a location in each of the areas you mention, plus one in Hillsborough I think.

    1. Try this:

      If you are interested in trying NC style bbq, definitely go to Allen and Son, on Highway 86 between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, just off I-40. Also, the intersection of Highways 54 and 55 in Durham contains an amazing variety of ethnic restaurants...korean, indian, etc.

      1. Check out some places on Taco Row (N. Roxboro Rd. in Durham). There you'll find a huge concentration of Latin American fare. Get deliciously salty Peruvian roasted chicken, sweet crispy plantains, with rice & beans at Mami Nora's (just off Roxboro, 302 Davidson Ave.). Don't forget to order a tall glass of house made chicha morada to wash it down. Just across Roxboro Rd, you will find some excellent carne asada tacos at Los Comales. For some good tamales, try La Vaquita (2700 Chapel Hill Rd, Durham). For Thai, check out Twisted Noodles on University Drive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: durhamois

          My usual items at Los Comales are the pastor and the pupusas. They've got one of the best pupusas I've found.

          1. re: Naco

            The pupusas at the corner of Roxboro and Infinity Road are great as well.

        2. Here are 2:

          Oakwood Grill in Oakwood (Raleigh) has a unique Argentinian/ Cuban/ Italian menu and when it's not too busy, it feels like you are eating in Noberto's living room. The whole family pitches in.

          Roast Grill downtown Raleigh just serves hotdogs and they refuse to serve you ketchup. And as their web site says:
          NO Ketchup
          NO Cheese
          NO Mayo
          NO Kraut
          NO Relish
          NO Fries
          NO Chips
          NO Coffee
          NO Hot-tea
          NO Iced-tea
          NO Sweet-tea
          NO Visa-MC-Debits

          Trying to think of more...

          2 Replies
          1. re: TerryG

            I simply must go to the Oakwood Grill. When is a good time to go? How is it on Friday night? Thanks....

            1. re: cackalackie

              Actually it's the Oakwood Cafe and it's only open for dinner
              Thursday-Friday-Saturday 6:00pm-10:00pm. Lunch is M-F 11 am - 3 pm

              I haven't been in a while. I suspect it may be pretty busy on Fridays --especially when there is lots of activity downtown like First Fridays.
              Check their website at

          2. Lots of folks will swear by Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill for southern influenced eats. I've been looking into places that have a storied past like Mecca in Raleigh (don't know anything about food). Some people really like Poole's Diner in Raleigh. Taco Row (as mentioned) is good for latin american street food (pupusa, huarache, torta etc). A lot of people like busy bee cafe and Raleigh Times (though the latter is mostly known for a good burger) both are in Raleigh. I like Watts Grocery in Durham and Jujube in Chapel Hill. I'm not sure what mid level price is exactly. I could rattle off a few other places. It is rare (to me) that people ask for the nooks and gems of an area.

            5 Replies
            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

              About the Raleigh Times. It's a great bar with a real pub feel and a good beer selection. And it has one of the best bar menus in town - not just the burger! I recommend the pork nachos (featuring real bbq from The Pit), the shrimp burger, and the fried pickles (the best I've ever had - although the portions need to be bigger. The only thing we've ever had to eat there that we didn't like was the calamari. It's too sweet (maple).

              1. re: cackalackie

                Their food is really good. Their Cuban is better than any of the Cuban/Latin restaurants in the area that I have tried.

                1. re: meatn3

                  For Cuban, Carmen's was pretty good over by the old Morrisville Outlet mall. Though I remember the service being a little slow. Has far as places that are hidden.. Tavola Rossa behind Crabtree is definitely hidden.. though it has been awhile since I've been there and don't recall whether the food is that great or not...

                  Also now that I've thought about it.. Hayes Barton Cafe/Dessertery seems like novel (or novelty) of an idea.. same with NOFO and well albeit a bit more expensive the Bloomsbury Bistro. In Durham the equivialent to NOFO would either be Toast or Parker and Otis (moreso on the latter from the descriptions I've read).

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    Re Tavola Rossa, we were there recently and the server told us they were going to close shortly (forget the exact date) and come back as a tavern / sports bar kind of place. I always found the food okay--not great but good. The real draw was the lack of crowds--2 hour wait at all the mall restaurants vs. no wait at Tavola Rossa. I hope they do well with their new plan. Hopefully for them it will draw more business.

                    1. re: Guilty Gourmand

                      That is sad to hear as if there is one thing this area does NOT need it's another sports bar/tavern. Too bad there isn't something more creative that they could do to become a hidden gem.