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Riverside Restaurant - Hillsborough NC

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I've heard about and read about this little restaurant for several years. It was featured in the November 2007 issue of Our State magazine and featured again this month. We finally had the chance to try it out yesterday and thought it was great! It's certainly not fancy, either from the outside or inside. But the food was good, the service was good, and I think more people should know about it. I'm not great at describing things, so I'm just posting in this little entry from the Historic Hillsborough website.

Bob Garner Eats Country-Style Steak Sink your teeth into one of the South’s favorite tender, gravy-smothered dishes. By Bob Garner
Riverside Restaurant Dorothy and Leon Lea are the proprietors of this modest restaurant located beside the Eno River. There are only five or six tables, but across those tabletops comes some of the best home cooking you’re likely to find. Dorothy more or less makes up the menu as she goes along, so country-style steak isn’t available every day. (You’ll want to call ahead to see what’s cookin’.) When it does appear, it’s definitely the real deal — tender and flavorful, with no trace of commercial gravy mix or any such thing. She also prepares some of the best baked chicken I’ve ever eaten, and vegetables like boiled cabbage and squash ’n’ onions are truly memorable. There’s an apple-and-sweet-potato crisp for dessert that’s very unusual and absolutely delicious. The Riverside features a wonderful hot dog, as well. Somehow, Dorothy and Leon got hold of the recipe for the thick, sweet chili served at the old Amos and Andy hot dog joint that was a fixture in downtown Durham for decades, and it’s served atop all-beef hot dogs with a satisfyingly firm, chewy texture.

Riverside Restaurant 162 Exchange Park Lane Hillsborough, N.C. 27278 (919) 245-3663 Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

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Riverside Restaurants & Catering
162 Exchange Park Ln, Hillsborough, NC 27278

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  1. On a lark, my friend and I went today for a late lunch (they are open until 6:30pm and serve throughout the day). There is a hot-bar in the corner where a very nice man describes the meats and vegetables to choose from (a MeatN3 type place). My friend and both had nearly identical meals (moist fried chicken, creamy skin-on mashed potatoes, butter beans*), though they had meats like country-fried steak, pock chops, salmon cakes and veggies like broccoli, corn, stewed apples.

    Those creamy mashed potatoes were my favorite - really close to the best I can remember having. My butter beans were a variety called "speckled" butter beans and were really flavorful.

    My other favorite from the meal was the buttery circle of heaven: the fried cornbread.

    A sweet woman served up some of the best iced tea I've had in a while; all in all, I great venture over into western Orange county. If you're looking for a fun and tasty hole in the wall, put this on your to-do list.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tehama

      Tehema - I'm glad you tried the Riverside. Out of curiosity - did they have other customers when you where there? We were the only ones when we ate there. I just like to see little places like this be successful. They've been there forever, so they must do OK. I honestly think some people might not even see this place! It doesn't really look like a restaurant.

      1. re: wintersummer

        Hi! There were actually two other tables of diners there when we were --- and we were having a LATE lunch; like 2:00pmish. You can tell they put "the love" into their cooking!