- LPM Feb 2, 2011 06:15 AM
I will be in town for a weekend with my young male heirs and would appreciate some insight:
(1) What are the consistent winners for casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Triangle -- Cary, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham? All ethnic iterations considered.
(2) Can anyone vouch for the pies at Scratch in Durham?
Scratch - That's easy. Phoebe Lawless, the owner/baker/founder of Scratch is incredibly gifted. Her pies, tarts, and baked goods are outstanding. Not cheap. An empanada there can cost as much as $7, but it will likely be the best empanada you'll eat all year.
Neal's Deli (Chapel Hill) - they house cure their own pastrami! I recommend a biscuit with pastrami and bacon. Killer!
Saxapahaw General Store - a bit of a country drive from Chapel Hill (about 20 minutes), but totally worth it. This gas station has several tables inside and out and offers some of the best locally sourced casual dining (bfast, lunch and dinner) in the Triangle. Your "young male heirs" will love it.
Best dinner -
Always a three way tie for me between Lantern (Asian in Chapel Hill, dinner only), Panciuto (Italian in Hillsborough, dinner only) and Herons (contemporary American in the Umstead Hotel in Cary). Lunch at Herons is a great value, and their bar menu offers great inexpensive fine dining.
General Store Cafe
39 West St, Pittsboro, NC 27312
100 E Main St Ste C, Carrboro, NC 27510
110 S Churton St, Hillsborough, NC 27278
I second the opinion on Saxapahaw and Scratch Bakery - both great.
I don't know a lot of good breakfast places, but you might try Guglhupf (Durham - German bakery)
For lunch I would recommend Allen & Son's (Chapel Hill - BBQ), Taqueria La Vaquita (Durham - Mexican - very casual), Toast (Durham - panini), Neal's Deli (Carrboro), or Bella Mia Pizza (Cary), or Neo Monde (Raleigh - Mediterranean), or even Bulkogi (Food Truck based in Durham - Korean BBQ tacos)
For dinner, maybe Poole's Diner (Raleigh - American), Vin Rouge (Durham - French), Watts Grocery (Durham - American), Jujube (Chapel Hill - "Asian")
Taqueria La Vaquita
2700 Chapel Hill Rd, Durham, NC 27707
1116 Broad Street, Durham, NC 27705
737 9th St, Durham, NC 27705
2010 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC 27705
100 E Main St Ste C, Carrboro, NC 27510
2025 Renaissance Park Pl, Cary, NC 27513
Some great suggestions from peeps! Love Toast and A&S. Some other thoughts below...
Chubby's Tacos- Durham, Raleigh Great casual Mexican for lunch
Spize Cafe- Raleigh Thai-VN for lunch, tasty
Cafe Caturra- Raleigh, Cary Fantastic sandwiches, good for lunch or casual dins
State Farmers Market- Raleigh For simple NC breakfast
Backyard BBQ Pit- Morrisville, super casual but good Southern soul food
Pop's - Durham, strong Italian food and pizza's
Dains Place- Durham, great burgers and tater tots
State Farmers Market Restaurant
1240 Farmers Market Dr, Raleigh, NC 27603
748 9th St, Durham, NC 27705
121 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601
What do you mean by casual? I can't believe someone put Heron's as casual. They clearly are in a different bracket of society than I run in. :-)
Here are some I like although I don't know that any of them are "award" winners.
I like Brigs - several locations but I have only been to the one in Cary.
Mawa - african (Morrisville)
Super Wok - Chinese (Cary - very good, ask for the chinese menu, don't let the name scare you.)
Burgers at Abbey Road (in Cary)
Saffron - Indian (Morrisville)
1401-L SE Maynard Road, NC 27511
Quick comment about Scratch. Everyone seems to love them but I've had mixed results with what they sold at the Durham farmers market. Some things I've had like the chocolate sea-salt pie were great, whereas some other things were fatally flawed, like a strawberry with cheese pie that was soggy to the point of being inedible. And they're expensive, so even though the highlights can be darned good, I gave up on them because of the high-priced inconsistency.
Someone else above mentioned Saffron. I don't get out for lunch much but I do frequent some of the RTP Indian restaurants. Saffron, at least the lunch buffet, has become similarly inconsistent for me. I used to go fairly often but now I'm usually down the road at Cafe Curry Leaves and at Tower, both serving south Indian vegetarian. I expect the dinner menu there is still quite good though.
Also regarding Saxapahaw which everyone also loves, we had an outstanding meal there a few months ago but two of six in our party ended up with severe diarrhea that was clearly related to the meal - not sure what the deal with that was.
re: D R C
I agree about Scratch. I've tried a few things there and only half I've enjoyed. Lemon pie had a brittle and dry crust, same with the chocolate tart. You can't go wrong with a doughnut muffin there and the sandwiches are generally good. But for the price I would want more consistency.
I was just at Sandwhich Friday night & I was shocked at how downhill it has gone. No waitstaff, you order at the register & the menu, tuna, blt, it's a lunch menu.
I had the portobello burger & was shocked at how tiny it was. Now I don't care for large American portions, so if I find something tiny...And then there is the attendant feeling that the management want to rip off the vegetarian. Just makes for a bad feeling all round, & they've lost my custom.
The tweaked concept is just bad. The staff bring you your order on a tray which is left in front of you.! Ugh, even Vimala's doesnt do that.
Now if they were doing Horn & Hardart Automat retro food that would be fine, even great. What they need is a good concept, I ate at Sandwhich when they first opened and I had better & cheaper lamb tagine at Med Deli. People in the Triangle are foodies and knowledgeable....I wish them well, I want to go there; just serve something good that gives value for my money!.
I haven't been in the last couple weeks, but I've always really enjoyed it. I tend to get the same thing each time, meatloaf sandwich with garlic mayo and their roasted jalapenos, & it's always good. The garlic mayo completes it.
I'm used to it being counter service, like it always was in the courtyard. While I'm sometimes in the mood for full service, most of the time I'm more into an order at the counter or bar setup.
Maybe I'm biased, working at a counter service place, but as long as the food is quality stuff, I'm not concerned with the logistics of how it arrives to me.
Of course, that wasn't your only complaint..
I completely understand your preference, and think it is entirely reasonable. But for me, if I'm paying for a babysitter (or having my four year old with me and am having to watch her and make sure things are moving smoothly) then the last thing I want is to have to bus my own food. I want a drink, I want it brought to me, and I want something besides paper plates. Not saying Sandwhich isn't up to it on all those counts, but for me counter service for dinner out isn't really going to make it feel very special. They have great food. I just want someone else to serve it to me (for a change ... life with a husband and kid to take care of can make you grumpy about that sometimes).
I think I'd like to hang out with your kid! Lulu's 5th birthday is coming up. Tops on her list of what she wants? A bottle of pinot noir (pronounced peanut du-voir). I have no idea where this came from (um, genetics?). I'd like to point out that she hasn't actually ever *had* any of said wine.
And, in an attempt to keep this more on topic, one of Lulu's favorite restaurants near home is Glasshalful, which does a fairly nice lunch.
My 3.5 yr old recently kissed a girl in his class on valentines day. She was not amused, and her favorite food is popcorn chicken. Now that you're back in the states, we need to get our little one with a classier chick. He thinks anything in a flute is Cava, and loves tasting small amounts of our wine. He loves sushi and eats raw fish at levels most nutritionists would deem unhealthy. Crab legs are also high on his hit list, as are any Italian pasta dishes. If we have a match, lets set up a play date. Although he's my child , he's still surprisingly cute.
He sounds like he could be just the man for Lulu (although she'd be robbing the cradle a bit, she'll be 5 in April). She loves sushi, and her very favorite food is olives. We're not back in the States just yet (another 10 days), we're currently in Sydney, where they often offer a bowl of olives as a starter. Guess what she goes for every single time? Yep.
Maybe we should get all these precocious foodie kids together sometime. sort of an anti-chuckie cheese party. I think it would be good for them to see that there are other kids around who like the good stuff.
Almost all Chinese places are going to be casual.
Brigs is decent located in both Cary and Durham. I mean breakfast in general is not meant to be anything more than casual to begin with unless you go to hotel type place and then I wouldn't go there for anything other than brunch or a dressy dinner. Saffron in Morrisville has a good buffet for a casual lunch and Vimala's in the Chapel Hill Courtyard is a safe bet for the Casual but good Indian. I'm a bit less familiar with Raleigh's scene, but a lot of people like the Raleigh Times for a burger joint. Ya know for Durham if you want Phoebe Lawless without the fuss just hit up the Saturday Farmer's Market. As far as casual in Durham, well pick a Mexican place that is listed in the threads on here, Mami Nori's is definitely casual with peruvian chicken (rotisserie), Sitar is also Indian in Durham but there isn't a consistent consensus on quality... Guglhupf is alright for brunch, lunch or dinner and next door (if that is overly cramped) is Foster's (also in Chapel Hill) which is a bit pricey but still good. Market in Chapel Hill is Casual and lots of folks seem to like it. Queen of Sheba is Ethiopian in Chapel Hill. Dames Chicken and Waffles in Durham is well liked and casual. I also toss my hat in for Neals for Breakfast and Lunch. Almost all Sushi places are well liked in Durham (Momoyama, Shiki, Sushi Love) and are casual. Chamas in Durham for Brazilian Steakhouse (Pricey but casual). Weaver Street Market in Chapel Hill has a good breakfast with a hot bar adn baked goods. Toast is good and there are new places opening or just opened such as Old Havana Sandwich shop. The Q Shack in Durham seems to pack them in. I still like Village Deli in Cameron Village for a good lunch and maybe Flying Biscuit for a breakfast. There are lots of good Indian places in Cary (see Udupi, Cool Breeze, etc). Also good for lunch is La Farm Bakery even if all you get is one of their hard to find white chocolate mini baguettes. Med Deli in Chapel Hill is good any time for lunch or dinner. Same goes for Neomonde in Morrisville and Raleigh.
740 E Chatham St Ste E, Cary, NC 27511
Raleigh Times Bar
14 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Queen of Sheba's
1129 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
2510 University Dr, Durham, NC 27707
2812 Erwin Rd, Durham, NC 27705
Farmer's Market Cafe
63 Chattahoochee St, Helen, GA 30545
Flying Biscuit Cafe
2016 Clark Ave, Raleigh, NC 27605
Weaver Street Market
716 Market St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516