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Restaurant Reviews from around RTP and NC

narrow slice of chocolate torte

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I always get nervous when I go to a restaurant and I am not sure how to pronounce the name of it. Gocciolina (I think it’s pronounced “go-cho-leen-a”) was one of those restaurants. Some good friends of ours were clamoring for us to try the place. They said it was named as the best restaurant in the Triangle by Greg Cox, the food critic from the News & Observer. So, of course, I had to go.
The restaurant is next to […]

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pizza

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A friend recently emailed me and asked, “Why don’t you ever review restaurants in Hillsborough?” I thought it was a good question. I love Hillsborough, so I figured this was a good excuse to tell my husband we needed to make a trip north and check out the scene.
We decided to try out Radius Pizzeria and Pub in downtown Hillsborough. Radius is owned by Mick and Kate Carroll. Mick is originally from Ireland. He likes to cycle, which is part […]

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04
Mar

Review – Flipside Cafe in Ft. Mill, SC

Flied of roasted Brussels sprouts

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The ever-growing town of Fort Mill, South Carolina is getting in tune with the farm to table movement. I recently went to the Flipside Cafe, a cute little restaurant that embraces the farm to fork concept.
Owners Amy and Jon Fortes have created a sweet little place to eat and celebrate local food. They are open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. We went at dinner time. We started our meal with two appetizers. Amy’s Pimento Cheese is made with a […]

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11
Feb

Review – Basan Bull City Sushi in Durham

BBQ beef short ribs combo plate

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After reading about a new Japanese restaurant opening in downtown Durham in the Triangle Food Guy’s blog, I thought I should see if this new spot was any good.
Basan Bull City Sushi Restaurant, owned by G. Patel (owner of Mura, Cameron Bar and Grill, Zinda and more)is in the Diamond III building, just behind the Durham Bulls Ballpark. You have to know about this place to find it because it is on the 2nd floor and you have to enter […]

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plate full of mushroom raviolis with onion on top

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There are some places that hold dear to your heart. They have special memories for you and your family. One place I have gone to many times since we moved to the Triangle region in the mid-1990’s is Daniel’s Restaurant  in Apex.
As you drive into the parking lot, located just off of Highway 55, near Highway 64, you will immediate start to smell the garlic. Yes, this is a great Italian restaurant. Daniel’s has been around for many years and […]

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father a daughter behind the counter

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My husband and I decided to drive to High Point to do some furniture shopping. It was the weekend and rather than go do Furnitureland South, we thought we’d try to do into downtown to shop. Unfortunately, all the shops were closed and the streets were deserted except a little side street where cars were parked up and down the block. We noticed a cute little restaurant was open, so, of course, we had to find out what was attracting […]

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05
Jan

Review – Cafe Anar in Morrisville

Lamb kabob with rice

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The other day I was looking for a restaurant located between Cary and RTP so my friend and I could meet for lunch. We decided to try Cafe Anar, a little Mediterranean place in one of the out buildings near the old Factory Shops in Morrisville.
This quaint restaurant is modestly decorated and has nice little booths and a few tables near a semi-open kitchen. I was surprised to see that the menu was not a true lunch menu. It had […]

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15
Dec

Ken’s Grill in LaGrange, NC by Guest Blogger Bob Garner

Bob Garner eating greens

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It’s not every day we get to have a famous person agree to guest blog on The Tar Heel Eater! We are very very excited to have the following blog from Bob Garner! Considered North Carolina’s “Barbecue Man,” Bob is an expert on all the state’s best food. This television personality, restaurant reviewer, speaker, author, pit master, and North Carolina cuisine connoisseur has just written a new book, “Foods that Make You Say ‘Mmm-mmm‘” and it is a great book […]

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photo of wine tasting

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Looking for New Year’s Eve plans this year? Taste the Event 2015 will hold a New Year’s Eve party at The Cookery in downtown Durham featuring great music by DJ Elbruque, a variety of food stations, and a wine and champagne bar. To get tickets to this event, click here.
Or, perhaps you’d like to be one of a select few to have a class with Chef Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Baking. She will prepare three dishes incorporating local ingredients. Just […]

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01
Dec

Review – Ted’s Kickin Chicken in North Wilkesboro

fried chicken dipped in barbecue sauce with bun sticking on top

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We were traveling near North Wilkesboro this fall and my husband suggested we try out a place a friend of his at work suggested called Ted’s Kickin’ Chicken. So, off we went! The place is, by all definitions, a dive. However, it has phenomenal fried chicken!
The blue grey concrete block walls reminded me of an elementary school. Red trim on the walls, chipped-patterned 70’s style tiles and laminate tables complete the divey look of this place. It was at least […]

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Apple crumb cake in a pan next to a jar of apples

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I don’t know about you, but I tend to stay home for the holidays and lately I have been so busy, I have not had the chance to dine out a lot. So, instead of reviewing a restaurant, like I usually do, I am please to share this recipe that pastry chef Evan Sheridan from Heron’s in Cary (a Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond restaurant) shared with us that you might want to make for the holidays. The last […]

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05
Nov

Review – Harvest 18 in Durham

meatloaf

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I have been dying to try out Chef Jason Smith’s new restaurant Harvest 18 in Durham. Many of you know about his other restaurant, 18 Seaboard in Raleigh, which is a fantastic place to go for seafood. His new establishment features farm to fork dishes. They claim to source about 80 percent of the food in North Carolina.
The restaurant has a modern minimalist look to it. Big plate-glass windows line the walls and the concrete floors give it almost an […]

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21
Oct

Review – Jose and Sons in Raleigh

Beef black beans and Mexican rice

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A few weeks ago my friends were in town and we wanted to eat in Raleigh. We decided to check out Jose and Sons, which is just around the corner from Crank Arm Brewery. The restaurant is in the warehouse district in a little strip of stores with a brick front. There’s a sign on the door, that immediately let’s you know you are in store for some fun that says, “Hola Y’all!”
This cheery, creative restaurant combines Mexican food with […]

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15
Oct

Review – Vespa in Chapel Hill

Beef tenderloin over risotto

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The other night our new neighbors invited us to join them for dinner in Chapel Hill. Of course we jumped at the chance to go! We’ve been excited to meet new friends and to share our passion of food. Our neighbors suggested we go to Vespa in Chapel Hill. We had not been there for many years, so we were more than happy to oblige.
All I could remember was we went with our family about 8 years ago and enjoyed […]

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five samples of beers on a gear

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I’ve been clamoring to go to Raleigh for awhile to check out Crank Arm Brewery, off of Davis Street, near The Pit Restaurant. In full disclosure, I donated some money to their Kickstarter campaign when they were first setting up shop as I believe in supporting our local food and beverage culture. I was intrigued by their business model which involves combining a bike rickshaw tour business with the brewery.
The outdoor patio is a nice place to hang out and […]

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01
Oct

Review-Tangerine Cafe in Cary

Mee Goreng

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My sister and I decided to meet for lunch the other day. She lives in Cary and suggested we try the Tangerine Cafe, a little restaurant with different Asian dishes. I vaguely remembered hearing about this place, which is located in a shopping strip mall on the corner of Cary Parkway and Old Apex, just down the road from my old house. The restaurant is tucked away near the Town and Country Hardware store, so you have to be looking […]

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25
Sep

7th Annual Pepper Festival a Great Way to Try Local Food

Cackalacky booth at the Pepper Festival

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The 7th Annual Pepper Festival is just around the corner! This event, raising money for Abundance NC, celebrates the peppers in dishes created by local chefs and local breweries. Get a taste of local cuisine in a fun and engaging way, while listening to some great music and participating in activities as well. The event will be held Sunday, October 5 at the Briar Chapel neighborhood, just south of Chapel Hill in Chatham County.
The festival is really about a celebration […]

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12
Sep

Review – Chillfire Bar & Grill in Denver, NC

fried lobster with some lobster shells

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We wanted to celebrate our friend’s birthday the other day. She lives near Denver, NC and we wanted a nice place to take her out. We decided to check out a place called Chillfire Bar & Grille. The interior had lots of cozy booths with pendant lights with black shades, giving the place a feel of an upscale steak house. And that is what this place is all about.
This place is owned by the folks who own Mickey and Mooch […]

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12
Aug

Mini Review – McDaids Irish Pub in Raleigh

plate of the Guinness Gnocchi

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Sometimes you have the luck of the Irish and sometimes you don’t. Walking down the sidewalk on Hillsborough Street a few weeks ago, I was in search of a place to eat lunch. I saw a new place called McDaids Irish Restaurant and Pub and thought I’d check it out.
I liked the atmosphere in the pub area. The walls have a deep gold color, which is very cheery. There was in interesting mural painted on the ceiling and the manager […]

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29
Jul

Review – J. Betski’s in Raleigh

Plate with pork schnitzle

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When I think of Polish food, I usually think of the typical kielbasa, pierogies and cabbage. It is tasty and simple. J. Betski’s takes these simple ingredients and elevates them into a fine dining experience that will leave you feeling very satisfied. The cuisine is actually a mixture of Polish and German food, reflecting the owner’s roots.
The restaurant is located in the Seaboard Station area of Raleigh, off of Peace Street near William Peace College. It is a small, quaint […]

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18
Jul

Poppyseed Market in North Raleigh

Brisket sandwich pickle and chips

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I was visiting a friend in North Raleigh recently and we decided to go to lunch. I am very unfamiliar with the area, so we drove up Leadmine Road and he pointed out a little sandwich shop called Poppyseed Market. It looked like a good place to get a sandwich and catch up on what’s been happening. It’s located in a small strip mall where parking can be a bit scarce.
The place was packed with people and after eating here […]

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Veggie pizza with pizza shears

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When I first heard that Durham was getting another pizza place, I was, frankly, unimpressed. “What else can they do with pizza?” I thought. But, a friend of mine suggested we go try it out, so I figured, “What the heck?”
Pompieri Pizza is located in the historic fire station #1 in downtown Durham, right next to Dos Perros. The building was built in 1890. It’s an appropriate location since these pizzas are cooked in an open wood-fired pizza oven that […]

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23
Jun

Review – Spicy Green Gourmet in Durham

BLT Supreme

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It’s always a happy occasion when  you find another good lunch spot near RTP. Even though several new places have opened in the past several years, there’s still ample room for more places. The Spicy Green Gourmet is in the strip mall on the corner of T.W. Alexander and Miami Boulevard, near many other small restaurants. The Executive Chef/Owner, Ashlyn B. Smith, offers a seasonal menu using many locally sourced ingredients in her lunch menu.
Most of the menu features sandwiches […]

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11
Jun

Review: Buxton Munch Co. on Hatteras Island

Rockfish sandwich

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By Shelby Kinnard. Read her other blog at: http://www.diabeticfoodie.com.
What Stan Lee creation filled comic book store shelves for 37 years before reaching the big screen as a movie in 1999? What current huge daily-used web site began life in 1994 as “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web?” How many zeroes are needed to indicate one sextillion? If you know the answers to questions like these, you could score freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at Buxton Munch.
When my husband and […]

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02
Jun

Review – Mother Earth Brewery in Kinston

Mother Earth Brewery tap room filled with people

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One of my favorite breweries in North Carolina is Mother Earth Brewery in Kinston. This place has it going on! The buildings, located in downtown Kinston, just a block away from The Chef and the Farmer, were carefully renovated using LEED principles (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – the U.S. Green Building Council’s certification program). The brewery is a Gold LEED building, which is very impressive.
The building has 72 solar panels on the roof, and the walls are filled […]

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20
May

Blu Seafood in Durham

whole fish on a white plate

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Guest blogger Shelby Kinnaird, also known as the Diabetic Foodie, shares her perspective on Blu Seafood in Durham.   Please check out her blog at www.diabeticfoodie.com.
Since moving to the Chapel Hill area about a year ago from the Outer Banks, I haven’t eaten much seafood. Why? Well, because I’m spoiled. If I can’t go to a restaurant that buys directly from commercial fishermen or walk to the dock to get my seafood when I see the boats coming in, it doesn’t […]

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13
May

 Review – Virlie’s Grill in Pittsboro

Loaded hash browns

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Virlie’s Grill in downtown Pittsboro has been a local hangout for many folks. It used to be the Scoreboard, for those who remember, but changed owners in 2008, and hence the name change, along with a much expanded menu. The sandwiches and salads are generous portions and are inexpensive and served with local, Southern love. But many prefer to come for breakfast, so the other day, my husband and I decided to check out their breakfast scene.
We arrived about 9 […]

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01
May

Review – Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill

Whiskey and Coke braised short ribs

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Another Chapel Hill cornerstone is Top of the Hill. This iconic farm to table restaurant has been in the area for many years. Owner Scott Maitland was a student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994 and didn’t want to see a chain restaurant dominate downtown, so in 1996 he founded Top of the Hill. Thank God, because what we gained was a very special place that everyone thinks about when they think of downtown Chapel […]

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22
Apr

Review – Spanky’s in Chapel Hill

Plate of Mediterranean Salad

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There are a few cornerstones in the land of the Tar Heels and one of them must be Spanky’s. This establishment, owned by the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, has been around for ages (OK, since 1977, but that’s a long time for a restaurant!). It’s a little tavern/restaurant on the corner of Franklin and Columbia Street, right where all the bonfires take place when the beloved Tar Heels win a championship game.
The dining room is filled with old, red brick […]

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15
Apr

Guest Review: Sandbar & Grille on Hatteras Island

shrimp salad

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The following is a guest blog from Shelby Kinnaird, also known as The Diabetic Foodie. If you haven’t read her blog, you should! Shelby currently resides in Chatham County, but spent many years in the Outerbanks. She has graciously accepted to share some of her favorite places with you.
by Shelby Kinnaird
One night I met a girlfriend for dinner at Sandbar & Grille in Buxton. It’s one of my favorite restaurants on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks. When the […]

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07
Apr

Review – Matthew’s Chocolates in Hillsborough

outside sign of Matthews Chocolates in Hillsborough

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I must confess I love chocolate. In fact most of us do and you always wonder a bit about the person who says they hate it. Chocolate is rich, sweet and satisfying in ways no other food can attain. It’s a luxury many of us can actually afford (except for the calories!).
I was in Hillsborough the other day with a few minutes to kill before I had an appointment with my clinical herbalist, so I was perusing the shops, when […]

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17
Mar

Review – Mixed Casual Korean Bistro in Chapel Hill

bibimbap with egg

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I am very happy because I have found a new restaurant that will be in my “regular mix” of places to go! The places that get into this special inner circle are places that are close to home, are reasonably priced and provide consistently good food.
Mixed, a casual Korean bistro, opened in Chapel Hill, off of Franklin Street near Caribou Coffee this past fall. I didn’t have a chance to try it until a few weeks ago. My husband and […]

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28
Feb

Review – Little Hen in Holly Springs

duck confit with cabbage

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The Little Hen has been on my “must try” lists for quite a while. One of my favorite food bloggers, Durham Foodie, has written about them in the past and often mentions them in her Twitter feed. I figured if someone from Durham is willing to travel to Holly Springs on a regular basis to eat at this place, it must be good, so when Triangle Restaurant week came around a few weeks ago, I eagerly made a reservation!
The Little […]

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Owners Jodi and Landon Hackney inside the bakery

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I am so excited that Pittsboro has a new bakery! I have a huge sweet tooth and love to indulge on good desserts. Over the past few months there’s been quite a buzz in town that Phoenix Bakery is the place to go when you want to get some baked goods. The bakery opened in July and hopefully will be around for many years to come.
My hair stylist is located in downtown Pittsboro, so when I went to get my […]

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06
Feb

Review – Pho Cali House of Noodles in Raleigh

Bowl of Pho

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I was in North Raleigh the other day and had a hankering for Vietnamese food. I found a little place off of Capital Boulevard called Pho Cali House of Noodles.
The inside of the restaurant is not much to look at. I was not sure what to think when I first came in the door. But the waiter was very friendly and helpful.
We started out with some egg rolls, which were really spring rolls. They were filled with some ground pork […]

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28
Jan

Review – Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh

Quinoa Salad stacked high

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I haven’t been to the Irregardless Cafe in many years, so when a friend suggested I meet him there, I was happy to oblige. This restaurant was one of the “to go” places back in the 1990’s when Raleigh didn’t have nearly the plethora of restaurants that it has today, so I was curious as to whether the quality was still as good as it used to be.
I’m happy to report that it is still a great place! Irregardless is […]

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21
Jan

Review – Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte

BBQ Mahi-Mahi tacos

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Ever since I watched “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” episode about Cabo Fish Taco Baja Seagrill I have wanted to visit this place. Recently, my husband and I needed to make a trip to IKEA, so we decided why not have lunch at Cabo Fish Taco?
I have always heard that the NoDa neighborhood is really fun. It’s a mish mash of stores, funky restaurants, artist studios and tattoo parlors in an up and coming area of Charlotte. It has lots of […]

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photo of Sarasota Bay and the pier at Star Fish Co

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My husband and I traveled to Florida recently to see our family and, of course, had to indulge in some seafood. We decided to check out a little shack called the Star Fish Company in Cortez, a small town near Bradenton, on the west coast of Florida.
The place is off of a mainly untraveled residential neighborhood. The building in the front is non assuming and could easily be overlooked to be an industrial fishing operation, which, indeed, it is. But, […]

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06
Jan

Review – 222 Public House in Elkin

two kinds of wings on a plate

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Downtown Elkin is buzzing with the news about a new place to eat, so on a recent trip to the area, we had to check it out! Two Twenty Two Public House is located in The Liberty Building, an old tobacco warehouse that was renovated by Executive Chef Jeffrey Gibbs who owns the Twenty One & Main down the street. This warm, inviting space has a warehouse feel to it with the old brick walls, exposed duct work and an […]

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19
Dec

Review – Yum Yum Cuisine in Cary

Bowl of Penang Curry with chicken

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My friend, Glenn and I decided to meet for lunch. He works in Cary, so I suggested we try the Yum Yum Thai Cuisine. Located in the shopping center across from SAS Institute, this is a very popular Thai restaurant. And no wonder, the prices are relatively inexpensive and there were many of the favorite Thai dishes to choose from.
The interior is filled with cheery orange and yellow tones. There is minimal artwork on the walls. We came a bit […]

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03
Dec

Review – Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC

sign outside Chef and the Farmer

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I am a huge fan of the show, “A Chef’s Life,” which debuted on PBS this past fall. If you haven’t watched this show, you need to! You can watch it online. The show is all about executive chef Vivian Howard and Benjamin Knight, co-owners  of  Chef and The Farmer restaurant in Kinston, NC. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Vivian Howard grew up in Kinston. She moved to New York and she and her husband were both […]

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20
Nov

Mini Review – Cupcake Bar in Durham

display case of cupcakes

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This cute little cupcake shop is located near Pizzeria Toro in downtown Durham and is the perfect way to end a meal from one of the many other restaurants located within walking distance to the cupcake shop. After a big meal, the last thing I want to do is have a big dessert, so I was delighted to find that this place had mini cupcakes. Perfect! I could indulge in a little sweet “something something” without feeling bloated!
Of course, getting […]

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12
Nov

A Night of Delight at Raaga in Chapel Hill

lamb chops over vegetables

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The other night, my husband and I were invited to a media event at Raaga in Chapel Hill. Raaga is the reinvented space that used to be called Saffron in East 54. Same place and ownership, but different name, new concept and new decor. In full disclosure, everyone’s meal was paid for and these folks really went all out.
When we arrived, we were directed to a table of fellow bloggers and media folks. I was delighted to be sitting with […]

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Baked Alaska at the Radisson RTP

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For as long as I have worked in the Research Triangle Park, there was a constant presence – the Radisson RTP – formerly known as the Governor’s Inn. For the nine years that I worked at the Research Triangle Foundation, we held our board of directors meetings there and were treated to a special lobster bisque that was not on the regular menu.
Sometimes I would  meet Margaret Knox, who used to be the publisher of North Carolina Leader and later […]

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Crab cakes with fries at MJs

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I love coming to downtown New Bern and strolling along the sidewalk, looking at the old buildings and talking to the friendly local folks. This is one dog-friendly town as well, so when my husband and I went there recently, we took our dog with us and had lots of people greeting us mainly so they could pet our dog.
We were hungry and it was about lunch time when we got into town, so we decided to try out MJ’s […]

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24
Oct

Review – Pizzeria Toro in Durham, NC

Sausage pizza from Toro

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11/18/13 Sad update about Pizzeria Toro. The restaurant experienced a fire that has temporarily shut down the business. The good news is they are working on reopening soon. In the meantime, they will be holding some special dinners at The Cookery in Durham.
Lots of wood fired pizza places seem to be popping up in the Triangle region, which is great! One of the newer places in town is Pizzeria Toro in Durham, which is located on Chapel Hill Street.
Upon […]

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18
Oct

Review – Icehouse Waterfront Restaurant in Swansboro

Waterfront seating at the Icehouse

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My husband and I were taking a trip to the beach a couple of weeks ago and decided to get lunch before we headed over the bridge to Emerald Isle. We stopped in Swansboro, a quaint little waterfront town, they call “The friendly city by the sea.” We walked around a bit and looked at several old buildings and decided to try a place called the Icehouse Waterfront Restaurant. We sat on the front porch because we had our dog […]

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08
Oct

Review – Shark Shack in Atlantic Beach, NC

two huge pieces of fried grouper open bun and fries

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After recently seeing “Sharknado,” I am always on the lookout for anything with the word “shark” in it. So, when I was looking for a place to eat lunch when we were at the beach recently, I was very happy to find a place called the Shark Shack.
Looking at the place, you’d definitely call it a shack. The small kitschy building is made of aqua colored cinder block and has a thatch roof with a big fish net draped  in […]

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03
Oct

6th Annual Pepper Festival Happening this Sunday

Red hot air balloon in the sky

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Pepper lovers prepare for a feast of the harvest! Yes, the 6th Annual Pepper Festival, held by The Abundance Foundation, will be held on Sunday, October 6 at Briar Chapel. The festival features chefs from around the Piedmont region of North Carolina, who will incorporate locally grown peppers of all kinds into their dishes. From Steelstring Brewery’s Pepper Cask Conditioned Ale, to Habañero Bacon Brittle a touch of Hint-of-Ghost pepper Maple Creme from Groundworkk, there is something for everyone to […]

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02
Oct

Johnny’s Gone Fishing in Carrboro

Fig and brie panini in a take out carton

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Johnny’s Gone Fishing in Carrboro is a perfect fit for the community. This little store is a bit outside of the downtown area, but is worth driving a few more blocks to go hang out here. This little one-story home has been converted to an eclectic, hippie hang out. There’s lots of artwork, crafts and locally made goods to buy, great coffee drinks and some food too.
I first heard about Johnny’s Gone Fishing because many of the area food trucks […]

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