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Restaurant Reviews from around RTP and NC

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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27
Sep

Review – Rue Cler in Durham

One dozen Beignets

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A few years ago, my husband and I were in downtown Durham attending the Fullframe Documentary Festival and decided to get lunch between movies. Back then, there were not a whole lot of choices of places to eat, but I had heard that a new French restaurant had opened called Rue Cler. We ordered a couple of crepes to go and they were fabulous.
Fast forward to 2013. My friends and I were thinking of where we could eat lunch and [...]

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17
Sep

Review – Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham

people sitting at a long wooden table

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One of the newer places in town where all the hipsters, soccer moms, young business professionals and foodies go is to Bull City Burger and Brewery. When you first enter the space, you see big, long tables a long bar on one side of the space, the brewing vats of beer on the other side of the space and the order line/open kitchen in the back.
The burgers are all made with grass-fed, free-range beef. These cows had a good life [...]

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08
Sep

Review – Squids in Chapel Hill

plate with salmon

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Every time I pass by Squids while traveling on 15-501, the parking lot is jammed packed with cars. I keep wondering how great can this seafood restaurant really be. After all, it is not located on the coast. After living in Chapel Hill for over a decade, I thought it was high time to find out exactly why so many people love Squids.
The building is large and a bit noisy. The mustard colored walls were adorned with art work with [...]

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27
Aug

Review – Soo Café in Raleigh

plate of KFC with soy garlic sauce

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Update on Soo Cafe: According to the Triangle Food Guy’s blog, Soo Cafe is relocating to the old Fortune Palace location in Capital Boulevard’s Stonybrook Shopping Center. Look for them to open there in December 2013.
I was recently attending a workshop at NC State in Raleigh and had a hankering for some KFC. Kentucky Fried Chicken you ask? Nope! Not even close! I was craving some Korean Fried Chicken. The only thing in common one KFC has to the other [...]

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19
Aug

Review – Sage Vegetarian Cafe in Chapel Hill

plate of gnocchi

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Many people in Chapel Hill are vegetarians or like to eat vegetarian food. That’s why Sage Vegetarian Cafe in the Timberlyne Shopping Center has been so popular for many years. Homa and Ramin Jahannia started the restaurant in 2003 and have steadily gained a very loyal following.
Sage is located just around the corner from the Chelsea Theater, so it is a great place to go before or after seeing a movie. The place is small and intimate. The stained concrete [...]

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10
Aug

Bull City Secrets – Let the Games Begin!

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Shh, the Bull City has secrets that only you and I can know about. What secrets you ask? You can find out by downloading the free app to your iPhone called Popup. The makers of the Popup app are holding a special event starting August 16 and running until August 30 called Bull City Secrets. Think of it as a massive digital scavenger hunt! I don’t know about you, but I think this is going to be great fun!
Starting on [...]

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02
Aug

Modern Life Deli in Pittsboro

Close up shot of a bagel

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I love a good deli sandwich. It’s one of the great pleasures in life to delve into a pastrami on rye, so when I heard that Pittsboro was about to get a deli I was giddy! As the months went by after I read about the restaurant, called Modern Life Deli (affectionately known as Mod Life), I watched its progress every time I was in town. The pretty stone exterior with a spacious front porch and steel railing appeared, and [...]

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27
Jul

Review – Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh

spinach and artichoke burger with a salad

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Summer is upon us. Time to find a outdoor spot to eat food and drink beer! Last year, when my nephew and his girlfriend came to visit, they went to Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh and told us we should check it out. We finally went to Busy Bee a couple of weeks ago with some of our very dear friends. The cafe is located on Wilmington Street in a hot spot for great restaurants. Beasley’s is located just a [...]

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17
Jul

Review – Jalisco Mexican Restaurant in New Market, VA

huge burrito with lots of Mexican rice

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Tarheel Eater took a road trip to New Market, Virginia recently. While driving to Luray Caverns, we were looking for a good place to eat lunch, but, for course, we don’t like eating at chains or fast food places, so we were on the lookout for something unique. We saw a little Mexican place that from the outside looked promising, so we stopped to check it out.
When I first entered the door, I was greeted by a banquet table full [...]

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09
Jul

Tour of TOPO Distillery

age your own whiskey kit

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In the age of micro breweries, everyone knows that you are likely to get a good quality, craftsman beer in your local neighborhood these days, but there are very few micro distilleries. Much of that is due to old prohibition laws that were never taken off the books. However, things in North Carolina are changing at a fast pace and much of that can be credited to Scott Maitland, owner of  Top of the Hill restaurant. A few years ago, [...]

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01
Jul

Review – Fish Market in Ft. Mill

key lime pie with whipped cream and mint leaf garnish

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I was meeting some relatives in the Charlotte area a few weeks ago and we decided to go to Fish Market Bar and Grill in the Baxter Village in Ft. Mill, South Carolina. Ft. Mill is considered a suburb of the Charlotte area. I was in a rush and was looking for the restaurant in the retail area and walked right by this beautiful, Plantation style house with rocking chairs on the front porch. Yet, the restaurant was no where [...]

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23
Jun

Steel String Brewery in Carrboro

flight of beers

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There’s a sweet little taproom that recently opened in downtown Carrboro next to GlassHalfull called Steel String Brewery. The Steel String crew has been working very hard over the past year to get their place up and running. Will Isley, the “brew Czar,” has been working on perfecting these great new beers for many months, and they are finally able to reap the rewards of their efforts.
Some friends of mine, my husband and I all recently visited the brewery I [...]

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