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Restaurant Reviews from around RTP and NC

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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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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13
Jun

Review – Venable in Carrboro

camponata sandwich and fries

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If you haven’t figured out by now that I am all about the farm to fork movement, then you probably haven’t been reading my blog for very long! One of the more recent additions in the Triangle to the farm to fork, or farm to table movement is Venable Rotisserie Bistro in Carrboro.
Andrew Moore (known as Drew), one of the owners of Venable, stopped by our table and told us that Venable was actually the name of the town before [...]

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04
Jun

Review – Trailhead Restaurant in Black Mountain

plate of fish tacos black beans and chips

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It was another rainy, cold day in the mountains and my friends and I needed a place to relax, eat and warm up. We decided to try the Trailhead Restaurant in Black Mountain.
Black Mountain is a quaint town just east of Asheville, home to the LEAF festival twice a year and near Billy Graham’s homestead. The Trailhead is on the main street in town.
We were greeted by a friendly waitress who immediately got us hot tea and coffee. We also [...]

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21
May

Review – Farm Burger in Asheville

Burger plate with fries

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I love Asheville. In fact it is one of my favorite cities in North Carolina. My husband, and a couple of my friends and I were walking around downtown recently. It was raining and I was quickly running out of steam. I needed some protein. We were going to eat at Salsa, but there was a 20 minute wait and I wasn’t about to wait a minute longer to get some food! So, we dashed into Farm Burger.
When we first [...]

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13
May

Review – Klara’s Restaurant in Raleigh

chicken schnizel sandwich

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1/6/14 Update: According to The Triangle Food Guy (my go-to for local restaurant news), Klara’s is closed and will be replaced by Kabab and Curry, which I am pretty sure has a restaurant also located in Cary.
Stepping into Klara’s Restaurant on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, just across the street from North Carolina State University, I felt like I was coming home to Cleveland, Ohio. When I was growing up, one of the many groups of immigrants who had settled [...]

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07
May

Review – Sandwhich in Chapel Hill

Whichburger with fries

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We all love the convenience of a fast food restaurant, but many people would prefer to have fresh, local, organic and sustainable ingredients in their food selection, including getting a sandwich. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have both? Well, that’s what the folks at Sandwhich in Chapel Hill thought too.
We recently got a Groupon for Sandwhich that gave us a great excuse to try this place out. I had heard some good things about it but never got [...]

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29
Apr

Review-Scratch Bakery in Durham

slice of pear upside down cake

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I have a great weakness for sweets and when I heard that a bakery had opened in downtown Durham almost three years ago, I was thrilled! Scratch Bakery was an instant success and had throngs of people coming to try out its homemade pies and cakes. Unfortunately due to my busy schedule, I hadn’t actually eaten there until recently.
I found out they were also serving lunch, so my friend, Kent and I decided to try out their lunch service. Scratch [...]

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three chicken wings on top of blueberry waffle

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When I first heard people talking about chicken and waffles I thought, “Hmm…that sounds like an interesting combination.” I also thought it must be a Southern phenomenon as most of the places I heard that were serving chicken and waffles were places in Georgia.
So when Dames Almost World Famous Chicken and Waffles opened in downtown Durham, I was delighted. I knew that I’d eventually try it out! Every time I’d come by, there was a huge long line to get [...]

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15
Apr

Review – 411 West in Chapel Hill

Penne Pasta

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I always like to remind myself that even though it’s fun to try out the latest new places, I also like to go back to more established, classic restaurants that serve consistently good food. There’s a reason places like 411 West, an Italian restaurant owned by Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, are successful for many years.
We had a friend in town recently and decided to stroll down Franklin Street until we found something that looked good. We decided to go to [...]

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group with 1930s costumes

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Walking into the Top of the Hill last night, I felt like I was entering the cast of “Boardwalk Empire” and would run into Nuckey Thompson at any moment. No, this was not just any night at Top of the Hill, this was the Bootlegger’s Banquet, an event set to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the end of the Prohibition and what a great way to celebrate than to try out the new TOPO Piedmont Gin from Top of the [...]

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plate of scallops with mushroom risotto

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We are so lucky to have a thriving wine industry in North Carolina. In addition to the great wines being produced by places such as Raffaldini, Grassy Creek Winery and Ragapple Lassie Winery, there are also some wonderful restaurants that are feeding the many tourists who are coming to the Piedmont region. Some of my friends and I recently visited Sander’s Ridge in Booneville during a weekend outing to what I call “NC wine country.”
Sander’s Ridge is located on a [...]

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20
Mar

Review – Guasaca Arepa and Salsa Grill in Raleigh

vegetarian arepa

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I once spent a summer in Colombia, South America, when I was growing up and one of the things I loved was that we would have arepas at each of our meals. Arepas are corn meal-based rolls or fried bread (depending on how they are made), that are a constant presence for Colombians and Venezuelans. I have always been on the look out to have a good arepa since then and on occasion there have been places in the Triangle [...]

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Sweet potato sushi and tofu sashimi

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Vegans and vegetarians (and even many of us meat lovers) are cheering because Raleigh has a new all vegan and vegetarian restaurant in town! Fiction Kitchen on Dawson Street started first as a pop up restaurant at Pinhook in Durham. Executive Chef and co-owner Caroline Morrison, after getting her culinary degree from Wake Tech, worked as a line cook at many of the Triangle area restaurants, creating all kinds of unique and flavorful vegan and vegetarian dishes.
She and Siobhan Summer [...]

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08
Mar

Review – Mei Asian in Chapel Hill

bowl of curry soup

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While strolling along Franklin Street the other night, my husband and I discovered a new Asian restaurant called Mei Asian. It’s a quaint, little restaurant near a clothing store and where the Bank of America used to be.
The décor is lovely with deep rust colored walls and modern artwork adorning the walls. There is a little bar in the back of the restaurant. The restaurant is family owned by Mei and her husband. Their two little daughters are often seen [...]

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04
Mar

Review-Geer Street Garden in Durham

Geer Street Garden sign

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On the corner of Geer Street and Foster Street in downtown Durham is a quaint, little restaurant that has quickly become one of my “You have to try this place” restaurants when someone comes to town. Geer Street Garden is located in an old gas station and has lots of charm. Old brick walls, exposed air ducts with a sealed foam ceiling and a bull on the wall reminds you that you are in an old part of Durham, just [...]

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Steelhead Salmon

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Foodies in the Triangle region get really excited when Triangle Restaurant Week comes around. Triangle Restaurant Week is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence that features some of the top-flight restaurants in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, and Chapel Hill. Most of the restaurants will offer a three course meal for just $30 or some for $20. Considering that most of these restaurants would cost $60 or more for a three course meal, you better bet that we are going to attend [...]

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13
Feb

Review – Rise Bakery in Durham

long shaped doughnut with maple frosting and strip of bacon in the middle

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Ah the sacrifices I sometimes have to make for you, my readers! I sacrificed counting my calories for you (twice, actually!) in the past few weeks so I could check out Rise in Durham.
Ever since I heard that the folks who created Only Burger were going to open a doughnut shop, I was anxious to try it out. Rise is located in a strip mall behind Streets at Southpoint near the Target. They specialize in doughnuts and biscuits. The place [...]

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07
Feb

Review – Page Road Grill in Durham

sweet potato gnocchi with spinach

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I was very flattered to get a tweet from Kim @TriangleLocalista to meet me recently. If you are ever looking to find out where to shop, eat, or play, Triangle Localista is a great source to find out what’s happening in the Triangle area. Kim is very enthusiastic about our region, so it was really nice to meet someone who cares about this region as much as I do!
We decided to meet at the Page Road Grill, a new restaurant [...]

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