Category Archives: Raleigh
Jubala Village Coffee, in Lafayette Village on Falls of the Neuse Road, is one of my new favorite spots to take friends and family when they come to town. The laid back atmosphere, perfectly brewed coffee and delicious food are why I love it so much. I have been three or four times in the past few months and have not had a bad experience. The staff knows their stuff and will walk you through what to order based on your tastes. It isn’t a small, cramped coffee shop like pretty much every coffee shop that I have ever been to. It is wide open with plenty of places to sit down with a laptop and a delicious cup of coffee.
I really enjoy a delicious cup of black coffee. Jubala had a variety of blends available from Counter Culture, one of the most reputable coffee roasters in North Carolina out of Durham. They pour it drip-style at 209 degrees which I decided to go with the Bourbon which an organic, single-variety coffee that is currently completely sourced from Kabirizi, Rwanda. According to Counter Culture’s website, “connoisseurs treasure the Bourbon variety for its deep, buttery chocolate and coffee flavor, its unique sweetness, and its gentle fruit overtones.” It had a great taste with a nice acidity. I’m still working on developing my coffee palate so I can’t quite pick out overtones.
They also offer a variety of espresso drinks including cappucinos, cortados, macchiatos and lattes with some fantastic artwork on top. Their specialty drinks, which I have not tried, include something called the county line cocktail, the Madagascar vanilla and a chipotle/ancho mocha which sounds like something I could really get into. They also carry up to fifteen loose leaf teas and a variety of non-coffee drinks like hot chocolate, Blenheim ginger ale, Sprecher soda and chai lattes.
I ordered one of their pressed sandwiches which are served between 11am and 4pm. I was debating between the Turkey-Avocado with sliced cheddar and house-made chipotle aioli on toasted multi-grain and the pimento sandwich with Palmetto pimento cheese out of South Carolina, maple-cured thick cut bacon and Wickles Pickles out of Alabama on sourdough bread. I went with the latter as you can see above and was not disappointed. I was a little hesitant when I first ordered it because of the pickles but they ended up adding an awesome flavor to the sandwich. The bacon was cooked to a crisp which is how I enjoy it. The pimento cheese was warm but not liquified and spilling out of the sandwich. I wouldn’t mind trying this with the jalapeno version of the pimento cheese to give it a spicy kick. I will be trying to recreate this at home.
The kitchen at Jubala serves more than sandwiches. They also have serve breakfast all day including Belgium waffles, house-made granola, steel-cut oatmeal and biscuits (until they run out). They have all sorts of toppings for both the waffles and biscuits to make them different ranging from pimento cheese and bacon to apple butter to Nutella.
Make it a point to stop into Jubala. Take your iPad or computer in with you a knock out some work or knock out some Facebook time while you sit in a cool place. The warmer weather is coming and the patio which looks out onto Lafayette Village’s lawn will be an awesome place to relax if you can find a seat. Jubala Village Coffee was recently voted as the “Best Place to Get Your Caffeine Fix” in the Triangle by Midtown Magazine and it is well deserved.
Top Chef is one of my guilty pleasures and the sole reason that I don’t want Bravo to exist anymore as a channel. Bravo used to have some pretty decent shows before its reality makeover in 2003 which is similar to what happened on MTV. I know that there are probably a lot of people out there like me who feel the same. I digress. Top Chef may be overly dramatic but I love watching talented people make delicious looking stuff in the kitchen. If only there were a taste option for all these food shows.
I received an e-mail from the PR agency representing Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division that invited me to an event at a local Kroger. Chef Eli Kirshtein, from Season 6 of Top Chef, will be at the Kroger on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh on February 16th from 11 AM to 2 PM. I am a Kroger customer and actually I tend to shop at the store that he will be visiting. I have been told that he will “share his expert recipe advice and helpful kitchen tips, while preparing delicious meals using easily accessible grocery products.” I imagine that he will be using a lot of ingredients from the shelves at Kroger. I’ve been told that he will be preparing Pork Nam Sod.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Kirshtein, 25, is a self-proclaimed Gastronome. He started his culinary career at the young age of 16 as a cook at Atlanta’s Buckhead Diner under Chef Kevin Rathbun. Kirshtein quickly moved to restaurant Fishbone under Chef Richard Blais before moving to New York to attend school at the Culinary Institute of America. While in New York, he spent time in some of the country’s greatest kitchens with a series of stages. After graduation, Kirshtein returned to Atlanta to reunite with Blais, as Sous Chef at One, Midtown Kitchen. After two years at One, he took a year long hiatus to work under Alberto Cabrera at Miami’s Karu & Y as Executive Sous Chef. He is currently Executive Chef at ENO, Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Kirshtein was a contestant in season six on Top Chef. He fared well making it to the 12th episode before turning in his knives. He won two quickfire challenges. He didn’t win any elimination challenges but his dishes placed pretty high on four episodes and only low in two.
He has been doing a lot of stuff in the ATL including hosting pop-up restaurants, creating an all-Jewish barbecue team and working on a cookbook with Richard Blais. He brings a lot of energy to the restaurant scene as you can see by his green sneakers in the profile shot to the right. He kind of looks like a mad scientist. I know Jimmy over on Eat It, Atlanta has tasted some Eli’s dishes included a gnocchi and a yuzu meringue dessert with pistachio and it sounds like he enjoyed them.
The event will be held at the Kroger at 6300 Creedmoor Road in Raleigh from 11am to 2pm. I’m pumped to learn some good techniques from him and learning how to make his Pork Nam Sod. See you there!
If you are looking for a change from the Jersey Mike’s or Jimmy John’s or whatever chain sandwich store that you most likely frequent on the days when you don’t bring your lunch to work, its time that you check out Boondini’s Sandwich Superstore in the Celebration at Six Forks Shopping Center right near I-540 on Six Forks Road.
This was my second trip to Boondini’s but the first with my camera. My last visit I ordered the Boondini’s Special which has ham, Genoa salami and bologna on a hoagie and had it grilled. My friend, Tyler, ordered the same thing but ordered it cold. We traded half sandwiches to try both the grilled and cold versions. The consensus was that the grilled version was a little bit better. I enjoyed the shredded lettuce and tomato and even put a little bit of Cavender’s all purpose Greek seasoning (which was a staple in my family’s pantry growing up) on the sandwich.
The weather in North Carolina hasn’t been very December-like. In fact, it has been hot but I hit up Boondini’s on one of the chillier days that actually required a jacket. I felt like it was appropriate weather for soup so I got a bowl of Boondini’s Outer Banks clam chowder on the side. It was chock-full of tasty ingredients as well as surprising amount of clams. I’m definitely looking forward to trying some of their other soups.
As much as I enjoyed the Boondini’s Special the last time, I decided to branch out and try a different sub. I ordered the Cuban which is a grilled sub with ham, sliced roast pork, Swiss, butter, mustard and optional pickles which are not optional in my opinion. Boondini’s version of the Cuban doesn’t come on the traditional Cuban bread but everything else is damn near authentic to the recipe. Some may argue that the bread is what makes it but I enjoyed this sandwich just as much. There was a chili spice in the sandwich that I couldn’t place so I am guessing it was either from the mustard that was spread on the bread or from the pork’s marinade before it was cooked.
I always like cracking some eggs of knowledge in the posts about the food when I can. The Cuban sandwich or “Cubano” as many people call it traditionally was a working man’s sandwich similar to New Orleans’ po’ boy sandwich. It became a staple at restaurants outside of the cigar factories and sugar mills in Cuba when workers took their lunch breaks. The sandwich then traveled, figuratively, to Tampa and Miami with Cuban exiles and expatriates. The deliciousness that is the Cubano has taken various forms as it has spread across the country from Cuban communities to your local deli’s menu. Like any great sandwich, arguments are common place as to where the original Cuban was made and what the ingredients are.
Boondini’s is well worth checking out. It can get crowded during the lunch hours as local workers seem to flock there but its worth the wait. I also witnessed one intelligent businessman call in his order ahead of time to avoid the wait. I am sure he will be mad at me for leaking his loophole in the system. I will be trying their steak and cheese next. I will let you know how it goes.
I really enjoy Facebook but the past couple of weeks has been brutal with all of the political back and forth between people. However, there was the occasional shining light that popped up in my news feed and that included an update from The Angus Barn in Raleigh. They shared their recipe for one of their side items: Angus Barn Stuffed Potato.
Here it is verbatim except for my correction of a spelling error:
Who needs some Angus Barn Stuffed Potato in their life? Here’s the recipe for one of our favorite sides. Note: this recipe yields 10 servings, so invite guests for dinner!
3 lb. RED BLISS POTATOES
½ lb. BUTTER — SOFTENED
1 ½ CUPS SOUR CREAM
½ CUP BACON BITS
½ CUP CHIVES
SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
½ CUP PARMESAN CHEESE
BOIL POTATOES IN LIGHTLY SALTED WATER UNTIL FALLING APART TENDER. ADD SOFTENED BUTTER, SOUR CREAM, BACON BITS AND CHIVES. ADD SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE. PLACE IN BAKING DISH AND SPRINKLE WITH PARMESAN CHEESE. BAKE AT 350º UNTIL TOP IS BROWNED.
I think that they forgot to mention that you need to mash the potatoes at some point in the process. You could also serve this in small ramekins for individual servings. Don’t buy Bacon Bits…just cook some crispy bacon and then crumble it up.
What North Carolina restaurants do you enjoy following on Facebook and Twitter?
Eating Mexican food at an old train depot may not sound like the thing to do when celebrating the birthday of one of your best friends. It doesn’t really sound like a good way to celebrate the birthday of someone you barely know. However, the birthday celebraish for one of my best friends that took place at a Mexican restaurant in an old train depot turned out to be a great night.
Jibarra, a modern Mexican and tequila lounge located in the historic Raleigh Depot, is best places that I’ve been since I moved to Raleigh since August ’11. It offers a variety of upscale Latin American food ranging a variety of guacamoles, chef specialties, tacos and salads for dinner as well as a top shelf cocktail and tequila menu. They also offer separate brunch and lunch menus which are lower priced.
The restaurant moved from North Raleigh to downtown Raleigh in 2008 after several nightclubs closed down and has been a huge part in revitalizing the area since its move. It is joined in a great neighborhood food scene by places like 5 Star, Humble Pie, Poole’s Diner and The Pit.
We started out the night with a pitcher of chipotle-mango margaritas for the table. It was definitely a little emasculating to be drinking such a pink drink in public but my feeling went away after the first sip. It was overly sweet but the salt & chile piquin on the rim and chipotle in the drink balanced the drink perfectly. The price tag on the pitcher is steep but it was a high quality drink. We ended up getting two but you can’t put a price tag on memories or lack thereof.
We ordered an appetizer of queso dip and added chorizo to it. It is really hard to take a picture of cheese dip. I’ve tried to do it at various places and it never turns out looking as good as it tastes. This was a great cheese dip and the addition of the jalapenos and chorizo added a lot of outside flavor. Unlike many places, the chef or line cook made the right decision to strain most of the grease out of the chorizo before putting it in the cheese. This is a simple step that is often skipped at places and can ruin the dip. It was fairly inexpensive ($5) which kind of blew my mind because it is comparable to most other run-of-the-mill Mexican places.
Brock ordered the Camarón BLT tacos which have shrimp, avocado, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato & “michelada” sauce. The michelada sauce is based on a common Mexican cocktail made with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers. I believe that their sauce was just a michelada that was reduced and thickened into a sauce or just used the base ingredients of the drink to make a sauce. Brock was nice enough to offer me one of his three tacos and I can’t turn down a taco. It was good. The shrimp were pretty small for an $18 dish but the flavors made up for it plus I love bacon and shrimp together. The black beans and Mexican rice were hefty portions and made three tacos and a side a pretty filling meal.
I ordered the Birria de Borrego which is lamb osso bucco comes with yucca mashed potatoes covered in a birria sauce and tomatoes. The term, “birria”, comes from a region in Mexico and is a meat stew typically made with goat, lamb or mutton (or “borrego”). Jibarra’s version of the dish is not soupy at all in presentation although it may have been cooked that way. The osso bucco is served on top of the yucca mashed potatoes and then covered in the au jus or en zumo or in its own juice depending on what language you want to go with.
The term, “osso bucco”, is Italian meaning bone with a hole. I know…too many different languages right now. The hole should contain bone marrow which is considered a rich delicacy by some but probably disgusting to everyone else. Some people will try to pull it out with a knife but the easiest and probably least polite way is to slurp it out. The meat fell right off the bone as it should and had the perfect tenderness. The meat also had substantial flavor from the birria and that char that gives meat so much more flavor.
The birthday boy ordered the tacos de arrachera which consisted of grilled skirt steak, cilantro, onions, grilled scallions, chiles toreados and guacatillo salsa. The picture doesn’t really help sell them.
The steak just doesn’t look crispy enough to me. I did split one of the tacos with Brock and it was good. I would have gone with corn tortillas which you probably already know about me if you read any other post about tacos by me on this blog.
Editor’s Note: This could actually be tacos al pastor which commonly has grilled onions and is cooked differently then the steak. Actually…I am pretty sure that it is now. I marked through the crispy reference above because it makes more sense now. However, I still would serve them with corn tortillas.
Liz ordered a salad which doesn’t seem to be on their current menu and Jo Beth ordered the fish tacos which were delicious but pretty effin’ spicy. Neither of the pictures of their dishes turned out very well.
I’m currently waiting on another
special occasion excuse to be able to go back down to Jibarra and try some more of the chef’s specialties. Would I order the tacos? Probably not. I feel like a local taqueria would come close to matching the taste for almost a fifth of the price. I want to try their herb-crusted chuletas (pork chops) or their pato (duck) en fig mole or just go one more round with the osso bucco. If I am going to be spending upwards of $20 on something, I will be getting something crazy delicious.
Don’t get me wrong though. Their tacos are great but my wallet and my conscience just won’t let me do it.
I went out to Zest Cafe & Home Art on Six Forks Road in Raleigh the other day for a quick bite to eat with my mom who was passing through Raleigh. She said she was feeling a sandwich or a salad and I had heard a lot about Zest’s lunch menu and decided to head over with her to check it out.
I had been hearing good things from a variety of people about the food at Zest Cafe ranged from catered hor d’oeuvres (which I had tried at a party before) to the brunch menu and the sandwich menu. The sandwiches played their part in getting me there and Urbanspoon was the other force in getting me there with its very mom-friendly reviews for Zest. Additionally, there was a bit of a guilty force working on me because one of my good buddies from college manages the restaurant and I have been living in Raleigh for about 9 months and still hadn’t been out there yet! Don’t worry. It didn’t alter my review of the place at all.
The restaurant was packed with a 15 minute wait for a 2-top on the outside patio but we were able to snag a table inside right when we got there. Some of the Urbanspoon and Yelp reviewers are right in the sense that the restaurant is a little tight especially during the lunch or dinner rush. A packed environment is something that doesn’t really bother me unless it is bar or Wal-Mart. The crowd was a mixture of business lunches, families and housewives. Everyone was talking but we had no trouble talking or hearing each other over them.
I ordered the hoisin braised short rib panini which is topped with caramelized onions, provolone cheese and tomato cruda on the house flatbread with a ramekin of Zest’s sweet & spicy steak sauce. I am always a little hesitant to order a panini at restaurants because I feel like many places tend to short you on the filling. This was not the case at Zest. My panini was loaded with short rib meat and smothered in provolone cheese and tomato cruda. The first bite put a smile on my face and it stayed there throughout the meal and afterwards until I had to go back to work. The short rib was thinly sliced and had dynamite flavor of hoisin. The sandwich was delicious by itself but once I dipped it in the steak sauce, I didn’t try another bite without it.
The side of pasta salad was a welcome change from the world of steak sandwiches served with fries plus a side of ranch which is the dish of choice if you are living the current American dream.
My mom ordered the “Select” salad which is a blend of mixed greens with Black Mission figs, fresh pears, crumbled blue cheese, toasted walnuts and a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. She added a grilled chicken breast for $3 to make it a little more filling. I didn’t get to try it but she told me that really enjoyed it.
NOTE: The Splenda was for the tea and not the salad. One thing that you should know before going into Zest is that they do not offer sweet tea which one Urbanspoon user decried as “blasphemous”. However, they do have a raspberry tea which a different user says makes up for it.
Zest has a boutique that you can shop around in before, during or after lunch with a variety of things ranging from kitchenware to artwork to a puppet show. The items they sell in the boutique aren’t particularly my cup of tea. Think chic with lots of polka dots and floral designs. That said, I did end up buying a belt for my sister-in-law’s birthday thanks to the help from Amanda which received the compliment (I think…) from my sister-in-law of “Who knew you had such good taste in ladies clothing?!” Thanks AK…
The menu had a lot of other items that I wanted to try the quesadilla with poblano peppers & sweet potatoes or the tortilla crusted catfish sandwich. The Asian spring rolls and sesame chicken with lo mein also peaked my interest. However, I will probably be ordering the short rib panini again because it was so damn good. The brunch menu also has a lot of interesting items like the Quadrant (2 any style eggs, 2 griddlecakes of the day with warm syrup, zest mix roasted chipotle-herb potatoes and a ramekin of southern style cheese grits) or the brunch fritatta (grilled mahi and manchego cheese topped with fresh avocado and cilantro pesto served with mixed green salad and fresh fruit).
Zest is located near I-540 not far off from the Six Forks Road exit so it could be a good lunch stop if you are headed to the coast and not trying to eat at chains which you probably are if you are reading this blog. Stop by and check it out and tell Ben & Amanda that I sent you!
Battistella’s is one of the latest addition to list of restaurants at Moore’s Square in downtown Raleigh on Martin Street.It is run by Chef Brian Battistella who previously operated Battistella’s New Orleans Kitchen out of the Crabtree Inn. He gained a strong following in the Raleigh area and decided to move to a more prominent location in downtown.
I’ve been on the lookout for some good NOLA (New Orleans, LA for those that aren’t familiar) food ever since I took a road trip down there for a long weekend bachelor party (see the post from my food adventures down there). Before that trip, the closest tastes that I got to New Orleans cuisine was out of a box at Zatarain’s or from the drive-thru window at Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits. Don’t judge me. I am making amends and thank goodness I have a place like Battistella’s to help me through the process.
Battistella’s is closed on Mondays but is open from Tuesday through Saturday (11a – 2p for lunch; 5:30p – 10:30p for dinner) and Sundays for brunch (10:30a – 3:30p). They are serving a variety of different dishes from crawfish étouffée to Louisiana Crawfish Cornbread Stuffed Georgia Quail which sounds pretty damn good. They also have a po’ boy menu with various styles including the artery-clogging french fry with brown gravy po ‘boy which I haven’t had a chance to try yet.
I made it down to Battistella’s for the first time since it opened back in September for brunch with my buddy, Bryan. It was a bit of a cloudy day outside but we were able to sit on the sidewalk and enjoy lunch with about 20 other diners with the same idea. Luckily, we were able to snag the last remaining 2-top outside and enjoy the nice weather while getting our brunch on.
Bryan ordered the jambalaya (above) which had andouille sausage and chicken plus the trinity of 25% celery, 25% peppers and 50% onions which is commonly found in the cuisine around New Orleans and then mixed with some Cajun rice which may or may not have been Louisana popcorn rice. The stock had a lot of flavor at the bottom and made for a great spicy dish jambalaya that Bryan needed after taking down multiple PBR tallboys the night before. I tried a bite and thought it was fantastic with a subtle spiciness that didn’t overpower the taste and loved the fact that they didn’t skimp on andouille or chicken. I would definitely contemplate ordering it next time if I don’t decide not to start checking off sammies on the po’ boy menu.
I ordered the shrimp & grits because I dominated quite a few Blue Ribbons at Southland Ballroom the night before and was also looking for a spicy kick to my taste buds. I wasn’t too big of a fan of the Bloody Mary that I ordered. It was relatively small for $7 and nothing really to write home about. I think they have changed around the brunch menu from the one posted on their web site because I don’t recall any goat cheese in the dish and they raised the price of shrimp & grits to $14 instead of the $12 that is posted online.
The shrimp & grits were great. The shrimp didn’t have that rubbery texture that so many places serve these days due to overcooking them. They were crisp on the outside with a firm but not tough interior which in my mind is perfect. The grits were coarser than most of the local places that serve the dish and probably imported from NOLA as opposed to the less coarse stone-ground grits that are manufactured here. When all of that was covered in Chef Battistella’s “Holy Trinity sauce”, I think the gravy-like sauce won me over against some of the North Carolina and South Carolina style shrimp & grits that are cream based which can be too rich for my taste buds.
Battistella’s just added a barbecue shrimp po’ boy to the menu which might be the first sammy to be checked off followed quickly by the oyster po’ boy. I also saw a variety of appetizers pass by our table like the fried jambalaya balls and fried green tomatoes that looked fantastic. If you haven’t noticed, fried food is my downfall. A couple sitting beside us were partaking in coffee and beignets which could be a nice romantic morning out with your significant other. The historic aspect of the building really gives it that French Quarter feel making the ambiance that much better.
Ever since moving to Raleigh, I have been on the lookout for a little hole-in-the-wall place that serves a good cheeseburger. I have tried what seem to be the two Raleigh favorites, Char-Grill and Snoopy’s, and thought they were okay but not what I was looking for. I was in search of a place similar to a place that served burgers like Corner Grill in High Point is one of my favorites. I finally made it to Jerry’s Grill near the intersection of Whitaker Mill & Wake Forest in Raleigh after several recommendations from friends about one of the best lunches in Raleigh.
I ordered the #6 combo which is a cheeseburger, hot dog, fries & a drink for about $6.75. My combo came with one of the regular red dogs with a steamed bun that are both cooked in their hot dog cooker. The burgers are thick and cooked a flattop grill so they have a nice crispness. The buns are lightly buttered and then toasted on the grill before they add the toppings. I suggest getting both the burgers and dogs all the way (chili, slaw, mustard, onion). The chili doesn’t overpower the taste of the burger and the slaw is soppy but not so much that it makes the bun soggy. The fries are the generic crinkle cut variety so they aren’t anything special but fries are always a great accompaniment to all the way burgers and dogs.
Jerry’s also serves breakfast all day (note: they close early at 2 p.m.) which looks delicious although I haven’t tried it with breakfast items like The Hobo, the Blue Rock Deluxe or their made from scratch biscuits. You can also order fried bologna sandwiches or daily specials like baked spaghetti or corndogs. You can also find a variety of different beverages ranging from Snapple to bottle Cokes but I haven’t tried anything but their sweet tea which is delicious.
The interior of Jerry’s Grill is a little tight especially when it gets busy. There is a small bar with five seats and two community tables plus two tables outside when the weather is nice. I love community tables at restaurants because it gives you the opportunity to talk with new people. If you feel like being reclusive, there will be a few newspapers from that day laying around that you can read.
I have been back to Jerry’s Grill about two or three times since my first visit and have the feeling that I will be turning into a regular there. Lunch at Jerry’s isn’t fast food but you can get in and out of there in about 3o to 35 minutes. I definitely think you should check it out and let us know what you think.
I finally made it out to eat during a Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week. I have been trying to do it for about two years now. I guess moving to Raleigh made it a little bit easier to do. I headed down to Capital Club 16 with some friends (Aaron, Brooks, Brock, Liz and Tyler) for dinner before we went out for some cocktails with some college friends at 42nd Street Oyster Bar.
Capital Club 16 was offering a $20 fixed price menu with a variety of options:
FIRST COURSE (APPETIZER/SALAD – Choose One)
- Butter Lettuce Wedge Slab (bacon, grape tomatoes, pickled red onions, and Sweet Bonnie’s Blue Cheese dressing)
- Shrimp Skewer (with sautéed spinach and crispy cheese grits cake served with smoked paprika aioli)
SECOND COURSE (ENTREE – Choose One)
- Summer Squash Mac and Cheese (our blend of Vermont white cheddar, Gouda and Jarlsberg; served with a side of market greens and fruit)
- Steak Frites (NY Strip Steak with handcut fries, cabernet mushroom demi sauce and basted egg)
- Red Drumfish (with smoked paprika and cauliflower potato gratin; petite local field green mix)
THIRD COURSE (DESSERT – Choose One)
- Dotchie’s Poundcake (with fresh berry or fudge sauce served a la mode)
- Apple Fritters (beer battered apple rings with vanilla sauce served a la mode)
The bar menu was fantastic with a bunch of great beers and wine plus what I’ve heard are some of the best mixed cocktails downtown although I will have to try them next time because I stuck with beer.
The Butter Lettuce Wedge Slab was very simple. The pickled onions were nice and added some sour notes to the salad. The grape tomatoes were sparse and truthfully was just a grape tomato cut in half. I know it is a fixed price menu and the portions are smaller than usual but that is kind of ridic. The wedge was fresh and plentiful with a heaping amount of blue cheese dressing. The most impressive part of the salad was the bacon on top which seemed to be more pork belly than bacon because of the thickness. All in all, it was a good salad.
By the time that we got to Capital Club 16, they had run out of red drum and substituted it with tuna. I was a little disappointed but I love tuna about as much as I love drum. It came with the same smoked paprika and cauliflower potato gratin with a petite local field green mix on the side. They pan seared the tuna but I think they could have seared it at a higher temperature for a more well-done outside and more pink on the inside. The gratin was delicious although I don’t think it paired very well with the tuna. The salad was a nice addition to the dish (even though I didn’t plan on eating two salads) because the sweetness from the watermelon was a nice contrast to the heartiness of the tuna and gratin.
I am not normally a dessert guy but, since it was included, I went ahead and got the apple fritter and asked for six spoons so everyone could try a bite. I was blown away by the one bite that I had. They cut an apple into rings, covered the rings in a funnel cake-like batter and then dropped them in a deep fryer. The fried apple rings were extremely tender and sweet and were a hit at the table. It was a good palate cleanser for everyone’s meal.
I tried their skillet lobster mac ‘n’ cheese thanks to Brooks and a bite of griddled belly with sauerkraut from Capital Club 16′s “The Butcher’s Plate” thanks to Aaron. Everything we had was fantastic and I look forward to going back sometime soon. It is definitely a place that I would recommend for a casual dinner out on the town or just to hang out for the evening drinking anything from $1.50 Miller High Life to $9 Sir Walter Raleighs (Gin, Blood Orange Juice, triple sec, Absinthe with candied lemon).
I work at a nonprofit organization in RTP that is filled with postdocs, and grad students who are on a tight budget, and everyone has been telling me about Chubby’s Tacos. Recently, my husband bought a Groupon for Chubby’s, so I took the Groupon with me to work and decided to check it out. You can eat as cheaply as you’d like here. Tacos start at about $2 and the most expensive meal is about $10. In this day and age of recession, high gas prices and general tightening of the belt, this is a welcome surprise.
Chubby’s has several locations in Raleigh and Durham, but the one I ate at is off of Miami Boulevard near RTP, a mere 2.5 miles from where I work. When you first walk in, you see a large menu board and there’s a line you enter to order your food at the counter, much like a fast food restaurant. There are ample places to sit after you have ordered.
Actually, I had been to Chubby’s once before a few months ago and had the fish tacos. They were very inexpensive, but small, so I was left still feeling hungry. This time, I ordered the tofu and veggie burrito meal and was given a burrito that seemed like it could feed a small village! I could barely finish 1/2 of it! The wonderful surprise was that they used some decent vegetables in the burrito, including cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and carrots along with a very generous portion of Mexican rice and nice, large pieces of tofu. The burrito was $6 with an added $2 for the meal, which included a side of Mexican rice, black beans and homemade tortilla chips. I was surprised by the great quality of the burrito and never expected to get freshly steamed vegetables in the burrito. Most of the time when you order a veggie burrito at a typical Mexican restaurant, you get refried beans, which are not at all healthy for you. Using my $10 Groupon the meal was free and I actually had a little bit of money to spare.
My friend, Katherine, also ordered a burrito, but she got one with chicken. The burrito was filled with chicken that has been slowly cooked and very tender. It was soaked in some kind of enchilada sauce. She said it was really tasty and very filling. She only finished a third of her burrito.
Chubby’s has a great salsa bar, with several different types of salsa. I tried two of the medium spicy ones. One was made with guacamole and had onions and just the right about of heat to make it interesting. The other was a great chunky salsa. I like to see the bits of onion, cilantro and tomato in my salsa, but it’s all about what you like. Chubby’s choices ranged from a more mild red salsa to a very hot habanero sauce.
The menu touts many of the Mexican favorites including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, taco salads, gorditas and tortas. Don’t expect many frills here, but the food is decent and as I’ve said, easy on the pocketbook. I look forward to going again soon to try a taco salad or a quesadilla.
Chubby’s is located at 2806 S Miami Blvd in Durham. They also have locations at 748 Ninth Street in Durham, 4711 Hope Valley Road in Durham, 10511 Shadowlawn Dr. in Raleigh and 2444 Wycliff Road in Raleigh. Maybe someday soon they will open a location in Chapel Hill as well? Many students and starving artists hope they will do so!