Category Archives: Deli

Where to Eat in the Triangle During Graduation Weekend

It’s that time of the year…college seniors are getting ready to graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. The most important part of graduation? Where you take your family to eat, obviously. Friday night, your family arrives, hungry and ready to eat – where do you take them? Then there is Saturday lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. So much to eat in so little time!

Your family is from out of town and wants to experience something authentically southern:

Take your out-of-town family to get an authentic dish of chicken and waffles at Dame’s in Durham. Dame’s has a laid-back, casual atmosphere and a delicious selection of chicken and waffle creations, including choices of sweet potato waffles and vegan waffles.

Looking for something more elegant? If you didn’t already make a reservation, it may be hard to get into Elaine’s on Franklin, but if you can get a reservation, enjoy a refined, scratch-made meal in this Chapel Hill establishment. The menu at Elaine’s revolves around the best local ingredients available, so it is constantly changing but consistently exquisite.

The Pit serves North Carolina barbecue in a fun atmosphere, but be sure to book a reservation because this is a popular restaurant and tends to get busy on weekends. Ranging from North Carolina pork barbecue to turkey barbecue and a selection of scrumptious sides (mac and cheese, black eyed peas, sweet potato fries…the list goes on), The Pit has something for everyone.

Another good option is Watt’s Grocery in Durham, a distinctively North Carolina restaurant. With items ranging from Bourbon Brined Pork Loin to Seafood Gumbo, Watt’s serves southern food just right. The menu is limited and I have only been to Watt’s for brunch, which was fantastic. I would love to try their lunch and dinner menus as well.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Biscuits with Jam and Butter

Acme is another North Carolina restaurant that is good for dinner and Sunday brunch. If you go for Sunday brunch, expect a wait. The coffee cake and beignets (if they have them) are delicious ways to start out your brunch. If you are a UNC graduate, and you can’t make a reservation at a Chapel Hill restaurant, try Acme in Carrboro – you will be pleasantly surprised!

Your family is from North Carolina but you want to show them something different:

I had a great dining experience at Venable in Carrboro, serving local food since May 2012. As a relatively new restaurant, Venable is a good place to take your family if they are from North Carolina. Venable serves dinner and brunch as well as a late night menu. The Chèvre Salad and the local fish selection make for quite a tasty dinner.

Another option is Bida Manda, a fairly new Laotian restaurant in downtown Raleigh. You will need a reservation for Bida Manda; since it’s opening, Bida Manda has taken the Triangle food scene by storm. With authentic Laotian tastes and North Carolina decor, this is a perfect place for a nice dinner on Saturday night with your family.

Green Papaya Salad: Tomato, peanuts, spicy lime sauce, sticky rice, and your choice of: Grilled Flatiron Steak Grilled Duck Breast Grilled Ginger and Garlic Pork Neck Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Grilled Vegetables

Green Papaya Salad at Bida Manda

The Lantern is an Asian fusion restaurant: Asian flavors made with North Carolina ingredients. Since its opening in 2002, Lantern and its chef/owner Andrea Reusing have won awards in “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” and “best farm-to-table restaurants” categories.

Family a little crazy? Don’t want to take them out in public?:

Sometimes, it’s easier to order in since restaurants tend to fill up quickly around graduation time. One of my favorite casual lunch restaurants in the Triangle is Neal’s Deli. Neal’s is a family business and uses local ingredients to create simple yet tasty deli sandwiches. Check out their catering menu here.

Turkey Reuben: Turkey with Swiss, kraut and Russian on rye

Turkey Reuben at Neal’s Deli

Nantucket Grill and Bar offers an expansive catering menu. However, if you decide to cater from somewhere else, you must at least order your celebratory cakes from Nantucket. The Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Bliss are two of my favorites. Nantucket has locations in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.

You’ve taken your family out for lunch and dinner. Time for the best meal. Brunch:

If you can’t get into Watt’s or Acme, don’t worry – there are plenty of brunch options in the Triangle. Big Ed’s City Market is a Raleigh establishment, serving fresh local eggs and house-made hotcakes since the 1980s.

When I was a student at UNC, I loved going to Breadman’s for brunch because I could always expect a delicious pancake that was almost larger than the plate it was served on. Breadman’s is perfect for the group who can’t agree – the restaurant serves breakfast all day along with a variety of lunch options, including sandwiches, burgers and salads.

Another choice for families who can’t agree is Elmo’s Diner, with locations in Carrboro and Durham. Elmo’s makes for a good local brunch or lunch restaurant because of it’s vast options. One person from your party may order an omelette, while another orders a burger and yet another person may order a large salad or a wrap. Elmo’s is also a kid-friendly environment. However, they do not take reservations, but the wait usually goes by quickly.

If you don’t mind driving a little bit out of the way, Guglhupf Bakery and Cafe will satisfy your inner European with German-inspired delicacies. Guglhupf has a large outdoor seating area and an attached bakery, so you can take home some pastries.

Wherever you decide to take your family, enjoy this special time with them. And congratulations!


REVIEW: Neal’s Deli – Carrboro, NC

Carrboro is full of hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop-style bargain gems. Neal’s Deli is definitely one you don’t want to miss out on.  Open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Sunday, Neal’s Deli is your casual yet eccentric go-to spot for an authentic deli sandwich.

I can’t resist a good turkey Reuben. It is the perfect item to satisfy my craving for a good deli sandwich. Neal’s Deli sources ingredients from the Carrboro Farmer’s Market.  The husband and wife couple make their own pastrami and corned beef, and most of the other ingredients come from less than 50 miles away from the restaurant. You can taste the freshness with each bite. The sandwiches are carefully crafted with love. Don’t expect extra sauces or an overdose of cheese to cover up flavors here. The sandwiches are simple and delicious with just the basic ingredients.

The coleslaw is fresh and not smothered with mayo –  it is just right! My friend ordered the Italian sub with hot peppers. His sandwich came with a pickled green tomato – a nice touch!

Neal’s Deli is also well-known for their “Brezel” roll, a buttered toasty pretzel roll, that is served with their hot dogs. The small deli on Greensboro Street in Carrboro has limited seating and the line may be long on weekends, but it is worth the wait!

Turkey Reuben: Turkey with Swiss, kraut and Russian on rye

Turkey Reuben: Turkey with Swiss, kraut and Russian on rye

Turkey Sub: Turkey, provolone, choice of hot or mild peppers, lettuce, tomato, onion, oil & vinegar on a sub roll

Turkey Sub: Turkey, provolone, choice of hot or mild peppers, lettuce, tomato, onion, oil & vinegar on a sub roll

Neal’s Deli has garnered media attention from Food & Wine, Unique Eats,, and Avett Brothers’ Joe Kwon’s Taste, On  Tour blog, among many. It even got a shout out in the NY Times.

If you’re not already grabbing your keys and coat and heading out the door, what are you waiting for?!



Neal's Deli on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Boondini’s Sandwich Superstore – Raleigh

boondini's logoIf 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.

Boondini's - Outer Banks Clam Chowder

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.

Boondini's - Cubano

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.

Boondini's North on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Capra’s Deli – High Point

Deli sandwiches have been playing a huge role in my on-the-go eating lifestyle lately as I try to keep up with my hectic schedule which hasn’t really revolved around food like everything in life should. Mostly, it has been the cheap & quick (Jersey Mike’s, Jimmy John’s, Harris Teeter, & NOT Subway because that place is a joke). I must have gotten used to the generic sandwiches that I could crush in the car when I didn’t have time to stop in anywhere for a 30 minute lunch.

My mom was the first person to take me to Capra’s Deli back when I was growing up. Back then, I probably was screaming at her to take me to Subway because I wanted a meatball sub or something stupid that little kids say. She probably told me that I could get a meatball sub at Capra’s and I didn’t care because there wasn’t a comic book store located next to Capra’s. I was an idiot. Luckily, she didn’t succumb to my whining and we went to Capra’s and I tried their meatball parmigiana sub. It was in a completely different league than Subway’s version.

Capra’s Deli has a small market in the restaurant with a bunch of high end spreads, a deli case and a take and bake case. They also offer a variety of pastas that you can eat in-store. There is a gelato case with a few rotating flavors and a dessert case with items like cheesecake, baklava, cannoli and tiramisu. I have yet to try any of the sweets at Capra’s but I imagine they are delicious.

The ‘Italian II’ (Salami, Mortadella, Proscuittini, Provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions and o/v) has been my go-to order at Capra’s for the two years that I did a lot of business right down the street from there. The sandwich comes with thick cuts of Boar’s Head meat & cheeses which they have been serving long before Boar’s Head was easily accessible at your grocery store’s deli. They toss on a combination of crisp onions, shredded lettuce and tomato slices on top of the meat. The bread is probably the showoff part of the sandwich. The crispy, flaky Italian bread

There are two things that really stand out about Capra’s Deli for me. First, I enjoy the attention to detail that they give each order. My sandwich has never been tossed together sloppily or hurriedly like it does at the chain places. Second, the high quality of the ingredients is something that puts them leagues above the rest. The complimentary chips that come with the sandwiches are lacking a little bit but you can always upgrade to one of the deli salads for $0.95. I will be going back sometime soon and will be ordering either a steak & cheese or the Luigi Special…or I just may stick with my ol’ faithful, the Italian II. It’s so damn good.

Capra’s is located between High Point and Greensboro on Highway 68. It is only about 2 or 3 miles off of I-40 (exit 210) and would be a great place to stop in from a road trip. I would recommend that you eat it at the restaurant because a Capra’s Deli sandwich is not the easiest thing to consume on the road due to size and the flakiness of the bread. The sandwich prices are right in line with Jersey Mike’s and this is not the kind of place serving Five Dollar Footlong quality. You definitely get your money’s worth at Capra’s and I am sure that you won’t be disappointed.

Capra's Italian Deli Products on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Jack’s Corner Mediterranean Deli – Greensboro

Jack’s Corner is one of the local spots in Greensboro that you shouldn’t miss. It is adjacent to the entrance of the campus of UNC-Greensboro near a lot of student housing so a lot of the clientele consists of college students. When school is in session, try to time your stop at Jack’s Corner while the students are still in class because it can get pretty hectic over there in between classes.

The one issue with Jack’s Corner is the parking. They have a very odd shaped lot in front of the restaurant and the shape makes it a little hard to maneuver into a parking spot especially if there are a few cars in there. They is another lot off of Aycock Street behind the restaurant for an additional parking in case you can’t get into the lot up front. The city also added a median in front of the Spring Garden entrance limiting the number of directions that you can enter the restaurant.

Once you get over the parking problem at Jack’s Corner and get inside the restaurant, everything is smooth sailing from there. They have a couple of the menu items pictured on the wall like the gyro platter and the steak & cheese combo. They also have a giant menu printed and posted on the wall so you can figure out what you want without ever flipping through an actual paper menu. Place your order, pay for it and then sit down & wait for your name to be called and they will bring it out to your table.

I am a huge fan of hors d’oeuvre especially the kind that are served in triangles at parties. Growing up, I didn’t really know what I was eating when I was filling up my plate with the flaky triangle pastries filled with spinach, onions and feta that I found out later in life were known as spanakopita. I didn’t realize that the traditional form of spanakopita actually came in the pan instead of in those little delectable triangle parcels. Jack’s Corner gives you a little bit of both worlds with their spanakopita because they cook it in the pan but cut it into triangles and then serve it.

While I enjoyed their spanakopita, I don’t know if I would drop $2.09 on it again. It was decent sized and crispy just the way that I liked it when I was little but it just didn’t blow me away. I will probably get the falafels or grape leaves next time I am in there and feeling an appetizer. I am no expert on spanakopita so give it a try and let me know what you think.

I ordered the chicken gyro platter ($6.99) which comes with fries and a Greek salad. The chicken gyro has lettuce, tomato and cucumber sauce which is wrapped in a grilled pita. The warm, homemade pita and the fresh lettuce and tomato are great fillers for this hefty gyro but the spiced chicken strips were what give it so much taste. The chicken strips are very thin and grilled tender. They are covered in some “old world aromatic spices” which give them a salty and tangy flavor with a bit of kick. The strips are about the length of the pita so you taste a little bit in every bite.

I was glad that I ordered the platter instead of the combo because it came with the Greek salad. It was anything huge but the greens were fresh and the tomato was juicy making it a great side salad. The sprinkled feta crumbles and heavy oil & vinegar dressing made it pretty strong but I still dug it. The French fries were absolutely on point: crispy, hot and seasoned. It may sound a little sketchy but dipping them in the cucumber sauce turned out to be better to me than dipping than in ketchup.

One thing you may notice about Jack’s Corner is that they serve everything on paper plates. They are the strong Hefty type that hold up under moisture so you don’t have to worry about them folding under the pressure of whatever you are eating. It probably isn’t the best thing for the environment but I guess it works better for them in the kitchen as they are probably spending more money washing dishes.

There were a few complaints on Yelp about the cost of the meal compared to the portion size but I have never walked out of Jack’s Corner still hungry and irritated that I spent too much. I don’t understand it because most of the combos or plates are only about one dollar more than a combo at McDonald’s. Adding hummus or baba ghanouj ($3.99 for a plate & pita bread for either) to your meal will definitely tack on some money but that is just the nature of the restaurant industry.

Jack’s Corner Mediterranean Deli is one of Greensboro’s best kept secrets. You can be in and out of there fairly quickly with a great meal in your stomach plus you will supporting a family owned and operated restaurant. I suggest getting the gyros because they are fantastic but everything I have heard says to get some falafels whether it be in a basket or in a wrap. If you dig good Greek food, I think you will love Jack’s Corner.

Jack's Corner Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

Review: Worth It Cafe – Durham

Scientists, researchers and staffers alike are delighted that another lunch place has opened up in Durham about a year and a half ago, close to Research Triangle Park. Worth It Cafe features sandwiches, burgers and wraps that are made with wholesome ingredients, with an emphasis on serving local, family-owned farms and mainly use organic items. Just about everything at this cafe is homemade, including the wonderful root chips and the sweet potato fries and pasta salad. Even the dressing is homemade. As the farm-to-table revolution continues it is nice to know at least one restaurant adjacent to the Park has adopted this philosophy.

Worth It Cafe in Durham

It's great to have the option to eat outside on a nice day.

Many of us are trying to watch our weight, and want better choices when we dine out. Most of the dining options still include burgers and fries, hotdogs and sandwiches that are high in calories and carbs. Worth It Cafe tries to give people healthier choices while still serving items that are familiar to the lunch crowd.

Chef Chuck Hayworth and his wife, Aileen, own Worth It Cafe and Chef Hayworth’s passion to provide healthy foods to people shines. You can read his bio here. They also have catering services and if you are too busy to cook a meal at night, you can order a meal by 3pm and pick it up on your way home from work anytime from 4:30 – 7pm during the weekdays.

inside the Worth It Cafe

You can see the homemade dressings and chips in the display cases.

The first time I tried this place, I ordered the lamb burger and sweet potato fries. I was served a big, juicy piece of ground lamb on a large wheat bun with roasted red peppers and a cucumber yogurt sauce, also known as tzatiki sauce.  The lamb was perfect and the portion was quite generous. The sweet potato fries had the right amount of saltiness to them and were warm and tasty, though a little soggy. I would have been more satisfied if they had some more crispiness, but in all fairness, we had our meals to go, and they may have gotten soggy on the ride back to the office. I was sorry I hadn’t brought my camera along so I could show you what the burger and fries looked like.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to try the cafe again and this time I came armed with the camera. I decided to try one of the specials of the day, which was summer squash (both summer and zucchini) in a pesto sauce stuffed in a hoagie bun. OK, Worth It Cafe called this Cuban bread, but we’ve already been through what constitutes Cuban bread (See my review on the Old Havana Cafe). I know the chef trained in Miami, but I’m sorry, this is still not what I would call Cuban bread.  The squash and pesto were warm and nestled snuggly in the middle of the bread. It was a perfect sandwich to have on a hot day. Today I tried the root chips, which were made of beets, sweet potatoes and probably turnips. They were great. I could feel better about eating these than some processed potato chips.

Summer squash and pesto sandwich

This is the summer squash pesto sandwich and homemade root chips.

My friend had the balsamic chicken and artichoke sandwich. It was made with grilled chicken that had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and search with a sun-dried tomato pesto, provolone cheese and artichoke spread. Again the portion was quite generous and very delicious!

Worth It Cafe is located at the shopping center where the Sheetz gas station is located, on the corner of T.W. Alexander Drive and Miami Boulevard. Their address is 2945-122 S. Miami Boulevard.

Worth It Cafe on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Streets Deli – Chapel Hill

UPDATE: So very sorry to hear this deli has closed. Here’s what the owners have posted on their website:

Streets Delicatessen has unfortunately become another victim of a very tough economy. Almost a year after opening to great crowds and encouraging enthusiasm, we are forced to close our doors despite our many wonderful customers, our loyal suppliers and our patient landlord.

We have sincerely tried everything to ride out the continuous downturn in traffic and revenues. We are thankful for the many patrons that came forward during “Save The Deli Week” to provide your support and well wishes. It was not enough, however, to lead us to believe that business would improve any time soon.

As tough as it is for our entire Streets Deli Team, we had to make the unthinkable decision to no longer delay the inevitable. So we have discontinued business and will begin the unpleasant task of undoing what we have worked so hard to create for the benefit of the Chapel Hill and the Triangle community.

Thank you to each an every person who ever stopped in to try us out. Thank you to all the friends we have made along the way. We are sorry to let you down, but we’ll never regret having tried to be the best delicatessen this side of Manhattan. We’ll miss coming to work and seeing you—our customers our friends. We hope to see you soon.

God Bless,

Greg Christon, Mary Christon, George Christon, Linda Kately,
and the entire Streets Deli & Market staff.”

Here’s my original review:

Imagine one of our beautiful, picture-perfect Carolina spring evenings. The air is fresh and warm, but not too warm. There’s a hint of jasmine and honeysuckle in the breeze. I can’t think of anything finer than to spend an evening like this outside when I’m eating. Luckily, there are many restaurants in the Triangle region with outdoor dining.

outside of Streets Deli in Chapel Hill

Streets Deli in Chapel Hill is located next to the Aloft Hotel.

This particular weekend, my husband and I decided to try a new place we’d been hearing about called Streets Deli in Chapel Hill. I discovered this place in kind of an unusual way. I like to follow many of the area food trucks on Twitter and one of the food trucks was following this deli. So, I decided to look at their website and when I did, I got really excited! The website said this was a real Jewish deli with all our favorite deli foods.

One of the things I miss the most from the Great White North is deli food. Who can resist a big, chewy bagel, or a corned beef on rye? I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, which while it is not the center of the universe for delis, it still boasts a decent amount of Jewish delis.

Deli case

Streets Deli is filling a niche most of the Triangle was lacking - a Jewish-style deli.

deli meat display

Just look at all of this great meat!

This trip there was no question in my mind that I was going to have the matzo ball soup and the corned beef sandwich on seeded rye bread. To me, that is the true test of deli food. My husband chose a pastrami sandwich, also on a seeded rye, which was served with a side of coleslaw.

We were not disappointed! In fact, the one problem we had was our stomachs were not big enough to try more food! We will certainly be making more trips to this place. The corned beef and the pastrami look like someone made them locally. I’ll have to check with the deli to find out if that’s true. We also were treated to a few free dill pickles, which also reminded me of the times when I was growing up and would reach into one of the large, glass jars to pick out the perfect dill pickle at the local deli. These pickles had a nice flavor to them, though one type was a bit mushy for my taste. I like them really crisp and crunchy, but the other one was more to my liking.

The portions of food were quite generous for the price. It’s just under $9.95 for a piled high sandwich, or you can get the “mile high” for $16.95. In New York, that would be more like $15 to $25.

The matzo ball soup had homemade chicken broth and big, fluffy matzo balls. It was a little bland for my taste, but actually that is the more authentic way to serve this soup. It was easily fixed by adding some salt and pepper. Scott’s side of coleslaw was a real winner. It was a vinegar based coleslaw with nice, large chunks of cabbage, cucumber, carrots and pepper.

matzo ball soup and corned beef sandwich

This is the matzo ball soup and a half of a corned beef on seeded rye.

We just have to come back to try many more dishes we didn’t have time to try, such as the vegetarian knish. A knish is a soft, yummy fried potato patty filled with different ingredients. Scott is keen to try one of the specials which was a corned beef and pastrami hash with three fried eggs served over top. I want to try the beef brisket and this place also features three types of Reuben sandwiches. For those who are dieting, there’s also a large array of salads and wraps that sound enticing.

Pastrami on seeded rye from Streets Deli in Chapel Hill

Pastrami on seeded rye from Streets Deli in Chapel Hill

We were also, sadly, too full to try the dessert, but there was a whole display case of tempting cakes and pies and, of course, cheese cakes. While Scott and I ate our food and sipped our drinks, we were entertained by the live jazz that was being played in the courtyard at East 54. The Streets Deli has several tables with large umbrellas on them so it was quite relaxing to sit outside and soak in the last few rays of the sun.

Streets Deli is located in East 54, which is on Highway 54 near the Findley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. The deli is near the new Aloft Hotel. They are open Monday – Saturday  11 a.m. – closing.

Streets Deli on Urbanspoon

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