Category Archives: Sandwiches

REVIEW: Capital Club 16 – Raleigh, NC

I’ve driven by Capital Club 16 many times but it always looked too fancy to go for dinner without an occasion. But one of my friends had a going-away party there, so it was a good excuse to dress up and go out for dinner to “Cap Club.” We started off with the Pimento Cheese and Fig Crostinis. I am not usually a fan of Pimento Cheese but with the figs, the dish was just the right amount of creamy and smoky.

Pimento and Fig Crostinis

Pimento and Fig Crostinis

I ordered the shaved brussel sprout and frisee salad with local blue cheese and sweet potatoes. I loved the texture of the shaved brussel sprouts and the crunchy strips on top. The salad and the harvest quinoa made for a healthy and filling meal.

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Harvest Quinoa

Harvest Quinoa

Some more adventurous eaters in our party ordered the butcher plate: grilled artisinal sausages, smoked pork chop and seared pork belly with sauerkraut, spaetzle and gravy. At $20, this dish seems like a great deal for meat eaters, however I just admired it from afar.

Butcher Plate

Butcher Plate

For dessert, we got the brownie sundae – can’t go wrong with that! Capital Club is one of Raleigh’s fine dining gems without the snobbery that can tend to go along with fine dining. Maybe it was the dynamic group I went with, or the great food, but I know I’ll be back – they have so many vegetarian options I’d like to try; the portobello grilled cheese sandwich sounds like a winner.

Dreamy Chocolate Sundae

Dreamy Chocolate Sundae

Enjoy your dining experience at “Cap Club,” and be sure to let me know your favorites.


Capital Club 16 on Urbanspoon

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: Jessee’s Coffee Shop – Carrboro, NC

If you live in Chapel Hill or Carrboro, you’ve probably passed Jessee’s a number of times, but have you ever been inside? This gem of a coffee shop has surprisingly delicious biscuits and a welcoming atmosphere. I met my friend David here for brunch a couple weeks ago and we both ordered biscuits. I got egg and cheese and David ordered egg and bacon.

If you’re not a biscuit person, the pastry case is quite tempting. I had a cinnamon roll from Jessee’s last week and it was one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. Side note: for those non-biscuit lovers out there, these biscuits may just change your mind.

Jessee’s roasts their own coffee and they have four varieties packaged for you to bring home: strong, fruity, nutty and deep roast. The coffee is great, but the barista was making a mocha for someone else and it looked so good that I will definitely be getting that next time. Jessee’s serves breakfast until 4:30 and they begin serving lunch at 11:30.


There is a beautiful patio outside (not pictured) which sometimes hosts live bands. The coffee shop also participates in the 2nd Friday Art Walk. The only downside to Jessee’s is the lack of parking, but it is so worth it!

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Jessee’s partners with local business such as Maple View Farm, Ninth Street Bakery and Cliff’s Meat Market. There are no frills here; Jessee’s is a place that stays true to its roots. It’s a comfortable place to study, have brunch or get a quick cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Go get yourself a fluffy biscuit at this Carrboro staple!

Jessee's Coffee & Bar on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Guglhupf Bakery – Durham, NC

I used to drive past Guglhupf three times a week on my way to an internship. I drove past it for months before trying it because by the time I would get off work, it was closed. Once I finally went there, it became one of my favorite cafes in the Triangle area. The unmistakeable European feel will put you at ease and allow you to make new friends out of strangers. The cafe is spacious, with plenty of outdoor seating and two floors inside. The adjoining bakery emits the delicious smell of freshly baked bread out onto the patio area. If the weather allows, sit outside and enjoy a sandwich or a snack like you have no where else to be.

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

I visited Guglhupf before Thanksgiving to spend some quality time with my friend Liat. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us after I took her there for the first time last year. I don’t usually stray far from my favorite item on the menu, a turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich. However, this time I got something a bit different, a turkey, grilled pear and gorgonzola sandwich. The sandwich was heavy on the turkey, but the strong flavors of arugula and gorgonzola cheese complemented the sweet, grilled pear. I still prefer the turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich, but this one is a close second. Guglhupf also has an assortment of small plates and salads.

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

Liat got what she always gets – the strawberry tart. I have yet to try it because the sandwiches always fill me up. The menu is not large but there is an option for everyone, whether you are craving a hearty soup or something sweet. After, or even before, going into the cafe, check out the bakery. I dare you to walk out without trying anything.

Nutzen den tag!

Guglhupf Bakery on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Amelie’s French Bakery – Charlotte, NC

If you have been to Charlotte but not to Amelie’s French Bakery, shame on you. This 24-hour bakery in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte is perfect for a lunch date, a late-night macaron craving or Sunday brunch – if you’re willing to wait in line. The pastries and the decor will fight for your attention as you walk in. A chandelier made of pots and pans, a translucent lamp shade, Parisian themed photo montages and the tempting bakery case.

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You will be tempted to try one of everything, but the prices may steer you away from that – $1.99 per macaron is a steep price for a small delicacy, but it is worth it. Amelie’s prepares their pastries around the clock, ensuring that everything is fresh. I had the salted caramel hot chocolate last weekend and it was one of the best hot chocolates I have had. What can beat a delicious hot chocolate, a reunion with an old friend and all the board games you’ve ever wanted in a coffee shop?

Macaron vs. Macaroon – One is a chewy coconut treat and one is a crispy merengue. The delicacies pictured above are macarons. They have a crisp outer shell with a ganache-like filling.  My favorite flavor is rose, but you cannot go wrong with chocolate. While macarons have more of an almond flavor, macaroons have a coconut flavor. You can read more about the ingredients and find some recipes here.

If you don’t have a bottomless stomach or wallet, order at least one macaron and one salted caramel brownie. Or take some goodies home with you! But stay at Amelie’s long enough to enjoy the creative interior design. You will be hard-pressed to enjoy all the nooks and decorations in just one trip to Amelie’s.

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I suppose I should have mentioned the “real food” before dessert. Amelie’s has a selection of sandwiches, salads and soups. My favorite dishes include the spinach asparagus leek soup and the turkey and brie sandwich – roasted turkey, brie and seasonal compote on a baguette. These light dishes are satisfying while still allowing room to try some of the desserts.

I try to make it to Amelie’s whenever I am in Charlotte and no matter if I get the same flavor macaron every time, it is always a different experience. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Charlotte, otherwise I’d never leave Amelie’s! It is open 24 hours, after all.



Amélie's French Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Asheville Day Trip: Wicked Weed, French Broad Chocolate Shop & Urban Orchard

Asheville makes for a great day trip, if you’re hungry, thirsty and willing to make the drive. Our first stop was Wicked Weed, where strangers and locals meet to drink great beer. And that’s exactly what we did. We sat downstairs in the tasting room, at a community table, and met a local gentleman who suggested some of his favorite items on the menu.

When I go to a brewery, I usually don’t expect anything more than average pub food. So, when I saw the food options, I was surprised by the creative combinations on the menu. Just check out these sandwiches on their menu:

Sandwich Menu

Sandwich Menu

I ordered the fried chicken sandwich. The crispy fried chicken was complemented by the sour, fermented cabbage (kimchi) and the sweetness from the miso mayonnaise. It was different than any sandwich I’ve ever had and it was quite satisfying.

Fried chicken + kimchi + miso mayonnaise

Fried chicken + kimchi + miso mayonnaise

Classic beef burger + lettuce + tomato + onion + pickle

Classic beef burger + lettuce + tomato + onion + pickle

My friend ordered the classic burger. If I were him, I definitely would have gone for the bison burger with haystack shallots and blue cheese coleslaw. However, he enjoyed his classic burger, although he said it could have been juicier.

If you are an IPA fan, you must also try Wicked Weed’s “Freak of Nature Double IPA.” The Freak of Nature is 8% abv and has too many ibu’s to put a number to it. They have quite the beer selection, ranging from local IPAs and pale ales to Belgian and wood-aged beers. I sampled the muscadine beer, because I have only ever had Muscadine wine, and I was intrigued. I am not a fan of muscadine wine, but the beer was pretty good. They also had “apple pie saison” and perhaps the most interesting was “sweet potato and grits saison.”

Selection of pale ales

Selection of pale ales

After getting some food and beer, it was time to visit the highly regarded French Broad Chocolate Shop. This is where you want to go to indulge. Try one of their brownies, whether you eat it there or take it for later. I took mine for later (ate it that night) and ordered Mexican hot chocolate. I could not let this delicious sounding concoction pass me by: “contemporary Mexican-style hot chocolate with house chocolate, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and milk.” It smelled delicious and after letting it cool enough to drink – or so I thought, until I burned by tongue – I was disappointed because it didn’t taste as good as it smelled. While the chocolatey taste was phenomenal,  the chili powder was overpowering. I was hoping to taste more of the other flavors, like the cinnamon and almond. Nevertheless, still visit this lovely shop if you’re in Asheville. Just make sure you will like what you order!

French Broad Chocolate Shop

French Broad Chocolate Shop

While at Wicked Weed, the gentleman told us of a cidery down the street. Urban Orchard is a new establishment in Asheville, serving a selection of ciders and beers. We both ordered the flight, which included a seasonal cranberry cider and an apple-ginger cider. The ginger cider was my favorite and tasted the most like actual cider. I also enjoyed the unfiltered apple cider. However, the other ciders seemed to be missing the crisp, refreshing taste that I am used to in ciders, rather leaving me with the taste of flavored champagne. Urban Orchard is a good spot to meet friends, kick back and have a beer. But if you’re going for cider, don’t waste your time on the flight. Go for the ginger cider. With that said, I like the idea of the company, which sources apples from Hendersonville, NC, and crafts the ciders in-house.


Urban Orchard Cider Company

Urban Orchard Cider Company

Noble Cider was also recommend and I sampled their cider at Wedge Brewing Company. We didn’t stay at Wedge long because it was getting late, but I will be going back because of the friendly laid-back vibe and the big outdoor courtyard that hosts food trucks and corn hole games.

Thank you for all of your suggestions on our Facebook page. I will be making a trip back to Asheville soon to try some more of your recommendations. If you haven’t already liked our Facebook page, you can find it here:

Have a great week!


REVIEW: Aviator Brewing Company SmokeHouse – Fuquay Varina

“Life is about the journey, not the destination,” my friend says to me during dinner. And that’s exactly the attitude you should have when eating at Aviator. You will need to put aside the thought of what the consequences may be, and just enjoy the crispy, beer-battered, blue cheese-smothered journey.


I recommend starting off your dinner with the Aviator beer-battered onion rings. These crunchy delights are served with a spicy-sweet mustard sauce. It’s a huge portion and definitely big enough to split between 2 people.


I got the chicken wings with the “Aviator” sauce, which is the mildest. The sauce options for wings are listed on their menu as:

Moco Loco: This will remove the flesh from your tongue.

Crazy: Very Hot! Habaneros, Jalapenos and Thai Peppers!

Monster: Habenero, Jalepeno, Honey and Spices…manageable.

Buffalo: The sauce that made wings famous.

BlackMamba: Our BlackMamba stout with a little kick to it.

Thai Red Devil: Little bit of spice with our Devils Tripel.

Aviator: Our sweet and tangy sauce….delicious.


The wings are served with blue cheese and ranch, both of which are homemade. You can tell that everything is fresh and homemade. The wings are smoked and fried to perfection and then covered with your choice of sauce. I enjoyed the sweet-tangy Aviator sauce and the homemade blue cheese. It’s about the journey, right? So, hand over the onion rings and deep friend wings.

My friend got the “Brewers Beef Brisket,” which he finished to the last bite, along with french fries and coleslaw. I tried some fries and they were extra crispy and delicious.


Remember, life’s about the journey!


REVIEW: Busy Bee Cafe – Raleigh

I love a good veggie burger that is overloaded with black beans, corn, mushrooms and other vegetables. But the Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Raleigh serves a different kind of veggie burger.


Busy Bee Cafe originally opened its doors in 1913.

I had my first spinach and artichoke “burger” at Busy Bee Cafe. And it was delish!  I was expecting a messy burger but the spinach held together nicely. This was one of the freshest tasting veggie burgers I have ever had.


Spinach and artichoke “burger” with feta


Spinach and artichoke “burger” with feta

My friend got the “Tom and Jack” burger with tater tots. He enjoyed that as well. The atmosphere at Busy Bee is casual, and I would recommend eating on the rooftop. It’s not the best view of downtown, but with the nice fall weather and good food, the rooftop provides a nice setting for a casual dinner with friends. Out of the three times I have been to this restaurant, I’ve seen couples, groups of friends, families and a bachelorette party. Needless to say, Busy Bee Cafe has something for everyone. Check out their menu here:


Tom & Jack Burger: pepper jack, fried green tomato, lettuce


REVIEW: Jubala Village Coffee – Raleigh

Jubala Coffee Village - Coffee Bar

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.

Jubala Coffee Village - Drip Serve

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.

Jubala Village Coffee - Pimento Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Pickles

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.

Jubala Village Coffee 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

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