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Tasca Brava - Raleigh, NC

I'm assuming the Paella is meant for 2-3 people? Carmen's in Morrisville also offers this option - $40 or so for a Paella that's big enough for 2 or more people.

Nov 20, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Authentic Italian in the Triangle?

I personally have no basis for judging the authenticity of Italian Food, but in my experience Bella Monica is a fantastic restaurant. Never had a bad meal there - everything tastes great, and the prices are very reasonable ($10-$15 range for the most part). Their appetizer list is especially impressive - the stuffed eggplant is a stand-out, but you could make a meal out of several of the choices.

Nov 17, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Best Ethiopian in Raleigh/Durham

To my knowledge there is only 1 Ethiopian restaurant left in the Triangle, that being Abyssinia in Raleigh. Queen of Sheba in Chapel Hill closed, as did the one in Durham I believe (Blue Nile?). Haven't been to Abyssinia myself, but it has got fairly decent reviews on various sites.

There is also an African restuarant called Mawa's Taste of Africa, which is relocating soon to Morrisville. There was a thread on here about it a few days ago, but it seems to have been removed. Not sure why.

Oct 22, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Best Indian in the Triangle, NC?

Gotta give some love to Kandas in Morrisville. I have been there 10+ times now, trying almost half of their menu, and have yet to run into anything subpar. Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Curry, Biryanis, Mutton Soup, deserts, naan - all excellent. I have still never seen this place busy, though, so please support them so they don't go out of business. I don't want to lose my Kandas fix! :)

Oct 21, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

NC Triangle - non-chain Mexican in Cary?

Eh, maybe I haven't tried the right one, but the new-ish Los Tres Magueyes on 54 and Cark Pkwy did not impress me at all. Huge portions, yes, but very bland and ordinary. This did not strike me as home-made food...I could be wrong, but it tasted like most of their ingrendents were re-hydrated, dumped from a can, or otherwise reconstituted. Their tortillas definitely weren't fresh either.

Oct 09, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

NC Triangle - non-chain Mexican in Cary?

What I'm looking for is a place that is locally owned and worth supporting. I.e. ideally a restaurant run by a local family with their own recipes and interpretation of Mexican cooking. The problem I have with even the "local chains" is they all start to blend together and taste the same...presumably to cater to as many people as possible?

It seems like Cary and the surrounding area has several good, local places for Indian (Kandas, Saffron), Asian (An, Lemongrass), Italian (Bella Monica), Cuban (Carmen's), etc, but I've been hard pressed to find a Mexican restuarant equivalent.

I'll have to try the taqueria off Maynard - thanks for the tip on this one!

Oct 07, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

NC Triangle - non-chain Mexican in Cary?

Are there any good Mexican restaurants in Cary? To my knowledge, all of the Mexican restaurants here are chains - Los Treys Mageuyes, El Dorado, Toreros, etc. I usually go to Raleigh (Las Margaritas), Durham, or Chapel Hill when I'm craving Mexican, but I'd love to find a go-to place closer to home. Any ideas?

Oct 06, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Great Thai in Raleigh

Hmmm, I have mixed feelings about this place. It's a bit cramped (tables too close together), decor is non-existent, and the food is...ok. I've tried several of the currys, all of which I found bland even when 'thai hot' was requested - I don't think they know how to handle requests for heat. Coworkers have tried the pad thai and other noodle dishes, and reported similar results.

Pros: Cheap, close to RTP, not usually busy

Con: Food quality/heat/flavor

I would choose Sawasdee in Raleigh (or even Champas at Brier Creek) any time over this place, but for a quick lunch it's not bad.

Jul 18, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Taste of India--Durham

Where is this place exactly? It sounds good, especially if this all came in under $25.

Jun 24, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Our recent trip to the Outer Banks

We also just came back from a week in the Outer Banks, although we stayed in Hatteras, so didn't get as much exposure to the KDH/NH restaurants. All told, here are our ratings for the restaurants we tried:

#1 (Best) - Cafe 12 (Avon) - The first time we ever tried a Hatteras Flat (basically a sauceless pizza on a fried tortilla crust). Absolutely addicting. We tried both a garlic/bacon/honey with chipped beef, and a "Hot Flat" with various peppers and veg - both were amazing. Probably the only place on the islands that 2 people can have a full dinner for less than $30. I wish I could find a "Flat" closer to the Triangle, but Cafe 12 (previously the Pickled Steamer) is the only place I've ever seen them at. This restuarant guarantees our return to the OBX next year, assuming they are still around.

#2 - Sandbar and Grille (Buxton). Great view, excellent seafood pasta dishes (the clam linguini was perfectly prepared), and reasonably priced (sub-$16 for many entrees).

#3 - Rundown Cafe (Kitty Hawk). Close to the beach, very reasonable prices, and one of the few places we tried that didn't focus on fried/broiled seafood. It has more of a Caribbean feel, with dishes served with rice/beans for the most part. Conch Fritters were a great starter, especially paired with the apple chutney. Jamaican Pork was a winner - very tender, and a huge portion. Stuffed Chicken looked interesting, but was dry and not as appealing.

#4 - Doplhin Den (Avon) - Quite expensive, but very well prepared. The shrimp + crab baked with cheese (can't recall the real name) was very, very good - loads of cheese, huge chunks of crab, and jumbo shrimp all mixed together. Probably 100g of fat, but nice for a vacation meal. Their ravioli were also good. Nicely decorated interior, but very busy. The waits here were the longest of all the restuarants we tried.

#5 - Gingerbread House (Frisco) - love the exterior decorations - it literally looks like a Gingerbread house, designed to lure in unsuspecting children. The interior is spartan, but their pizza was quite enjoyable, albeit somewhat pricey (~$20 per pie).

#6 - Magnolia Grille (Manteo) - An enjoyable breakfast. Simple, no frills, but cheap and filling. Also one of the few places in Downtown Manteo that we could find that opens for breakfast.

#7 - Flying Melon (Ocracoke) - we had brunch here, and it was ok, nothing special. At least it was cheap.

#8 (WORST) - Quarterdeck (Frisco) - this place got some great reviews, but it was not a winner in our books. Bland, unspiced, overcooked seafood seems to be their specialty. The $25 broiled sampler we ordered was completely overcooked in all regards, to the point where the fish became an unidentified mush on the plate. Saladbar was laughable, Hatteras Chowder was ok but not the best we had on our trip. And the interior wood-panelling is not at all inviting - you can't even see outside for the most part.

We ate the rest of our meals in our suite, thanks to Risky Business Seafood in Hatteras. We fried up a different fish each day, and had some great (and cheap!) meals done up with different local spices. Risky Business' steamed spicy shrimp are also the best you can get - we tried 4 or 5 different versions at various restaurants, but the Risky Business version won out (and for $9 a pound, you can't go wrong).

Jun 16, 2008
mgreig in Southeast

Kandas - Morrisville, NC - Great Indian Food

We went *again* for lunch yesterday. Tried 4 different things off the menu. The only disappointment was the Saag Paneer, which the vegitarian in our group noted was plain and lacking flavor. Our Indian Food Newbie tried the Tandoor Chicken, which he loved. The other 2 entrees were Chicken Tikka, and Chicken Tikka Masala, since we wanted to see the difference. TKest, you are right - the Chicken Tikka Masala was unbelievable - well worth ordering again, and a bargain at $11 (at least by Triangle standards).

Too bad they don't have a seperate lunch menu/prices though. The buffet is cheap ($8), but fairly limited (only 14 items by my count). Unlimited Gulab Jamun almost makes it worthwhile though ;-)

Jun 03, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Kandas - Morrisville, NC - Great Indian Food

How is Kandas' lunch buffet? We saw this as well the last time we were there for dinner, but it looked to be on the small-ish side.

I will definitely need to check out Saffron as a point of comparison :)

May 14, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Kandas - Morrisville, NC - Great Indian Food

Yep, it's in the same plaza, in "Morrisville Station" I believe it's called.

May 12, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive

Kandas - Morrisville, NC - Great Indian Food

Kandas Indian Restaurant occupies a relatively small space off NC54 between Durham and Cary. I finally got around to checking it out on Saturday night, and it was much better than expected. Even after one meal, it is my new favorite Triangle Indian restaurant (NB - I have yet to try Saffron), especially given the prices are very affordable ($9-$13 for most entrees).

We opted for the "Kandas Feast". For $38 a couple, you get a 6-course meal, and everything on the menu is fair game! I thought for sure they would exclude the more expensive entrees like the Mixed Tandoor Grill, but they don't.

First Course - Chai.
Subtle flavor, very pleasing. Not the best Chai I've ever had, but that's only because I like it stronger than the way Kandas serves it.

Second Course - Soup/Salad
I had the mutton soup, which was fantastic. Really spicy - great to clear out the sinuses. Little chunks of goat meat dispersed throughout made this an unusual soup to eat, but I would definitely order it again.
My wife had the house salad, which was as you would expect. Nothing fancy.

Third Course - Appetizers.
The menu says that you choose 2 appetizers as part of the Kandas feast, but our server allowed us to choose the Appetizer sampler instead, which includes a small portion of 5 different appetizers. Fried cheese sticks were ok - needed a bit more spice. Fried banana peppers were very spicy but enjoyable. Tandoor chicken cubes were a little dry but nicely flavored. Meat Samosas were satisfying, as were the Veggie Samosas.

Fourth Course - Naan.
This isn't really it's own course, but I wanted to mention it anyway. As the entrees are served, you get a huge basket of different types of Naan. In our basket, we got the standard Naan, some garlic Naan, and some roti. The Garlic Naan was unbelievably addictive, but the other 2 were very good as well. I suspect if we had asked, they would have let us try some of the other varieties (10 in total), but this basket was their default.

Fifth Course - Entrees.
I had the Lamb Curry. Awesome, just awesome. Very powerful spices, big chunks of lamb and potato...I was in heaven on this one. My only complaint is with the rice served - it looked to be a standard white basmati, rather than a more aromatic Basmati that you might expect at an Indian restuarant.
My wife had the Butter Chicken. She enjoyed it quite a bit, but the sauce was a bit too rich for her - she couldn't finish it.

Sixth Course - Desert.
By this point we were stuffed, but the deserts looked too good to pass up.
I had the carrot halwa. Pretty standard, but tasty. Good enough to not leave any leftovers.
My wife had the Gulab Jamun, which was incredible. I am glad they only served a small portion of this, as we both could have eaten a ton of this dessert if it had been presented. My best description would be deep fried balls of dough, covered in honey - at least I think that's what it was.

All of the above was covered under the $38 Kandas Feast. An amazing meal, and I will definitely be back.

Only big negative I would point out is how empty the place was. At 6:30 on a Saturday night, you would expect the place to be hopping, but there was only one other couple in the restuarant the entire time we were there. Hoping they are able to survive, as there really isn't a better trade-off between value and quality among the Indian restaurants that I've tried.

Check it out:

May 12, 2008
mgreig in General South Archive