Cheap Eats

June 24, 2011 

This month, I offer a sampling of counter-service eateries, ethnic restaurants, food trucks and other bargain dining destinations.

Chai's Asian Bistro

8347 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh


Cuisine: pan-Asian

In a nutshell: A spin-off of Chai's Noodle Bar & Bistro in Durham, this counter-service eatery goes for freshness and fast service rather than strict authenticity.

Try: Peking duck buns, broccoli beef, Saigon street noodle, stuffed Japanese eggplant.

La Finca

903 N. Smithfield Road, Knightdale


Cuisine: Mexican

In a nutshell: Knightdale newcomer has quickly earned a strong following with above average Tex-Mex fare, and a few surprises.

Try: empanadas, brochetas of the sea, carnitas dinner.

Marilyn's Pizza

1231 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary


Cuisine: pizzeria

In a nutshell: Organic produce, sweet Italian fennel sausage from San Giuseppe Salami in Elon, and a crust made with local organic flour highlight the attractions of this tiny, strip mall gem.

Try: Diary of a Pizza Girl, Five Year Plan, The Big Sleep, cold cherry soup.

Martin's Curry Rice

9549 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville


Cuisine: Asian fusion

In a nutshell: Billed as a fusion of "Japanese concept, Indian spices and Mongolian grill serving style," this counter-service shop allows you to mix ingredients and watch as they're stir-fried with the curry-inspired sauce of your choice. Then it's served over white or brown rice.

Try: Asian Persuasion, Japanese curry rice.

Petra Grill

6089 Capital Blvd., Raleigh


Cuisine: Middle Eastern

In a nutshell: Kebabs and house-marinated shawarma made with halal meats are the star attraction, backed up by a deli case filled with fresh salads, pita dips and pastries.

Try: kebabs (beef, lamb, kofta, chicken), shawarma (beef or chicken), both available in pita wrap or platter with choice of sides.

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