If you think the names of these easy-on-the-wallet eateries are out of the ordinary, just wait until you try the food.
Barking Cow Pub
2500 Wycliff Road, Raleigh
Specialty: burgers & dogs
In a nutshell: The newest member of the family of pubs that includes Leesville Tap Room, MacGregor Draft House and Sawmill Tap Room, Barking Cow breaks out of the traditional tavern mold with a whimsical style and a streamlined menu. Burgers are still made with half a pound of freshly patted beef, and dogs feature natural casing German wieners from Zweigle’s in Rochester, N.Y.
Try: Cow Tipper burger (American cheese and bacon), Double Porker dog (wrapped in bacon, fried, and topped with pickle relish and cheese sauce).
211 E. Chatham St., Cary
Specialty: diner breakfast and deli sandwiches
In a nutshell: Owner Ray Dorry’s New York roots are abundantly evident at this cheery eatery, from the Taylor pork roll on the breakfast menu to the potato knish offered at lunchtime. Banana pudding is a fond tribute to Dorry’s adopted home.
Try: chicken parmesan on ciabatta, deluxe Reuben on rye, The King of Queens (steak and cheese with peppers, onions, jalapeños and mayo on a sub roll).
My Sister’s Kitchen
4716 N.C. 55, Durham
Specialty: diner with a Caribbean accent; breakfast all day.
In a nutshell: The scattershot menu embraces everything from Buffalo wings and burgers to pork chops and jerk chicken. Your safest bet is to take a hint from the larger-than-life mural of pancakes, bacon and sunny-side up eggs painted across the front of the building and order from the breakfast menu. Allow plenty of time for your meal, because service can be slow.
Try: smoked sausage breakfast sandwich, breakfast plate (two eggs, grits or home fries, bacon or sausage and toast or one pancake for $5.99), Georgia hot dog.
Worth It Cafe
2945-122 S. Miami Blvd., Durham
Specialty: gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads
In a nutshell: The name of this popular RTP lunch spot is a playful riff on the surname of owner-chef Chuck Hayworth. But the food is serious good eats, as you’ll agree once you’ve tucked into one of his scratch-made soups or well-filled sandwiches, all made with an emphasis on local and organic produce.
Try: tomato basil bisque, Buffalo shrimp po’ boy, lava rock fire-grilled lamb burger, house-roasted turkey with cranberry relish on choice of bread.