A monthly roundup of ethnic eats, counter service chow and other tasty bargains.
Black Cat Café
4209 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh
In a nutshell: Cheery North Hills eatery serves sandwiches and light fare (including a strong vegetarian selection), also serves breakfast.
Try: Thai curry chicken salad, Pollo Cardinale sandwich, veggie burger, catfish tacos, country scramble.
Big Als BBQ
2920 Forestville Road, Raleigh
In a nutshell: Local caterer (and multiple barbecue contest winner) cooks over wood, opens a brick-and-mortar joint.
Try: ribs, brisket, chicken, Brunswick stew, banana pudding.
Bill-Las Pollo a la Brasa
748 E. Chatham St., Cary
In a nutshell: Restaurant-within-a-restaurant serves Peruvian rotisserie chicken inside an Indian restaurant (the perennially popular Chef of India).
Try: Family Special takeout combinations are a bargain, starting at $19.99 for a whole chicken with dipping sauce, choice of two sides, and four cans of soda.
5826 Fayetteville Road, Durham
In a nutshell: Come for the sandwiches and salads. Stay for the mouthwatering assortment of pastries in the display case.
Try: tarragon chicken salad, turkey-brie-green-apple panini, BLAT (the A is for avocado); then let your inner child loose on the pastry case.
2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham
In a nutshell: Local landmark counter service eatery specializes in Calabash-style fried seafood. Insiders know they also make some of the best fried chicken around.
Try: Flounder is better than trout, and fantail beats popcorn shrimp. Fried chicken trumps them all.
5645 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh
In a nutshell: Fresh flavors make this Creedmoor Crossing newcomer a strong contender in the competitive field of Middle Eastern eateries.
Try: stuffed sweet bell peppers, chicken shawarma wrap; dont miss the cafeteria-style selection of vegetable sides; or the pastries on the counter.