2500-130 Meridian Pkwy., Durham
In a nutshell: Friendly service, a cheery casual setting (including a patio) and a varied selection of sandwiches and cafeteria-style entrees have made Café Meridian a lunchtime favorite with the RTP crowd.
Try: Daily specials such as wild-caught salmon with choice of two sides (potato salad with fresh herbs, say, and kale salad with dried cranberries).
2101 S. Main St., Wake Forest
In a nutshell: Think Panera Bread, but locally owned: sandwiches on house-baked breads, plus a tempting assortment of pastries. Then add breakfast, with options ranging from French toast to homemade bagels.
Try: panini (chicken pesto, smoked salmon club), salads, steel-cut oatmeal with seasonal fruit, pecans and honey, baklava.
Jasmin Mediterranean Bistro
Locations in Raleigh and Cary; see website
In a nutshell: From its original (and now closed) location in Cary Town Center food court, this eatery has grown to four locations in eight years. The secret? A moderately priced menu of pita sandwiches, kebab platters and other (mostly) Lebanese fare.
Try: Chicken shawarma, kebab platters, and house signature sandwiches (think Lebanese pita meets Mexican quesadilla) called Zakis.
Locations in Apex, Cary and Holly Springs; see website
In a nutshell: Craving New York style pizza, whole or by the slice? This small, local family-owned chain comes closer than most.
Try: Fast turnover and bargain pricing ($6.29 lunch, $7.29 dinner) makes the pizza-and-salad bar a tempting option.
Pop Up Ice Cream Parlour
131 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh (through August 31)
In a nutshell: Indulge your inner child (and your actual children, too, for that matter) at this address until the lease expires on August 31. After that, you’ll have to reprogram your GPS to 616 N. Person Street, site of the shop’s next (and possibly permanent) location.
Try: Flavors – homemade, often with local ingredients – change daily. Feel free to follow your whim, from raspberry pomegranate sorbet to Escazu chocolate stout.
11964 NC Hwy. 50, Willow Spring
In a nutshell: Pork shoulders, slow-cooked over hardwood coals and seasoned just right with an Eastern-style sauce, have been filling the parking lot in front of this low-slung cinder block building since 1958. Worth a drive to find out why? You bet.
Try: The Small Pig plate, served with your choice of two sides and a basket of hushpuppies, is ample for most appetites and will only set you back $6.50.