Cheap Eats

Cheap Eats: Al's Burger Shack, Cloos' Coney Island, Rose's Meat Market & Sweet Shop, The Urban Turban

CorrespondentApril 24, 2014 

A monthly roundup of ethnic eats, counter service chow and other tasty bargains.

Al’s Burger Shack

516 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill


In a nutshell: Don’t let the quaint retro burger-shack look of this Franklin Street newcomer fool you. They’re thoroughly modern about local sourcing here, from the North Carolina pasture-raised beef that’s hand-patted and grilled to order to the all-pork hot dogs custom made for Al’s by local restaurant and charcuterie specialist The Pig. Don’t miss the crinkle-cut rosemary fries. For dessert, try J Bo’s Sweet “Burger”: Maple View Farm vanilla custard sandwiched between locally baked amaretto almond cookies.

Cloos’ Coney Island

2233-102 Avent Ferry Road, Raleigh


In a nutshell: Last summer, while my wife and I were visiting family in Michigan, we all headed into downtown Detroit to visit two local institutions: American Coney Island, where Greek immigrant brothers are said to have begun selling the first coney dogs in 1917, and Lafayette Coney Island, its bitter next-door rival. Both were good, but neither, in my opinion, better than Raleigh’s own Cloos’ Coney Island, which opened in 1988. The owner is Detroit transplant Daniel Cloos, who ships in two kinds of chili from the Motor City and blends them. The dogs are made in Detroit, too, with a natural casing that gives them that authentically satisfying snap. Cloos’ sliders have their fans, too, as do their Philly cheesesteaks.

Rose’s Meat Market & Sweet Shop

121 N. Gregson St., Durham


In a nutshell: Talk about one-stop shopping. While you’re waiting for butcher Justin Meddis to cut and trim your meat order for tonight’s dinner (local pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb and whole chickens), walk over to the other end of the counter and pick out dessert from the tempting assortment of miniature tarts, French macarons and other delights baked by Meddis’ wife, Katie, a former pastry chef at Chez Panisse. As reward for your errand-running, grab a couple of her cardamom caramels for yourself. Oh, and order lunch. If you choose to dine in, seating is on makeshift benches.

The Urban Turban

2757 NC Hwy. 55, Cary


In a nutshell: In theory, it should be easy to score a light meal at The Urban Turban’s buffet, where the mostly Mediterranean spread includes a variety of healthy fare from tabbouleh, hummus and minted cucumber salad on the cold station to hot soups, falafel, and a distinctive raisin-studded stew of cabbage and onions. You’ll have to resist the exhortations of Asad Abbasi, the restaurant’s affable and ever-present owner, who will encourage you to try the tandoori chicken. But once you’ve sampled extensively, ending by taking Abbasi up on his recommendation to try the rice pudding for dessert, you’ll leave feeling decidedly more satisfied than svelte.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service