A monthly roundup of ethnic eats, counter service chow and other tasty bargains.
1001 Davis Drive, Apex
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In a nutshell: This friendly counter service eatery gets its name from the fish and chips that are its specialty, but the eclectic offering covers a wide spectrum from bangers and mash to jerk chicken wrap to pulled pork sandwich.
Try: Beer-battered cod is a keeper, whether you get it on a sandwich or tacos or Chippy’s take on the classic British pairing. The “chips” – crisp, skin-on standard cut fries – aren’t strictly authentic, but they’re tasty, and downright addictive if you get them with English-style curry sauce.
Tacos and More
2816-205 Erwin Road, Durham
In a nutshell: With authentic soft tacos accounting for just a small part of a menu that also includes tortas, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas and an impressive assortment of soups (seven of them, from posole to sopa Azteca: roasted pasilla peppers, avocado and epazote in a queso fresco cream-enriched tomato broth), Don Marcelo’s fresh contemporary take on a taqueria is a favorite of workers at the the nearby Duke University Hospital complex. Time your visit accordingly.
Try: You can’t go wrong with the tacos, but be sure to check the whiteboard by the entrance for specials such as shrimp tostadas and lomo de puerco (pork loin) en salsa verde.
121-108 Fayetteville St., Raleigh
In a nutshell: Eight is the magic number at this downtown Raleigh newcomer where the menu lists eight variations on the hot dog theme, from the Windy City Weenie (dill pickle, neon relish, sport peppers, onion, tomato, celery salt and mustard on a poppy seed bun) to the Tree Hugger, a vegetarian falafel dog with Green Goddess dressing, arugula, cucumber, tomato and lemon vinaigrette. Also choose from eight beers, eight milkshake flavors, eight dipping sauces for your fries, eight – you get the idea.
Try: I’m partial to The National (all natural Continental Sausage bratwurst, pimento cheese, fried okra and chow chow). During State Fair season, though, it’s hard to say no to the Oak City Corn Dog, a twist on the classic with a “batter” of creamed corn and French fries.
Yamato of Apex
700 E. Williams St., Apex
In a nutshell: Prices are reasonable across the board at this compact Japanese steakhouse (cooking is done in the kitchen) and sushi bar. But the daily lunch bento box specials are a steal, from Monday’s $5.95 teriyaki chicken to Friday’s $6.25 hibachi steak. Mind you, that includes a salad, egg roll, fried rice, and your choice of vegetable.
Try: The grilled salmon bento box will set you back an extra three bucks or so over the specials, but it’s worth it. The salmon also comes with a broccoli bonus, and it’s available every day of the week.