This week we offer up a smorgasbord of sweet and savory fare, counter service style.
In Chapel Hill, Buns (107 N. Columbia St.; 240-4746) specializes in gourmet burgers, hand-patted daily from fresh Angus beef (the restaurant doesn't have a freezer) and available with a wide assortment of toppings, ranging from chipotle mayo to caramelized onions to brie. Non-beefeaters have plenty of options, too, including homemade veggie burgers, turkey burgers, balsamic honey-glazed ahi tuna steak and grilled salmon filet. Hand-cut fries, homemade chili and weekly specials such as the surf 'n' turf burger (Angus burger topped with grilled shrimp) further extend the selection. And if you're watching your carbs, you can have any burger on a Caesar salad instead of a toasted white or wheat bun. Buns is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Those who prefer their protein on skewers should find satisfaction in Wake Forest, where Sam & Wally's Eatery owner Sam Yehia has fired up the grills at Shish Kabob (12235 Capital Blvd.; 554-0938). Chargrilled options include chicken, beef, Lebanese style kofta, and lamb marinated with lemon, garlic and thyme. Combination platters offer a mix-and-match selection of kebabs with warm pita and your choice of three sides. There's also a vegetarian falafel platter, as well as a selection of sandwiches -- gyro, chicken salad, tuna salad, kofta kebab and shawarma, to name a few. Shish Kabob is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sweet tooth cravings are catered to at two new establishments. In Durham, Ox & Rabbit (732 Ninth St.; 286-7850) serves old-fashioned soda fountain drinks and milkshakes, with more than a dozen flavor options including the likes of lavender vanilla and chocolate truffle as well as the old standbys. And in Cary's Preston Corners, Old Meeting House (4226 NW Cary Parkway; 467-7090; www.oldmeetinghousenc.com) offers 24 flavors of all natural gourmet ice cream. I'm having a hard time deciding between Sticky Wicket (sweet cream ice cream with caramel, shortbread cookie bits and toffee) and Jungle Love (banana ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and macadamia nuts).
Finally, word on two restaurant reincarnations -- one realized and one in the making. Flying Burrito (746 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; 960-2922) has reopened in Chapel Hill with a new more upscale look. All the old Flying Burrito menu favorites are still there, though. In Raleigh's North Hills, the contemporary Southern restaurant South has closed. Urban Food Group, who also own Vivace in the same shopping complex as well as Frazier's and Porter's Tavern inside the Beltline, plan to reopen the restaurant in the fall as a French brasserie.