So you've canceled your trip to the mountains because you heard the fall colors will be disappointing this year? Console yourself with a much shorter drive to downtown Raleigh, where a vibrant display of new gastronomic options awaits.
You'll find a world of flavors at Globe (510-103 Glenwood Ave.; 836-1811), which opened two weeks ago next to the Red Room on Glenwood South. The restaurant is owned by Heath Holloman and Henry Burgess, who also own Bistro 607 a block away. Their new restaurant bears little resemblance to their old one, however, other than a shared emphasis on scratch preparation and an Old World-leaning wine list thoughtfully chosen by Burgess.
Globe's setting is more casual and contemporary than that of its elder sibling, for one thing. And Holloman, who serves as executive chef at both restaurants, has created a menu for the new restaurant whose international range of flavors goes far beyond the heavily French-influenced offering at Bistro 607.
Holloman's appetizer offering takes you on a global gastronomic tour with destinations ranging from Thai chicken salad lettuce wraps to white bean hummus to a Bibb lettuce salad with topped with figs, Parma ham and a mini grilled brie sandwich. The entree itinerary includes red curry coconut chicken with sticky rice; braised short ribs with bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms; and grilled salmon with South American black beans and a roasted red pepper-tomato sofrito. The tour departs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays for lunch and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday for dinner, with a late night menu offered until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
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A few blocks away in the shadow of the Capitol, Dos Taquitos Centro (106 S. Wilmington St.; 835-3593; www.dostaquitoscentro.com) is every bit as tropically colorful as the original Dos Taquitos in North Raleigh. The new downtown location is considerably smaller, however, and the vibe is more artsy bistro than funky cantina -- particularly on Thursday through Saturday evenings, when the lighting is soft and full table service is offered. Weekday lunch, which has already become a popular option for the downtown crowd, is ordered and delivered to your table (instead of a number, you'll be given a stuffed animal -- a whimsical touch typical of the Salamanca family that owns the Dos Taquitos restaurants).
Centro's bill of fare isn't a clone of its elder sibling, either, though the dinner menu does include a handful of longtime favorites such as steak tacos and enchiladas Puebla. Those seeking culinary adventure will find it in a varied assortment of dishes, from smoked pasilla pepper stuffed with shrimp and black beans to grilled swordfish with green pumpkinseed sauce to grilled seasonal vegetables with wild mushroom chilaquiles.
The lunch menu is not an abbreviated version of the dinner offering, but a selection of light fare geared to quick service. And I do mean quick. The steak torta and chicken gorditas my dining companion and I ordered recently arrived less than five minutes after we sat down. They were tasty, too, though I must admit I was a little sad to have to surrender our stuffed monkey to the waitress.