Restaurant News & Reviews

Off the beaten bites

Looking to shake up your gastronomic routine? Check out these new offbeat options.

At Evos (1800 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 929-5867, www.evos.com), which opened in mid-July in Eastgate Shopping Center, the terms healthy and fast food burger joint aren't mutually exclusive. Burgers are made with naturally raised, grass-fed beef, and they are slow-roasted.

Fries and chicken strips are convection baked, and shakes are made with real fruit and antibiotic- and hormone-free milk and ice cream.

The result, according to the Web site of the Florida-based chain, is a menu with many offerings that are 50 percent to 70 percent lower in fat than their counterparts at other fast food chains. Of course, if you pile on the cheddar cheese (natural, of course), all bets are off.

How about a noodle shop with an international selection ranging from pad thai to Wisconsin mac and cheese to whole grain Tuscan linguine with mushrooms and veggies in a roasted garlic white wine cream sauce? That's what you'll find at Noodles & Company (2608 Erwin Road, Durham, 383-5600, www.noodles.com). And the options don't stop there. Choose a regular ($5.95) or small ($3.95) portion, and add chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu for two bucks more. Or create a combo, pairing a noodle dish, protein of your choice and soup or salad for $7.25.

The Durham location is the first in the Triangle for the Denver-based chain, but it probably won't be the last. Plans are in the works for locations in the old Wicked Burrito building on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, and in Cameron Village in Raleigh.

Into gourmet popcorn? Then head for Homestead Market Shopping Center in Durham, where The Mad Popper (105-259 West N.C. 54, 484-7677, www.themadpopper.com) will fix you up. Options include classic buttered, pizza, Carolina BBQ and sweet tea. If you can't find the flavor you're craving here, I doubt you'll find it anywhere.

Or maybe you'd like to grab some hummus and falafel while you tank up the Mini Cooper. You can do just that at Dolphin's (5016 Commons Hill Drive, Cary, 461-3780), which opened recently near the intersection of N.C. 55 and Green Hope School Road. It's a BP station that also bills itself as a bakery/deli/grill/cafe specializing in Middle Eastern food.

Why is it called Dolphin's, you ask? You'll have to find out for yourself. You wouldn't believe me if I told you.

For Saturday dessert, set your GPS for the intersection of Foster and Geer streets in Durham, where Tanya Catolos will park her vintage Airstream "mobile cupcakery" near the Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Catolos, whose day job is pastry chef at Fairview in the Washington Duke Inn, offers an assortment of cupcakes (Valrhona Chocolate, Red Velvet, Banana Bliss and Pink Lemonade, to name a few) as well as scones, Madeleines and her gourmet take on a familiar childhood favorite which she calls "Pop't-Arts."

If you're craving cupcakes and it isn't a Saturday, you can always place an order through her business, Daisy Cakes (389-4307, www.eatdaisycakes.com).

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