You're in the mood for shepherd's pie tonight, but your significant other is craving pad thai. What to do?
You go to Cary, where Lucky Pot (2976 Kildaire Farm Road; 362-1290) can make you both happy. The strip mall eatery's dual specialties – Thai cuisine and Western-style savory pies – may well be the most unlikely combination to date in the Triangle. But there's an explanation. Chef Dee Dee Adams' passion for cooking dates to her childhood in Thailand, where her family owned a bakery. After she moved to the States several years ago (she recently took early retirement from Philips Semiconductor), her culinary interest expanded to embrace Western fare. Adams owns the restaurant with fellow Thai native Nikki Cole (who runs the front of the shop) and a third partner in Thailand.
The Thai side of the menu isn't extensive, but it covers the basics, from satay and tom yum koong (spicy shrimp soup) to Thai basil dishes and coconut curries. The Western offering is also modest but varied, with starter options ranging from Caesar salad and pocket pies (spinach and cheese or curry chicken). In addition to shepherd's pie, entrees (which are served with a house salad) include a classic chicken pot pie and a veggie lover's pot pie. Both are made from scratch and topped with a puff crust. For that matter, almost everything is house-made, whether you opt to go Thai or pie.
The only catch is you'll have to get your order to go, because Lucky Pot is takeout only. Unless, that is, the weather is fair enough to enjoy your meal at one of the sidewalk patio tables out front, in which case you are indeed lucky.
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In Raleigh, the menu at Copacabana (3945 New Bern Ave.; 231-7900) isn't limited to a single cuisine, either, though a common Latin American theme unites the offering. The cuisine of owner Amable Ferriera's native Dominican Republic is especially well represented by dishes such as sancocho (a meal-in-a-bowl soup of chicken, pork, beef and vegetables), mofongo (a mashed medley of green plantains, olive oil, garlic and pork cracklings) and the Copacabana Special, oxtail stew with onions and peppers in a picante sauce. Other options cover the spectrum of Caribbean island fare from Puerto Rican pastelillos (savory turnovers) to Cubano sandwich. You'll even find a couple of variations on the Spanish paella theme.
Copacabana is located in the space formerly occupied by the late, much-lamented Chinese restaurant Red Palace (sorry, still no word on whether that restaurant might reopen elsewhere). Ferriera has replaced the golden lions out front with palm trees and painted the interior in sunny Caribbean colors. He couldn't bring himself to tear out the ornate ceiling and elaborately carved woodwork, however. "At first it's a little confusing for the customers," says manager Michelle Cruz, "but then they like it." You might say it's another example of the good things that can happen when diverse cultures come together.