Though the low-lit amber tones of its dining room create a darkly romantic atmosphere, Singha II Thai Bistro has nothing to hide. In a surprisingly gutsy move, the owners opened a message board on the bistro's website and gave diners free reign to speak their minds. The resulting forum crackles with tips (the chefs keep a stockpile of habanero peppers if you like your curry spicy), recommendations (Mike is a fan of the shrimp with cilantro sauce), and a panoply of plaudits (including "best thai food in nc"). Though the authentic Thai menu features a handful of signature dishes, you probably won't go wrong with the roasted duck basil. The boneless crispy fowl flavored with garlic, chilis, and fresh basil leaves seems to be a real crowd-pleaser.
It's been more than a half-century since the first Char-Grill opened its doors on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, but not much has changed at this beloved local chain. Whether in the original cinderblock building or one of the 10 locations that have been added since, people still approach the counter to jot down orders, pass them through the window, and then look on as cooks grill half- and quarter-pound steak patties over charcoal flames.
In addition to the signature smoky-flavored burgers, Char-Grill also fires up grilled chicken, chili dogs, and pulled-pork sandwiches. Milkshakes and fries add to the eatery's classic feel, helping land it on USA Today's list of 51 Great Burgers and reminding guests of simpler times when hamburgers were used as currency.
Locally sourced, Southern-inspired cuisine rules the roost at Emerywood Fine Foods. Since opening the eatery and catering outfit 15 years ago, owners Steve and Amy Shellberg haven't strayed from their mission to provide the community with fresh, homemade creations whether patrons are dining in or networking at a nearby convention. The menu boasts a range of flavor combinations such as a salad that blends North Carolina oysters, served over mixed greens with roma tomatoes, cucumber, roaring forties bleu cheese, and peach pecan vinaigrette. Traditional dishes such as mac and cheese benefit from butter-poached lobster, truffle-infused panko, and applewood-smoked cheddar, and even classic pizzas come topped with seared beef tenderloin.
Each dish at Thai Herb Authentic Thai Cuisine incorporates dozens of fresh ingredients, creating taste profiles that are complex and painstakingly balanced. The chefs adhere to age-old techniques to create such harmonious blends, whether it's by complementing sweet basil with spicy peppers or by brightening the flavors of rich red curry with tropical mango and fresh coconut milk. It takes nearly a full day to craft each curry dish on the menu, meaning that diners should refrain from talking about sports-games outcomes until the chefs can visit their DVRs.
Steak Street whisks the senses on a transatlantic voyage. Gustatory journeys embark in the bar, where baseball gloves and bats accentuate a Cooperstown, New York, theme, before touching down amid the ivy-draped ceilings, commissioned murals, and wrought-iron balconies of the dining room's Tuscan-inspired decor. The corpulent dinner menu continues the global trek by collecting cuisines from Southern locales such as Charleston, the New Orleans French Quarter, and El Dorado.
Guests can savor hand-cut steaks soaked in specialty sauces and marinades after feasting upon appetizers such as the grilled Voodoo shrimp, which inspires conga lines on the ocean floor every time a fork prong is stuck into it. Live music accompanies meals most Friday and Saturday nights, and the bistro’s retractable enclosure reveals a stunning view of starry night skies or bright sunny days, during which visitors can enjoy snacks from the light-fare menu.
Signals populates its website with a plethora of jewelry, clothing, home décor, and kids' items. Outfit bare walls with wall décor, such as flower art made from recycled iron and pressed metal ($34.95). Personalized items, such as an “I Heart” shirt or sweatshirt ($12.95–$41.95), can commemorate your love of freeze-dried ice cream, and a wooden box that emits laughter or applause when opened ($24.95) can show support for a one-person reenactment of an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.