At age 6, Kostas Bakoulas used to stand balanced on a step stool, stamping paper bags with the logo and address of his family's eatery. "I started working there when I started walking," he says with a laugh. "As a child of an immigrant, that's just what you do." Kostas says he couldn't see himself doing anything else, and today he proudly runs his own restaurant, Kozzy's Grille. In 2011, readers of The High Point Enterprise named Kozzy's Grille the Best New Restaurant.
Almost everything at Kozzy's Grille is made fresh to order and never frozen in a vat of nitrogen. Though this may be a result of sparse storage space, it's a benefit to customers, who line up for gyros doused in tzatziki sauce made from Kostas's father's recipe as well as grilled chicken marinated in a blend also concocted by his father. Kostas's own favorite is the Kozzy-style gyro, served with french fries wrapped inside the pita, just as it's done in his parents' home country. Kozzy's Grille keeps an open kitchen, allowing Kostas to get to know his guests as he sears meats with aplomb.
Since 1936, the Bocholis family has owned and operated six different restaurants, each providing a unique menu. With their latest endeavor, Golden B Restaurant, diners cozy up to a white-clothed table as they dig into hearty American cuisine enhanced with Italian, French, and Greek influences. These breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes include brioche french toast, focaccia paninis, and fried-oyster salad.
Emerywood serves gourmet soup, salad, and entrees for dinner. Preheat your evening appetite with Cajun shrimp and crawfish cakes, served over greens with sweet-chili remoulade ($8.95), or the veggie quesadilla, with black beans, corn, roasted veggies & cheddar cheese, served on a flour tortilla ($6.50). To fill your appetite bucket to the brim, try a Big Daddy's pizza, which packs pepperoni, chicken, Italian sausage, jalapeños, onions, mushrooms, olives, and tomatoes onto a mozzarella-slathered crust ($12.95). Elegant entrees include shrimp and organic grits (with veggies, andouille, and a white-wine sauce, $17.95), Emerywood Lump Crab Cakes with sweet basil aioli and garlic mashed potatoes, pan-seared pork chop ($17.95), and cedar-plank salmon with fresh dill orzo ($18.95).
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.
Toshi's Café's chefs slice up rolls of fusion-style sushi to tuck into carryout dinners alongside edamame soybean starters. Diners can select any of the cafe's 26 rolls, including the Flying Dragon—a shrimp tempura and avocado roll capped with eel, spicy crab, and a drizzle of sweet soy sauce. To create the Katie's Delight roll, nimble fingers wrap up spicy crab, shrimp, and bacon with a cooling cream cheese and avocado combo, before chefs deep-fry each morsel and fashion it an edible party hat of sweet soy and scallions. A selection of vegetarian rolls are crammed with meatless savories, while the BLT nigiri roll adds avocado to the classic combination before being doused with spicy or wasabi mayo. Takeout dinners allow twosomes and families to dine at home or inside a library's reference section, while the party option—which should be ordered a day in advance—provides hosts and hostesses enough fare to feed a large group of friends or a single oil baron.
Captained by a chef with 20 years of experience and employing authentic ingredients such as galangal, lemongrass, and fresh coconut milk, Thai Herb packs its menu full of blandness-defying southeast Asian classics. Diners can start their meals with a serving of steamed basil-lemongrass mussels ($6.95) before moving on to house specialty pra raam chicken, a succulent dish showered with cashews and drenched in peanut sauce ($10.95). A team of heat-hardened firefighters ushers out the slab of crispy spicy duck, which dresses a piquant quackbird with mushrooms and bell peppers ($15.95).