Founded by husband-and-wife team Michael and Betsy, the Clayton Steakhouse bursts with fresh carnivorous cuts of meat, savory salads, and homemade delicacies all served passionately and attentively within its homey confines. Dinner patrons can head straight for the meat highway with a house-seasoned signature rib-eye steak ($18.95 for 8-ounce; $27.95 for 16-ounce), or doff a grilled beret at the French-cut chicken breast ($14.95), with all entrees granting access to the salad bar and one side. Or opt for a loaded baked potato entree packed with a plethora of veggies, bacon, cheddar cheese, and chives, plus a visit to the 19-ingredient salad bar ($9.95). Keep hungry youngsters from composing rumbling-belly melodies with the kids'-size mac 'n' cheese served with french fries ($3.95), or reward them for their harmonic handiwork with a Betsy-crafted dessert, such as buttermilk pie ($4.89), triple chocolate cake ($4.89), or sweet-tooth-satisfying sorbet ($3.75).
At Ray's Pizza, specialty pies rub culinary elbows with Italian mainstays including hot and cold subs and stromboli. Deluxe pies combine the tastes of pepperoni, italian sausage, ham, mushrooms, onion, green peppers, and black olives; other specialties include a greek pizza, a Mediterranean treat with olive oil, spinach, black olives, and feta and mozzarella cheese. Build-your-own pies let customers tops crusts with one of seven different sauces before loading them with toppings such as pepperoni, olives, pineapple, and chicken and wearing them right out of the store. Subs run the sandwich gamut from philly cheesesteak to chicken parm, and desserts include Snickers cake, fluffy tiramisu, and italian zeppole—fried dough dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
For the hibachi chefs at Mitchikia Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi, playing with their food is a requirement. Over the heat of the traditional teppanyaki grills, their knives slice through seared steaks and shrimp, sending food flying with spatulas and catapults made of carrot sticks. In addition to the entertaining hibachi dinners, the kitchen prepares a host of Japanese-influenced dishes, in addition to freshly constructed maki rolls and sushi.
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.
Domino's recently reformulated its pizza recipe, which puts the buyer in command of a plentitude of pie-personalizing possibilities. Test the sturdiness of a hand-tossed thin crust with mounds of hearty marinara, ham, chicken, green peppers, black olives, and spinach, or fill a deep-dish foundation with alfredo sauce, bacon, onions, jalapeños, fresh mushrooms, and banana peppers. While delicious design options stretch into infinity like a taffy pull in a black hole, the eatery's specialty pizzas make choosing more manageable. Peruse pies like the MeatZZa Feast, which is piled high with pepperoni, ham, italian sausage, beef, and extra mozzarella, and the Pacific Veggie, a flashy West Coast–concoction of roasted red peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, feta, mozzarella, and provolone.
Locally owned and operated, Aversboro Coffee and Catering fills cups and refuels craniums with espresso drinks, smoothies, coffee, and fresh-baked goods. Kick-start a chest engine with an espresso drink, such as the vanilla latte ($3.65 for a regular), caffe latte ($3.25 for a regular), or chai latte ($3.50 for a regular), or coast calmly through one of many thick, berry-infused frozen smoothies ($3.90 for a medium, $4.10 for a large). The coffee shop also celebrates bagged botanicals with a variety of tea, such as vanilla bean, white tea pomegranate, and organic green, all of which provide a warm, consoling core for any mug-coddling palm ($1.65 for a cup).