At Sabi, the scents of spiced and marinated meats blend with a mélange of tropical mangoes and spicy peppers in inventive stir-fry dishes and sushi as guests clink glasses of wine and craft beer. The restaurant’s name borrows from the Japanese phrase “wabi sabi,” or “finding beauty in the imperfect,” such as when appreciating the tarnished patina of a bronze statue or the intriguing beauty of a mole. The eatery’s eclectic menus promise feasts of red-curry chicken, Louisiana blue crab cakes, and juicy tenderloin filets, among other Pan-Asian dishes and specialty sushi rolls. As diners savor the blend of Eastern and Western cuisines, they can feel good about a meal prepared under Sabi’s roof, especially on Mondays, when the Chow Down for Charity event raises money for local and national nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society.
Toast Café's resident chefs greet early and midday birds with a menu of New York–style brunch. Reward early rising appetites with the Sunrise burrito ($5.95), which ferries a triumvirate of scrambled egg whites, brie, and avocado into drowsy mouths. All manner of fresh fixins get wrapped up in an egg blanket on the omelet menu. The Northwestern regales taste buds with goat cheese and fresh herbs ($8.95), and the greek omelet, with its savory mélange of fresh spinach, tomatoes, and feta ($8.95), makes palates pop with an attic flavor combination more authentic than eating a kalamata olive wrapped in a first edition of The Odyssey. The eatery festoons tables with an updated take on a classic sandwich with the Left Coast BLT with a splash of avocado and slices of brie piled between slices of wheat bread ($8.95).
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.
Ming's Bistro crafts elegant raw rolls and traditional Japanese and Chinese dishes in an casual, family-friendly atmosphere. Starters such as steamed shrimp dumplings ($4.95) and scallion pancakes ($2.95) prime marauding maws to tackle Ming's staggering selection of fresh rolls, including the Futomaki ($5.25), which deftly rolls yellow pickle, yama gobo, cucumber, avocado, egg, and a crab stick into one flavorful bite. Indulge eyeballs with a feast of their own by ordering one of the chef's exquisitely crafted sushi specialties, such as the dinosaur roll ($14.50), which upsets evolution by splicing soft shell crab with eel, avocado, barbecue sauce, and spicy mayo. Chef's specialties include a chicken and shrimp supreme ($10.95), which spotlights sliced white-meat chicken and jumbo shrimps as a swaying chorus of snow peas, red peppers, and water chestnuts harmonize amidst a rich white sauce.
This cozy, kid-friendly eatery incites smiles with attentive service and cheery, classic chow. Launch your day with the Neptune omelette, orbiting around crab meat, diced tomatoes, and a medley of mixed cheeses ($7.25), or discover tasty treasures in the Junkyard breakfast, packed full of hash browns, eggs, cheese, and your choice of additional ingredients such as bacon, peppers, and collector's item mushrooms ($7.25). Get your sweet and salty fix simultaneously with cakes and eggs: three fluffy pancakes with two eggs prepared any style ($5.25). The fresh fish sub soothes land-loathing lunchers with a grilled or blackened fresh fish filet that massages tongue buds using cocktail or tartar sauce ($6.95), while the easily torpedoed veggie wrap ($6.25) lets health nuts expend energy and acquire nutrients at once without having to swim laps in a pool of beet juice.
Around the corner from the Davidson College campus is a portal to a bygone time. At least that’s how The Soda Shop’s retro diner space, complete with chrome barstools, black-and-white tile floors, and a wall full of golden-age celebrity portraits, might seem to an unacquainted visitor. Originally founded in 1951, the café retains many of its original fixtures, including the wooden booths and a vintage cash register, and staffers still hand-mix egg creams and shakes the way soda jerks did before they were replaced by spatula-handed robot butlers. In addition to grilling diner favorites that include cheeseburgers, layered sandwiches, and hot dogs, the chefs also fill bowls with steaming servings of chili made from local Mills Family Farm beef.The Soda Shop is a cash-only establishment, also accepting local checks.