If you're a Triangle-dwelling Thai food fan, it's likely that you know about Sawasdee Thai Restaurant?it won Indy Week's Best of the Triangle award for Best Thai Cuisine every year from 2007?2011. In 2013, it picked up another honor from the paper: Best Restaurant with Gluten-Free Options. While the Thai chefs at Sawasdee ground the menu in their homeland's culinary traditions?which means the salt comes from fish sauce, the sweetness from palm sugar, and the pucker from tamarind?they're always looking for ways to make them feel fresh and relevant to local diners. That means things such as creating a separate gluten-free menu so no one has to begin their meal simply hunting for a dish that suits their diet. And an extensive vegetarian section leaves out the fish sauce (and egg, if desired), replacing animal products with mixed greens, tofu, and other botanical elements. Naturally, the heat can be adjusted, too, on a scale that starts at "spicy" and tops out at "make-you-cry."
Sawasdee's chefs also give the ingredients themselves extra scrutiny. Even in seasons when fresh herbs are hard to find, they scour suppliers' shelves to make sure they always have authentic seasonings such as galangal and lemongrass on hand. In meat dishes, all-white-meat chicken, large shrimp, beef sirloin, and pork tenderloin bed down on Thai jasmine rice. And at both Sawasdee locations, designers have shown a similar attention to detail in the decor. On Glenwood, a huge compass rose in the ceiling softly lights the dining room's woodwork and trailing succulents and helps curry-intoxicated diners find their way out the door. The location on Capital is less sleek and more cozy, with red walls, traditional carved screens, and even a patio surrounded by dense greenery on all sides.
The dedicated musicians at Falls River Music help students create beautiful notes during private weekly music instruction with a brigade of professional instruments. During 30-minute drum, guitar, violin, bass, or trumpet lessons, children or adults work toward personal goals, such as learning how to read music or mastering solos that erase “Freebird” from minds. Falls River Music provides instruments for use during classes, which, though not required, students may rent for home practice at an additional cost.
When not practicing their tuneful arts, musicians can send in their stringed instruments for expert repairs or test out new sounds plucked from the shop's large selection of acoustic and electric guitars, amplifiers, and effects pedals. Falls River Music offers a 14-day trial period after purchase of new equipment, encouraging musicians to fully explore their new sonic possibilities before declaring themselves satisfied.
The musical menagerie also hosts a full coffee bar and lounge area, where parents may relax during children's lessons. Falls River Music also allows intermediate-level students to put their skills to use each Saturday at 1:30 pm at a two-hour jam session ($10/hour), which may include performances or recording with other musicians and note aficionados.
Legend has it that when The Flying Biscuit Cafe first opened, diners were so enamored with the kitchen's soft, flaky biscuits that they polished off the entire stock before 11 a.m., causing the restaurant to close its doors for the day. Today, the cheerful eatery has expanded to 13 locations across Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida, each one serving an average of 5,000 biscuits per week. Cooks are forever busy in the kitchens, slicing up the fluffy biscuits for breakfast sandwiches and folding farm-fresh and organic ingredients into a variety of American comfort classics. They dole out breakfast dishes all day long, from wood-smoked salmon scrambles to the gooey grits lauded by reporters from The Emory Wheel as "the most delicious cheese grits you’ve ever tasted (or ever will taste)". As the day wears on, the cooks turn their attention to juicy Angus beef burgers and Southern-style dinners such as chicken-fried steak and spicy jambalaya pasta. Committed to promoting healthy lifestyles, they also offer a variety of good-for-you menu items and modifications, whipping up omelets with egg whites, baking biscuits with whole wheat, and serving pancakes with a side of cast-iron kettlebells.
Deep in the Umstead Industrial Park, something stirs. Amid the clank of modern machinery, a group of workers busy themselves with one of the world's oldest crafts: brewing. At Gizmo Brew Works, this meeting of contemporary technology and ancient know-how produces a tempting slate of small-batch beers. Inside tanks that hold the equivalent of 1,000 pints each, brewers prep favorites including the smooth and sweet Black Stiletto Stout and the complex Palisade Wasp India Pale Ale with the same care that has earned many of their past beers medals at the Carolina Championship of Beer. They also save room for seasonals, carefully adding a sweet caramel flavor and spicy Noble hops to their altbier, which they serve in a traditional stange glass or a large mug in celebration of Oktoberfest. These beers and more make frequent appearances in the brewery's taproom, gracing pint glasses for impromptu toasts or filling up growlers for at-home sips. Never ones to shy away from curious guests, brewers also open up their facility for Saturday tours, walking groups through the beer-making process during 30-minute explorations.
HotBox Pizza’s cooks adorn three varieties of hand-tossed dough canvases with six savory sauces, cheeses, and 26 toppings to create a menu of dine-in, takeout, and delivery pies. The signature HotBox combines double spicy pepperoni and banana peppers, and Big Al’s Fredo fights off pernicious poultry cravings with a combination of chicken, roma tomatoes, fresh spinach, and banana peppers. Aspiring pizza architects can blueprint their own pies by laying down traditional, thin, or multigrain foundations and selecting from six varieties of sauce-carpeting. Doughy disks simmer with mozzarella, ricotta, Wisconsin cheddar, or fontina cheeses to hold down up to four toppings such as pepperoni and artichoke hearts. Circle-eaters can also save room in their knapsacks or hollow shoe-heels for fresh salad and bundles of breadsticks that come with nacho-cheese, pizza, ranch, or garlic sauce, and wash down stubborn bites with refreshing slurps of soda.
Moonlight Pizza Company doesn't settle for traditional pizzas. Instead, their artisan chefs sprinkle pies with more than 50 gourmet toppings, including avocado slices, pine nuts, and shiitake mushrooms, and construct gluten-free crusts upon request. They extend the same care to the rest of their menu, which spans a variety of casual Italian dishes, such as calzones, antipasto, and strombolis. Their salads come with a choice of six dressings that, like US ambassadors' gingerbread body doubles, are made from scratch each day. Their Farm to Fork Craft Menu presents guests with new entree options each month while continuing to use locally grown ingredients.
Outside, tree-covered outdoor seating on two recently improved patios complements mouthwatering slices and buttery crusts. Inside, bright-green walls create a vibrant backdrop for exuberant conversations or cooking shows with lots of special effects.