For 20 years, Nawwaf and Bayan Said craved the opportunity to share their native cuisine and culture with their fellow North Carolinians. At Jasmin Bistro––named for both the flower and to nod to Nawwaf's first restaurant, Aladin's––the duo blend Greek and Lebanese recipes made from scratch. Imported ingredients and local produce intermingle in classic dishes such as kebabs, hummus, gyros, and chicken shawarma. Along with platters and sandwiches whipped up in their new Hillsborough Street location next to Meredith College, Nawwaf and Bayan cater festivities with buffets, party platters, and boxed lunches.
To the chefs at Mantra, atmosphere is nearly as important as taste. That’s why they serve contemporary and traditional Indian cuisine against a vibrant red floor, energetic pink mural, and eclectic array of artwork. Potatoes and peas fill the deep recesses of warm, deep-fried samosas, and lettuce wraps cradle tandoori mushrooms, paneer, and sprouts. Transported to tables via an utterly silent elephant in the room, entrees satisfy appetites via lamb vindaloo's spicy sauces and murgh tikka masala's ginger-and-garlic-marinated tandoori chicken. Finally, delectable desserts assuage sweet teeth with mango-flavored mousse, milk dumplings in rose-flavored syrups, or a carrot pudding sculpted into the diner's favorite geographical region. Sleek tables and chairs parade their modern lines across the restaurant's elegant dining room, which makes for an ideal setting for a first date, second platonic dinner, or third attempt to find lukewarm porridge.
Although steak, seafood, salads, and desserts share the spotlight, it's the fondue pot that transforms the dining experience at The Melting Pot into an interactive one. Steaming fondue pots at the center of the table allow diners to dip slices of granny smith apples, artisan breads, and veggies into warm blends such as aged cheddar and lager beer, or fontina, butterkase, and buttermilk blue. Although a wine and cheese fondue pairing may suit the evening on its own, a fresh salad followed by lobster and steak continues the dipping feast. Turn the experience into a four-course meal by adding one of nine velvety chocolate fondues; diners can gather around the table to dip strawberries, marshmallows, or pieces of cheesecake.
Top This! Roast Beef, Burgers & More caters to every type of sandwich craving with custom creations—and then overloads those sandwiches with toppings, dressings, and sauces. Customers choose from nine proteins, including slow-cooked roast beef, natural chicken breast, and housemade black-bean burgers, and then pile on six cheeses and dozens of toppings, such as black-bean-and-corn relish and Angus chili. The restaurant's cooks also grill juicy Angus burgers that one WRAL.com reviewer claimed rejuvenated his faith in humanity. Its sister restaurant, Top This Café at The Atrium, quashes hunger with custom omelets and breakfast sandwiches, plus lunch options.
Just seeing the sign for Kabab and Curry get the mouth to watering: the restaurant's name hints at the spread of authentic Indian and Nepalese cuisine to be found within. A rainbow of spices and herbs go into every dish, including stuffed vegetable samosas, tandoori chicken, marinated lamb kebabs, vegetarian curries, and tikka masala with meat or seafood. That same cuisine is also served in elaborate copper chafing dishes during a lunch buffet. Imported beers and South Asia-inspired house cocktails?see the Nirvana, with vodka, cr?me de banana, blue Cura?ao, and orange juice?can relieve the heat that comes from spicy plates.
The Community Deli has been serving its neighborhood for more than 40 years, but that doesn't mean its approach to simple food has grown stale. Each day, regulars and newbies alike can stop in for all-day breakfast and diner staples, including bagel sandwiches, egg plates with grits, and fried chicken. Chefs also build playful variations on the quarter-pound burger, such as the Seth Bomb with Cajun seasonings or the Southern Comfort with pimiento cheese trimmed to resemble the profile of William Faulkner. But the kitchen's specialty is a range of house-made soups—including classics such as brunswick stew and chicken gumbo.