An Insider’s Taste of Raleigh


We just got back from a weekend visiting our oldest son down in Raleigh, and despite the rainy weather, we had a great time.

A good deal of the weekend was spent trying different places to eat, and so I thought I’d share some of our dining highlights.

Guasaca Arepa & Salsa Grill: In one word, splendiferous. Here’s a blurb from their web site:

We based our food on Venezuelan cuisine, while embracing some of the wonderful elements of American cuisine. By introducing the Arepa and some unique South American flavors to the Triangle market, we wish to be perceived as an alternative to the more traditional food concepts. We put forth an enormous effort to make everything you eat “in-house”, thus, avoiding the use of any processed ingredient or pre-made product. Our goal is to cook food that you will love and that is both healthy and affordable for everyone.

We all agreed it was one of the best meals we’ve had in a while (they have vegan and vegetarian options). The arepa is like a pita bread stuffed with burrito ingredients. The arepa is Venezuela’s daily bread, but it is made out of corn, not wheat. I am a huge fan of Chipotle, but I think I might prefer these arepas. While there is only one location right now in Raleigh, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple more opened by the time of our next visit. Both times we went there, there were lines. Could this be the next Chipotle??

Hungry Howie’s Pizza: One of the things our son says he misses from home is the pizza he grew up with, and has not been able to find a place down in Raleigh that compares. However, he did say that he has started to enjoy Hungry Howie’s flavored crust pizza, and so we had to give it a shot. While they did not offer a true tomato pie which I’ve gotten used to eating, the pizza I did have was quite good, and the rest of may family enjoyed what they had as well.

New York Bagel and Deli III: Our son told us to skip the hotel breakfast, and he took us out this great bagel spot in Cary. I love bagels, and my multi-grain bagel was one of the best I’ve had. The line was out the door, but it moved quickly and we were sitting down enjoying our everything bagels, cinnamon bagel, and multigrain in just a few minutes, along with a good cup of coffee.

Baker’s Dozen Donuts: A small donut shop with lots of varieties. There was nothing for me, but my wife and two sons say these are among the best donuts they have ever had. My favorite thing about the store was this poster they had hanging on one of the walls:


Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop: This is a national chain of soda and candy shops (you probably could have guessed that by its name). Our son told us about the wide variety of root beers that Rocket Fizz had, so we stopped here to pick up some root beer to go with our pizza. We picked up eight different brands of root beer, and we liked seven of them. We didn’t do a formal taste test, but that’s on our agenda for the next visit. There is a Rocket Fizz store in Philadelphia that I may be visiting soon…

Thanks to our son’s knowledge of the area from the many years he has spent down there, as well as his work as the editor of the Raleigh Public Record, we felt like we were given an insider’s tour of some of the city’s hidden treasures. We can highly recommend all the places noted above for a casual, yet tasty dining experience.

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