Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Casa Grande - Restaurante Mexicano - Richmond, Virginia

Another favorite dining spot for the locals in Richmond, Virginia, is the small group of restaurants known as "Casa Grande".

Somewhat typical of many Mexican restaurants, the menu offers a variety of lunch specials, combination dinners, , vegetarian dishes, special orders, typical Mexican dinners, individual selections A La Carte and serious special order dinners.

The restaurants are always filled with local patrons and usually have a line at the door. Those in line are seated in less than ten minutes so there's no delay getting to the tables. The atmosphere is generally festive with lots of talking around the tables and this reflects how well the customers like the small chain.

Favorites: Taco salad, Number 5 and 21 combination dinners, Nachos Supreme and the ever popular Quesadilla (with or without chicken).

7818 West Broad Street, Richmond; 3532 Pump Road, Richmond; 10921 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond; and 10120 Glen Allen across from Virginia Center Commons Mall.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Buz and Ned's Real Barbeque - Richmond, Virginia

Just up the road a bit, in Richmond, Virginia, there's a great tiny barbecue place to go when you are up that way and crave some outstanding food. It's a small barbecue joint located near the intersection of Boulevard and Broad streets back behind a local car wash.

Some 21 years ago "Buz" traveled around the country to Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Kansas City, Lexington and Memphis learning cooking secrets from famous barbecue regions, and in 1992 opened Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue in Richmond. Some of the famous places he learned from offer a variety of barbecue in styles of each area - places like Do-City BBQ in the Fog City, Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, Sonny Bryan's in Dallas, Goldie's in Vicksburg, Scott’s BBQ in Lexington, Tennessee and Lexington’s BBQ #1 in Lexington, N.C. These are a few of the sources that shared secrets of the old timers that tended the pits preparing secret family recipes, (many of which have been handed down for generations).

According to the story on the Buz and Ned website, Buz met Ned on one of his journeys in Jefferson County, at the crossroads connecting the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Ned made barbecue using recipes handed down for over 150 years. Before he passed away, Ned passed his secrets on to Buz to keep his family BBQ tradition alive.

The menu includes: Beef brisket - texas style, boneless pulled BBQ chicken, hand pulled pork, pork back ribs, pork spare ribs, beef ribs, chicken tenders and chicken wing pieces.

Address: 1119 North boulevard, Richmond, Virginia

Hours: Mon-Thu 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Fri - Sat 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM, Sun 12:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Telephone: 804 355-6055

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Hungry Farmer - Clinton, North Carolina

For some of the best seafood and country cooking around take a short drive to Clinton, NC, and check out The Hungry Farmer. Fresh shrimp, oysters, scallops and additional seafood selections are always available along with steaks and chicken.

This has long been a favorite meeting spot in the Clinton area. Don't be surprised if a local farmer walks over and strikes up a conversation while you are dining. Newly renovated due to a fire in 2006, the small secluded country restaurant is located between the corn and tobacco fields at 2474 Isaac Weeks Road. Look for a red brick building that looks like a country house by the side of the road. Be sure to take along your NC map!
Some of the favorites are:

Baby shrimp, hush puppies, 2 sides - $7.50, 9.00
Sea scallops, hush puppies, 2 sides - $9.00, 11.00
Pan broiled flounder, hush puppies, 2 sides - $9.00, 11.00
Hamburger steak with peppers and onions, 2 sides - $6.50
Home made chicken pastry, 2 sides (Sunday only)


2474 Isaac Weeks Road, Clinton, NC


Thursday - Saturday 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Sunday Lunch - 11:20 AM - 2:30 PM


910 533-3220

Head on over and satisfy your appetite!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Salem Street Soda Shop - Apex, North Carolina

*** The long time owner of the Salem Street Soda Shop and building sold it to new residents moving to Apex from out of the area. The shop has been remodeled and opened under the name "Salem Street Pub" and serves sandwiches, sodas, various beers. ***

The following is the original review of the SSSS in 2007...

The Salem Street Soda Shop is located in the center of the downtown historic district in Apex. The Soda Shop is a quaint little breakfast, lunch and dinner shop specializing in homemade sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and homemade desserts. It's located in an old downtown store that served in a past life as the town's dry cleaner business, owned years ago by the current owner's father. Wade Baker, Jr., converted the old dry cleaner site into a soda shop style restaurant complete with old drugstore style glass display cabinets, a long soda counter serving area with bar stool seats, and several booths and tables for group seating. Behind the counter is an 1950's style soda counter for creating fresh squeezed orangeades and lemonades, ice cream floats, milk shakes, banana splits, and sodas served fountain style.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the shop serves home style cooked-when-ordered food that's always fresh and tasty. The menu lists a complete selection of soda shop style sandwiches and creations. The burgers are hand pressed and cooked on the spot. One of the most popular items is the home-made chicken salad (the chicken salad sandwich is one of the most popular lunch items). The shop gets crowded at lunchtime since it's a favorite of downtown merchants and town residents. Go early to place your order and get a seat without having to wait in line. Be sure to order at the counter first, then get a table - a practice required by the soda shop to make the limited seating available to those that have ordered food.

Our favorites: Chicken salad sandwich, burger and cheeseburger, both served with chips or potato salad. Hand made vanilla or chocolate milk shake or fountain soda. The hot dogs are a favorite also and are great with chili and slaw - another southern tradition.

113 N. Salem St., Apex, NC 27502




Monday -Friday 7:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Saturday 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday: closed

Monday, April 9, 2007

Smithfield's Chicken and Bar-B-Q - Central and eastern North Carolina

A favorite eastern North Carolina restaurant for over 25 years, Smithfield's is always a good choice for fried chicken or barbecue eastern NC style! The chicken is always crispy and fresh from the fryer. You can get barbecued chicken on request.

The vinegar based barbecue is popular in the eastern part of the state. Chopped and flavored with a bit of pepper. Combo chicken platters are available with white meat or dark, served with potato salad or fries and slaw along with hushpuppies. Sandwiches provide a generous portion of chopped barbecue without or with slaw (an NC tradition). Try the "value-pak" for a best buy - sandwich, fries and a drink.

If you are from the area sweet tea is a "must have" choice. Most folks from other areas don't understand the local fascination with sweet tea but quickly adopt it.

Our favorites: Chicken white platter or valu-pak sandwich and drink.
Website: Smithfield's Chicken and Bar-b-que

Locations: All around the area and extending to the coast

Friday, April 6, 2007

Roast Grill - Raleigh, North Carolina

The very best hot dogs in the triangle. If you like hot dogs this is the place to go. Served only two ways - regular and burned - straight from the grill, always hot and fresh. An assortment of drinks is available but the most popular is Coke in the traditional small Coke bottle.

Don't expect extras and for sure don't ask for ketchup! Ketchup not allowed. If you must add toppings you can get mustard, chili and onions.

A favorite lunch spot in the heart of Raleigh. There's limited seating so go early or late or plan to stand in line. The dining area consists of a long counter and a row of bar stools. There are a couple of small tables along the wall but usually not available. Plan on sitting by people you don't know and you may even find a state senator or representative next to you!
Website: Roast Grill

Location: 7 S West Street, Raleigh, NC 27603

Telephone: 919 832-8292

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Five Guys - Burgers and Fries

Five Guys is easily the best burger establishment in the area. Since the menu is limited, focus is on quality and service and being the best. If burgers, hot dogs and fries is what you crave you'll find these to be the best around.

Burgers are cooked only one way - well done - but always juicy, hot and tasty. Served fresh from the grill with most any toppings you want added. Add fries and there will always be an overflowing cup in your bag with more dumped into the bag.

Our first encounter with Five guys was in Virginia (the business originated in the DC and VA area) and when we moved to NC we hoped they would open stores here because the burgers were so good. The chain has opened restaurants in several areas around the central NC area with more coming.

The company's goal as posted on the Five Guys website is simply "Five Guys goal is to sell the best quality burgers possible. To sell the best burger possible we focus on Quality, Service and Cleanliness."

Check out the menu on the Five Guys website and drop by and check them out! Also read the "corkboard" comments from customers.
  • Favorites: Little Cheeseburger with toppings, fries.
  • Hours: Generally from early lunch time until late night. Posted at stores.
  • Locations: See website locator

Bella Monica - Raleigh, NC

One of the best local dining sites we discovered is tucked away in the Old Raleigh Village Shopping Center at 3121-103 Edwards Mill Road. If you are searching for the best in fine Italian dining and enjoy outstanding service this is the place for you to try!

After discovering how good the food is and noting that it's frequented by regular customers we now try to go every other Friday or Saturday when there are added specials not available on other nights. Be sure to make a reservation for these nights or you will find yourself standing by the door for an hour or so watching everyone enjoy the great food. Of course you can usually drop by and be seated at one of the sidewalk tables and avoid the line if you forgot to call ahead!

You can check out their complete menu at the Bella monica website. Our favorites include:

Chopped salad
- Chopped greens with tomato, mushrooms, onions, carrots, cannellini beans, and parmesan cheese with balsamic herb vinaigrette dressing.


Cannelloni - Long pasta tubes filled with ricotta cheese and topped with meat sauce and melted mozzarella cheeses.

Pork Picatta - Pork loin medallions with a lemon caper sauce served with asparagus and red onion.


Genoa - Pepperoni, sausage, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

From the Bellamonica website...

Bella monica - Pizza, Pasta & Vino

Sundays at our Nana’s house were special days. It began when we entered Nana’s house and the smell of the ‘gravy’ simmering on the stove would greet us at the door. Nana would fly out of the kitchen to pinch our cheeks, give us hugs, and lead us to the table full of food saying “mangia, mangia”. Sundays with Nana were days where everything seemed to stop for family and friends; everything except for pasta.

Since 2000, when chef/owner Corbett Monica and his wife Julie opened the doors to this neighborhood trattoria, Bella Monica has become an extension of Nana’s table. It is a place where guests become family at our tables and enjoy Nana’s recipes. Keeping true to tradition, we use only imported San Marzano tomatoes and the freshest ingredients just like Nana would. So please, enjoy our food and the company you share.

Website: Bella Monica


Old Raleigh Village Shopping Center
3121-103 Edwards Mill Road
Raleigh, NC


Lunch - Monday-Friday, 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM
Lunch - Saturday - 12:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Dinner - Monday-Thursday - 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Dinner - Friday - Saturday - 5:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ruth's Chris - Cary NC

What a treat! We bought ourselves a Ruth's Chris gift certificate some time back and kept it for a special occasion. On our recent anniversary we decided to check the restaurant out.

We highly recommend this restaurant for any occasion. The food is outstanding and service is right on target for a fine dining establishment!

Here's how their website describes their fare...
Welcome to Ruth's Chris Steak House. When you visit Ruth's Chris, you soon understand that this is no ordinary restaurant. From the U.S. Prime steaks, broiled to perfection at 1800 degrees, to the expertly executed seafood, New Orleans-inspired appetizers, unforgettable desserts and award winning wine list, this is a steakhouse to which others aspire. We invite you to explore our website. Take your time to get to know us. Visit the site often to make online reservations and order Ruth's Chris Gift Cards for family and friends, clients and colleagues. Follow the sizzle.
We were greeted at the door and our coats were immediately taken to the coat room. Next, we were escorted by the hostess to a small dining area with a half dozen tables and seated. Since this was our first visit we didn't notice one of the napkins rolled around the silverware was black. We later discovered this was a signal to the waiter.

For dinner my wife chose a fillet and I selected a ribeye steak. As you can imagine, the steaks were cooked to perfection and lived up to the reputation of the restaurant. Ruth's Chris food is truly a step above similar offerings at other fine establishments.

After dinner we ordered coffee and asked for the dessert menu and waited patiently for the waiter to return. The coffee arrived quickly and we were looking forward to seeing the list of desserts we had seen occasionally passing our table on a sample tray. Minutes later we realized he had not returned and started looking around for him. Suddenly he arrived with a healthy slice-for-two of dark chocolate cake covered with dark chocolate icing and sprinkled with little chocolate drop morsels. Wow! To our surprise this treat was provided by the restaurant for our anniversary dessert!

Needless to say, dining at Ruth's Chris was a grand experience and we now look forward to planning another visit on a special occasion to have dinner prepared to perfection and enjoy royal treatment!