Monday, November 26, 2012

Campbell's Diner Satisfies Time and Again

Campbell’s Diner is a popular mainstay for local blue- and white-collared patrons alike at breakfast and lunchtime. This super casual, cash-only establishment serves up all the morning favorites like grits, hash browns and biscuits along with omelets, pancakes and French toast. You can't go wrong with the $5 breakfast special, which includes two pancakes, two eggs and bacon or sausage. Even brains & eggs are offered for those with a daring spirit.

At lunchtime you can get your fill of daily specials such as hamburger steak, chicken pastry and barbecue chicken. My favorite is the hearty meatloaf, which is as moist and flavorful as I've encountered in any restaurant.

Vegetable lovers will find much to like from among the dozen or more options. Whether you choose yams or creamed potatoes, black-eyed peas or butter beans, mac & cheese or fried okra, you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, order a veggie plate with some lip-smackin’-good sweet tea and you’ll be all set.

Friday is seafood day, although prices are a bit high at around $10 per plate. And while the fried flounder and shrimp may not be the best you’ll ever taste, the golden brown hushpuppies are as close to perfect as you’ll find anywhere.

The waitresses at Campbell’s are friendly, efficient and eager to please. Coffee cups stay filled in the morning, and tea glasses rarely get past half empty at lunchtime. The food also arrives faster than a teenager sending a text message.

When it comes to atmosphere, the converted double-wide mobile home with Formica-laden tables, low ceilings and window-mounted air-conditioning units provides exactly what you expect in a hometown diner. After all, it’s mainly about the food.

Campbell's Diner on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 16, 2012

Boogie Bean Rocks the Mug

Not long ago while hanging out at local café, I encountered a cup of coffee that was so good I had to find out the purveyor. Turns out it was Boogie Bean Coffee Roasters, a locally owned outfit based in Holly Springs, N.C.

Several weeks later, I happened to meet the married duo of Kevin Littlewood and Alice Banks, owners of Boogie Bean, at an outdoor event in downtown Fuquay-Varina. The couple was selling liquid provisions out of what they call their “full coffee shop on wheels,” so I bought more and liked it even better than the first time I tried it.

Simply put, Boogie Bean Coffee rocks!

Today I’m pleased to announce a charter venture with Boogie Bean as brand advocate. Friends, you simply must try this premium java that’s judiciously roasted in small batches.  

Be sure to check out the website at for all the various blends and global offerings. And, for the next few days, Boogie Bean is running a Thanksgiving Special offering ALL one-pound bags of coffee for $12.00 plus FREE delivery anywhere in the Triangle. The sale runs through Monday and they ensure delivery by Wednesday.

Get some Boogie Bean Coffee today. It will change your life—one cup at a time!



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Assaggio's Goes Above and Beyond

When it comes to popular counter-service haunts to grab a good meal, it’s hard to beat locally owned Assaggio’s Pizzeria. Quality food, friendly service and a laid-back atmosphere make for a reliable dining experience time and again.
Whether you choose hand-tossed New York-style pizza or a pasta entrée, you’ll get plenty of food for a reasonable price. Just be sure to order a basket of melt-in-your-mouth good garlic knots, which are served with a side of warm marinara sauce.
Among the standout dishes are the hearty meatball and mozzarella Stromboli, penne a la vodka and the house-made lasagna. Splurge-worthy desserts include the made-to-order cannoli and the delectable Nutella cheesecake with an Oreo crust.
It’s worth mentioning here that proprietors Tom (pictured below) and Amy McGrath are as community-minded as any restaurateurs I’ve ever met. Fundraiser-friendly and civic-oriented, the McGraths have endeared themselves to the local populace. They even made the eatery the second Feed the Firefighters Foundation outpost. Just one more reason to patronize Assaggio’s.

Assaggio Pizzeria Ristorante on Urbanspoon


Thursday, November 8, 2012

MacGregor Draft House Reliable As Ever

MacGregor Draft House is a longstanding sports bar that has become a reliable outpost for finding quality grub in a comfortable setting.

Although I work in the nearby MacGregor business park, it had been a several months since I had visited prior to my dinner outing last week. I will confess that I almost had a panic attack when I couldn’t find the signature fried pickle chips on the menu. Thankfully, the waitress alleviated my fears by saying that it was an oversight on a recent reprinting of the menu. From where I sit, it’s a mind-boggling omission, but all was forgiven when my half-order of perfectly golden-fried goodness showed up just minutes after I ordered.

It seems the burger offerings have changed as well, as the menu essentially now offers a build-your-own concept. The base price for a burger is $7.29, but additional toppings cost anywhere from 29 cents for Heinz 57 to $3.99 for fried shrimp.  I don’t know how you feel about it, but it seems almost unpatriotic to pay extra for Heinz 57 or A1 sauce. What happened to the days of just asking for the bottle and dousing on as much as you want?  

Let me just help you cut through all the overwhelming options and recommend the black and blue burger. Just ask the server to have the cook melt some blue cheese crumbles (69 cents extra) on your patty, and you’re good to go. The burgers are ample size, and the fries are a cut above what you’ll find at most places of similar ilk.

Service at the restaurant is generally dependable, although my glass of diet soda did stay empty a bit too long on one occasion. On the positive side, MacGregor has plenty of TVs for watching sports, and whether you sit at a table, a booth or at the bar, you’re ensured a relaxing experience.

Macgregor Draft House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 3, 2012

China Uno Lives Up to Its Name

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve reviewed China Uno, my lone go-to spot for Chinese food when I want something close to home. The restaurant has changed ownership in recent months, but if anything it’s only gotten better with time.

Situated near the Harris Teeter in the bustling Village Walk Shopping Center in Holly Springs, China Uno serves a enticing blend of Szechwan, Hunan, Mongolian, Cantonese and other Chinese cuisine that’s a cut above what you’ll find and any similar establishment.  What’s more, the eatery offers full table service in a warm, traditional Asian-flared setting.

For the midday meal you can choose from 18 bargain-priced lunch box offerings, which will only set you back $4.95. Whether you choose pepper steak with onion, General Tso’s chicken, Szechuan shrimp or moo goo gai pan, you can’t go wrong.  All lunch box portions are served with fried rice.

Among the two dozen dinner combos, the Tai curry steak, chicken string bean and hot & spicy shrimp are standouts.  Served all day for just $7.25, the generously portioned dinner combos are accompanied with egg roll and fried rice. Ask for a shrimp spring roll instead. Even if you have to pay an upcharge, it’s worth it.

All menu offerings at China Uno are free of MSG and cooked in 100 percent vegetable oil.

Whatever you do, be sure to try the stupendously tasty hot & sour soup. It’s filled with chunks of bamboo shoots, mushrooms and tofu. Top it off with some crispy noodles, and you’ll experience dining nirvana.

During my most recent visit with my wife, the owner brought out a refreshing mango-infused dessert and informed us that it was on the house. Is it any wonder why I love this place?

 China Uno on Urbanspoon