Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dorry's Delights

New York native Ray Dorry serves up some of the most flavorsome sandwiches, salads and other provisions you’ll ever taste at his namesake eatery. Located in downtown Cary, the fast-casual Dorry's Downtown Deli & Catering is bustling at lunchtime, so consider going early to avoid waiting for a table.

The commitment to quality is evidenced by the restaurant’s superlative meats, cheeses and breads, which are purveyed by Boar’s Head and esteemed local bakery Neomonde. Wisely, the deli also provides bottomless Pepsi products on tap. 

Among the stellar specialty sandwich offerings include Uncle Louie with salami, capicola, pepperoni, prosciutto, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, red and banana peppers, oregano and oil and vinegar;  The King of Queens, comprising steak and cheese with peppers, onions, mushrooms, jalapeños and mayo on a sub roll; and the delectable deluxe Reuben on rye with sauerkraut. A popular build-your-own-sandwich option is also available. 

Side items are 99 cents extra, but choices worth splurging on are the banana pudding, potato salad or—my favorite—rice pudding.

In the mood for a salad instead? Whether you choose Greek (red peppers, feta, tomato, olives, red onions and cucumber); spinach (bacon, egg, mushrooms, red onion and bacon dressing) or the hearty summer split (tuna, egg and chicken salads atop a garden salad), you can’t go wrong.

Daily specials like shrimp tacos (pictured below), crab cake sandwich with house-made wasabi cilantro remoulade and Italian sausage-infused lasagna up the ante several notches. 

The breakfast menu features omelets, wraps and sandwiches, such as the Kaiser roll special with two fried eggs, American cheese and bacon, ham or sausage. Most breakfast items are bargain-priced at less than $5

A newly renovated dining room features ceiling-mounted track lighting and Carolina Hurricanes hockey paraphernalia on the walls. What’s more, an outdoor patio provides patrons an inviting atmosphere to hang out and enjoy an informal dining experience. 

When it comes to customer service, Ray does a great job engaging customers and making sure they have everything needed to enjoy their meals. It’s good to see an owner who knows the importance exceeding his guests’ expectations. Those people quickly become loyal patrons. Count me among them. 

 Dorry's Downtown Deli and Catering on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Flaming Amy's Firing on All Cylinders

During a recent father-and-son weekend road trip to Wilmington, I visited Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn, an eclectic fast-casual Tex-Mex outpost that’s a favorite with the locals. And for good reason. The bodacious burritos served up here are as tasty as I’ve ever encountered. What’s more, the centrally located salsa bar is more imaginative than anything J.J. Abrams could ever create. 

Among the 17 tempting specialty burritos available, standouts include the Baywatch (grilled tuna, shrimp, blackened tilapia and a jalapeño tartar sauce); the Big Jerk (Jamaican jerk chicken or tofu, rice, beans, cheese, roasted red peppers, sour cream and pineapple jalapeño salad); and the Thai Me Up with grilled “fillin’” like chicken, rice, beans, cheese, roasted red peppers, red onions, carrots and a to-die-for Thai peanut sauce.  

Burritos are bargain-priced at $6.50 and come with tortilla chips on the side. Distinctive bottomless salsa offerings like ginger peach, wasabi avocado and pineapple jalapeño enhance the overall dining experience. 

Be advised: Flaming Amy’s is not for the faint of heart. An irreverent, borderline seedy vibe fills the joint, which claims it has been “employing the freaks of Wilmington since the year 2000.”

Indeed, tattoo-laden staffers exhibit a laid-back collective sensibility that borders on swagger. Walls are festooned with surfboards, rock n’ roll sketches and signs declaring statements like "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." Nevertheless, the food here is first-rate and service is fast and efficient, so I’ll definitely return again next time I’m in town. 

Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn on Urbanspoon 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thanks A Latte Offers an Upbeat Experience

If you’re looking for a cool little spot to grab a good cup of java and hang out for a while, consider visiting Thanks A Latte Coffee and Gift Boutique in Holly Springs. Located in the charming Main Street Square community, this chic family-owned shop brews up locally roasted Larry’s Beans and serves up mochas, cappuccinos, espressos, Chai teas and—of course—lattes.

Among the specialty beverages offered include Honey Bee (soy milk, honey and cinnamon); Zebra (white mocha and chocolate); and Fireside (hazelnut, caramel and vanilla). Drip coffee is also available, as is hot chocolate. Locally baked treats are purveyed by nearby Stick Boy Bread Co.

Thanks A Latte is run by delightful proprietor Vicki Harry, whom you’ll rarely see without a smile on her face. On any given afternoon and especially on Saturdays, you’ll find one of her attractive children behind the counter helping out.

Patrons are encouraged to relax on cozy furnishings or peruse the trendy wares available throughout the store. When it comes to ambiance, a cement floor, high ceiling with exposed duct work and suspended track lighting make for a relaxed, modish vibe.

At the moment, Thanks A Latte is the town’s lone independent coffee shop. Even if or when that changes, it’s hard to imagine a more in vogue place to get your caffeine fix plus a cool gift for someone special.

 Thanks A Latte on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rebecca's Grill Serves Up Food for the Soul

Situated inside the bustling Duncan Junction country store, a place that sells gasoline, fishing bait and cold beer, Rebecca’s Grill is a no-frills haven for anyone in search of a quality hot meal. 

Tables covered with classic red-checked gingham fill the dining area. Vintage tin signs prettify the walls. The faint clinking of video poker machines wafts in the backdrop. On any given day, you'll see overall-laden codgers sipping tea and coffee from foam cups, carrying on as if they don’t have a care in the world. 

Orders are taken at the counter, but experienced female servers take over from there. Tea is poured from a simple plastic pitcher, always with a courteous smile. 

Among the hearty entrees available here are fork-tender BBQ pork ribs, country style steak, meatloaf and—on Fridays—fried seafood. Side items such as steamed cabbage, black-eyed peas, squash and mac & cheese are all reliable stocks-in-trade. 

Proprietor Edward King, who grew up in nearby Garner, named the establishment after his now college-aged daughter. His cooking is so well-regarded that he stays busy with catering events for churches and local businesses, never mind numerous pig pickin’s. 


As early as 5 a.m., customers arrive to get their fill of eggs, grits, hash browns, pancakes and other breakfast fare. Rebecca’s Grill is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Major credit cards are accepted.

 Rebecca's Grill on Urbanspoon