WRAL Out and About 2016 Voters’ Choice Awards



Have you voted yet?

If not, don’t miss out! The WRAL Out and About 2016 Voters’ Choice Awards are open until July 10, 2016. No doubt, you’re familiar with our “Five Faves” article series on the WRAL Out and About website. This is your chance to join with the thousands of others in the Triangle and give credit to your fave choices in food, drink, and hospitality.


People sometimes ask who I voted for, or what my thoughts are on the best place to eat, drink, or entertain. Well, my choices will be more unique than most. For one, anyone who follows me regularly knows I eat gluten-free out of necessity. Therefore, mainstream places which do not accommodate or stretch far enough to appeal to gluten-free diners of any type with solid options are not of interest to me aside from an alimentary intellectual standpoint. Diversity is important, and people who expect everyone to conform to an archetype are misguided at best,  but missing money for sure.

So it was great to see Fresh Levant Bistro getting some play. They’re a non-GMO, dedicated gluten-free food service in N. Raleigh. They’ve become a popular visit with the area gluten-free crowd. I didn’t see Primal Durham listed. Bella Monica is another popular gluten-free friendly spot which is up in the Italian category.

Next, there is the fact that I am actually from here and from food people, in a lovely and rapidly growing food scene. I grew up in the Triangle and can trace my family back around 3-400 years in North Carolina. We’ve worked throughout the hospitality scene. So yes, I have spots, you know? But I don’t know everything and don’t claim to.

Thirdly,  I cook professionally. This does not mean I am a snob, far from it! But I appreciate good food of all genres and genera, and may have several choices not ‘popular’ or none at all from a certain category. If I hadn’t eaten out in that category in the last 3-6 months at least, I skipped it. I’ll tell y’all right now, some categories I simply did not vote in because people who cook are busy cooking! Others, such as Eastern NC ‘Que, will require more comprehensive, in-depth, and extremely recent study on my part (before I sound off and set off WWIII). Food research has its points!

The top choices were Raleigh-heavy quite a bit as most voters tended to skew in that direction, and I don’t get over there much. There are certainly some solid choices there! But I would venture that if other cities in the Triangle had better participation in WRAL Out and About Voters Choice Awards every year, we would have better representation of the entire area in all of its yummy glory…. Ahem. Cough.

So who were some of my faves? For burgers, it’s a close one. I’ll have to write an article to do it justice. So far one of my faves was Al’s Burger Shack in Chapel Hill. If you can’t get your buns toasted, especially your gluten-free buns which are more fragile than most, what really is the point? I’ll skip details like sauces which are also bun-essential because those suckers can be mealy, dry, or simply humongous. (Read: ‘Lotta Bread Burger Syndrome.) I could also dedicate a lifetime of study to bun perfection, and don’t even get me started on THE FRY FIASCO.

.als fries

Moving on to other categories like Deli, International, and Brunch; Neomonde and Sassool were steady crowd favorites. I’ll also have to put a word in here for Mediterranean Deli, Chapel Hill in both categories, as well as The Refectory Cafe in Durham, especially for Brunch and no-fuss Business Lunches.

International is an extremely broad category and could encompass several continents worth of places. My fave pick for International was Chola Nad after a delicious and friendly recent experience during a friend’s milestone. But that’s just one! I have so many!

charitys bday3

Now about brunch, listen. Big-time brunch is one thing. Food people aren’t big on weekly brunch though, okay? Brunch in lesser establishments is code for pantry-clearing. But when it’s time for friend’s or relative’s-day-out because somebody’s going to get married that month, and you have already been MIA for several sessions of shenanigans, they’ll come at you with this willful gleam in their eyes, and possibly actual rope. So there’s no extricating oneself no matter what day of the week or what place they pick. Swallowing that lump of shame and jumping up and down with their joy is your only option. They’re our friends, people. Ok sure, bottomless Mimosas or artisan a.m.-ish cocktails do help industry folks forget they may be seen and given quizzical ‘What-the-Heck?’ looks by whoever’s kitchen staff. I should here add the disclaimer that I adore breakfast food any time of day. Period. I just don’t let any ole joker make my brunch. A girl has to put her plate down.

Whenever I write a “Five Faves” article, inevitably I receive feedback from someone who disagrees, or has a different experience, or frankly – just opened a place. Well, if  you haven’t voted for YOUR faves, this is the time. If your fave isn’t listed, by all means write it in. But make your voice heard people! It only happens once a year!


So get busy!


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