Neal’s Deli (Carrboro, NC)

images courtesy of This Paper Ship

Neal’s Deli in Carrboro is the perfect little lunch counter, and one of the best places for a sandwich in the Triangle.  While particularly well regarded for their classic deli sandwiches that incorporate their house made pastrami and corned beef, Neal’s also offers a range of other lunch and breakfast options, including biscuits that I’ve heard are delicious.

It’s a tiny place, better suited for take-out than a sit-down meal, although there are a handful of tables and bar stools at the window.  A small deli case showcases seasonal side dishes, like a roasted beet salad, but the main attraction here is the sandwiches.

I went with the smoked turkey ($7.50) and my wife chose the reuben ($8.50).  My sandwich featured some wonderfully citrusy crushed avocado and nice crispy bacon.  It was a winning combination despite some unremarkable, unsmoky sliced turkey meat.  The reuben was the better choice.  It was hot, juicy, and sweet, and piled high with excellent corned beef.

Neal’s offers simple sandwiches done right.  You wouldn’t think that would be such a hard thing to find, would you?  Durham, of course, has Toast, with its great panini, but Raleigh could really use a great little sandwich shop like these.  One can always hope.

Weekend Round-Up: Some of the Triangle’s Best

This weekend I had the chance to visit several Triangle restaurants that just plain rock – these are some of the best the area has to offer:

Thursday night:
Poole’s diner (Raleigh)
Sweet potato soup with burgundy-thyme honey, braised short ribs over smoky collard greens, an excellent baguette with butter, and their renowned macaroni gratin.  I could eat at Poole’s every day.

Friday night:
Carrburritos (Carrboro)
Carnitas mejor burrito – massive, loaded with juicy meat, no rice filler, and deliciously fresh.  Although I’ve always liked this place, I hadn’t been here in quite a while.  I’ll be coming back soon – the burrito was outstanding.

Sunday night:
Chuck’s (Raleigh)
8oz “Spirit Animal” burger – cream cheese, roasted poblanos, grilled tomato, tortilla dust.  A little too much cream cheese, a little too little tomato, and virtually no tortilla dust(?) – but nevertheless sensational.  The best burgers in the Triangle are at Chuck’s.  I wasn’t wowed by the fries on my first visit, but this time they were incredible.

Melina’s Fresh Pasta

Living in Raleigh, I don’t get out to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market very often.  But after a visit this past Saturday, I hope to be back more frequently.  This weekend the market was crowded with shoppers and overflowing with the season’s abundance: blueberries, peaches, corn, squash, heaps of tomatoes, and so on.  We purchased some of the fine produce, to be sure, but one other purchase really stole the show.  It was a pound of gnocchi from Melina’s Fresh Pasta ($7).  Expensive compared to dried pasta, sure, but it’s enough to feed 3-4 people, and, once you try it, it’s tough to go back.  There’s nothing quite like fresh pasta, and though I’ve made it before, my efforts didn’t come anywhere close to the deliciousness of these little dumplings.  They were so tender and delicate.  In addition to various noodles, Melina also offers a small menu of prepared pasta dishes (as well as cooking and pasta-making classes).  I’m eager to head back out to Carrboro and try some more!