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Try eating local wherever you go

For the past ten years, I’ve spent my Memorial Day weekend in downtown Raleigh. I go every year to attend Animazement, a convention focused on celebrating Japanese media and pop culture. When I was younger, I used to spend those weekends eating overpriced hotdogs from the convention center where the event is held or cheap chicken nuggets from the McDonald’s two blocks away.

Certainly not the healthiest decision I’ve ever made.

But as I’ve gotten more used to the area, I’ve learned that a trip to downtown Raleigh is best experienced by also visiting the local restaurants. There are plenty within walking distance. Here are three places I enjoyed this past weekend that I recommend to anyone passing through in the future.

On Saturday I stopped by B.Good, a restaurant focused on providing healthy and fresh seasonal options for lunch and dinner. “Food with Roots” was the tagline written underneath the restaurant name above the door.

Inside the small restaurant, it’s kind of like a trendy Panera Bread, except the menu is salad and vegetable bowl based instead of offering a multitude of sandwich and soup options. The ingredients for many entrees are items like kale, avocado, sweet potato, and brussels sprouts. The best part of this place is that the portion sizes are decently large without having to pay too much. It wasn’t too crowded when I arrived, so I enjoyed the quiet atmosphere too.

B.Good is a chain restaurant with locations in several states, but this one in downtown Raleigh is located at 555 Fayetteville Street. Just watch out for the building construction going on nearby.

The downside of B.Good, however, was that I didn’t get to interact with anyone at the restaurant other than the cashier. My restaurant stops on Friday included more friendly chats with staff while they were working.

Clyde Cooper’s is a fantastic barbecue restaurant that I’ve eaten at before, so I made a point to return again this year. It was right in the middle of the lunch rush when I stopped in on Friday, but thankfully there were a few open stools at the counter by the kitchen.

My waitress, a kind lady who referred to customers as “honey” and “dear,” was a bit frazzled by the overwhelming number of hungry patrons waiting for food, and on top of that, she was walking around in soggy shoes due to an accident in the kitchen. But I told her I didn’t mind the wait. I’ve been a waitress before too, so I understood.

Waiting for my delicious barbecue sandwich and fries just gave me an opportunity to look around. The walls of the restaurant are decorated with photos from their decades of business. Clyde Cooper’s was founded in 1938 and it’s been going strong ever since. And there are plenty of accolades hanging on the walls to prove it.

If you want to check out Clyde Cooper’s, it’s located at 327 S. Wilmington Street. You’ll see the little pig statue out front painted like the North Carolina flag.

My favorite restaurant of the weekend, however, happened to be a little place called Plaza Café. It’s very tiny and easy to miss if you’re walking down the street, but the food is lovely and the service even better.

I stopped by there last year and made a point to return again this year. They serve sandwiches, burgers, breakfast food (only in the morning), and Indian food. It’s a good variety and it’s all very reasonably priced.

While waiting for my food, I chatted with the staff. They said they really appreciate the business they get from the convention-goers each year. I imagine that without Animazement in town for Memorial weekend, business would be slower with everyone heading to the typical vacation spots at the beach and the mountains.

In general, I think food just tastes better when there’s a friendly atmosphere. I even got some recommendations on what to try next time. If you’re interested in stopping by too, Plaza Café is located at 410 Fayetteville Street, Suite 109, on the ground floor of the Duke Energy building.

So if you happen to pass through downtown Raleigh, take the time to check out all the lovely restaurants in the area. There are plenty more I didn’t have an opportunity to visit this year, but I’d like to in the future.

It’s always nice to support local businesses, no matter where you are.

 

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.