When we set out on this crazy restaurant reviewing adventure, our goal was to help our readers find great small local restaurants that are flying under the radar in the Triangle. Now that we’ve reviewed quite a few restaurants we think it’s about time we came out with our first list of great hole in the wall restaurants in the Triangle. This is intended to be an ongoing set of hole in the wall articles which we’ll add to periodically, so check back often. The restaurants on this list are small, local spots that have no more than one location and in most cases are flying under the radar.
Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham – Saltbox Seafood Joint is literally serving their food through a hole in the wall. Walk up to Saltbox Seafood’s shop front, check out their daily menu written on the chalkboard, and order through the window. Don’t forget to get one of their seasonal punches before sitting down to enjoy your hot and fresh seafood at one of the few picnic tables out front. The lemony slaw and crispy potatoes are simple, yet perfectly matched side dishes to amplify any meal from Saltbox. The menu changes daily, depending on what fish and shellfish is brought in fresh from the coast. This joint is a game changer, guaranteed.
Address: 608 N Mangum Street, Durham , North Carolina 27701
Smokey’s BBQ Shack in Morrisville – Another aptly named spot, Smokey’s looks and feels like you’re walking into a shack. The floor creaks and the tables wobble, but this adds nothing but character to the down home, southern meal you’re about to enjoy. Their barbeque is always juicy without being too smoky. It’s hard to choose a favorite side at Smokey’s, but their sweet tater tots, mac and cheese, and Brunswick stew are a cut above. Lunch is always packed, so get there early or be prepared to wait and enjoy the experience.
Address: 10800 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville, NC 27560
Taqueria La Herradura in Cary – Two words: tacos and tortas. Ok, that’s technically three words, but those are the two menu items you must get when you stop by Taqueria La Herradura. Their tacos are seasoned well and served with the simple and perfect garnishes of cilantro, onion, radishes and lime wedges. Their torta bun was fluffy and light with the cheese toasted right into the bread to form a nice little crust. All of the little details are done right in this little shop, which add up to make a big difference in their amazing menu. Taqueria La Herradura is open 7 days a week, but don’t miss $1 Taco Tuesdays!
Address: 748 E Chatham Street, Cary, NC 27511
Community Deli in Raleigh – Community Deli sits on the quiet side of Oberlin Road, just down the street from Cameron Village. Open most days of the week until 5pm, their breakfast and lunch menu is sure to please no matter the time of day. From traditional southern red hot hotdogs done all the way with chili, onions and mustard to various egg breakfast sandwiches, the real standout is their daily rotating soup menu. All the soups are made in house, fresh each day. Spoiler: the chicken & pastry is killer. To top it all off, the service and friendliness of the staff is just as sweet as any southern tea should be.
Address: 901 Oberlin Road, Raleigh, NC 27605
Gourmet Kingdom in Carrboro – Gourmet Kingdom sits along Main Street in Carrboro, down the street from the hustle and bustle of UNC’s campus. Serving up traditional Szechuan style dishes, Gourmet Kingdom is not your run-of-the-mill Americanized Chinese restaurant. Their sliced beef with green onion is simple and delicious, with the characteristically smoky, charred taste from being cooked in a wok. Szechuan spicy fish is another must-get dish that is extremely flavorful from both the chilies and garlic. Make sure your taste buds are ready to dance when you saddle up to Gourmet Kingdom. Despite its demure location, the food coming out of their kitchen packs a punch of bold flavor.
Address: 301 E Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @