While everyone’s attention this week has been turned to Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention, it was my trip last weekend to the state’s “Research Triangle” that yielded many favorable (food) returns. Commonly known as “The Triangle,” the area comprising Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill as its three corners, has received national acclaim in the past few years for the quality and surprising complexity of its budding restaurant scene, even being referred to as the “little restaurant capital of the U.S.” Who would have thought?
While I plan to highlight the Triangle’s more seated spots in an upcoming area guide, it is first worth noting some of its best food trucks. These mobile kitchens have both extensive and diverse selections, and have become fixtures in a region teeming with students looking for quick and affordable meals during prime lunch and dinner hours. Use the contact information provided to track down the trucks’ daily locations next time you’re visiting the area.
Proving that it can be impossible to accurately classify a food genre with just one word, KoKyu is best defined as “international BBQ,” which includes tacos, sliders and quesadillas. Diners looking to get the full experience should order the two-taco or slider plates and choose from moderately priced favorites like the Korean BBQ taco and buffalo chicken slider. Combos are served with their signature rosemary duck fat tater tots, which have rightfully achieved a cult following. kokyubbq.com, @KoKyuBBQ, 315-796-5330
Whoever believes that there is no such thing as a gourmet grilled cheese needs to take a trip to American Meltdown. The truck uses fresh cheeses and breads for their inventive creations: the “Pigs ‘n’ Figs” is made of sourdough, goat cheese, speck and figs, and is drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Among their modestly priced options is the Hangover, a sandwich that makes Meltdown “the only place in the country, maybe the world, where people ASK for a hangover.” americanmeltdown.org
Bulkogi Korean BBQ
This “Korean BBQ to go” stop features piping hot Korean classics like spicy bulkogi (there really is no consensus on the spelling) beef and various rice dishes, in addition to several kimchi-based menu items. Among the unconventional options are kimchi quesadillas, hot dogs with bulkogi and kimchi and bulkogi sliders. Even though it is priced slightly higher than most food trucks, it remains my personal favorite for a quick and messy bite that is also a tad zany. @NCBulkogi
A mini school bus turned ice cream vendor, The Parlour serves frozen treats handcrafted in small batches and often rotates seasonal flavors. Local dairy ingredients and items like berries and sweet potatoes come from a variety of the area’s farms. The salted butter caramel is a highlight, and keep an eye out for any flavors that use beer from the nearby Fullsteam Brewery. There are also several vegan offerings. theparlourdurham.com, @parlourdurham
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