I found my new favorite restaurant. I'm almost hesitant to tell you about it. It's akin to giving you my babysitter's name or pediatrician's phone number. Suddenly my sitter is always booked and I can't get an appointment with my favorite doc. Sharing the name of a favorite restaurant is a fine balance to strike. I want the place to soar but I don't want to have to wait ages for a table. I want the food to stay delicious without sacrificing flavor for fast when the line winds around the back.
So far this place is an out of the way discovery that I owe to my friend Penny's Facebook update. She might sell kids clothes that have moxie but the girl knows good food too. Knowing my friend has discerning taste and clearly shares restaurant finds more readily than I do, I bit.
It was love at fist bite.
I inhaled blackened tofu tacos with the most luscious carrots shaved on top and a tangy fennel and orange salad. I would have licked my plate had I not been on a business lunch. I swiped a couple kale chips off my lunch date's plate and was immediately transported to culinary heaven. The kale chips are hard to explain, but picture a light, airy kale leaf glistening ever so slightly with a tish of olive oil. The crunch is delicate while the flavor packs a beta carotene punch. I told our waiter Clint (who was equal parts cool and earnest with a charming smile and easy nature) that I was coming back for dinner that very night. Then I got home and realized in my uber state of organization that I had dinner already prepared.
Alas, I settled for dinner at my new favorite haunt the next night. I took my husband and young sons. No one left unsatiated. My husband enjoyed the blackened tofu tacos and seconded my rave review. Deal had mac and cheese with real cheese. No powder on the premises. Bird had grilled chicken with a spinach salad and homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. He also proceeded to eat up my husband's tofu. I guarded my mahi mahi with cucumber noodles and would have put up a fight had anyone asked for a bite.
The children's menu is chock full of healthy, flavorful choices like tempeh meatballs and grilled shrimp. The sides offer fruit and salad, a far cry from the usual fries and canned fruit cocktail. When Bird was done eating he exclaimed, "That was the best chicken in a restaurant ever!" The boys were tickled that we even let them order from the kid's menu. Usually they color and doodle on it, knowing full well that the choices are garbage so we won't order off of it. This is just one reason my new favorite restaurant is now my new favorite restaurant.
When I go back I'm trying the pina colada chicken salad, fish tacos, honey glazed roast cabrito, strawberry and mint salad, and tempura fried asparagus. And they better have kale chips. I'm bellying up for six orders of those.
If you must know, my new favorite restaurant is Market Restaurant. 938 N. Blount Street in Raleigh. It's walkable from Pilot Mill, and luckily a short drive from my house. Check 'em out for lunch or dinner. Healthy. Tasty. Fresh. Sustainable. Local. Perfect for friends, kids, colleagues, date night, solo. Just save me a seat, mkay. After all, I did tell you about it.
Ilina is the mom of two who writes about food here every Wednesday. But you can always find her on her own blog Dirt & Noise.