Yes, Gocciolina is an Italian restaurant in a strip mall, but you’ll forget that the second you enter the just-crowded-enough dining room. From the old-timey photos on the walls of people shoving pasta into their mouths to the tall breadsticks in the middle of the table that always taste like childhood, you’ll immediately know this is somewhere you want to eat pasta - and they happen to make some of the best in the city. The appetizers and pastas are all small-ish portions, but nothing’s over $14, which makes it easy to get a few things to share for the table, like the spicy chickpeas and the crispy fried eggplant, as well as spaghetti carbonara and one of the raviolis. Walk-ins are welcome, but you’re better off making a reservation, especially for groups larger than two and on the weekends.
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Parker and Otis
Parker and Otis is in a kitschy gift shop in Durham so after spending $20 on candy and things you don’t need, get some of our favorite sandwiches.
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles
You know you’re getting chicken and waffles at Dame’s in Durham and you know you’re going to need a nap after.
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Lantern in Chapel Hill’s menu is a mix of Southern and asian influences, and sitting in the upstairs bar sharing plates and cocktails is the way to go
Crawford and Son
Crawford and Sons in Raleigh is the right balance of fancy and cool, with high-end Southern food and a funky interior.
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