Step Right Up!

Some of the best tastes in town can be ordered at the counter

Banner photo by Food-Seen by Felicia Perry Photography

Guasaca Arepa & Salsa Grill
4025 Lake Boone Trail, #107, Raleigh
Guasaca specializes in arepas: a type of Venezuelan bread made from corn instead of wheat that are gluten-free. Arepas make the perfect base for many different combinations of foods, and at Guasaca you can build your own working from a list of choices in proteins, sides and sauces. The owners describe their food as Venezuelan with American influences that is fresh, healthy and affordable. Guasaca offers both indoor and patio dining, and has other locations in Durham and Morrisville.

Snoopy’s Hot Dogs and More
1931 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh
It was back in 1978 that Steve Webb converted a gas station at the corner of Wake Forest and Whitaker Mills Roads in Raleigh to the flagship location for Snoopy’s Hot Dogs. Since then they have been serving up hot dogs and hamburgers in the traditional Eastern North Carolina style with mustard, onions and chili and always on a steamed bun (which is why the ones you make at home don’t taste like these). Snoopy’s is a late-night tradition for many people and has grown from the original location to include four others around Raleigh and Garner. The famous dogs are half-price on Tuesdays, and the French fries are addictive every day.
Pharaoh’s American Grill
4421 Six Forks Road, #116-A, Raleigh
Located in the Lassiter District of North Hills, this locally-owned food counter is known for its hamburgers, hot dogs and deli-style sandwiches. There’s an Egyptian theme running through the décor, and it transfers onto the menu with burgers named The Sphinx and the King Tut. Diners rave about the crinkle-cut fries and sip on homemade orangeades, lemonades and limeades. There are no tables inside and some limited seating out on the sidewalk in front at North Hills. There is a second location, Pharoah’s at the Museum, located inside the North Carolina Museum of History. A portion of proceeds from that location are donated to the museum.

Tookie’s Grill
8105 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh
Tookie’s is attached to a convenience store along a busy stretch of Falls of Neuse Road in North Raleigh. Choices on the menu board include burgers, hot dogs and even pimiento cheese sandwiches, but the chicken salad is the star of the show. It’s made from white meat chicken, mayonnaise, eggs, celery and onion. They will put it on bread and make a sandwich for you, but you can skip all that and eat it with a fork straight out of the plastic container like many of the regulars. In addition to the original location at the gas station, Tookie’s operates at the Flea Market at the State Fairgrounds, at another location in Garner, and NC has a Tookie’s To Go food truck.
Legislative Cafeteria
16 W. Jones Street, Raleigh
Grab a tray and make your way through the line at the cafeteria in the basement of the North Carolina Legislative Building. Pork barbecue and hushpuppies are, naturally, two of this Southern cafeteria’s signature dishes. The Legislative website,, posts the rotating menu of entrees, vegetables and soups online every day. The cafeteria is open to the public from 11am until 2pm Monday through Friday. Insiders say save some room for the generously-portioned cake and pie dessert selections that are reasonably priced.

Poppyseed market photo by  @raleighfoodpics

Poppyseed market photo by @raleighfoodpics

Poppyseed Market
8801 Lead Mine Road, Raleigh
Poppyseed Market in North Raleigh is more than just a place to order a gourmet sandwich. Under the watch of Chef Julia, Poppyseed also features an extensive menu of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, desserts, beer and wine. Customers order from the counter in the front between the hours of 11am and 5pm. Your order can be delivered to your table or you can wait to pick it up to go while you marvel over the salads and entrees that are under glass. After 5pm Poppyseed dims the lights and becomes a full-service restaurant for dinner.

Mami Nora’s Rotisserie
2401 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh
You won’t need your navigation app to find Mami Nora’s Rotisserie restaurant in Raleigh. Head towards downtown on Wake Forest Road and let your nose guide you to the mouthwatering smell of roasted chicken. Mami Nora’s serves Peruvian-style chicken that is bathed in a special marinade and then cooked in charcoal ovens that came from Peru. The chicken takes center stage here, but customers also enjoy traditional sides like yucca fries and fried plantains. Mami Nora herself retired two years ago, but she handed the keys and the kitchen secrets over to her children.