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« Wahoo wha? | Main | Good for the GGO »

Jun 17, 2012


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Ed, what's your all-time favorite downtown eatery? I don't get down there often, need recommendations. Ate at Red Onion this week, was okay.

Ed Cone

All-time? That would have been the old Undercurrent at its peak. May have been the best restaurant in the state. But that doesn't do you much good now.

Undercurrent is still a fine restaurant, with a beautiful space. I mostly frequent lunch places that are dog friendly (either outdoor seating or quick pickup), so my list is skewed. I'm as likely to grab a slice from Mellow Mushroom (not their froufrou pizza, but the thin-crust slices they sell at lunch) as anything. M'Coul's has good pub food. AFCC was tasty. Manny's on MLK is good. And the takeout sushi place on Elm and Smothers is nice, too. The Thai place on Elm is good, pricey for dinner. We sometimes get slices from the pizza place on that block and sit on the benches in the alley by Chakras to eat them.

Billy Jones

I might try out AFCC on Phillips after it opens.


Zaytoon's for lunch. Recommended: Chicken Souvlaki or Gyro. Eat outside. It's nice.


I was talking with a local Tea Partier/C4gc/GreensboroGuardian-type today who was lamenting the fact that there aren't enough fast food restaurants downtown. You know, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Long John Silver's, etc. He said that's what "real Americans feed on." I thought he was batshit crazy for saying that and thanked him for the lulz. Anyway, I'll have to swing by AFCC. Menu looks awesome. The wife is particularly excited.


I've had goat at The SUgar Shack just off of Ocean Isle.... wait for it...

It wasn't Baa aa aa aad.

Billy Jones

prell, I actually have a very liberal friend who lives downtown and laments the lack of fast food restaurants there.

Ian McDowell

Last Friday in June, you say? I'm so there. I'm unimpressed by the goat in most local Indian restaurants, because, with the exception of some dish I had one time at the Saffron buffet, it tastes pretty indistinguishable from lamb. But the curried goat I've had at Paradise on Randleman and other Jamaican places is delightfully and distinctly goaty and I hope African style goat will be the same.

But then, I'm the weirdo who likes it when meat is "gamy" or strong-flavored. A friend shot some squirrel last year and cooked it and I thought it delicious. I prefer well-aged beef to veal and genuine grown-up mutton to lamb. The latter is one reason why I hold the heretical belief that the barbecued mutton at Moonlite Bar-B-Q in my late father's hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky is the best barbecue in the world, and I say that as someone who thinks swine is divine.

Ed Cone

There used to be a Chick-fil-A on North Elm. One could leash one's dog in the lobby while ordering and then enjoy a fried anti-gay sandwich al fresco in Center City Park.

I would like to try bbq mutton. I do like a lambsicle, though. My firstborn is a fairly adventuresome eater so maybe I can get him to Goat Night with me.

Ian McDowell

For decades, my dad would tell me how much he missed the barbecued mutton from Moonlite Barb-B-Q in Owensboro, KY (the Mutton Capital of the US). In the last couple years of his life, I learned that the Moonlite is still in business and does online orders, and I started sending it to him on a regular basis.

I also just sent a pound of it to a lovely woman I know in Texas, who is recovering from the effects of anemia and a recent surgery and is housebound and somewhat down in spirits. Despite having an Iranian father and an Israeli mother (she calls herself a Jewslim), she is addicted to swine and said she was craving NC barbecue, which she prefers to the Texas variety. When I mentioned barbecued mutton in email, her virtual ears perked up and she wrote back "MUST TRY THAT!"

While I was on the site, I couldn't resist ordering a pound of chopped mutton, a pound of sliced mutton, and a barbecued country ham for myself. There went a healthy chunk of that paycheck.


Ian McDowell

Considering that Fincastle's has better and fresher burgers than any national chain, I fail to see the need for such a place downtown.

Ed Cone

Burger Spot rules. Hoping they open one downtown.

Ginia Zenke

We miss Metro and the Vietnamese place, but for outdoor dining by the fountain - out of splatter range - we still like Cafe Europa. Mussel night is always good and their brunch fare is good too, and always friendly.
Smith St diner is a great, clean diner with good vittles and the best (Counter Culure) coffee in town.
Try Red Onion's Stinky Dog. I don't know why, but its good.


I've got to admit Ginia, I don't get the Smith St. thing and most people I know don't get it either, but there it is, line out the door every weekend morn. I loved Fincastles breakfast when they were doing it, but FTLOG, will someone please open up an honest to goodness breakfast joint downtown?

Ed Cone

What's not to get about Smith St?

Eggs, grits, bacon, and biscuits the size of your head, plus other diner fare. All good, served by nice folks, great location.


Ed. I'm thinking we would disagree about the quality of the food. The biscuits are some of the worst I've ever had - dry, crumbly - not the way my southern relatives made them, that's for sure. Not sure I would agree about the quality of service either. Location is indeed a winner. I suppose it is passable, but there is clearly room for another venue with a different approach. Iron Hen started out good, but again, the service/attitude sort of chased me away. It's too bad that I think my wife and I were the only ones to go to Fincastles for their breakfast...the french toast was simply otherworldly.

Ed Cone

I grew up on biscuits, and I like those biscuits.

But as the old North Carolina expression has it, à chacun son goût.


I guess with all this talk of food that nobody is on a diet,lol


smith's started off high on my weekend list of breakfast joints, but i agree about the biscuits... and the bagels are rock hard... and the omelets are overpacked with cheese... after a while, i just stopped going. IMO, your house makes a better breakfast. my favs are m'couls, printworks and europa.

Billy Jones

I have only one issue with Smith Street Diner-- they changed the name when they changed ownership. The previous owner, Mr Robinson, was one of the original Negro Baseball League stars and it was my hope the name would remain as he is a part of Greensboro history. Maybe they had good reason for changing the name and yes I will eat there again but I wish they had left history alone.

Seriously though, if it's a good Southern style breakfast you're looking for then don't even bother with downtown-- try O'Henry on Summit Ave or Bernie's on East Bessemer. Both have been serving breakfast for over 50 years.


Robinsons = Pork chop sandwich..... bone in! Yessir.

Ian McDowell

I miss Robinson's dearly and agree that Smith Street's biscuits, while generous in size, aren't the tastiest around (not as bad as Cofeeology, which serves the worst biscuits I've ever had, but they don't compare to Biscuitville's). Back in my grad school days, the brains-n-eggs at Robinson's was a favorite hangover food, and I was amused by their presence on the "three vegetables for $3.99" menu.

Does Smith Street actually serve foie gras or is it just something they have on their menu (like brains-n-eggs were for a while)? I've been tempted to order it, if only to express my solidarity with New York chefs like David Chang who refused to stop cooking it despite protests.

And yeah, Mick, that pork chop sandwich was a culinary treasure.

Billy Jones

Damn, I miss that pork chop sammich!

And Ian, what in the hell is foie gras?


Alright Billy...wife and I drove by Bernie's twice in the last few weeks on our wait out to NE park and wondered about it. Will definitely try it now.


Foie Gras (fattened duck liver, Billy) at Smith Street? Has to be a joke - maybe liver pudding?

M'Coul's brunch is tough to beat. I'm a big fan of Table 16 for a fancy dinner. Does 1618 count as being downtown? It's pretty good, too.

Tony Wilkins

Ed, you might try the roasted goat tacos at Villa Del Mar on High Point Rd. I thought they were good and would order them again. Don't leave without the freshly made guacamole.
The "ring the bell when you need us" at each table is a nice touch.
Tuesday and Thursday- .99 tacos for lunch.

Ian McDowell

Billy, Foie Gras is the enlarged liver of a goose or duck that has been specially fattened. In France, it's via a kind of force-feeding called gavage. In America, the birds are often naturally fed, and even when they receive their food through a tube stuck down their throats, there is footage of geese and ducks voluntarily (and eagerly) waddling forward to receive the tube. I would argue that even the birds that get the feeding tube lead better lives and are kept in better conditions than the average factory farmed chicken.

In 2006, Chicago banned the sale of Foie Gras, although that was rescinded in 2008. I believe such a ban is in effect in California. PETA has tried to push such a ban through in NYC. Maverick NYC restauranteur David Chang (who played himself in the last season of HBO's TREME) responded to the protestors by adding one foie gras dish to each of his menus at all of his restaurants. The farm which supplied him with the product, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, was actually praised by the Village Voice for the humane conditions there.

Smith Street Diner started listing foie gras as an add-on (at about $10) in their menu a year or two ago. Is it real foie gras? I don't know. The only foie gras I've ever had was a sushi ingredient at Nobu's, the NYC restaurant owned by Robert DeNiro, where the head chef is or was IRON CHEF star Morimoto (who often uses foie gras in his dishes on both the original Japanese and the American IRON CHEF). It was delicious there.

Ian McDowell

Tony, where is Marina Del Mar? Have you blogged about this? I must try these roasted goat tacos!

Ian McDowell

Villa Del Mar, I mean.

Ed Cone

Lessons learned from our trip to the fair.

Ian McDowell

[Ack, meant to post this here, not at the link Ed provides above.]

Most of the foie gras in the US comes from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. They pride themselves on their humane techniques are quite open to visitors and conduct regular tours. Anthony Bourdain devoted an episode of No Reservations to them. Here's a promotional video they did.


And here is the Village Voice investigation of Hudson Valley:

"The birds did not relish being grabbed, but the actual process with the tube didn't seem to bother them much. They sat with the tube down their throat for a very short period of time-about 10 to 15 seconds-without struggling or showing sign of distress. The whole process-pick up, position, feed, and release-took about 30 seconds. I watched the birds closely as they walked away from the feeding. Each waddled calmly away, looking unfazed: no breathing problems, no vomiting, and no trouble walking. Their feathers were fairly clean, and I didn't see any lesions on their feet or bodies."


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