Everyone’s idea of comfort food is different—hot or cold, sweet or savory, veggie or meat—but they all provide more than sustenance. Here’s a baker’s dozen of our favorites in Triangle restaurants.


Lime & Basil

The moment I get a tickle in my throat, whether it’s allergies or something more sinister, I make a beeline for a bowl of pho at Lime & Basil. A wicker basket filled with bean sprouts, fresh basil, jalapeño slices, and a lime wedge hits the table first; the ceremonial tearing of basil into beef broth (chicken or vegetarian, if you prefer) follows. Chopsticks unearth rice noodles and generous slices of meat, while a Chinese soup spoon is perfect for skimming the cilantro, red onion, and scallions from the broth’s surface. It’s a sensory experience that’s as healthy as it is delicious, and the generous portion size means you’re bound to head home with leftovers. —Veda Gilbert

The Daredevil

Trophy Brewing + Pizza

As a kid, my New Jersey family frequented two pizza joints, one a few miles from our house and the other down the shore. So now, when I crave comfort food, ordering a few slices is the way I go. Back then, I only ate cheese pies, but lately, I like my pizza spicy, and Trophy Brewing + Pizza’s Daredevil delivers with a triple-threat heat. The pie is slicked with fire-roasted tomato sauce, scattered with mozzarella, then topped with a trio of spicy toppings—ghost pepper salami, jalapeño, and sriracha—plus caramelized onions for a hit of sweetness. Trophy’s crust is my Goldilocks moment, not too thick, not too thin, but just right. —Sharon Kurtzman

Chicken Uttapam

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

Is second-degree comfort food a thing? Can a dish that I tasted for the first time last August—one that causes my Indian friends to reminisce about their childhoods—comfort me in a similar way? In the case of the chicken uttapam, I think so. The flavor combination of the uttapam—a crepe-like fermented lentil and rice pancake—and hearty, charred tandoori chicken temporarily mutes the ever-looming stress of dissertation deadlines and job applications. And there’s something about tearing off pieces of the pillowy crepe and dunking them into chutney that takes me back to my childhood and eating with my hands. —Amy Sentementes

El Finquero Breakfast

El Chapin

Nothing feels more luxurious than eating breakfast out. I’ve waited hours in line for feats of pastry innovation, indulged in $12 all-you-can-drink mimosas, and spent more on avocado toast than I would a hardcover book. But my favorite breakfast is at El Chapin. Nestled in a strip mall, the combination grocery and restaurant serves many Guatemalan specialties, but the most comforting meal is their el finquero desayuno: fried egg, queso para freir, black beans, and sweet, almost-caramelized plantains. Plus, a side of sirloin steak. It is not uncommon to see whole Guatemelan families there on a weekend morning, some in their Sunday best, some hunched over in anxiety as they watch a futbol match. —Katie Jane Fernelius


Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

In the madness of Hopscotch’s long, hot days of loud music and flowing cheap beers, I make a pilgrimage to Beasley’s Chicken + Honey and order the meatloaf. If you don’t like your food to touch, this dish isn’t for you: The meatloaf slice is served in a bowl atop whipped mashed potatoes and drizzled with charred onion gravy, but it makes it easy to grab a bite with every element in tow. It’s not exactly summertime food, but it fuels a night out at Hopscotch and gives me a chance to slow down, enjoy my company, and let the ringing my ears die down. —Kat Harding

Skillet Cornbread

Acme Food & Beverage Company

The 2016 Presidential election was a disaster for some and a celebration for others. I came to from my post-Election Night daze over a steaming skillet of cornbread at Acme, a mound of sticky, sweet sorghum butter seeping into coarse crumbs. If dishes could give hugs, Acme’s cornbread would provide a warm, tight embrace, not an awkward side-hug. Finding cornbread that is moist without being too cakey is a challenge in our biscuit-loving region, and though I don’t enjoy talking about politics as much, I unapologetically identify as team cornbread over team biscuit, and Acme’s cornbread validates my polarizing stance. —Amy Sentementes


It is difficult to pinpoint one dish as the comfort food of Goorsha. Ethiopian food works best as a gustatory symphony: tangy injera bookending bites of savory kik alecha, sour beetroot salad, and pungent gomen. But if you, like me, grew up with the mandate to eat your vegetables, and if you, like me, often had the same two steamed vegetables in rotation at your house (broccoli, green beans), then you, like me, may also feel like a meal is incomplete unless you’ve shoveled a few bites of green veggies into your mouth, the hall pass for dessert. The fosolia—a barely-vinegared, cooked-just-right mix of not-quite-soft green beans and carrots—is the element that makes any meal at Goorsha feel complete, and it’s what I wish “eating your vegetables” meant for every meal. —Katie Jane Fernelius


Rise Biscuits and Donuts

If you like biscuits, donuts, or fried chicken, you can’t go wrong with Rise’s menu, but it’s the “hashpuppies”—a hash-brown-hushpuppy hybrid—that call to me daily (nightly, too). Picture a deep-fried, jumbo tot (yep, they threw a tater tot into the mix, too) stuffed with grated Idaho potatoes, cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of fresh chives, all fried-to-order to golden, crispy perfection. They arrive piping hot, but you must wait a hot minute before you can bite into the crisp golden outer layer and reveal the gooey, cheesy reward within—but with four pieces per order, your craving will be well and truly met.—Veda Gilbert

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Tra’li Irish Pub

At the first sign of frost, my great-grandma swore by making and eating a dish of smoked neckbones, steamed cabbage, and boiled potatoes. Tra’li Irish Pub’s corned beef and cabbage—hearty, salty, and usually served with a scoop of mash—warms me up from the inside on even the coolest of days. And it’s about as close to that feeling as I can get without my whole house smelling like boiled cabbage or having to pick through neckbones. Though online recipes for corned beef and cabbage abound, if you don’t have four hours and a crock pot to make your own, any Irish pub worth its salt will serve it up for you—and for me, that’s Tra’li Irish Pub. —Ariaine Sanders

Lamb Gyro

Mediterranean Deli

During a long-distance relationship, I flirted with the Triangle for two years before committing and moving here. Each bi-monthly trip included a visit to Chapel Hill’s Med Deli and a lamb gyro, a near-impossible dish to eat neatly on a date. I’d try to navigate the loaded pita stacked with meat, fresh tomatoes, onions, and lettuce in a graceful way. But resistance, as they say, is futile, especially when the tzatziki sauce starts dripping down your face. And it’s so worth it. Though absence does make the heart grow fonder, my love for the lamb gyro has never waned, even though I can now have it whenever I want. —Kat Harding 

LaPlace Salad


Comfort foods are often synonymous with guilty pleasures, but for me, the key to comfort is satisfaction—minus the guilt. A well-put-together salad can hit the spot—ideally, it’s more complicated than something you’d make yourself, falling somewhere between a sad kale-based deprivation and a soggy ranch dressing delivery system. LaPlace’s signature salad strikes the right balance of texture and taste, fat and crunch: mixed greens and sweet onions mingle with crumbled bleu cheese and lardons—the sophisticated Frenchman’s bacon—while poached pears wait patiently on the side, so you can add a little sweetness to offset the tart vinaigrette. The salad holds its own as-is but is even better topped with shrimp or fried oysters.—Meg Nesterov 

“Pep it Up”Bagel Breakfast Sandwich


When I moved to Durham, I told people that the Monuts pastry case was my forwarding address. There’s something about Monuts—the laid-back atmosphere, the cavalcade of Durham personalities—that settles me into my seat for hours. The seasonal menu always has a bagel breakfast sandwich, and the “Pep It Up” is the stuff of breakfast fantasies. Melty white cheddar cheese oozes onto a bagel smeared with tangy pepper jelly, smashed avocado, and a flawlessly over-easy egg. As a self-professed bagel expert—I’m Jewish (the official peoples of the bagel) and from Montreal (home of the world’s best bagels)—I can attest that Monuts’ bagels are first rate: thick and chewy, toasted to just the right crunch, and in no way designed for sharing or restraint. —Natalia Lutterman


Watts Grocery

While you wait for one of chef Amy Tornquist’s delicious brunch dishes, an angel in an apron appears and sets upon your table a dish of freshly made churros with a warm, homemade chocolate sauce for dunking. The churros are crispy, airy, lightly sweetened, and perfectly spiced. The sauce is rich, like chocolate-flavored silk. Together, they hit every taste and texture note. You may have a hangover. You may have ditched sleeping in to come out for brunch. You may be facing a hellacious work week and an unreasonable boss on Monday morning. But, one bite of those glorious pastries dripping in that heavenly sauce, and you know everything will be OK. —Debbie Matthews