What’s Triangle Restaurant Week?
For the uninitiated, it’s a weeklong celebration of culinary excellence, and the chance to taste new flavors from over 80 participating restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas.
During TRW, chefs offer special three-course menu options for lunch ($15/person)* and dinner ($20-$30/person)*, and often use the week to try out new, unique and adventurous menu options. No reservations or tickets are required, which makes TRW a fun and easy way to get out and share a meal with friends, family and coworkers.
But while everyone needs to ditch the kitchen and go out for something new every once in a while, what are the best ways to do so while maintaining a healthy diet?
Here are some of our tips to enjoy yourself in a healthy way:
Look for fresh, local ingredients
The Triangle restaurants are famous for their use of local, daily-sourced and house-made ingredients—and with such a rich bounty of produce, livestock and dairy farms surrounding us, who can be surprised?
Fortunately for diners, this means that even items you might not deem as the “healthiest”—like cheeses, beef dishes and desserts—can be made better by virtue of their healthy, local origins.
Locally sourced foods are better for the planet because they use less fossil fuels to travel, better for the local community and economy, and are seasonal, fresh and full of nutrients. For the healthiest local choices, aim for lots of fruits and vegetables, leaner meat or fish options, and whole grains. Ask for heavy sauces and dressings on the side.
Read further for some great callouts of participating restaurants who make local sourcing part of their restaurant lifestyle.
Make dinner an active event
Let TRW be your excuse to get out of your go-to routine and make dining an activity this week. It’ll make the meal more lively, the company more meaningful and the time more memorable.
- Set the night in motion by adding a pre- or post-meal stroll around town. Whether you window-shop or simply walk somewhere else for coffee, you’re on your feet and moving.
- Take a trip by driving across town (or across the Triangle) towards a destination outside your usual map. You might pass a park with a great soccer field, or remember how close you are to that pool, fitness center or skating rink you always meant to check out. Make a note, and come back later in the week for some healthy exercise.
- Enjoy the weather and the later sunsets, and stay out a little longer, rather than eating and going right home to bed—which is never a good idea!
Make lunch the new dinner
It’s easy to fall into the (bad) habit of eating at your desk, or (worse) let lunch slide until 2pm when you’re starving and apt to make poor food choices.
Why not take advantage of TRW lunch offerings, and make lunch your important meal of the day? There are a few ways you can do this that also put the “healthy” into “healthy eating.”
- Walk to the restaurant from your workplace if you can. A brisk walk to lunch will add exercise to your day and put you in a healthy frame of mind before you even sit down to look at the menu.
- Share an entree. Whether you lunch with your co-workers or meet your significant other, sharing allows you to order a desirable entrée, without feeling the need to eat the entire plate.
- Take advantage of lunch’s smaller portions knowing that even if you couldn’t resist the tenderloin or barbecued pork, there won’t be a dinner-sized cut on your plate.
Say yes to dessert
Desserts—who can resist? During TRW, the prix-fixe menus always include it. Remember you can always ask to skip that portion of the meal, but in case others at the table are interested just try these tips to say “yes” without regret.
- Order small and exercise portion control. There’s no shame in asking your server how large that slice of pie is, or if you can have it without the ice cream.
- Order one dessert for the table and split it. A few bites should satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Order smart. Summer offers sweet, luscious local berries and fruits, giving you delicious choices besides dense slabs of cake and thick icing.
And as usual, when eating out and eating healthy, remember the golden rules:
- Try not to skip meals during the day before eating out. It is best to feel moderatelyhungry instead of ravishing.
- Go easy on the calorie- containing drinks like sodas, sweet tea, and alcoholic beverages.
- Stop eating before you feel full and listen to your hunger cues. You can always take home a doggie bag for the next day.
Here are a few select participating restaurants across the Triangle that offer local, seasonal ingredients – plus some vegetarian options as well.
Primal Food & Spirits (Contemporary, gluten-free)
Primal features wood-fired local meats, an array of seasonal side dishes, and full bar boasting craft cocktails created from local ingredients. Check out their grilled octopus appetizer with shaved fennel and preserved lemons if you’re hungry for something new.
Guglhupf (German, bakery)
Local and seasonal ingredients are prepared with a contemporary southern German twist for an exquisite dining experience. Taste their handcrafted cocktails, artisan breads, house made charcuterie and local cheese selections.
Kipos Greek Taverna (Greek, vegan)
Kipos means “garden” in Greek, and they serve fresh and robust village foods cooked in wood-burning ovens. Dinner includes vegan options. Try Kipos’ local roasted beet or shrimp saganaki salads and treat yourself to an inventive Olive Oil chocolate mouse, semolina cake or goat cheese and fig ice creams.
Weathervane Restaurant (American, southern)
Located within A Southern Season, Weathervane features seasonal menus that highlight local ingredients in contemporary American fare with a southern flair. Go for their NC sunburst trout and hand-stretched noodles with local smoked chicken and okra.
Totopos Street Food & Tequila (Mexican)
Taste an impression of daily life in Mexico City with a menu focused on the capital city’s diverse street food. Their dinner menu features a Ceviche Acapulco in which shrimp “cooks” itself without heat by marinating in freshly-squeezed citrus juices and tomato juice alongside crunchy cucumbers, onion and cilantro.
Little Hen (Contemporary, American)
A farm-to-table restaurant where every dish on the menu consists primarily of ingredients sourced from local farmers. In addition to local cheeses, Little Hen serves an excellent pan-seared NC shrimp, and they make their own rigatoni in a light saffron marinara sauce with summer squash & zucchini.
Irregardless Cafe (Contemporary, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten free)
When Irregardless opened in 1975, it was known as the hippie, vegetarian place. Today, its award winning, hand-crafted meals still feature local and organic seafood, meats, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu items, all cooked with the healthiest techniques. Irregardless Cafe also features live music and nightlife.
Garland (Indian, International, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten free)
This restaurant has come a long way from its origins as a nighttime-only take-out window. Spice driven seasonal cuisine focuses on Indian and Asian flavors, utilizing local ingredients and a from-scratch kitchen. Seasonal handcrafted cocktails are a bonus. There’s always a local catch, house-made sausage and a tasty curry.