Hey hey, it’s that time of the year again, NC Triangle! The NC Chinese Lantern Festival is back in town, opening on November 22 and running until January 12. There are 20 new displays lit up by 15,000 LED lights on display by the lake at Koka Booth Amphitheater. Live acrobatic performances run every hour at the main stage and of course there will be hot cocoa, food trucks and more for visitors, details below. Tickets are available from $12 (children) to $20 (adult) for specific days or any day tickets. You can but tickets online or save yourself the $6.00+ fee by getting in line at the Koka Booth box office which opens before the 6pm event start time.
It’s a fun evening for the whole family when the weather is right! Every night they will have food trucks available with details available at the Koka Booth Facebook page. During my visit, the food trucks onsite were Baozi, Crispy Gyoza, Qspresso and Buzzy Bakes Cupcakery. They will also have some venue concessions open with spring rolls, sweet n sour chicken, wontons and more. So don’t miss out on the NC Chinese Lantern Festival! It will be around for most nights (except Mondays) until January 12 from 6 to 10pm!
2019 NC Chinese Lantern Festival at Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Parkway
Cary, NC 27518
When it comes to breweries in Raleigh, Trophy Brewing is one of the earlier options that came out of the chute brewing great beer. And as a bonus, this little brewery was also putting out some of the best pizza in the area! Focused on fresh ingredients and interesting flavors, grabbing a beer and pie at Trophy was always a special evening on this quiet, little block on Morgan Street. The ONE drawback was that it was a really, small space to dine in. If you came to visit during a busier period, you’d have to stand by in that tight space, stalking an open table. And do your best to stay out of the way of the very busy staff.
But guess what? That one little niggle of dining at Trophy Brewing and Pizza is NO more! Given their popularity and success, Trophy Brewing and Pizza has taken over the whole small plaza it sits in, building out a much larger dining room and brewery space next door. I was able to pop in on its opening day (11/19) to see what it was like and color me impressed! The old and dark dining room is now modern, light and open! A hostess desk sits up front with a bright yellow neon Trophy sign. Inside there’s a large bar in the center of the dining area, communal, high-top tables and a bunch of 4-tops scattered about. And there’s a brewing area with a handful of tables in the space, perhaps meant to be a private room. The menu hasn’t changed too much yet outside of some additional appetizers but I suspect they may expand your food options given the larger space. And you definitely do not want to miss out on Motor City Mondays, when Trophy Brewing serves up some delicious, crispy Detroit-style pizzas. I’ll be updating this post after I’ve had a chance to go back for some more visits but it deserves a huge thumbs-up for me! And I’m looking forward to the sours they will be brewing in that new space…
When it comes to boba (bubble) tea, I’m a big fan and Cha House does some of the best boba tea in the area! And now with their new location, I don’t have to travel far to get my fix. Offering milk teas, fruit teas along with some savory Taiwanese snacks (popcorn chicken, pork chop, etc), I’m sure Cha House will be a hit with the NC State student body. Add in their relaxed loungeable space and I think you’ll find it a worthwhile stop if you’re in the NC State area. I’ll be updating this post with more information after visiting again.
Cha House Raleigh – Stanhope Apartments
3001 Hillsborough Street, #108
Raleigh, NC 27607
Now you may be wondering about the buzz around the new Popeye’s chicken sandwich! Launched in mid-August, this chicken sandwich quickly went viral through word of mouth creating lines and mania everywhere. Claims that the new chicken sandwich was better than arch-rival Chick Fil A’s was put to the test. Popeye’s then ran out of chicken in September, sadly ending all the chicken craziness. But not to fret, dear foodie, because the Popeye’s chicken sandwich re-launched on November 3 and guess what?! There were still lines! But persistence is important in life and all I can say is that this chicken sammich, well it’s worth a bit of a wait!
I headed over to the Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen on Capital Boulevard at about 2pm on a Thursday afternoon. Pulling into the parking lot, I could still see a line of about 6 cars in the drive-thru. Inside, there was a shorter line of about 4 people so, not too bad. And you can bet that most people were in line for that chicken sandwich. It takes about 10 minutes to hit the front of the line and I order up one spicy chicken sandwich ($3.99) and one classic combo’d up with a drink and Cajun fries. It’s $11.69 for the whole deal which is super reasonable and my order comes out in about 5 to 10 minutes given the busy restaurant.
The chicken sandwiches come nicely wrapped in foil-paper sleeves which keeps some of the heat in. Visually, it’s a delicious looking sandwich! Shiny-top, brioche bun with a large and bumpy, fried chicken patty tucked in between. Inside you’ll find two pickles, a slather of mayo (spicy or plain) and that’s about it. Taking a bite you’ll get a hit of tender chicken, crunchy batter and sweet from the pickle. Popeye’s grills the bun a bit for some buttery texture and the brioche adds a hint of sweet to the sandwich, excellent! While the chicken patty is all white meat, it’s tender and exhibits some juiciness. All in all it’s a very, nicely balanced chicken sandwich with some heft and surprisingly, not much grease which is appreciated. I’d recommend the spicy version to maximize flavor. And oh yeah, those Cajun fries are great too! Just a hint of spicy coating, I’ll need to get them fresh next time.
While I wouldn’t wait in a 30 minute line or risk being stabbed in line for the Popeye’s chicken sandwich, it’s certainly about as good as it gets for fast food chicken. It’s an extremely satisfying bite and well put together given its humble origins. Just be aware that we only have 7 or so Popeye’s in the area vs. the MANY Bojangles locations. So if you’re willing to make the trek out to your local Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken, I’m pretty sure you’ll be pretty pleased with their chicken sandwich, Classic or Spicy!