Story by Jamie Buning, the second in a continuing series on Restaurants in Cary.
Cary, NC – Our food tour has now traveled down the street to Waverly Place where I’m now convinced a person could spend all day.
Every few months or so, new restaurants are being introduced into this Cary shopping center, providing dining options that are varied and eclectic. As summer nears, you can dine outside at any Waverly Place restaurant while enjoying live music and performances, and great people watching.
The restaurants that I visited were Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Enrigo Italian Bistro, Fresca Café and Gelato, and Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina.
Greek Fast Casual at Taziki’s
Taziki’s is located on the upper level of Waverly place right off Colonades Way. When I arrived there, I was amazed at the outdoor patio. There are cast iron tables with umbrellas positioned around a beautiful three-tiered fountain. Walking inside I didn’t expect such an aesthetically pleasing décor because the restaurant is set up to be a quick service place. There are pictures of Greece on all the walls and decorated metal screens, an ornate gate, and large dining table that were handmade in Birmingham, Alabama where the first Taziki’s opened.
I found a table and sat down with owner Charles Godwin who told me “I was inspired to open a Taziki’s in Cary because I was driving around to find something to eat one day and saw only pizza, burritos, and McDonald’s. I thought there needed to be another option.”
Taziki’s provides fresh, healthy Mediterranean food that can be eaten in the restaurant or taken to go. There is a convenient option to order dinner for 4 people (includes four different dinner choices) priced from $26 to $29, and it can be ready any time after 2:00 p.m.
On my visit, I started with a Greek lemon chicken soup that was flavorful and stayed warm the whole time. Other Greek favorites are hummus with baked pita bread, tomato-cucumber salad, and several types of gyros. I tried the lamb gyro which was tender with the perfect amount of Taziki sauce topped with grilled onions and tomatoes. The herb-roasted pork loin and grilled north Atlantic salmon also come highly recommended. The salmon was grilled perfectly, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with a hint of lemon.
Nice Beverage Selection
To accompany your food, there is a small wine list with both domestic and Mediterranean wines. Two wines on the list are Seven Falls Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State. Both wines were just awarded a score of 90 in Wine Spectator. I tried the Chardonnay which paired well with each dish.
In addition to the wine, there are a few bottled beers. There is a Greek beer called Marathon, Kronenburg 1664, Victory Prima Pils, Triangle IPA, and a couple of domestic beers.
When you are ready to try something different and fresh for lunch or dinner, head over to Taziki’s.
Barberitos : Farm Fresh Mexican Fare
A hop, skip, and a jump away is the newly opened Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina. Barberitos is a franchise but Cary has the only location in the Triangle area. The concept of the restaurant is to use farm fresh ingredients, produce arrives daily. There are also no added fats or preservatives in anything they serve.
Barbaritos’ manager, Brad Bullock, describes the restaurant as “very health oriented and allergy conscious.” He goes on to say that “the chips and taco shells are gluten free, the cheese is grated every day, and the chicken and steak are char-grilled.”
On the menu you’ll find different types of burritos, quesadillas, tacos, salads, and nachos. Jerk fish tacos are featured on Fridays and have quickly become a customer favorite. Luckily, I got to try them. The grilled tilapia was doused in jerk sauce with a nice, peppery kick. Good thing I had a mango margarita to quench my thirst!
I also had some chips that were thin and crispy that I tried with queso, guacamole, and many types of salsa all of which are made in house. There is a salsa bar so you can choose tomato, tomatillo, or corn salsa, and mango salsa is available upon request.
Barberitos has specials throughout the week. Thirsty Thursdays are a fun night with premium beers (Lonerider, New Belgium, Modelo) specialed at $2, margaritas are $2, and domestic beers are $1.50. Also on Thursdays, check out the games outside including”corn hole” and “can jam” and free to play.
On Tuesdays you can’t go wrong with a burrito and a drink for $5.49. There are seven kinds of burritos and they are all custom-made to your liking. If you want to add sautéed spinach, onions, peppers, or mushrooms, you can do that.
For a new take on Tex-Mex, give Barberitos a try.
Feel Like You’re In Europe: Fresca Cafe and Gelato
Across the courtyard from Barbaritos is Fresca Café and Gelato. Fresca is designed like any proper European café where you can take your time dining and drinking. There is coffee or wine to sip, sandwiches and crepes to eat, and you can top it off with gelato. Owner, Alen Subasic grew up in Yugoslavia where his aunt owns a café very similar to Fresca. In fact, Subasic’s aunt told him where to order the Italian ingredients for his gelato to keep it authentic. There are over 35 gelato recipes with favorites including Nutella and pistachio. I tried the chocolate orange gelato in a dish called Affogato, gelato topped with a shot of espresso and homemade whipped cream. Yum!
In keeping with the Italian style, Fresca also ordered their espresso machine direct from Italy. Fresca even has their own espresso beans made by a company called Fortuna in Greensboro. You can try this espresso in any coffee drink or you can order a bag to go. If you are stopping by for a snack, French style pastries or sweet crepes go well with coffee. Fresca has partnered with a pastry shop in Cary called NamaKiss and offers some of their pastries with a couple of gluten-free choices.
More Than Breakfast
Breakfast is a popular time at Fresca because of their waffles, sweet crepes, quiches, and more. But don’t forget about lunch and dinner. Fresca has savory crepes, salads, and sandwiches available all day. I chose the Grilled Chicken and Roasted Onion Crepe which also has roasted tomatoes and brown sugar spiced bacon with a basil sauce that adds a bit of sweetness to this flavorful crepe. Subasic recommends drinking the Les Traverses de Fontanes, a 2010 French Cabernet Sauvignon, with this crepe. There are other European red and white wines and four European beers (one is actually a cider) on the menu.
Subasic says that “Fresca offers the full dining experience from presentation, to service, to last but not least, food and drinks. Come to Fresca for a glass of wine, a savory crepe, and some gelato and you’ll still spend the same amount as an entrée at most other restaurants.”
Enrigo Italian Bistro
My last stop in Waverly Place was Enrigo Italian Bistro, where the staff welcomed me back with open arms and friendly smiles. Last time I was at the restaurant, I had the house-made mezzelune, so this time I went for something different.
I had the Panino Vegetariano, a sandwich on grilled Italian bread with fresh spinach, olives, sautéed bell peppers, melted fontina cheese and a sauce similar to Thousand Island. Meri, the chef, did not skimp on the cheese, and as a cheese fan that makes me happy. The sandwich was perfect for lunch with the new Enrigo salad comprised of mixed greens, grapes, onions, and walnuts. Finally, I had strawberry panna cotta topped with strawberry sauce for dessert. This dessert was nice and light and the sauce added the ripe strawberry flavor that I love.
Since my last visit to Enrigo, there have been a few changes to the wine and beer menu. There is a new white wine from Puglia called Verdeca that pairs well with the Enrigo salad. The new draft beers are Bells Porter and Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale, and they have my favorite beer, Carolina Pale Ale in a bottle.
If you are still thirsty and want something else with dessert, Enrigo brews a great cup of coffee or a cappuccino.
Other Waverly Options
There are more options for you dessert seekers. Menchies (located on the lower level) has over 100 different flavors of frozen yogurt with 14 available at a time. There is always a sorbet and a sugar-free option, and popular flavors such as peanut butter and vanilla are always available.
At Gigi’s Cupcakes (near Taziki’s upstairs) each cupcake has equal parts cake and icing. The cupcakes are made fresh every day, and the flavors change every day. I get hungry just looking at the flavors today, Turtle Cheesecake, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Cola Float.
If you haven’t made it to Waverly Place in a while, I highly recommend checking it out. Take a few days and try everything.