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Written by:  Carolina Parent staff
Date: July 1, 2010

Carolina Parent readers voted for the best places to dine -- inside and out -- in the Triangle, resulting in these 2010 Family Favorites.

Kids' Menu

Red Robin offers the usual favorites, such as macaroni and cheese, pizza, grilled cheese or chicken fingers, but also provides added interest with items such as grilled chicken on a stick and chick-n-cheese quesadillas. In addition to steak fries, side offerings include apple slices, baby carrots, mandarin oranges, side salad or melons. Locations in Apex, Cary, Durham, Raleigh and Wake Forest; www.redrobin.com.

Non-chain Family Restaurant

Elmo's Diner is known for its friendly atmosphere, homemade food and community focus. It offers breakfast and lunch all day with an extensive menu of everything from vegetarian tacos, BLTs, burgers and sandwiches to salads and entrees such as salmon and enchiladas. Kids can choose from a wide range of selections, including a turkey sandwich, burger, veggie burger, spaghetti or hot dogs. Side dishes include French fries, applesauce, cottage cheese, fruit cup and warm cinnamon apples.

The first Tuesday each month, 10 percent of the day's sales benefit a local school. 200 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro; 776 Ninth St., Durham; http://elmosdiner.com.

Ethnic Eatery

Neomonde Deli, founded 30 years ago by Lebanese brothers who came to America, serves authentic Mediterranean cuisine. Repeat customers are affectionately known as "Neomande Nuts." 10235 Chapel Hill Rd., Morrisville; 3817 Beryl Rd., Raleigh; www.neomonde.com.

Pizza Place

Mellow Mushroom serves pizza with a side order of eccentricity. This offbeat restaurant is all about quality and a bit about quirky. The menu offers an eclectic mix of pizzas, hoagies and calzones, with side dishes such as soft pretzels and fried pickles. Triangle locations in Durham, Raleigh and Wake Forest; www.mellowmushroom.com.

Honorable Mention – At Z Pizza, pizzas are made with organic wheat flour prepared fresh every day, hand-thrown and fire-baked. Toppings include organic tomato sauce and MSG-free pepperoni. Gourmet salads and sandwiches are also on the menu. Stone Creek Village, 96 Cornerstone Dr., Cary; 9630 Falls of the Neuse Rd., Raleigh; www.zpizza.com. (Another location is planned at 421 Fayetteville St., Ste. 103, Raleigh.)

Ice Cream or Treats

Goodberry's always draws a crowd with its frozen custard. The Carolina Concrete is a favorite made by mixing a custard flavor with a variety of toppings. Locations in Raleigh as well as Cary, Durham, Garner and Wake Forest; www.goodberrys.com.

Maple View Farm makes ice cream fresh from its own dairy. The online calendar shows the weekly ice cream specials. Find the creamy treat, as well as fresh milk, at the Country Store at the farm at 3111 Dairyland Rd., Hillsborough. Other Maple View Farm locations: 100 E. Weaver St., Carrboro; 525-A Hampton Pointe Blvd., Hillsborough. A new ice cream shop at 6033 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, also sells the local treat. www.mapleviewfarm.com.

Place for a Picnic

Sarah P. Duke Gardens has more than 5 miles of pathways and plenty of shady areas and grassy spots, making it a popular family destination for picnics as well as children's programs, including arts in the gardens and story times. 426 Anderson St., Durham; www.duke.edu.

Honorable Mention – Pullen Park is a family-friendly destination for picnicking, carousel rides and outdoor fun. The amusement center is closed for renovations until spring 2011 and picnic shelters may not be available for rental due to renovations. 520 Ashe Ave., Raleigh; www.raleigh-nc.org.



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