Restaurant options near RDU, from quick and cheap to leisurely and upscale

By Victoria Bouloubasis
Independent Weekly
September 30, 2009

Busy travelers make frequent stops at Brookwood Farms at RDU. (Photo by Jeremy Lange).

Terminal 2 serves up Southern hospitality (and fatback)
Options for the jet set

(Raleigh, NC) - Like a true Southerner, Raleigh-Durham International Airport is, without fail, ready with a hot meal when visitors stop in to sit a while. Scratch-made meals at the airport? Pull up a chair, sugar.

In July, 433,465 travelers passed through RDU. That's an average of about 18,000 people per day. And while that might not classify our airport as a bustling hub, there are plenty of weary, hungry travelers to feed.

"As visitors come to our region, we want them to have a bit of [North Carolina], with a desire to come back," says Ingrid Hairston, business development officer at RDU. "We have some wonderful concepts that are quintessential to our region."

RDU is the proud mama of the new Terminal 2, which opened three years ago. The terminal coos and charms with its open, airy design—and a distinctly Southern way to cure a rumbling tummy. The standard chain restaurants are there, including twists on the classic pizza at California Pizza Kitchen, your burger and fries fix at A&W All American Food, fresh grab-and-go fare at Camden Food Co. or a cold beer at Gordon Biersch. (For more on beer choices, see ) Yet the standouts are the local favorites with Carolina charm.

Down the hallway to the left, a small Brookwood Farms BBQ restaurant sits adjacent to California Pizza Kitchen. The famed Siler City barbecue brand has been selling buckets of its ´cue at N.C. grocery stores since 1978. With a flavor that mixes Eastern and Western styles, the pulled pork avoids any threat of barbecue blasphemy and is slow-cooked over an open charcoal pit. It serves as a great introduction for first-timers, while giving just enough of that home-cooked taste to N.C. natives.

Cindy Paliouras of Chapel Hill is a fan. "I picked up a sandwich to go from Brookwood BBQ before a flight recently," she says. "It was very authentic N.C. barbecue, and I will confess, much tastier than I had expected."

HMS Host Corporation and local J.Q. Enterprises are the two concession management companies that brought the restaurant concepts at Terminal 2 to fruition.

"Scratch items are kind of a treat for people," says Tim Meyer, general manager for HMS Host. "It's a departure from what we used to get in airports."

The overall motive behind every RDU restaurant concept is for travelers to pull up a chair and relish in regional comfort food, and a variety at that.

Hairston, who was raised on Southern food, says, "The foodie in me is happy." URL for this story: http://localhost/gyrobase/Content?oid=402665"