I've lived in NYC, and most recently in Portland, OR. Now I'm down here in the Triangle, and I have to say that although a great many restaurants here are bad (especially in Chapel Hill [particularly Chinese restaurants in Chapel Hill]), a few of them are not. Here is a list of a few chowhound-worthy places that I have found thus far:
-Allen and Sons on Airport Rd, of course, and I think their down home (read--sticky sweet) desserts are almost as good as their bbq (if you can prevent them from being microwaved)
-Europa Turka in Carrboro, but the service is awful and the food takes at least a half hour to arrive. Nonetheless, it is light years beyond most Triangle food in terms of authenticity and freshness
-Korea Garden in Cary, for great pa-joon pancakes and mandu dumplings. While in the 'hood, poke around the Chatham Square complex for more ethnic eats and all the ethnic groceries you could ask for.
-Uncle Frenchy's Jamaican near Route 55/54 in Durham. Great curried goat, pretty good oxtails.
-Royal India in Raleigh on Capital Boulevard. Not stellar, but a cut above.
-Greenhouse Cafe, in Durham, for fine soulful creative vegetarian-y food. Not a better marinated tofu sandwich anywhere. Good peanut soup, too.
-Far East, Vietnamese on New Hope Church in Raleigh. Friendly little place.
-Guglhopf bakery in Durham. Man, every other week I get a craving for their spectacular Lindzer (sp?) Tart which is usually available at Cafe Driade
-Fortune Garden on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh for Chinese. Not only authentic and not tailored to Western tastes, but also skillfully prepared. Ask for the specials menu.
-When you need a thick juicy hamburger, try Carolina Cafe on Franklin Street
-Have not found great Mexican yet, but the cabeza tacos at El Centrale grocery in Carrboro are a local treat.
Can someone recommend a place to get eggs, grits, and Country Ham? Haven't found one yet.
More to come in the months ahead, and happy eating to you all.