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Busy Bee Cafe, Raleigh

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It was 67 degrees and sunny outside after a week of rain and cold. I was walking with two friends in downtown Raleigh, searching for a place to eat. We spotted people eating on a rooftop terrace under the sun, shaded by umbrellas. Perfect.

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Busy Bee Cafe is on Wilmington Street in the heart of Raleigh. The cafe on site today is a resurrection of the original downtown hot-spot, that was open from 1913-1925. With a zesty menu, a large repertoire of beer and fruity brunch beverages, and friendly staff, I would call this one a winner. Busy Bee is a great place to grab a casual bite to eat with friends or coworkers.

The purpose of my restaurant blog is to make me try new things, and to encourage others to do the same. I was in the habit of getting the same dishes every time I ate out, and usually ate out at the same few restaurants each time. Not to say it’s bad to have a regular dish at your favorite restaurant, but the Triangle has a lot to offer.

Busy Bee Cafe was listed as one of Draft Magazine’s Top 100 Beer Bars in 2012. It was also named one of the best spots in the Triangle to relax in the sun by the News & Observer’s Greg Cox, on his list of “Primetime Patios.”

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The essence of the cafe’s menu can be described as burgers and a few pieces of flare. You can start your meal off with a craft beer, and an appetizer. Both menus are two lengthy lists with a lot of variety.We got Cornmeal-Fried Calamari with roasted tomatoes and tzatziki sauce to start.  No complaints about the taste; but, it seemed like the serving was a tad small for an appetizer (Nothing in that bowl had been eaten when I took that picture to the left). A few other options included “Bees Nuts,” which is a trail mix, loaded tots, beer cheese and chips, and bruschetta.

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Meet our waiter, Mike. He was nice, easy to talk to, and he kindly played along with the whole blog-thing. If all the waiters I meet on this food journey suggest things like Mike’s favorite menu choices, I’m in for some weight-gain.

Mike suggested the Breakfast of Champions Burger. It’s a burger with American cheese, bacon, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, and a choice of a side. I got a salad to counter the burger calories. Mike’s choice would have been fries. Mike led me in the right direction – it’s a delicious burger. And that’s coming from someone who’s not really a burger person. 14

Other lunch options? Mike said huevos rancheros, pulled pork hash, and the loaded tot burger were popular among customers. But be aware that they change up the menu often.

My meal was $18 after a $4 tip – a tad pricey considering I didn’t get a drink. But the atmosphere and food help ease the pain of a high tab.

A burger and craft beer joint may not be as exotic as my sushi adventure last week. But food brings people together with friends – sometimes friends you don’t get to see very often. Try new things. Explore new places. And call old friends who might want to do it with you.

Busy Bee Cafe on Facebook

Busy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

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