A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Right off U.S. Highway 64 in Cary, a world of flavors awaits. At numerous shopping centers, you can ditch the car and mosey about on foot, stopping for Sichuan-style spicy

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Right off U.S. Highway 64 in Cary, a world of flavors awaits. At numerous shopping centers, you can ditch the car and mosey about on foot, stopping for Sichuan-style spicy

13 International Restaurants and Markets Serving Up Jet-Setting Flavors in Cary

Saap Laotian Restaurant in Cary, North Carolina.

Right off U.S. Highway 64 in Cary, a world of flavors awaits. At numerous shopping centers, you can ditch the car and mosey about on foot, stopping for Sichuan-style spicy pork noodles for lunch and then Indian mithai for dessert, plus a swing by a Halal grocer for provisions to take home. From sweet to savory and Laotian to South American, here’s a list of delicious destinations for the next time you find yourself near the Triangle.

Click here to read about our globe-trotting editor’s discovery of international flavors right in her own backyard.

Annelore’s German Bakery

You likely already know old-world sweets like croissants and cannoli, but it’s time to meet donauwelle, light vanilla cake topped with chocolate genoise cream, morello cherries, and a topcoat of chocolate ganache. Donauwelle, other cakes, fruit-filled tarts, fresh baked breads, and more traditional family recipes await at this authentic German bakery.

308 West Chatham Street
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 267-6846

Tarts and baklava from Asali Desserts & Cafe, an international eatery in Cary, North Carolina

The name “Asali” is a combination of both owners’ last names, Asad and Ali, and translates to “sweets” and “honey” in Arabic and Persian. photograph by Anna Routh Barzin

Asali Desserts & Café

Beyond the delicacies that await within the glass pastry cases, this Mediterranean café is a feast for the eyes. From the geometric tiling on the walls to the frothy latte art, each element in this light-filled space encourages you to reconsider your request “to-go” and instead savor your kenafa — a crispy, buttery dessert made with shredded, sugar-soaked katafi pastry pieces — or chocolate tahini tart at a cozy table there instead.

107 Edinburgh South Drive, Suite 106-A
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 362-7882

Ethiopian teff topped with various wot, or stewed meats and vegetables.

Food is served sharing-style over injera — with more on the side for dipping.  photograph by Tendur/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Awazé Ethiopian & Eritrean Cuisine

This family-owned business serves up Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine in an interactive, hands-on (literally) dining experience. Dishes are served family style on large, sharing platters piled with assorted wat – spiced stews prepared with chicken, lamb, beef, or vegetables — and gomen — braised greens — along with rolls of injera, a teff flour pancake that you unfurl, tear, and use as your edible utensil.

904 Northeast Maynard Road
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 377-2599

Baghdad Bakery

Walk into the bakery-meets-market at the right time, and you can bag your own loaves of sesame seed-dusted samoon (other times, it’s already bagged for you, but the freshly baked bread might still feel a little warm if you’re lucky). If you prefer something sweet, check out the pastry case with boxes of walnut or pistachio baklava and date-filled kleicha cookies.

742 East Chatham Street, Suite A
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 694-6872

Platter of mezze from Bosphorous in Cary, North Carolina.

Want to try it all? Go for the Bosphorous Meze Platter to get a taste of hummus, baba gounush, ezme, tabouli, eggplant salad, cucumber dip, and stuffed grape leaves. photograph by Chris Richman


At this Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant, the emphasis is placed on preparing as much as possible in house. Give yourself permission to fill up — well, at least a little — on the house pide, a plush bread topped with sesame seeds, or save it to dip into refreshing ezme — a blend of finely chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, and loads of fresh herbs, olive oil and lemon juice — and creamy baba ghanoush.

329 North Harrison Avenue, Suite A
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 460-1300

Chengdu 7 Sichuan Cuisine

From the light blue diner-style booths, you can watch the chef as he stretches and shapes hand-pulled noodles destined for bowls of chili oil wontons, glossy dan dan noodles, and dumplings. You can also branch out and sample Sichuan-style braised pig knuckles, cool cucumber and jellyfish salad, and sizzling hot slivers of conch.

748 East Chatham Street
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 883-5567

Jhol momo dumplings from Everest Nepali Cuisine in Cary, North Carolina

Little, purse-shaped momo are served with jhol, an aromatic, tomato-based sauce. photograph by Ashok Bhattarai/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Everest Nepali Kitchen

At this Nepalese restaurant tucked within the Harrison Pointe shopping center, you’ll find North Indian dishes, like warming lamb korma and tikka masala, alongside Nepalese street food — think chicken kebabs and noodles and vegetables stir-fried in spicy sauces. We recommend ordering the jhol momo bowl: purse-shaped dumplings swimming in a richly spiced sauce. Be sure to include a side of garlic naan to help sop up any leftover sauces.

212 Grande Heights Drive
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 378-9390


Head to this regional South American grill to create your own arepa adventure — handheld, crispy corn cakes split and stuffed with meat, beans, plantains, onions, pico de gallo, cheese, and your choice of sauce. If you prefer to eat with a fork instead of your fingers, you can also get any of the signature arepas as a salad or rice bowl.

9918 Chapel Hill Road, Suite 103
Cary, NC 27560
(919) 377-8223

Pide filled with meat and cheeses from Istanbul Restaurant in Cary, North Carolina.

Much like traditional pizza, pide can be stuffed with cheese, meat, and sauces and is meant for sharing.  photograph by JackF/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Istanbul Restaurant

You might be tempted to fill up on the buttery house bread dipped in olive oil, but try to save room — spit-roasted lamb and beef kebabs and chicken kebabs are customer favorites (go for the mixed grill if you can’t pick just one). If you can, go with a group and order the shareable pides — crisp, canoe-shaped flatbreads stuffed with cheese, meats, and plenty of herbs and spices.

914 Kildaire Farm Road
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 651-9608

Kababish Café

Don’t overlook the popadam, impossibly light, crispy wafers that taste amazing dipped into anything saucy — including chicken makhani, a creamy, spiced tomato gravy served over basmati rice.

201 West Chatham Street, Suite 103
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 377-8794

Tiger chicken skewers and cocktail from Saap, a Laotian restaurant in Cary, North Carolina.

Popular menu items at Saap include the Tiger shrimp, which are grilled in a garlicky, oyster sauce. Pair them with one of the cocktails inspired by flavors from Southeast Asia. photograph by Baxter Miller

Saap Laotian Restaurant

This buzzy newcomer opened at the edge of Downtown Cary Park in November 2023. Family-owned and operated by the owner of Brewery Bhavana in Raleigh, Saap serves up fresh and flavorful Laotian street food, like crispy coconut rice lettuce wraps, green curry loaded with local seafood, and crispy-fried pork belly with a spicy-sour dipping sauce. The cocktails (nonalcoholic options included) are not to be missed.

370 South Walker Street, Suite 100
Cary, NC 27511


This long-standing Mediterranean deli, kitchen, and market draws consistent groups of regulars for kebabs, a build-your-own sampler of various hot and cold meze, and wood-fired pies. Don’t miss their generous slabs of spanakopita — spinach, feta, and filo layered lasagna-style and only available on Friday and Saturdays.

1347 Kildaire Farm Road
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 300-5586

Silk Road Uzbek Cuisine

From the framed pictures on the wall to the brass lanterns suspended from the ceiling and the kaleidoscopic china patterns, accents throughout the dining room harken back to the fabled trade route through Eurasia. Highlights on the menu include the lagman soup — made with hand-pulled noodles, beef, and vegetables — and the manti, pillowy dumplings about the size of your palm, stuffed with a spiced beef mixture and served with sour cream.

4224 Northwest Cary Parkway
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 377-2244

This story was published on Dec 19, 2023

Hannah Lee Leidy

Hannah Lee is a born-and-raised North Carolinian and the digital editor for Our State magazine. Her contributions have appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Culture, and the Local Palate. When not parenting her Bernese mountain pup named Ava, she's visiting the nearest cheese counter.