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Carrboro, N.C.: Neal’s Deli

The speakers boom with “Dirt Track Date” by Southern Culture on the Skids. The walls of this shotgun café are cerulean. The line cook wears, without irony, a paper Krispy Kreme skiff. Copies of Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking and Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie, also by the late and great Bill Neal, anchor the counter. (Matt Neal—son of Bill, the founding chef at nearby Crook’s Corner—is the co-proprietor, along with his gregarious wife, Sheila.) The Neals spice their own pastrami. They mix olive salad in-house for muffulettas. But breakfast is when they toss down the gauntlet. Biscuits, scratch-made from Lindley Mills organic flour and Maple View Farms buttermilk, are both tender and substantial. Bill Smith, the current chef at Crook’s Corner, likes his morning biscuit with pastrami and mustard, but my favorite was an Egg McMuffin riff, made with local organic eggs poached in repurposed muffin top tins and approximating, in shape but certainly not wholesomeness, the familiar McD puck.

Neal’s Deli 100 E. Main St., Carrboro, N.C. (919-967-2185; nealsdeli.com)



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