1. Le Popeye — A paper-thin crepe holds eggs, bacon, onions, spinach and cheese in a warm embrace. Served at Betsy’s Crepes, the perfect place for pretending it’s the weekend on a Tuesday. $9. Get it downtown.
2. Wedgie’s Original — The name takes some getting used to; the sandwich does not. This baby features a meaty trifecta of ham, turkey and salami between two slices of pizza dough. Get a half sandwich with a drink and side (*cough* potato salad) for $7.75. Wedgie’s is attached to a gas station at 1216 W Morganton Road (but don’t let that scare you off).
4. The Hot and Spicy Club — Like that ex you keep going back to, the heat is irresistible — only we won’t judge you for this decision. Nosh: The Deli puts turkey, capocollo and bacon on a flaky croissant, but it’s the jalapenos and ghost pepper cheese that warms your attention. $9.25.
5. Classic Parlor Burger — Bad day at the office? Let the Ice Cream Parlor fix you up with a burger and fries for $6.99. Resisting a milkshake is just un-American, but it will cost you another $3.50. Find it downtown.
6. Good ol’ Slice — Yeah, we went there. Grab one at SoPies, everyone’s favorite greasy New-York-style pizza place. This downtown mom-and-pop makes its crust never too thick, never too thin — and prices it right at just $2.75 to $4 per (oversized) slice.
Aberdeen and Pinehurst
1. Chipotle Ranch Bacon Burger — If you think the name is a mouthful, just wait till you meet this monster. Double Eagle Grill and Bar might be the new kid on the Aberdeen block, but it makes a statement with this hefty option at $7.50.
2. Irish Wake — Starting with pumpernickel bread, this sandwich is briny, pickled yum from the first slice of corned beef to the last sauerkraut shred. Find it at Dugan’s Pub in Pinehurst. $8.95.
3. Barcelona Burger — A horse, er, cow, of a different color. Devised by the owner of the downtown Aberdeen Bakehouse, this burger incorporates onions and spinach in the patty for sublime savor in every bite. The gourmet buns are baked in-house: so are the cookies, but you didn’t hear that from us. $8.95.
4. Crab Cake Sandwich — If fresh seafood served without pretense makes your mouth water, visit the House of Fish for a crab-forward cake with bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Served with a side (hello, sweet potato fries) for $7.95. Find it at the junction of Keyser Street and Highway 211 in Aberdeen.
5. Spaghetti Polpette — Morning meeting gone awry? There’s no wrong time of day for comfort food. Get it at Vito’s Pizzeria on N.C. 5, the Sandhills’ longest-standing answer to authentic Italian fare. Served with bread for $7.
6. Burrito Fajita — Your choice of steak or chicken with vegetables ensconced in a super-sized tortilla and smothered in enchilada sauce and cheese. Served speedily with rice or beans, pico de gallo and a $6.99 price tag at Mazatlan, that little yellow joint on U.S. 1.
Carthage, Vass, Cameron, Whispering Pines
1. Ham Apple Swiss — Sweet Granny Smith slices and spicy mustard takes the banal ham and cheese (that thing in your Arctic Zone lunchbox) to a new level. Find it at Buggy Town Coffee on Carthage’s South McNeill Street. It’s not just an excuse to pick up a few of their legendary macaroons, but at $6 there’s room in the budget, if not your macros, to indulge.
2. French Toast Press — Cream cheese and raspberry preserves between two slices of French toast? It’s breakfast. It’s a sandwich. It’s dessert. We can’t even. This will run you a cool $5 at Crossroads Coffee, purveyors of all things sweet since, oh, March. Located at the corner of Main and South Alma streets in Vass.
3. Pulled Pork Plate — You could say it five times fast or just give in to the smoky, tangy smell of slow roasted pig, prepared the Carolina way at the Pik N Pig at Gilliam-McConnell Airfield off Dowd Road in Carthage. With two sides and a corn muffin for $8.95.
4. Chicken and Dumpling Soup — Comfort food squared at The Soup Companyin Carthage on North McNeill Street. Just like your grandma’s (OK, we don’t know her, but she’d be proud to claim this). Their selection rotates, with four soups available every day. $4.95, and if you want a salad or half sandwich they have those too.
5. Turkey Berry Brie — A bite of the holidays in downtown Cameron, even when Thanksgiving is a distant memory. The Dewberry Deli (located in an antique store, where else?) offers a relish uniting classic cranberries with dewberries, which is something kinda like a blackberry that Cameron was once known for. $7.95 with soup or salad.
6. Meanie Panini — Yet another coffee shop serving up serious munchies, the Mean Bean comes through for the vegetarian set with mushrooms and melted provolone on a grilled panini. Or go meaty with chicken parm or turkey Gouda, but you can get any of them for $5.95 by the Harris Teeter on N.C. 22 and Airport Road.