13 E. Martin St.
Beer Selection: You can order a long neck Bud if you need one, but this isn’t a beer drinking kinda place.
Food: Stick with the southern cooked vegetables.
Unlike most places I visit, I feel a sense of belonging at Mecca Restaurant.
Mecca is no fancy, high-falutin’, hoity-toity steak house or anything. Just the opposite. Down home, old, kinda shabby. My kind of place.
And just two blocks from the North Carolina State Capitol.
On Monday during the lunch rush, Mecca was busting at the seams with politicians, lawyers, and lobbyists.
I squeezed my lanky 6’3” frame between one of the stools at the old-fashioned lunch counter. When this place was built 90 years ago, apparently people were all midgets.
As I waited for my food, I noticed a portrait of FDR smirking down at me above pitchers of sweet tea and cans of tomatoes. Was he smirking at me because the American socialism he helped create almost a century ago was spreading like kudzu on a North Carolina hillside?
Or was I just really hungry?
This is the second time I’ve eaten at Mecca, and I wish I could say the meals are great.
But they aren’t.
The vegetables, however, are outstanding. You know vegetables are southern-good when you actually feel guilty eating them. They didn’t taste the least bit healthy – the highest compliment I can give to a vegetable!
My pork chop, on the other hand, was dry, tough and flavorless. Same verdict on the fried pork tenderloin.
When I looked at my check, which comes hand-written and placed face-down alongside every meal, I saw a quote from the man who started Mecca in 1930, Nicholas Dombalis. It read, “He profits most who serves best.” What wise words!
Kinda the opposite of the whole FDR and socialism thing, but I digress.
So, although I can’t say you should come to Mecca expecting outstanding cuisine, do come for the nostalgic atmosphere. And the antique manual cash register. And the cheerful southern belle who collects your money by the door.
For history and southern culture, Mecca is hard to beat.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying The Shirt.