One of my favorite lunch places in Raleigh is Sunflower’s Café (8 West Peace Street, Raleigh, N.C. 27603), which is located next to Peace College and in front of the Seaboard Station shopping area. I am not alone – Sunflowers is usually packed during the week, especially from 12:00 to 1:00, as long lines form at the counter where you place your order. While I love Sunflowers’ chicken and tuna salads, it is my go-to spot when I’m on a vegetarian diet, due to its extensive offering of delicious meatless sandwiches. Everything I’ve tried has been fresh and tasty.
Sunflowers first opened on Glenwood Avenue (where the Hibernian Pub is now) in 1983 by Deborah and Clay Ferebee, and later moved to its current location on Peace Street. It is bright and cheerful on the inside and has some outdoor seating to enjoy when the weather is nice. According to Sunflowers’ website, “Our specialty has been in the area of healthy sandwiches, salads and soups, with a growing catering clientele. Our regular customers particularly value that we offer a large variety of vegetarian sandwiches in addition to an expansive non-vegetarian menu.” As a regular customer, I completely concur.
Here are some of my favorite sandwiches, in no particular order:
Chicken Salad - This awesome chicken salad ($6.95 with chips) was the first thing I ever ordered, years ago when Sunflowers was located at its old location. I have been a raving fan ever since. It consists of chunky bits of house-roasted chicken breast, pecans, grapes and mayo on your choice of bread. I recommend trying it on Sunflower’s sunflower bread.
Tuna Melt - The tuna melt comes with a side of chips for $6.50. It is served grilled on rye bread with avocado, cheddar cheese, romaine, tomatoes, mayo and house mustard. The tuna salad has pickle relish, eggs, mayonnaise and onions in it, and even though I normally steer clear of the relish and eggs in my tuna, this salad was quite good and creamy. Overall, a wonderful combination of flavors – I especially like the cheddar and avocado.
Portobello Ellen – This hearty mushroom sandwich ($6.95 with your choice of chips) is served on grilled Italian sourdough bread and has sliced roasted bellas and onions, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and a mild horseradish sauce. This sandwich is messy and yummy – I like the addition of the horseradish, which gives it a little kick.
Vegetarian Focaccia – The bread and cheese are what make this sandwich ($6.95 with your choice of chips) oh, so good! It comes with Swiss, havarti and provolone cheeses on focaccia with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, house mustard and balsamic vinaigrette. Not only tasty but healthy, too!
Avocado Pesto Melt – Another messy and yummy sandwich! It comes with fresh avocado slices, pesto mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and red onions, grilled on sunflower bread for $6.95. The cheese is warm and gooey – grab some extra napkins!
Sunflowers Cafe is open for lunch Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for dinner Wednesday-Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. I have not tried dinner yet, but it is certainly on my list.
- Price: Medium. No more expensive than comparable places, especially for tasty food.
- Service: 4.00. You order at the counter, where everyone always has been friendly to me.
- Food: 4.75. Everything I’ve tried so far has been fresh and wonderful.
- Recommend: Absolutely, especially to my vegetarian friends.
- Kid friendly: Sure, probably more so on Saturday when there are fewer crowds.
1= hater, 2=poor, 3=adequate, 4=above average, 5=superb
Eat, drink and be merry!