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The roots of this casual, Southern-style joint lie in North Carolina, the home state of co-owner and chef Curtis Brown. He named The Cardinal for the state bird and has assembled a clutch of rural favorites: fried chicken, hot links, brisket, corn pudding and black-eyed peas with chowchow. Three squeeze bottles come with the barbecue items, reflecting the predilections of various regions: East Carolina's vinegar-based condiment, South Carolina's spicy mustard sauce and the tomato-based Texas-style dressing. Catfish and whole snapper are here for non-meat-eaters, but The Cardinal is not exactly vegetarian-friendly (the collards and salads tend to be laced with bacon). Meats and vegetables are local and organic whenever possible, and banana pudding and chocolate box cake are the most delectable desserts.