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Visiting Durham ...


FabulousFoodBabe
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In mid-April, I'll be going to Durham with my husband for his reunion weekend. While dinners and nights are spoken for, I'd like to spend the daytime checking out restaurants, markets, diners, shops. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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In mid-April, I'll be going to Durham with my husband for his reunion weekend.  While dinners and nights are spoken for, I'd like to spend the daytime checking out restaurants, markets, diners, shops.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Definitely hit Foster's out on 15-501...great coffee, sandwiches and salads. They have brunch offerings, but their lunch is by far a better choice. I'm also a fan of the 501 Diner in Chapel Hill when I'm in the area (their french toast is YUM).

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In mid-April, I'll be going to Durham with my husband for his reunion weekend.  While dinners and nights are spoken for, I'd like to spend the daytime checking out restaurants, markets, diners, shops.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Not really Durham, but 2 in Chapel Hill

Southern Season - For shopping

Southern Season

And if you haven't seen it yet - For Lunch

Allen & Son

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In mid-April, I'll be going to Durham with my husband for his reunion weekend.  While dinners and nights are spoken for, I'd like to spend the daytime checking out restaurants, markets, diners, shops.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Definitely hit Foster's out on 15-501...great coffee, sandwiches and salads. They have brunch offerings, but their lunch is by far a better choice. I'm also a fan of the 501 Diner in Chapel Hill when I'm in the area (their french toast is YUM).

... and almost next door to Foster's is the truly remarkable Gulghupf bakery and cafe. You will not be disappointed about their breads and bakery products.

The State Farmers Market in Raleigh is worth a visit since you're from out of town. You'll see the local produce from around the area and elswhere in the state. If you're there at mealtime, the seafood restaurant there is great (though it can get very busy).

Foodie Penguin

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Southern Season is worth at least a couple trips and the food at the Weathervane isn't bad. Also check out restaurant Starlu for some good moderately priced food. On the whole the food in Durham and the Triangle in general leaves something to be desired. Bullocks is good for basic BBQ but I'm not sure if that's up your alley.

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Bullocks is good for basic BBQ but I'm not sure if that's up your alley.

I'm not sure I understand why a basic BBQ wouldn't be up my alley. Is there something I should know about this place? I've only been to Durham 2-3 times, so I really do need to know.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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... and almost next door to Foster's is the truly remarkable Gulghupf bakery and cafe. You will not be disappointed about their breads and bakery products.

The State Farmers Market in Raleigh is worth a visit since you're from out of town. You'll see the local produce from around the area and elswhere in the state. If you're there at mealtime, the seafood restaurant there is great (though it can get very busy).

This is just what I'm looking for! While my husband and sons are doing the guy-thing and going on campus tours (hah - I know where they'll be ...), I've got lots to do. Farmers' Markets are a great interest of mine, especially the type you described. Thank you, thank you!

Edited by FabulousFoodBabe (log)
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I'm not sure where you are staying in Durham, but if it is near Duke and downtown then head to Brightleaf Square. The #1 attraction would be Fowlers Market. It's a gourmet market that serves up some excellent sandwiches and salads for lunch. If you like you alcohol for lunch you can buy a bottle of wine or individual beers in the market area and have those for lunch also. It is the only place that I know of in the triangle that carries prime beef and foie gras. There is a little bit of shopping in that area as well. Morgan Imports - home store, eclectic, Hamilton Hill - Jewerly, and a few other knick knack places. Brightleaf is really the only place in Durham where you can walk around and shop and get some lunch. Other restaurant options for lunch in that area include mexican, oyster bar, irish pub, greek, pizza, and a couple other pubs.

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Farmers' Markets are a great interest of mine, especially the type you described.  Thank you, thank you!

In that case, while you're in Chapel Hill at A Southern Season, you should go around the corner into Carrboro (the distance from CH to Carrboro is the space of one block) and go to the Weaver Street Market, which is like a locally owned Whole Foods. On Saturday morning, early, the Carrboro Farmers Market is a must-visit, although you'd need a local to tell you if it's up and running yet. The Carrboro Market was one of North Carolina's original grower-only markets and it's still the inspiration for many of the best tailgate markets around the state. Unfortunately, it's pretty cold here yet, though, so it may be too early in the year for it.

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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Bullocks is good for basic BBQ but I'm not sure if that's up your alley.

I'm not sure I understand why a basic BBQ wouldn't be up my alley. Is there something I should know about this place? I've only been to Durham 2-3 times, so I really do need to know.

Chances are good that if BBQ is mentioned anywhere in the reunion program, Bullock's will be doing the catering - they're the closest NC BBQ place to campus. If not, it's worth a visit anyway.

Ninth Street is just off East Campus and a good place for browsing/lunch - there are a number of cafes and shops to poke around in, plus a good bookstore.

Also, if you get a hankering for a good Southern breakfast (either at regular breakfast time or late night), Honey's is on Guess Road a couple of miles from campus, although it's likely to be packed on a reunion weekend.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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Bullocks is good for basic BBQ but I'm not sure if that's up your alley.

I'm not sure I understand why a basic BBQ wouldn't be up my alley. Is there something I should know about this place? I've only been to Durham 2-3 times, so I really do need to know.

I'll have to disagree about Bullock's BBQ. It's pretty mediocre in my opinion although I do like their side dishes and chicken.

If it's BBQ you are wanting, Allen & Sons on 86 just north of Chapel Hill is where you want to go. A few words of warning about the place, however. When it is at its peak, it is among the best BBQ places in the state. They are not always on form, however, and I have had some mediocre experiences there. Also, they have a unique, warm BBQ sauce that contains butter. If you are not experienced with NC BBQ, always use the sauce sparingly. Unlike other areas where the sauce is as much a part of the show as the meat, in NC, it's all about the meat and the sauce is just used as a moistener.

Also, you might want to check out chowhound.com/south as there are a lot of recommendations on Durham at that site.

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I have been going for over 20 years but haven't been in a while. While I have her cookbook and often use her recipes, I think that success has had a negative impact on the restaurant itself. I don't know how much time Mama Dip spends in the kitchen but, as she ages, this has to be having an impact.

Edited by Brent Kulman (log)
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In the Chaoel Hill area, you should go to A Southern Season, one of the great food stores in the world. You could spend $10.000 there. For lunch got to the Seina and get a few appetizers and a glass of wine. Nice place good food and good Italian wine. Go to Whole Foods if you need some natural foods, and eat a picnic on the grounds of the NC campus. Walk down Franklin St. (Go West) and choose. I have not done this exactly, but I would.

Enjoy,

Nate

Edited by nhconner (log)
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I hate to step on any toes here, but I don't agree with much of what has been posted here. First off, the NC State Farmer's Market is quite a trek from Durham (about 25 miles or so) and I don't think worth the effort (especially so early in the growing season). Both Durham and Carborro have better Farmer's Markets but I'm afraid that they to will be rather sparse in April.

As for Carborro being spitting distance from Southern Season (which is worth the trip) that's a bit of a stretch. Chapel Hill and Carborro do border one another, but that particular store is not walking distance as seemed to be implied.

As for BBQ, I wouldn't put my vote in the Bullock's category. If you want traditional Q, Allen and Son's is the place. Two newer places called Q Shack and the BBQ Joint are a little more newfangled but I've had very good Q at both. Q Shack being the only of the three actually in Durham.

Let me second the Guglhupf suggestion, at least for the Pastry Shop. My only trip to the cafe didn't yield as good an experience. Foster's next door is certainly a cool spot with perhaps better egg dishes and good but not as good baked stuff.

Fowler's in downtown Durham is certainly worth a trip.

Vin Rouge is making a great brunch if you want to step up from Elmo's.

If you like espresso, a trip to Driade in Chapel Hill is a must. It may be the best I've had anywhere.

Lastly, the only other thing you might consider is a trip to one of the good Taquerias. Super Taqueria on Roxboro is one. There's two others whose names are escaping me but are very tasty. Both are tiny. One on the corner of Pickett and Chapel Hill Rd and one at the corner of Club and Roxboro.

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Carrboro Farmers' Market is open now on Saturdays, click for hours and directions.

If you want to stay in Durham, Fowler's Market is by far the most fun. Their meat department ranks with the best anywhere in terms of quality and people. Prime beef, Prime and dry-aged beef, foie gras, several kinds of bacon, even guanciale on occasion. There are also excellent cheeses, deli, and coffee. They make sandwiches and cheese plates for lunch and dinner, and best of all, free wireless!

Fowler's is not in Brightleaf Square, but right next to it. Also next to Fowler's are Pop's restaurant, which features seating at a bar right in front of the cooking stations. The mise en place is right in front of you! The food is good, above average, if you like Northern Italian.

There is also a fun, big place to shop next to Pop's; Morgan Imports as mentioned before is great place to be diverted by shopping.

If you have a car, A Southern Season is most definitely worth a visit. They have moved into a new building (over a year ago), and the place is huge. If you want seven different kinds of smoked fish, a huge wall of chocolate bars from around the world, 30 kinds of salt, and a good cafe for breakfast/lunch, Southern Season is the place. They also have free wireless in the cafe.

Southern Season is an anchor store for a redone mall, University Mall, and there is a hidden jewel of a store in there, Kitchenworks. Gadgets galore, but gadgets that are actually useful and rare, not $20-fruit-peelers.

Foster's in Chapel Hill is pretty good, but mostly a restaurant (a tiny market). Guglhopf is an excellent bakery, right next door.

As for the BBQ, Allen & Son is indeed terrific, but is two exits past Chapel Hill on I-40, maybe 20-25 minutes away from Durham. The Q Shack is co-owned by a four-star NC chef and a Texas boy, and is one mile from the Duke campus. They have NC pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, Texas smoked beef sausage, St. Louis ribs, and now chicken. Even better, they serve beer (most NC BBQ joints don't). Their website lists a now-closed location at the newest mall here, Streets at Southpoint; the University Drive location is the close one for you. Bullock's is overrated; Dillard's BBQ is better, although both gas-cook their meat :unsure: . Q Shack properly smokes all theirs :cool:

The NC Farmer's Market, Raleigh is a good 30 minutes from Durham, close to downtown Raleigh, but by the time you get here, they will have a great selection of produce. Located there is also the Seafood Restaurant, and the Nahunta Pork Outlet! Mmmmm. . . pork.

Good luck!

Edited by ediblerock (log)
Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit. -Oscar Wilde
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So much to see, so much to do! We'll have wheels and I'll have lots of free daytime. Thank you all -- I really wish the reunion people did some sort of food tour, to go along with the retirement seminars, campus tours, and speakers' panels.

If the Q in Durham is anywhere near as good as Dreamland's in Roswell, we'll all be in heaven. Foster's and Guglhopf are on the must-see's, too.

A great taqueria in Durham? Very cool, and we'll try and hit that for at least a snack. I wonder if I'll be able to wrest my husband away from the reunion stuff at night for a dinner out ....

My notebook's full, but there's always room for more.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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So much to see, so much to do!  We'll have wheels and I'll have lots of free daytime. Thank you all -- I really wish the reunion people did some sort of food tour, to go along with the retirement seminars, campus tours, and speakers' panels.

If the Q in Durham is anywhere near as good as Dreamland's in Roswell, we'll all be in heaven.  Foster's and Guglhopf are on the must-see's, too.

A great taqueria in Durham?  Very cool, and we'll try and hit that for at least a snack.  I wonder if I'll be able to wrest my husband away from the reunion stuff at night for a dinner out ....

My notebook's full, but there's always room for more.

"Gentlemen: Madame Dodin-Bouffant."

So, when there is the slightest doubt, Marry the Cook!

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I can vouch for Q shack.Good Stuff, and very close to Fosters Market In Durham.

You ought to try and go to Magnolia Grill or Nana's.Both in Durham and both very good.I haven't been to Nana's in a couple years, there may be a thread somewhere with more recent reviews.Magnolia Grill is wonderful.

Across the street from Fosters is Chelsea Antiques if you want to check out some high end french pottery and furniture.Q shack is essentially right behind Chelsea.

Edited by wkl (log)
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Sorry I've failed to chime in before this, but I'm in complete agreement with detlefchef. Allen & Son is the top barbecue in the Triangle, and although a bit of a hike, well worth it. Q Shack is OK, but it has too much of a "chain" feel for me.

I hate to step on any toes here, but I don't agree with much of what has been posted here.  First off, the NC State Farmer's Market is quite a trek from Durham (about 25 miles or so) and I don't think worth the effort (especially so early in the growing season).  Both Durham and Carborro have better Farmer's Markets but I'm afraid that they to will be rather sparse in April.

As for Carborro being spitting distance from Southern Season (which is worth the trip) that's a bit of a stretch.  Chapel Hill and Carborro do border one another, but that particular store is not walking distance as seemed to be implied.

As for BBQ, I wouldn't put my vote in the Bullock's category.  If you want traditional Q, Allen and Son's is the place.  Two newer places called Q Shack and the BBQ Joint are a little more newfangled but I've had very good Q at both.  Q Shack being the only of the three actually in Durham.

Let me second the Guglhupf suggestion, at least for the Pastry Shop.  My only trip to the cafe didn't yield as good an experience.  Foster's next door is certainly a cool spot with perhaps better egg dishes and good but not as good baked stuff.

Fowler's in downtown Durham is certainly worth a trip.

Vin Rouge is making a great brunch if you want to step up from Elmo's.

If you like espresso, a trip to Driade in Chapel Hill is a must.  It may be the best I've had anywhere. 

Lastly, the only other thing you might consider is a trip to one of the good Taquerias.  Super Taqueria on Roxboro is one.  There's two others whose names are escaping me but are very tasty.  Both are tiny.  One on the corner of Pickett and Chapel Hill Rd and one at the corner of Club and Roxboro.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Is the reunion weekend this weekend?  I've noticed the grounds people setting up a lot of tents and the like on the main quad.

Reunion is next weekend. And, because my youngest is in the hospital, we are cancelling the trip (and the week in Belize we were planning afterward, for spring break). However, we'll be back -- firstborn wants to look at Duke, and my best friend lives in Raleigh -- and I'll have more time to roam around.

So, thanks again to everyone for their thoughtful suggestions. We'll get there later this spring, for sure, and I'll report back.

FB

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I'm sorry to hear that you have to cancel your trip, the campus is looking especially beautiful around now in the firm grasp of spring. Anyway, I had a pretty good meal (Smoked rabbit served a mild caccitore (sp?) sauce and a spaetzle-ish pasta) tonight at Pop's, a trattoria right by Duke's East Campus. A pretty bustling place with decently creative Italian food (for Durham standards).

And on a separate note, if you child has any questions about Duke, I'd be happy to offer a student's perspective.

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