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Merritt's Store and Grill -- Chapel Hill


Varmint
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I spent 11 years in Chapel Hill and lived in 12 different places. One place I lived was affectionately referred to as the "Green House." This was a tiny little shack that sat far too close to the road on a curve. My bed faced the window where the headlights of the cars coming down the hill poured into -- I often had visions of an 18 wheeler losing control and demolishing the entire house. It wouldn't have taken much, as it was a dump.

One joy of this house was that it was about 200 yards away from the Merritt Store and Grill, an old-timed convenience store that is still trapped in the 1940s. If you set foot in the store and turn down to the left, there's a simple and tiny grill. It was here that I'd order a ham or bacon & cheese biscuit, just to start my day right.

The specialty of this place 15 years ago, however, was their BLTs. I had forgotten how Merritt's had taken a fairly ordinary sandwich and turned it into something sublime. I forgot until my friend, local restaurateur Charlie Deal, recommended we go there for lunch today.

Folks, if you want the single best BLT, get thee to South Columbia Street in Chapel Hill. That would actually be 1009 South Columbia Street. Order a double, which gives you 3 slices of bread (white, wheat or sourdough), lightly toasted, and packed with the freshest tomatoes, a ton of bacon, ultra-crisp lettuce, and lots of mayo. Grab a Cheer-wine or Sundrop, go behind the store to the picnic tables shaded by the bamboo, and take a bite of summer. It'll cost you about 5 bucks, but it's well worth it. I could have eaten two of these suckers today.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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What I think is great about Merritt's BLTs is their layering technique, and that they use plenty of bacon. They layer it up so that all the bacon isn't in one place. Like, tomato, bacon, lettuce, tomato, bacon, lettuce. I might have the order wrong - it's been a while - too long!

The bacon is also primo - not too salty.

And a "double" would put me in a food coma. I did well to finish the "half" size, which was huge.

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Merritt's is no secret; I had just forgotten about it (what a shame!). I'll gladly take the 25 minutes it takes to drive over there to have one of their BLTs. They're that good.

And Greg gets his info from lots of people -- folks at the New and Observer have written about Merritt's before.

Damn, too bad I already ate lunch.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Yes, it's definitely not a secret. I must confess to partaking of far too many of their BBQ sandwiches in addition to the BLT. The BBQ is not bad when you are stuck on campus and need a quick fix.

I just thought the timing of Greg's column was interesting. This thread certainly made me think about getting in the car and heading to Chapel Hill.

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Yes, it's definitely not a secret.  I must confess to partaking of far too many of their BBQ sandwiches in addition to the BLT.  The BBQ is not bad when you are stuck on campus and need a quick fix. 

I just thought the timing of Greg's column was interesting.  This thread certainly made me think about getting in the car and heading to Chapel Hill.

Wonder if Greg is on here? Lurking perhaps. Debbie, do you know?

And now i have to find an excuse to take a long lunch!

-----------------

AMUSE ME

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Sorry for the slow response. I had to register as a participating member before replying. (Yes, I've been lurking as a guest for a long time now. Guess it's time for me to come out and join the discussion.)

I had planned on writing about the BLT at Merritt's for a long time, and had included it on an advance list of subjects for my Taste This! column that I'd submitted to my editor several weeks ago. Imagine my surprise when, a few days before the article appeared, you guys began raving about the very same subject.

Guess great minds (or is that bellies?) think alike.

Edited by Greg Cox (log)
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Sorry for the slow response. I had to register as a participating member before replying. (Yes, I've been lurking as a guest for a long time now. Guess it's time for me to come out and join the discussion.)

I had planned on writing about the BLT at Merritt's for a long time, and had included it on an advance list of subjects for my Taste This! column that I'd submitted to my editor several weeks ago. Imagine my surprise when, a few days before the article appeared, you guys began raving about the very same subject.

Guess great minds (or is that bellies?) think alike.

Welcome to the discussion, Greg. It's great to have you here (finally!). As stated above, I completely knew that it was a coincidence. The important thing is that those damned BLTs are incredible.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Greg,

Again, welcome to the boards. I am glad to see your participation and interest in these discussions. I am sorry my post came across as suggesting that you needed this site's help for column ideas as that was not my intent. I was just trying to make a joke and publicize your work and I do apoplogize if it came across differently.

We really enjoy and appreciate all the hard work and research that goes into your reviews of the diverse dining scene in the Triangle and wanted to be sure others outside the main N&O circulation area saw the discussion. Keep up the great work!

Edited by Guilty Gourmand (log)
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