Bullock's Barbecue: Still drawn back to it after all these years
If I were trying to make a good impression on a new lady whom I had just met today, I would probably not invite her to a barbecue restaurant. Some people just don't like barbecue and those who do may be very opinionated about their favorite type. When I was an undergraduate, however, Bullock's tended to be my first choice (when I had transportation) because their prices were fair and in those days I suppose I may have had the attitude that if she didn't like barbecue she must be a "darn Yankee" and wouldn't appreciate my lifestyle anyway. Since then I have learned that I must have been wrong as every Yankee who can find a way seems to be moving to the South.
Anyway, Bullock's Barbecue is, at the very worst, one of the half dozen best barbecue joints in North Carolina. When you finally get to the head of the line--and there's always a line at Bullock's--the first thing you see is a wall full of photos of the stars. Yep, if you're famous and in Durham, then you probably go to Bullock's.
Oh yes, the size and quality of pork at Bullock's are as considerable as that picture of Dolly they've got on the wall (and she's looking MIGHTY healthy). Other than their barbecue pork and ribs, the food is not quite as delicious but the sides are acceptable 'though not great, and unfortunately their sauce is good but not really great. Nevertheless, the pig is delightfully tasty and tender at Bullock's, and they serve some pretty delicious ribs, to boot.
One final note. The decor at Bullock's is so atrocious that I haven't yet figured out if that's a good or a bad thing, but that pretty much fits in with my comments that the best 'cue spots are much more concerned about their food than their appearance.
P. S. When I go back to Duke for a football fan (Yeah, I love Duke that much.), it is really only half a trip if I don't get to stop by Bullock's before or (sometimes "and") after the game. Unfortunately, my brothers are still living their lives in sixth gear and almost always want to arrive in Durham just in time to see the coin toss and to be the first car back on 85 after the game.
Favorite Dish: They serve a tender, succulent pig--probably the finest in the Research Triangle area. I haven't asked, but I am pretty certain they cook THE white meat with wood because their 'cue has a very nice, smoky flavor. I may have originally been hooked by their hush puppies which are among the very best I've ever eaten anywhere.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Foster's Market: If it's good enough for Martha Stewart...
Foster's Market is really difficult to describe - it's like a idyllic Whole Foods where you want to hang out. While it is a restaurant, it is also a market, with both sundries like designer pasta and jams, but also a huge display case with fresh salads and foods available to eat there or to go. In addition to their amazing salads (not only has Sara Foster published 3 cookbooks, she also began her career working as a head chef in Martha Stewart's catering company), they also have hot plates and daily dishes you can pick up - you can preview some of them here: http://www.fostersmarket.com/menus/market-menu/#specials
In addition to the food, it's become a great place to congregate with your friends - my girls and I would hit Foster's for brunch every weekend in college... You'll always see a few kids with laptops open, snacking on the daily sandwich or a scone - they have quite the array of baked goods here!
Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is probably the Super Sampler Plate, which gives you the option to choose any combination of 2 vegetarian salads and one salad with tuna or chicken from our daily selections (1/3 pound of each) for only $9.50. I used to get the Tarragon Chicken Salad (roasted chicken breast tossed with red grapes, granny smith apples and a tarragon mayonnaise), Caesar Salad, and the Grilled Vegetable Antipasto (grilled seasonal vegetables plattered with fresh mozzarella)
Piazza Italia: A great Italian Restaurant
This was a restauranat a group of colleagues and I visited during a recent visit to the area. It was an enjoyable place to eat. The food was good and the atmosphere was excellent - we dined at the start of the week so it was a little quiet.
Favorite Dish: Excellent Ice Cream - eat in or take away.
Ted's Montana Grill: Not your typical bull -- it's Buffalo!
So it's a chain. I can forgive them of that. I can forgive the cookie cutter approach to a "clubby feel" steakhouse if it has something unique. And Ted's Montana Grill does. Call it Bison or call it Buffalo, Ted's has a unique meat niche market because its menu features the Other Red Meat. I kinda dig bison, so it's not a stretch for or weird to me. Taste's like beef but a bit leaner. In fact it is supposed to be healthy for you. Prices are reasonable here, too. This isn't Morton's or Ruth Chris's... so just about anyone can afford dining here and not have to leave your first born. Sides come with most dishes in fact, as opposed to the High End fancy/schmancy steak house where you pay for your side dishes of veggies and potatoes.
Comfortable ambiance, not too much dinner din (din is the term used for the noise / chat level you hear while dining at a restaurant) and great staff at this Durham locale.
Favorite Dish: I had the pot roast. REAL tasty. Came with green beans and mashed potatoes. Nothing fancy. Just great tasting and you can't ask for more than that, particularly at $14.99 for the full meal. Friends had the beef (one had Prime Rib and the other a Kansas Rib Eye.) One other at the party was daring and had the bison: he had short ribs that fell off the bone. Looked good.
Ted's has a nice selection of bottled domestic beers, by the way.
The Federal: Unassuming restaurant with Great Taste!
The front of the place looks like a college dump, I must admit. Having never gone there - but planned a lunch there from comments on Chowhound, I got a bit concerned. But once I spied their menu, I knew where the talent lied: in the kitchen. Interesting eclectic menu at great prices. Ambience is a bit sketchy, but hang in there. Okay - service might even be MORE so-so, but the food is worth it. So are the prices.
Favorite Dish: I had steamed mussles with peruvian potatoes in a red curry sauce served with a side of crostini. VERY good and filling. Only $9.00!
Guglhupf: German Pastry and Sandwichs in Neat Setting
This was a very cool find, shown to me by a friend who has been living in Durham. Fresh baked pastries and bread, espresso drinks, German potato salad, and outside seating. The inside is kind of industrial chic and there is an outside patio with fountains. It's hard to tell this is there if you're not looking for it. I was very pleasantly surprised, and the food was very good.
Favorite Dish: I had a seared tuna sandwich with black olive tapenade, which was very good and which comes with German potato salad. We were also given a basket of bakery bread, with different types of bread. Very lovely all around.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Cinelli's Pizza: Pizza!
This is a great place to go eat. Friendly atmosphere, a bar, and great Italian food. It is family owned and has a few other locations in the triangle. The owners are from Italy originally but they started their business in NY. The food is great and there's a good selection of wines as well.
Favorite Dish: Try Grandma's PIzza or the Brick Oven Pizza.
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Cosmic Cantina: Good Cheap Mexican Food
Many a night when I taught at the Duke TIP program during the summer of 2003, this was the mainstay for me and my fellow teaching assistants. Mexican beer, cheap, great, huge enormous burritos, cheap, outdoor seating, and natives cooking the food so you know it's good when you walk in. And though it appears to be a hole in the wall when you first walk in you quickly realize it's a great laid back atmosphere with mostly students from Duke hanging out and imbibing and enjoying a good inexpensive break from the cafeteria. The burritos are between 2 and 5 dollars depending on whether or not they're vegetarian and whether or not you get them with the works. And you get a lot of burrito for your money. But then, it's not just burritos. All manner of mexican fare, plus great nachos and great great hot sauce. And the best part is that everything here is organic and low fat.
Favorite Dish: Deluxe Chicken burrito and a dos equis and a sunny day out on the back porch.
- Food and Dining
Magnolia Grill: Best cuisine in Durham
Southern american cuisine. Gourmet with a southern twist. Decor is not much to look at but the food is outstanding. James Beard award winning pastry chef and wife of chef, past Best new chef in America (Food & Wine Magazine).
Magnolia Grill: Magnolia Grill
The atomsphere is not upscale, it could be very crowded and noisy - from people's talking in their rather large dining hall. Their focus is on artistically prepared food and quality and display, i.e., the art of gourmet food, instea of deco.
Favorite Dish: Every item is excellent. Contemporary fusion cooking, FINE gourmet food. Just look at the awards the chefs received through years.
They serve the BEST food in Durham.
Go to their website:
for sample menu and their cookbook
George's Garage: Nice place in 9th st district
Nice Bar. Large restaraunt with good table service. Steak, Seafood, Pasta etc.
Favorite Dish: I had pan seared Tuna this particular night. Pretty good
Dale's: Good Indian Curry
Good Curry and other Indian dishes. Good beer selection. Long on flavor, maybe a little short on atmosphere. Open for lunch too.
Favorite Dish: Curry
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