The best places to eat are not just in downtown Durham. Some of the best food is scattered all around the city. It can be refreshing to make your way outside of your neighborhood to check out other parts of the Bull City. Here are seven places found all across Durham that you should be sure to check out. The best part yet? They are all affordable.
1. True Flavors – 5410 Highway 55
True Flavors offers modern southern classics. If their dessert displays in the front window don’t catch your eye, then their entrees certainly will. Like their chicken and waffles for example. What greets you is a small tower of waffles! What I love about the place is that they serve up a number of dishes with duck, which really should be on more menus in the Triangle.
2. Bullock’s BBQ – 3330 Quebec Drive
Bullock’s has been around since 1952 and in their current building since 1970. A cash-only place, Bullock’s serves up traditional southern fare. When I went, it was busy with customers of all ages eating in and taking out. I ordered the Combination 8 plate to go, which included their pork BBQ, fried chicken, and Brunswick stew with hush puppies and cole slaw. They serve up the hush puppies with honey butter and also ask if you would like some of their homemade hot sauce (um, yes, of course!). I figured this plate would encompass a good sample of the items they are known for. Let me tell you, I was blown away by their Brunswick stew. So when you go (remember to bring cash), make sure to order the stew!
3. El Chapin – 4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.
I normally don’t go to restaurants in strip malls often because, well, I like to just get in, buy the stuff I need, then get out as soon as possible. However, El Chapin draws a following to its location at Oak Creek Village on 15-501 and for good reason. This Guatemalan restaurant serves up AMAZING refried beans and tortillas plus their dishes are quite affordable. In a city that can be expensive to dine out in, you can get four appetizers here for about $12 and still bring some home for later. That’s what I did and I brought home an entire tamale.
4. JC’s Kitchen – 706 E. Main St.
I learned about JC’s Kitchen while in grad school working on a project on the Negro Motorist Green Books (“Green Books” for short), a directory of the businesses around the country that welcomed African Americans during Segregation. The building JC’s currently occupies was listed as a tavern, specifically Parker’s Inn in the 1949 Green Books. Its original address was 611 Fayetteville Street. In fact, many of the buildings listed as restaurants in the books continued to operate as restaurants decades after integration while many other black-owned businesses faltered and were demolished as they lost their clientele and urban renewal happened. Its history alone is worth a visit; not that many Green Books properties are still standing. But if you’re not keen to visit for its history, then definitely grab yourself some of JC’s excellent fried chicken cooked to order.
5. La Superior – 3325 N. Roxboro St.
As Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and other food shows attest, great food can be found inside grocery stores. The exterior is inconspicuous but inside holds some fantastic food. Not only can you get fresh cheese and tortillas(!), La Superior cooks up hot food like tamales, gorditas, menudo, tacos, tortas, and tostadas. The Borrego (lamb) was delicious and my favorite. It’s not everyday you can get braised lamb as a meat filling so I was over the moon. Not into lamb? They also have chorizo, carnitas, tinga, barbacoa, lengua, cabeza, suadero, pastor, and pollo. The agua frescas were the perfect accompaniment as well and much needed in this summer heat.
6. French Corner Bake Shop – 2005 N. Pointe Drive, Suite B
Move over Paul Hollywood! If you are like me and absolutely adore patisserie and bread (a bit too much, perhaps), the French Corner Bake Shop is another carbtastic stop in Durham. Tucked away behind several gas stations and near Costco, you probably would never expect a Master Baker’s shop in that area. But Benjamin Messaoui serves up croissants, napoleons, quiches, cream puffs, and, of course, a variety of breads. Want to improve your bread-making skills? The shop offers classes.
7. Cure Delicatessen – 245 E. NC-54 #105
Cure just opened up. It is a South/New York deli mashup. You will find the Fried Smoked Chicken Thigh sandwich (scrumptious, by the way) and the Grilled Pimiento Cheese next to the Hot Pastrami and the Manhattan on the menu board. They source as many products locally as possible, which is also the practice for Whisk and Rye, the bakehouse that provides desserts for Cure 2-3 days a week. They specialize in laminated dough. Yum…