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Flavors for the Durham Podium: Top Picks

Posted by Ashley Strahm on May 9, 2019 12:04:22 PM

We know you're heard of Panera and Jimmy Johns, but what about the distinctly Durham tastes you haven't yet discovered? We've got places you should try that are close to the all the action, unforgettably famous, and perfect for celebrating a track and field personal best.

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Bull City Staples

Don't you dare go home without tasting these culinary delights in Durham.

First Place: Dames Chicken & Waffles

Find your favorite comfort food pairing at the original Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, where crispy, Southern fried chicken meets fluffy and sweet European waffles. The golden waffles are served with their signature “shmears,” made of whipped sweet crème butters that are flavored with natural ingredients like Strawberry Crème, Maple Pecan, or Chocolate Hazelnut. Not a waffle fan? Dame’s also serves classic southern brunch dishes like shrimp and grits and blackened salmon.

In the press: Eater recognized Dame's as one of Durham's 10 indispensible restaurants.

Travel Tip: There is often a line out the door but it is worth the wait. Make sure your entire party is available so you'll be seated.

 

Second Place: True Flavors Diner

It’s hard to snag a seat at the cozy True Flavors diner on the weekends (now with a new location in the Lakewood neighborhood!) but the inventive menu is truly worth the wait. You’re served a hot, buttermilk biscuit the second you sit down (try not to inhale it), and the menu is filled with delicious dishes like slow roasted duck hash with roasted red peppers, thyme, shallots, and eggs, or the creamy four-cheese shrimp and grits with peppers, onions, fresh corn, sausage, and eggs on the side.

In the press: The News & Observer is just as excited about another location for these delights.

Travel Tip: This is perfect for the entire family; but come early to leave happy. Take a slice of pound cake to go!

 

Third Place: Saltbox Seafood Joint

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Didn’t think it was possible to get fresh seafood this far from the coast? You haven’t visited Saltbox Seafood Joint. Classically trained Chef Ricky Moore has worked in restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, but in 2012 he gave it all up to open a walk-up seafood stand in downtown Durham. Diners now line the street for Moore’s nationally-acclaimed soft-shell crabs, oysters, and of course, fried fish.

In the press: USA Today recognized Saltbox as a seafood shack worth a stop, and Eater recognized Saltbox as one of 10 indispensable Durham restaurants.

Travel Tip: The menu varies daily. You can find the day’s specials posted on Facebook, written on a chalkboard outside the downtown location, and inside the recently opened second location in Lakewood, Saltbox Seafood II.

 

Barbecue for the win: Picnic Durham

We're not even paying attention to the podium on this one... we're just going to award a trophy. The local meats and produce featured on the plates at this family-friendly restaurant are exactly the kind to call home about. Are you wondering where to win on the barbecue front? Picnic is it, offering staple pulled pork and brisket over cheesy fries, as well as fried chicken sandwiches, baked beans, and warm sweet potato hash before serving delightful desserts.

In the press: Indy Weekly covered Picnic's whole hog restaurant,  praising the simple, unpretentious, hearty barbecue soaked in smoke and sauce folks keep coming back for.

Travel tip: Don't even wear a belt — at the very least, be prepared to loosen it.

 

Prizes for Proximity

We know convenience is key when you're spending a few days at a stadium competing to the best of your ability. Here are the top three places to visit that are within a short distance of Durham County Memorial Stadium.

First Place: Super Taqueria

North Durham's Super Taqueria offers a mouth-watering selection of sopes, tacos, burritos, and gorditas, plus a loaded salsa bar. Pair your food with an agua fresca for a stellar meal. 

 

Second Place: Pelican's Snoballs

Post competition, take athletes and the whole family to Pelican’s, a short five-minute drive away from the stadium. You can order New Orleans-style sno-balls in flavors like tutti frutti and cherry cola. If you really want to go for gold, try all 100 flavors and win a free t-shirt!

 

Third Place: Golden Crust Caribbean Bakery and Grill

Oxtail? Check. Jerk Chicken? Check. You won't find Caribbean fare in more savory condition than here.

 

Celebrate here when you win your #majormoment

Go on, splurge, you deserve it! You've worked hard, and so have your family and friends while getting you to optimal performance shape. Here are a few places to cap off a great competition week.

 

First Place: Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Restaurant 

Sample German fare on the weekend brunch cafe menu at this European-meets-Southern eatery. Familiar brunch items like eggs benedict over Westphalian ham and nutella on grilled brioche bread mix with traditional German cuisine, such as schnitzel and house-made bratwurst. Don’t leave before popping into the attached bakery for an almond schnecke pastry.

 

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Second Place: Piedmont

Specializing in hyperlocal cuisine, brunch visitors to Piedmont will find menu items from some of their favorite nearby purveyors, like the Loaf Bakery brioche French toast served with poached apples, candied pecans, and bourbon-maple syrup, or the barbecue pork shoulder with root vegetable hash, a fried egg, and Pig Whistle BBQ Sauce.

 

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Third Place: M Tempura

The newest restaurant from Chef Michael Lee, M Tempura opened in the former Scratch Bakery location on Orange Street. This cozy, traditional omakase-style tempura restaurant offers a brand new dining experience where each piece is enjoyed as it comes out, served warm after being lightly battered and fried. Chef Lee’s sister restaurants, M Sushi and M Kokko, are just down the street, and while the concepts are all unique, they are equally delicious.

 

Bonus: Nourish your body and treat your taste buds

Don’t sacrifice flavor at the hands of your diet at Happy + HalePokeworks, or Souly Vegan Cafe. Munch on scrumptious salads, good-for-you grain bowls, and more. For a protein packed post-workout smoothie, stop by Xpert Nutrition. Don’t forget to stock up on healthy snacks from the bulk bins at the Durham Co-op Market and Bulldega.

You can also treat yourself to the good stuff — locally grown produce, hormone-free meats, artisanal cheeses, and more at Durham's three, year-round farmers' markets. Hours are dependent on the season, so check their websites for details:

For more information on Durham travel, check out this map of Durham, or learn more about Durham attractions and events.

Topics: Food & Drink, Sports & Recreation, Itineraries

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