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Sep 30, 2002 02:46 PM

Lookin' for the Best of Durham, NC

  • t

I'll be in Durham in a couple of weeks and I'm looking for some outstanding food of the BBQ-fried catfish-hush puppies-chicken fried steak variety. Magnolia Grill would be swell, but I'd like to find some good, cheap, amazing real southern food. No melding of esoteric flavors, no creatively using wasabi to liven up a bowl of curry corn chowder - just good eats. Suggestions?

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  1. For decent southern food you really should go somewhere else. The only halfway good place I've found is PanPan, and the jury's still out on that one (although if due to some emergency you need to gain a lot of weight quickly, this is the place to go).

    There are several places that have good fried fish.

    Coleman's, on Pettigrew, has the best tasting fried fish around. I particularly recommend the trout (which you can either get with bone or without - get it with) or the "bone fish". They also have great desserts.

    Fishmongers is good, although I don't really consider them southern (and you should only go there for lunch).

    Mariner's Cove is the all purpose southern catfish restaurant. I wish it were better than it is. Worth checking out if you're an irony lover.


    1. I like the Pan Pan a lot, but don't go for the atmosphere: it's downright dingy.

      Ditto for Dillards, a barbecue/Southern steamtray restaurant on Fayetteville Road. Great fried chicken, great sides, great folks, but pretty scaggy digs. This type of thing doesn't bother me, but lots of folks like to be forewarned.

      I have never been to Coleman's--and I can assure you that it is not in the best neighborhood or even anywhere close to one--but I've read good things about it at newsgroups, bulletin boards, etc., and will go next time I'm over that way. If you try it, *please* report back!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tom from NC

        The problem with Dillard's is that it serves cafeteria style, which means the food sits around under heat lamps or in steam trays. In my experience this is the kiss of death, especially when it comes to something as ephemerally delicious as fried chicken. There is something to the the above criticisms of Bullock's BBQ, but I've always found the fried chicken to be excellent. I haven't tried PanPan.

        David A.

      2. Bullock's. Bullock's is considered THE place for Southern food in Durham. I don't care for the BBQ, but everything else I've tried is quite good, especially thje fried chicken. You may like the eating family style option, which is basically AYCE.

        Go early or be prepared to wait a while. The place is always packed. However, the wait is made interesting by all the photos of celebrities that have eaten there, from Dolly Parton to Magic Johnson to Catfish Hunter. Take out is a good, quick option.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Sant

          I'm very conflicted about Bullocks. There 'cue is terrible. Offputting enough to make me not want to eat there. Some of there vegetables are good but overall I've never been really happy with it.

          I've always thought it developed it's mystique as a southern restaurant more from it's history than the quality of its food.

          to my mind Pan Pan does a better job in almost every respect. Plus they made me an oyster po'boy sandwich based only on my vague description of one, despite it's not being on the menu.

          1. re: ben f

            I too have mixed feelings about Bullocks. I'll eat there without making a fuss if a group suggested we go there, but I wouldn't recommend it to others. The quality of their offerings is too spotty--the fried chicken I had there last time was OK (it was, after all, fried chicken!) but not the transcendent experience I want when I decide to indulge in such high-cal fare. The chicken at Dillard's is better, much better.

            If it came down to Bullocks and the Pan Pan, I'd chose the Pan Pan every time.

            1. re: Tom from NC

              I too am not crazy about Bullocks, but the place is so packed all the time I thought maybe I was just being too picky. Seems a lot of people like Bullocks a lot being that it's always crowded.

              Pan Pan, eh? Ate there once and didn't like it. But since you guys give it the nod I'll give it another chance.

              I liked Dillard's the best of the three I've tried but I never seem to get out that way and can't remember how to get there-- besides my wife is one of those Wellspring granola types. LOL!

              Hey, have either of ya'll eaten at Honey's?

              1. re: Sant

                While my husband was rcovering from his stroke last weekend at Duke, my son took me to Honey's a little past midnight one night. I was surprised to see it so full that late. My son had an omlette and it looked wonderful and he said it was! My scrambled eggs and country fried steak was good as well. Their eggs had a great taste to them, they must be free range eggs, they were delicious! The service was good and so were the prices. It's not fancy but if you're out late and looking for a place to eat, I would suggest Honey's.

                1. re: EveRachel

                  Best late-nite eating in the city right now HAS to be Watts Grocery. I think it definitely falls under "Southern," and it won't bust your artery either (except for those otherwordly OMG oustanding hushpuppies, and the krispie creme bread pudding)

        2. For good, cheap, amazing eats in Durham these days I think the taquerias are where it's at. There is quite a bit of info on this board, but a short list of places to try would include Taqueria Lopez (near Bullock's), Los Comales, and Super Taqueria (both on Roxboro Rd. north of I85).

          1. Sorry, I have to say that the best stuff to eat in Durham is NOT the Southern BBQ...there are better places in NC to go for that.

            Durham is urban, its strong, and its ethnic. Go for one of our hundreds of awesome taquerias, mexican, Salvadorean, and honduran restaurants.

            go for the awesome Thai cafe, Go for Indian Brunch at dales, mexican breakfast at La Fondita.

            or go for all of our amazing non-chain locally owned ventures such as Piedmont, or Watts grocery. real food, from real people--delicious and gorgeous.

            4 Replies
            1. re: TSQ75

              Where, pray tell, is La Fondita? i have lived here for over a year and have not been able to find a place for decent Mexican breakfast. Are there others?

              1. re: Biggun

                La Fondita is in the shopping plaza on Avondale just north of I 85 that used to have a Winn Dixie (now it's Compare). It is 2 storefronts down from Compare. It is very close to several of the other fine taquerias and tiendas on Roxboro Rd.

                1. re: Biggun

                  It's in the shopping center that houses Compare supermarket, and Big Lots. Beware, they generally dont open for breakfast until about 930am. they serve it all day tho. for 2 big plates and 2 coffee's we generally drop about 13 bucks.

                  GREAT refritos!