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Dives in Durham/Chapel Hill

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What are the local chowhounds' favorite dives around here?

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  1. FWIW

    Joe and Jo's for a burger. By no means special from the standpoint of grinding their own meat, etc. All I know is this: I used to sell them wine and often enjoyed the burger there. Enough so that I bothered to mention it on my required weekly sales summary. After I left the job, my old manager commented that my replacement said exactly the same thing on one of his summaries. Basically a good burger.

    The oft-mentioned Super Taqueria. Not sure if it qualifies as a "Dive" but what the hell. Possibly the best taco in the city and you order at the counter so it deserves mention.

    Shrimp Boats for Fried Chicken. Good food+ zero ambiance= likely what this thread is about.

    Of course, ordering an immaculate BLT from the back of a convenience store has to qualify...thus the also famous Merrit Store in Chapel Hill "merrits" mention.

    1. agreed on all counts, especially on merritt's. that is the cottage industry ideal come to life, imho. also must mention j and j's deli for a hoagie (get the "be a hero"--best deal in the house) and IP3 for pizza and cheesesteaks in chapel hill. miami blvd. in rtp--9n9 for banh mi and pho. talk about a dive-- even greg cox said the ambience was lacking when he reviewed the place several years ago.

      1. Where are Merritt's and J&J's deli? IP3? I don't know any of these. I am a fan of 9n9, but not sure if it qualifies as a dive. In my book a dive usually includes an alcoholic beverage, preferably served in a glass with fingerprints all over it. Pho and alcohol? Nah. Okay, so it doesn't have to include alcohol, but you get the idea. Patio Loco has dive potential, but then again, if you serve lentil enchiladas, that zaps you right there. They're pretty good, though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: suse

          Patio Loco a dive?! I guess I have a different definition of "dive" -- I think dark stinky bar-type places. Patio Loco serves one of my favorite dishes in Chapel Hill: wonderful lentil gorditas with fresh mozzerella cheese. However, last time I had that dish there, they used block mozz & the atmosphere seemed a bit off. I was worried the place might have changed ownership or something. Heh, maybe it IS a dive now! :)

        2. Well, Suse does Carrburito's qualify? It's clean;- but you stand on line. Anyway I had a great dinner, fresh salsas, great guac, beans & rice & grilled veg & a Dos Equiis for like $7.00
          Hey that's fantastic. The food was fresh & delicious & the place is buzzing. It's fun.

          1. well, by that def, neither merritt's nor j and j's qualifies, per se-- you can take out alchohol (they're both retail stores) but no thumbprinted glass for the booze. merritt's is on the downside of south columbia heading away from chapel hill toward pittsboro, before you get to the bridge. j and j's is in timberlyne (off airport road north of chapel hill). IP3 probably comes closest to your definition, as they have beer on draft. they're on the last block of west franklin before crook's corner. i guess i didn't realize you meant dive BARS with food... not many around these parts--either the food sucks or it doesn't qualify in your def. see linda's, for example. definitely dive-y, but the food is almost inedible.
            as far as straight dive food, i stand by my recs, and would add fiesta grill to the mix. you can get a beer, there, i think.

            1. Down Under Pub - good chicken wings (definitely a dive in the definition here)
              Liberty Cafe -Durham
              Skylight Exchange -Chapel Hill
              Current Cafeteria
              Wimpy's Grill -they make their own patties (take out only)

              1. Definitely agree with IP3, anywhere you can get a large cheese and some Sammy for $11 should qualify...

                1. Chicken Hut on Fayetteville Rd in S.E. Durham. Brilliant fried chicken. And try the smothered.

                  Also Bossman's on S. Miami. It's your basic old south meat and threes. I favor the smothered steak. Good cake. Breakfast and lunch only.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: FuzzyT

                    Damn, I like to keep a few secrets to myself. You gave a way the chicken hut! I agree, excellent fried chicken.

                  2. Thanks to everyone who responded. I'm a big fan of what I consider to be "dives," but I see we have an array of definitions here. What I see as a "dive" could be found aplenty in New Orleans - pre-Katrina, and I suspect there are still more per block there now than in the entire Triangle. As to my definition - for one, "zero ambiance" doesn't qualify as "dive". The ambiance has to be there, so Shrimp Boat doesn't qualify, as far as I'm concerned. Carrburito's is....well....just too Carrboro to be considered a dive. It's a little too put together. I think I consider Patio Loco divish because it's grodier than most of what Chapel Hill/Carrboro has to offer. The Cosmic Cantina in Durham is a dive, I think - now if only I really liked, liked their food. Jo & Joe's comes really close. Some of you may remember the old Top Hat on Ninth St. (or was it Broad?) in Durham (across from where Somethyme/Under the Street used to be) back in the day (mid-late 80s). Cheap beer and the best, sloppiest, unhealthiest chili cheeseburger around. Major dive. Of course, selling drugs out the back door does help with the finances, but you can't stay alive too long that way. Anyway, the food doesn't have to be fantastic, but it helps if there's some desirable nosh like a giant plate of nachos or a good burger. And beer. Keep me posted if you find a fun dive,ya'll

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: suse

                      see my post on roast grill in raleigh... and have you tried the IP3 rec? that fits every element of your description... for better or worse! *grin*

                    2. If you want to go to a good dive bar in Raleigh, I suggest my favorite, The Players Retreat on Oberlin Raod. Good food esp. the Bernie Burger and cold beer. Also a little pool room, some darts and a juke box.

                      My favorite dive bar in Chapel Hill was always Henderson Street. I don't know if it still operating as it was but it was a true dive under the above definitions.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BBQJoe

                        H Street is long gone...I think Hector's has taken over that space after 2 or 3 others failed there.

                      2. How 'bout Bull City Wings? It's just off 147. In fact, it's less divey in its new location than it old one which was much more "urban". I think they have the best wings in the Triangle and they have a drive thru window.

                        1. Fish Mongers In Durham qualifies as a dive and has great seafood.

                          If you want Dive bars more in Raleigh - Players Retreat is a great one (Then go to Char Grill for a burger)Slims downtown Raleigh is another good one for late night drinks.