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Jan 5, 2007 04:32 PM

Duke Chow In Walking Distance

I'm going to be working in the vicinity of Erwin & Research, near the cancer center. What good food is in walking distance?


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  1. You easily walk to Nosh (3/10ths of a mile west from your intersection, on the north side of erwin). Not out of the world chow, but they have creative sandwiches and the like. Chai is a noodle bar in the same plaza (Erwin Terrace)--I've never been, but I've heard decent things about it.

    Locopops is at Hillsborough and 15th--a mile from your intersection, and a must visit.

    On West Main (about a mile from your intersection) are Parizade and Verde, for fancier chow.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rcsimm

      Actually, Parizade and Verde are about 2 miles away. Elmo's Diner is closer by 1/2 mile but still 1 1/2 miles away. This restaurant is wonderful. I was a skeptic at first but my friend took me there and changed my mind completely. Great food, Great service and Great prices. What more could you want for a cheap excellent lunch.

      1. re: lessnow59

        well, google maps shows it as 1.1 miles away, but whatever. I'm not certain it's really a "walkable" mile (or two) anyway.

        1. re: rcsimm

          Oh, okay. I guess that explains it. I used MapQuest. : )

    2. It really does depend on your definition of walking distance. At that end of Erwin, the stuff already mentioned in Erwin Terrace is (for better or worse) your best bet. Chai's is reasonably-priced pan-asian noodles/fast-food; I've eaten there twice & both times came away unimpressed, but other folks dig it.

      Around on the backside of that building there are a Quizno's, some kind of semi-chain called the Wishbone Grille that didn't find many fans on Chowhound when it opened, and a place called Nosh. Nosh suffers, IMHO, from trying to do too many things -- a ton of sandwiches & salads, plus burgers, plus other hot food, plus a coffee bar, etc, etc. The burger I had there was probably better for me than a fast-food burger, but wasn't super flavorful. I also had a chicken salad sandwich or something, I don't recall exactly what now, that was similarly serviceable but [clearly] unmemorable.

      But it's all pretty healthy & honest. The folks who own it have owned a joint in RTP called Piper's in the Park for ages & ages, and they know how to churn out the kind of passable grub that is an improvement over the onsite cafeteria, ya know?

      My fave place in that building is actually Shade Tree Coffee; they make good coffee, plus they've got ice cream. Can't really eat a meal there, but it's a good coffee shop.

      The place closest to you that I'm most interested in (never having eaten there) is actually the Refectory Cafe at the Divinity School on West Campus. They're apparently doing a lot with local producers/ingredients. Here's an article:

      With how screwed up West Campus is nowadays, though, I don't know exactly how far you'd have to walk to get there, after skirting all the new buildings & evil construction.

      If you feel like more of a hike, all of 9th St. is only about 1.5 miles from where you'll be. That gets you everything from the mission-style burritos of Cosmic Cantina, to the Nicaraguan food at Xiloa, to the Vietnamese (on Wed & Sat) at Banh's, to the American diner grub at Elmo's. A big chunk of Giorgios Bakatsias's food empire is also right around there:

      The ones nearby & open for lunch (in addition to Grasshopper, that would be Parizade and George's Garage) have never really impressed me, certainly not as much as his more recent crop of more "serious" dinner restaurants.

      As already mentioned, LocoPops is a Durham treasure -- but be forewarned that they only do popsicles. Amazing, Mexican-style paletas, which are essentially frozen refrescos, all fresh fruits & other ingredients, yes. But they're still just popsicles, so you probably wouldn't want to stake yr lunch on them ;-)

      8 Replies
      1. re: rossgrady

        Speaking of dining on Duke's campus, maybe the Nasher Museum Cafe would be good spot?

        1. re: rcsimm

          Hmm, can you eat there without paying the $5 to get into the Nasher? And/or will RaleighRocker's medcenter badge qualify for the free admission?

          Either way, I've never eaten there, but they have a website:

          Re: the map/distance/directions conundrum: the problem is the Durham Freeway. The first crossover/under, there near the VA hospital, is multi-lane over/underpass hell, even for driving, so I wouldn't want to try to walk it. The next crossover is the bridge at 15th/Anderson, and it's just a little dinky bridge. I've never walked it but I'm sure it'd be pretty painless. The last crossover is to follow Erwin all the way down to where it curves under & becomes 9th St.

          As the crow flies, Parizade/Verde (in that big bank building on W. Main) is closer than 9th St/Elmo's, and if you walk over the 15th St. bridge & turn on Main, then Parizade is presumably closer on foot as well. The only way Parizade might be further is if you went all the way on Erwin & then doubled back.

          I haven't eaten at Parizade in maybe 10 years, and I've never eaten at Verde, so I suppose my comments above should be taken with a grain of salt. I still wouldn't recommend George's Garage, though.

          1. re: rossgrady

            Yes, you can eat at the Nasher Cafe without paying museum admission.

        2. re: rossgrady

          Rossgrady, Years ago (late 80's) one of my favorite restaurants in Chapel Hill was Giorgio's serving the best ever Bouillabaisse. Was this a part of the food empire you mentioned? I seem to recall that the owner of Giorgio's had other restaurants in the Triangle or Triad. I have fond memories of the huge beautiful dish being served with french bread feeling that I would never be able to finish ...later to be sadly soaking up the last ounce of broth with the last remaining bread crumb wishing there was more. It just kept tasting better and better with each bite...pure bliss.

          1. re: Windsor

            I loved the bouillabaisse at Cafe Giorgio's. I've tried it at other places in the Triangle and none compare. Mythos, at Tryon and Cary Parkway in the old Parkway Burgers building, is the closest in style to the old Cafe Giorgio's that I have found, but I havent seen bouillabaisse on their menu yet.

            1. re: Windsor

              Sorry, that's before my time here, but I wouldn't be surprised. I think Giorgios opened his first restaurants here in the mid-late 80s. Various bios I've seen have put the total tally at between 15 and 25 or so, with quite a few of them having come & gone, obviously.

              Around the time of his *last* crop of new places (George's Garage, and then a few years later Spice Street), he got a rep for caring more about decor and "concept" than about the food. That seems to have changed with the current crop, presumably because he's partnering with folks like Charlie, & Matt Kelly at Vin Rouge.

              In addition to the restaurants listed at the Vin Rouge website I linked, he also part-owns some places in Hollywood FL, and there may be others I don't know about. Perhaps the benefit of him being spread so thin is that he's forced to leave talented chefs & partners more directly in charge.

              1. re: Windsor

                Yes - that was one of George's restaurants (Bakastsias - sp). He had a restaurant in Raleigh and/or Cary then also.

              2. re: rossgrady

                the refectory is quite good but expensive. everything is very fresh and portions are fair, but a full meal usually runs close to ten dollars. but then again, most of the crap on west campus runs close to that amount. also of note is that sitar indian is served in the great hall (main west campus dining place) every tuesday and thursday.
                as for the refectory, i would recommend their pastas, especially the lasagna. there are a few standards (soup n wrap, daal) but the daily specials are usually the best choice.

              3. Since you're talking about walking distance here are a couple of suggestions closer to where you'll be working:

                If you come onto campus and walk down Research (away from Erwin Rd) there's the Blue Express in the LSRC Building (last bldg on right before approaching the back of Duke Hospital South) that has food by Three Seasons Catering. Great sandwiches. Their Thursday special is a beef Cuban sandwich that is excellent. They also have another spot on campus near Duke Chapel (where other quick food options are offered) and on Wednesdays their special is the traditional Cuban sandwich.

                Across the street from where you're talking about - right on Erwin is an Italian Restaurant called Francesca's Italian Cuisine and Grille - I've eaten there and it was good. More to it's credit - my old boss (half Italian) used to eat there regularly - he loved it. The restaurant gets a lot of Duke employee customers.

                1. WOW! Thank you guys so much!! I apparently am not going to starve! I am a champ about getting around in Raleigh, but not Durham, so I will have the luxury of experiencing a new city (that I rarely go to save trips to Nana's for special occasions and to locopops in the summer) that I have long ignored!