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Durham/Chapel Hill: Where do you find consistency?

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Reading through the posts here lately, I find for every positive review of a local restaurant, there seems to be a negative one right on its heels. Which restaurants do you local hounds find to be the most consistent in terms of food quality alone? I have to say, I've never had bad food at Tallulah's.That would probably be my top pick in this particular category. It's not necessarily that every dish I've had there has rocked my world, but the food has always been well-prepared with good ingredients.

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  1. I've read some not so great reviews on the BBQ Joint, but I've eaten there approximately 50 times since I moved up here and I've always been happy with my meal. I usually stick with the bbq sandwich, but my choices of sides are constantly rotating and consistently tasty (baked beans, cheese grits, brussel sprouts, collard greens, fried sqash, etc.). Also, I've tried entrees such as pork ribs, beef brisket, gumbo, and more... all of which were yummy! The 'Joint has my vote.

    Now I'm hungry...

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. I would second the vote for the BBQ Joint. I actually don't eat their barbeque. I stick to the specials and the sides but those have been very good to me. On occasion, they have some really interesting specials that have always been rewarding when I've tried them. I can't say that for other places.
        Another place that I would say is consistently good, although not that exciting, is Panzanella.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ncpearl

          I agree with BBQ Joint as well. I don't like their BBQ as much as Allen & Son, but I love their Redneck Reuben and all the sides.

          Speaking of consistent Italian, I would add Bocci on Fayetteville St. in Durham to that list (the old Cinelli's.)

          1. re: mikeh

            Consistency is in the eye of the beholder.

            I have had several good meals at the following: Nana's, Four Square, Jujube, Allen & Sons, Chosun OK, Taqueria El Paraiso and the Federal. I have been to each at least three times.

            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

              I know what you are saying about eye of the beholder, I have been out with a group of work friends when someone said "you can always tell a good restaurant when all the food comes out hot". With requirements like that almost all of the restaurants you mentain would pass the test.

              1. re: chazzer

                kimchi pancakes at Chosun OK are always a hit as is the baby goat soup

        2. This is a heavily edited repost of this, because its original parent was deleted, and it thus got the axe as well:

          My list of "consistent" restaurants would probably wind up being largely a list of "solid but not really exciting" restaurants. There are very few (possibly zero) restaurants in the Triangle whose chefs are genius enough to constantly push themselves *and* constantly fire on all cylinders, and I think a lot of us here are drawn to the restaurants where there's high potential for major excitement . . . but with that, you're going to have the risk of the occasional misfire.

          Here are some restos that we fall back on when we want a solid comfortable meal without having to think too hard. I'm going to post specific dishes because I can't think of *any* restaurants around here where every single dish is gonna be worth ordering every time:

          Carnitas or huevos rancheros at Fiesta Grill
          Fish tacos at Carrburritos
          Vegetarian combo at Mediterranean Deli (esp. the baba ghanoush)
          Curry fish at Thai Palace
          BBQ plate or gumbo at the BBQ Joint (some of the stuff on the specials menu is good, but I've had my share of ambitious pricey failures as well)
          Tofu soup at Vit Goal
          P1 (pho with rare beef) at 9N9

          Actually, I just thought of one place that hasn't let me down, ever, on any dish: Sandwhich

          1. McDonalds wins the consistency award, hands down. Sure, the food's boring and might not be fit for human consumption, but the quality is amazingly consistent. (Consistenly awful, mind you, but amazingly consistent nevertheless.) :-b

            For consistently GOOD food, I've never had a meal at Allen & Son or at Pao Lim that wasn't satisfying. Never been disappointed by the barbacoa or pastor tacos at Los Comales or the barbacoa burritos at Taqueria Lopez, either. Elmo's Diner is right up there, along with the sliced brisket at Q-shack (though other meats can be iffy). Harbor Bay for fried catfish and scallops: not fancy or spectacular, but good, solid delivery every time.

            6 Replies
            1. re: mclaugh

              what a great point about mcdonald's!!! it's really difficult to think of a time at mccy d's that has been any less or more satisfying than the time before.

              i think that wimpie's grill on hillsborough rd is extremely consistent. once again, it's not out-of-this-world food, but it's always as good as burger-joint food can get, consistently...

              i used to think of the q-shack's brisket as consistent, but it's started getting a little drier as of late, and some of the latinos cutting the brisket will trim away the chili-rubbed fat layer, and they don't always cut it thin at the edges and thicker in the middle of the brisket, which is how it should be cut. it will be cut that way if the manager is working the line, but the managers always seem to be at the cash register now... watching the clock...

              this topic really shouldn't be so difficult, but for some reason i can't wholeheartedly name any restaurant in the triangle as consistent. the federal is a good one, but i'm usually a few deep before i order food, so i don't know that i'm the best judge for that. if you've ever read any of my other posts, i'm sure you'll know that i'll throw los comales at the top of the list, but i'm biased apparently, because i love everything they put in my little basket, and they seem to always serve the food quickly with me, but i've heard the contrary....

              1. re: MOOKIECOOKIE

                Wimpy's Grill. I forgot about that place! I only went there a few times, but I did like the classic burger-in-wax-paper experience.

                I must agree with RossGrady. I worry little about consistency. I'd much rather explore a new place than go to the same place over and over.

                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                  lantern
                  carolina brewery (consistently bad)
                  crooks corner
                  TIME OUT (the only inconsistency lies with their macaroni)
                  Alfredo's Pizza

                  1. re: batdown

                    I have to agree with Carolina Brewery's consistently bad food. I ordered a strip staek from there once, cooked to medium temperature. For some reason they thought it would be a good idea to butterfly it, cook it to well done, and then fold it back over so it looked like it hadn't been butterflied. I was too confused to send it back.

                    1. re: SenorSuarez

                      but their sweet potato fries are so good!

                      1. re: abbefaith

                        top of the hill makes them MUCH better, you should check it out if you like sp fries