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Durham, NC Dinner Reccomendations - Driving from Baltimore

I will be driving from Baltimore to Greensville, SC in a few weeks and clocked Durham as the city I will most likely be passing through for dinner. I am intersted in any reccomendations for a great dinner. We will more than likely be in casual clothes.

Regional dining is always an interest but more than anything we're just looking for a good reccomendation from a local. Thanks for your help.

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  1. I'm going to reply with the "low-rent" right off the highway options:
    Los Comales - authentic Mexican - there's a good bit on the board about this place - really good and way cheap. (Roxboro Rd. exit) Same exit: Mami Nora's Rotisserie Chicken (Peruvian) . I can vouch for the deliciousness of the chicken, but haven't had the sides.

    1 Reply
    1. re: suse

      Mami Nora's is indeed fine and very authentic Peruvian style rotisserie chicken. The yuca is underwhelming but the platanos (sweet) and black beans are excellent. They also make their own rolls and offer a delicious chicken soup. On Saturday I tried their ceviche special made from tilapia and it was delicious.Nice people running the place too.

    2. Well we have The Cheesecake Factory, Outback, and 2 Chilis!!!!!!!!

      Suse's recs are good, had Mami Nora's for dinner tonight-yum, but aside from casual clothes friendly what do you think you'll be in the mood for and what's your budget?

      3 Replies
      1. re: LBD

        did you serious ly just recommend those chains? lol

        1. re: TSQ75

          Good lord no!! Just trying to be a smart ass.

      2. something right off the highway would be easiest for you then...

        there are amazing taquerias right off the roxboro rd exit, as mentioned above...coming off I85 heading south, it'll be exit 177...off that same exit, if you venture a couple of miles further into downtown Durham, you'll find a few nice places, Piedmont, Rue Cler, Toast Panini shop...and Bull McCabes Pub

        about 2 exits past that, is Guess Rd, which will find Honey's diner (just ok) but a lovely little vietnamese place, and BBQ joint right off the hwy...about a mile or so up guess rd you'll also fine a few good taquerias and a nice Sit down chines restaurant called Hon KOng...you'll also be right near supermarkets for needed supplies

        unfortunately,outside of downtown durham, you'll find more of the more creative not specifially ethic or homestyle places off Hwy 147 on Broad and main streets...

        3 Replies
        1. re: TSQ75

          Wait - there's a Vietnamese place off Guess Rd.? Do tell.

          1. re: romansperson

            OMG its right there across from the pawn shop and right by the Hog heaven BBQ place...literally off the HWY

            Not the epitome of Vienamese...but definitely a good fix

            1. re: TSQ75

              Ah, found it!

              Kim Son Vietnamese Restaurant, 2425 Guess Road. Excellent!

        2. What day and time do you think you will be in town? Some of the best (and cheapest) places in Durham have limited hours, but are definitely great. If you want something random, check out Carpe Durham (carpedurham.wordpress.com) and see if anything pops out at you. Otherwise provide some additional details and we can try and recommend something suitable for you.

          1. Given the route, places in Hillsborough would also be worth a look (+15 minutes from Durham on 85S if you're running early).

            That said, any of the above would do fine. I always crave tacos while driving so Roxboro Rd. would be my exit.

            3 Replies
            1. re: brokegradstudent

              agreed...and downtown Hillsborough, while a good 3 miles off the highway, is literally a straight shot...you wont get lost getting back to the main road

              1. re: TSQ75

                And it should be mentioned that the best places in Hillsborough are in the old town section - you'll take exit 164 (Churton Street). Go North on Churton St. and pass all the chain places. You'll go over a small bridge and then into old downtown Hillsborough. The restaurants will be on the left side of the street - Saratoga Grill (on the second floor of the building it is in, traditional American stuff - go for lunch, not dinner) Tupelo's (Louisiana/Cajun/Creole influenced), Wooden Nickel (hole in the wall/kinda divey pub with great sandwiches), Gulf Rim Cafe (seafood). You can turn down one of the side streets and either park on the street or in the lot behind the restaurants.

                1. re: romansperson

                  Pancuito is a very nice restaurant right there on Churton Street. You would need reservations, and I recommend that you check their website.

                  In durham, Piedmont, Blue, Watts Grocery are all fine choices.

                  For any of these restaurants, you have to understand that they are not "get in, eat, get out in 45 minutes" places. When I'm traveling I generally don't take the extended periods of time for stops like these, but maybe you do.

                  If these fancier places are overshooting your aim:

                  Hong Kong on Guess road is decent chinese that would be easy to get to, quick for a stop, and worth your visit.

                  At the Roxboro Road exit there is a decent hero/sandwich shop called American Hero, which also has some hot entrees.

                  Bullock's BBQ is no longer the shining example of eastern NC BBQ that it used to be, but it's still decent, and it is easily accessible by getting off the Hillandale exit and following directions.

                  Mami Nora's is a good recommendation for something slightly off the beaten path (with regards to the food, not the location).

            2. Durham is an excellent choice for a dinner stop, and everything is reasonably close to I-85. For a great dinner with regional flavor I would recommend Watts Grocery. The taquerias mentioned are great if that's the mood you're in. Same with Mami Nora's Peruvian chicken. I would also recommend Federal as having some of the best bar food you will ever encounter. The Kim Son Vietnamese recommendation is solid as well. Piedmont, Rue Cler, Pop's, and Blu Seafood are also worthy. Enjoy your dinner in the Bull City and let us know how it went.

              6 Replies
              1. re: PeterB

                I'm not a slammer, I'm really not, but Kim Son Vietnamese is really not that good, unless it's gotten a whole lot better since the last time I went. All the other suggestions seem fine. If you have a GPS or a decent set of directions and a bit of time to go a little further from the highway, it's easy enough to nip into Durham.
                As for "forget these options" - what's up with that? There is good food to be found for under $15. The Federal is great - but it really is the kind of place you want to hang out and have a couple of beers and these folks are driving.

                1. re: suse

                  Not sure what you ordered at Kim Son, but I always get the Pho and it's fine. My wife enjoys the vermicelli dishes as well. Haven't tried the rest of the menu. It's not haute cuisine, but I think it's a decent Pho joint.

                  1. re: PeterB

                    I had the Pho - but that was a few years ago before I discovered 9N9. I certainly wasn't expecting haute cuisine. I'm really not even much of a haute cuisine kind of person as you can see from my initial recommendations. The last time I was at Kim Son with a big group of people and for the most part the food was all pretty blah. Nobody was too crazy about it. Are they still using those canned sliced mushrooms? I'm open to giving them another go.

                    1. re: suse

                      If 9N9 is more convenient than Kim Son I'd stick with 9N9. I've never experienced canned mushrooms at Kim Son but 9N9 has those great Vietnamese pork sandwiches and a killer hot & sour soup in addition to the usual stuff.

                      1. re: PeterB

                        Sorry to reply so late - I've been really busy this week traveling. Anyhow, I am going to be stopping at Watt's Grocery with my wife. Should be a good meal and a good break from the 5-6 hours of driving we will be enduring on the way to Durham. Thanks for all the suggestions and I'll let you know what I think when the time comes.
                        Thanks!

                        1. re: mcattrone

                          Bon apetit, y'all. Amy Tornquist is a southerner trained in France who turns out great food. Arguably the best hush puppies you will ever taste. It's also a really nice room with a cool vibe. Enjoy!