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Feb 21, 2009 05:55 AM

Triangle Burger-Beer Update

I had two notable burgers recently. After long hearing about Char-Grill, the famed Raleigh institution, I finally had a chance to stop by the new branch restaurant near the juncture of 54 and 55 in Durham. It was an extreme disappointment. The burger was dry and tasteless -- the kind of burger for which the "hockey puck" cliche was invented, though the cliche does not work in this case, as Char-Grill's burgers are oblong. We had to force feed our daughter, whose complaints, for once, were fairly legitimate. Ultimately we had to bribe her with a Dunkin Donut from next store. The fries are the standard frozen-reconstituted -- tasty, but essentially appealing to one's lower instincts for mere fat and salt.

The other night, meanwhile, we tried PT Grille, on Henderson Street, just off Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill. This is a hopping college bar that specializes in beer, burgers, and fries, all serves relatively cheaply and massively. The burgers were hefty but not special,
and the fresh cut fries, while crisp, were on the greasy side. If you are looking for this kind of food in a lively, youthful atmosphere, PT's is a fine stop. Chowhound types, however, will probably prefer Tyler's, which offers much the same chow with a degree of refinement.

I love, by the way, the beer store that has opened next door to Tyler's. I only just learned that Tyler's owns this shop. I highly recommend the Lammsbrau organic dunkel. This is one of the best beers I have ever had -- maybe the best.

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  1. Try Raleigh Times. I've enjoyed their burger and their beer selection (50+ mostly Belgian) is terrific.

    1. If you want a really good burger in CH - better than I can make myself - go to Sandwhich. They have the burger only on Th-Sat, but it is well, well worth it. Beer selection is pretty limited: bottles only and not many of them. Atmosphere is likewise minimal, but really, the burger is outstanding. Their other sandwiches are also very good.

      Mill Town in C'boro used to have a really good burger, but the last time I was there it seemed like a pre-made patty instead of something thick, juicy, and delicious. Their frites are very nice though, and their beer list is fairly encyclopaedic.

      1. Spanky's is willing to cook your burger less than the medium insisted on elsewhere (hope I havent' just gotten them in trouble) and is therefore the burger of choice for LulusDad.

        Agree on the beer store - pretty fantastic.

        1. My very favorite Triangle burger is at a rather depressing (dim, beer-smelling, tinny Beatles music on replay) place called Abbey Road Grill in Cary. Burgers are huuuuge, juicy, cooked as rare as you want them. Homemade onion rings rule.

          On Franklin Street, the lunch counter at Sutton's Drug does a cheap, impressive 2/3 pounder. Woody's (Four Corners) isn't bad either.

          I used to love Milltown's burgers, but lately they've been really overcooked.

          7 Replies
          1. re: emandm

            In Raleigh the Players Retreat has good burgers and a good beer selection. They grind the meat so you can get them rare.

            1. re: emandm

              I'm in Raleigh and go to Cary frequently for the burger/onion rings at Abbey Road. The best onion rings I've had in the area, and the burger is consistently great. While the atmosphere is reminiscent of a '70's dorm room or family rumpus room I don't find it depressing.

              My Raleigh choices are Porters and Raleigh Times. For Durham my preference is Federal - although I have a love/hate relationship with the place due to service issues, their fries are fantastic and the burgers are really good to.

              1. re: meatn3

                In Raleigh, I agree that Player's Retreat makes a fine burger. I believe that any establishment that's serious about burgers and fries should grind their own meat and cut their own fries daily. Lead Mine Tap also makes a solid burger. Both also have a nice selection of local craft beers.

              2. re: emandm

                I'd add a +1 on Abbey Road. While I agree it's a bit of a dive, I don't think I'd call it "depressing".

                1. re: emandm

                  Pretty much everything at Milltown these days is not very good. Except the beer ...

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Which is odd, because I was at Federal (same owners) for lunch a few weeks ago and it was very good.

                    1. re: Remsleep

                      Federal is SO much better than Milltown. sad, because Milltown is a lot closer for me.

                2. Dain's Place on Ninth St. in Durham gets my vote as best burger in recent memory. I need to try Buns in Chapel Hill...