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Lunch spots in Downtown Durham?

I started working at the American Tobacco Campus a few months ago and have enjoyed trying out some restaurants nearby. I am lucky to be in this central location, and walking distance from both Main St and Brightleaf. What places should I try out? Ideally walking distance but short drive is fine. Price range is flexible but I can't do above $15 all-in all that often.

I searched the archives within the past year and didn't find anything on this topic.

I've enjoyed Ninth Street Bakery, Dame's Chicken and Waffles, Toast, Only Burger, Torero's, and Tobacco Road. I am over Saladelia, Tyler's and Mellow Mushroom. I found Parker and Otis a little overblown. I enjoy most types of foods but am a sucker for carbs and baked goods. I am not nor will ever be on a diet.

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Toast
345 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

Torero's Mexican Restaurant
800 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

Saladelia Cafe
4201 University Dr, Durham, NC 27707

Dame's Chicken and Waffles
317 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

Ninth Street Bakery
136 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

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  1. Have you been to the Federal? Bar food, but many notches up from the usual. Rue Cler for French food - wonderfully cooked, but unfortunately service can be a problem. If I'm not mistaken, they make their own bread, which is very good. And def. give them a try for brunch - the beignets are heavenly.

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    Rue Cler Restaurant
    401 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

    3 Replies
      1. re: panthur

        I had an outstanding lunch to-day at Rue Cler for 2 with no wine because we were driving, total with apps came to 32 dollars and the service was great. i went because they were recommended by the NY Times and had a great time. No table cloths at lunch by the food is the best I've had in months at any price.

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        Rue Cler Restaurant
        401 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

      2. re: LulusMom

        I will second the Fed. And not just for lunch, it's a great happy hour or evening spot too!

      3. I'm not really familiar with the layout of Durham. However, when I was there I found two very good spots: Joe's Diner 2100 Angier Ave, Durham, NC 27703, which serves excellent hot dogs and other lunch items, and Dragon Express, which even though it looks like a standard take-out shack, serves really delicious and fresh food. They're at 1720 Guess Rd, Durham, NC 27701.

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        Joe's Diner
        8332 Old State Rd, Holly Hill, SC 29059

        1. Try Cuban Revolution right there in the campus, Tavernos Nikos at Brightleaf (some of their lunch entrees are big enough for 3 meals for me, and inexpensive to boot, along with great service), or Dos Perros over near City Hall.

          The secret to Tyler's is to order their seasonal specials. Most of their regular menu items are meh, though I was there one Sunday during baseball season and had their version of eggs benedict from the brunch menu - and it was seriously the best eggs benedict (made with prosciutto instead of ham) I've ever had. So they hit that one out of the park (heh). My husband also loves their bratwurst, but they only have that for dinner.

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          Dos Perros
          200 N Mangum St. Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701

          1. I want to recommend Blue Corn Cafe on 9th St., but I can't recall their lunch prices. If you ever stick around for dinner, it's definitely worth it!

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            Blue Corn Cafe
            716 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

            3 Replies
            1. re: sisterbeer

              I have been there for dinner with some folks and we were lukewarm on it. My palomilla steak was good but apps and sides were pretty run of the mill.

              1. re: sisterbeer

                I was quite disappointed with Blue Corn. Almost inedible. Unfortunately, I can't remember what we had but everything was bad. We don't eat meat, so maybe the meat dishes are better.

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                Blue Corn Cafe
                716 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

                1. re: sisterbeer

                  I'm going to disagree with you there and echo panthur and kirol7777's statements.

                2. What do you mean that P&O is overblown? Well if you like carbs there is always Baked and Toast though you've stated you've been to the latter. Doesn't ATC usually have like food trucks on the lawn event every now and again? You are in a good spot and I'd recommend trying a pizza from Pop's Backdoor plus you also have Pops not far away. Dos Perros is not far away either. Really nothing is far away. I'm not sure about price ranges for any of these places. You could try and beat out the crowd for a Wimpie's Hamburger. I don't know if Broadstreet Cafe does lunch or not also not sure what other food trucks may be around at that time. For quick and easy carbs, there is always Chubby's Tacos since most of the more traditional tacqueria places are a bit further from you that one is close on 9th street.

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                  Chubby's Tacos
                  748 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

                  Pop's Backdoor
                  810 W Peabody St, Durham, NC 27701

                  Dos Perros
                  200 N Mangum St. Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    I went to P&O over the weekend and thought it was cute but my artichoke sandwich was just ok. For the price, I though Toast was better. A choice of side would be nice. I love Chubby's, It's good to know there is one nearby.

                    So there are two Pop's? I have been interested to try but confused on which is which and where it is.

                    Thanks for the suggestions. I have tried to contact ATC to request more food trucks but have only seen Only Burger. I think Farmhand comes close by sometimes.

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      What is Baked? I can't find any information about it.

                      1. re: panthur

                        Whoops Scratch is what I meant (although Scratch Baked is also used).. Baked is a place in Brooklyn and Charleston and different sorta business. Fair warning though that Scratch is overpriced to some.

                        There is Pop's and at the original location across from P&O's outdoor deck is Pop's Backdoor (to go or delivery pizza). They also have a static location near Only Burger's Static local (not near ATC). So to clarify, there is 1 Pops and 2 Pop's Backdoor pizza places.

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                        Pop's Backdoor
                        810 W Peabody St, Durham, NC 27701

                    2. Here are a few not mentioned with my favorite dishes there:
                      1. King's Sandwich Shop (behind old ballpark): great burger fries, and real lemonade.
                      2. Bull McCabe: philly cheesesteak (ask for both sweet and hot peppers), cesar's salad with fried oysters.
                      3. Scratch: lunch items are hit-o-miss but the baked good are top notch.
                      4. Pop's: make your own pasta dish; the gnocchi is really good.

                      A short drive down Roxoboro road offers the following:
                      1. Los Comales: great Mexican food; three tacos for ~ $5 is the best lunch deal around.
                      2. Mami Nora's: Peruvian rotisserid chicken over charcoal. Best chicken ever.
                      3. Saigon Grill: I always get item #20: rice noodles over salad mix and herbs topped with grilled pork, shrimp, and tiny fired spring rolls. Hope you're hungry!

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                      Los Comales
                      2103 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

                      Saigon Grill
                      2929 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bbqme

                        If Los Comales is the place directly across the street from the Shell station, then I will second it. I go there every time I come to Durham. Their lengue, torta bread and "fixin's" bar is excellent. There's also a Mexican supermarket up the road on Roxboro, closer to Durham Regional, which has some food stands. I went to the little one closest to the check-outs, and the big one all the way in the rear. The tamales and shredded pork (respectively) were pretty damn good. I forget the name of the supermarket. You can't miss it. Plate glass windows, big size market....

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                        Los Comales
                        2103 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

                        1. re: bigmackdaddy

                          Yup, that's the one. And Mami Nora's is around the corner from the Shell station by Advance Auto Parts. The supermarket you are referring to is called Super and is just up the street from Saigon Grill. This is not to be confused with Superior, also a good taqueria across from Saigon Grill.

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                          Saigon Grill
                          2929 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

                          1. re: bbqme

                            You've mixed up the two. Super Taqueria is across the street from Saigon Grill. La Superior is the huge supermarket.

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                            Super Taqueria
                            2842 N Roxboro Rd, Durham, NC 27704

                            Saigon Grill
                            2929 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

                      2. Be sure and check out Wimpy's for great burgers and fries! I think their burgers are better than Only Burger.
                        Also, Carpe Durham has a wealth of tips in and around downtown Durham, such as Capital Seafood.

                        1. Had the corned beef at Bull McCabe's today...oh...my...lord! Tender, melt in your mouth delicious! They make their own corned beef. They also make their own pastrami and smoked brisket that they used to make chili. Can't wait to try these items.

                          I love you Neal's Deli but I think you might have been one-upped...

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                          Neal's Deli
                          100 E Main St Ste C, Carrboro, NC 27510

                          1. You should also try Old Havana sandwich Shop on Main Street. Good Cuban sandwiches and a great space.

                            1. I guess once The Pit opens that will be added to the list assuming that something isn't horribly wrong with their Q or Ribs.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                The Pit (of Raleigh) is coming to Durham? Where?

                                1. re: boaviagem

                                  Speaking of Durham, the worst kept secret in the Triangle is starting to come to light. The long anticipated opening of the Triangle's second location of The Pit is starting to pick up momentum. It now appears as if The Pit will open in the ground floor of the building at 309 E. Chapel Hill Street in downtown Durham in the old Bargain Furniture space. We'll keep an eye on this and give you updates as we receive them.

                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                    Greg Hatem was quoted in N&O that it's not going in there even though he does own that building.

                              2. I can't believe nobody mentioned L'uva right there at ATC. Small, but oh, my. Daily lunch gives you choice of two from soup/salad/sandwich/pasta. Fish dishes are always outstanding and the salmon with lobster sauce, garlic potatoes and asparagus was not only outstanding, it was a huge portion for lunch. For a carb lover, their bread is outstanding even though it costs additional $2 at lunch - it comes with large helping of really good, fresh, garlicky pesto.

                                Although we usually wind up spending more than we planned because the bread and desserts are hard to resist, every meal we've had had been outstanding and memorable. Restaurant is quite small inside but there is outside seating with heat lamps that should come in handy.

                                If you haven't tried L'uva, website says small plates are half price from 4-6 on Thursdays. Seems like it would be a great way to get to know L'uva.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: yahooer

                                  I am now hooked on L'Uva, they have reasonable lunch prizes. It's unfortunate thought, that they charge extra for both bread and roasted garlic.

                                  1. re: panthur

                                    I know right? Looking forward to Lilly's going to downtown durham, new cupcake shop, cocoa cinnamon opening shop, and an artisan pizza place at 5 points. Also, looking forward to Mateo whenever that nears completion.

                                2. For inexpensive great lunch places near ATC:
                                  Old Havana (can take an hour, cuban sandwiches, fried plantains)
                                  the Federal (sliders, pimento cheese sandwiches, garlic fries)
                                  Toast (panini, crostini, salads)
                                  Nasher Museum Cafe (paninis, salads, great chai, coffee, best view ever)
                                  Rue Cler (salad and grilled cheese and beignets)
                                  Scratch (their menu looks great but this one I haven't been to)
                                  International Delights (falafel! mint tea! hummus! emjadarah! dolmas! baklava!)
                                  Los Comales (tacos, burritos, pupusas, quesadillas, gorditas)

                                  1. Orchid will soon be in downtown durham or at least at the Whole Foods Market area.

                                    8 Replies
                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        A Durham branch of the Orchid in Raleigh - Japanese, I think. I'm sure bf can tell us more.

                                        1. re: romansperson

                                          Just goes to show how little I know about Raleigh. BF, can you fill me in?

                                          1. re: romansperson

                                            Yes that is what I've heard. Orchid in Raleigh is japanese buffet (i.e. sushi) done family style/dim sum style as best to my knowledge.

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                              Less buffet more all you can eat sushi. They give you a light to turn on when you want to order more. In general all you can eat and sushi never mix. You could notice the lemon juice that they used to cover up the quality of fish.

                                              1. re: chazzer

                                                All you can eat sushi sounds like fish needed to get rid of.

                                                1. re: veganhater

                                                  exactly what I always think. I'd rather pay for it ahead of time, if you get my drift.