Durham, NC Restaurant Recommendations

Reviewer: Foodnut.com

Durham, NC

Last Update: 3/6/2021

Durham, NC Restaurant Recommendations

Where does a San Francisco Foodie eat in the Durham – Chapel Hill – Research Triangle, North Carolina? Follow our journey and learn from our experiences. We have family there and will return again.

Here is a compilation of more casual restaurants, snack places we visited during our 2019, 2020 Durham – Research Triangle trip. Our goal was to find good eats at reasonable prices, primarily restaurants where locals go. We have no interest sampling cuisine that is done better at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is challenging on an expensive ‘island’, full of pricey tourist traps.

Our Trip includes visits to

  • Durham
  • Chapel Hill
  • Morrisville

Food Focus:

  • BBQ
  • Chicken and Waffles
  • Southern Cuisine

Original Q Shack, Durham

4/12/19

The Q Shack Durham BBQ Combo Plate

Why did we dine here? – Original Q Shack is a BBQ restaurant recommended to us by locals. They smoke meats in house with a blend of hickory and mesquite. They have all the important meats, while a spot like The Pig only had pulled pork.

Cuisine – BBQ
Location – Durham

Verdict – Original Q Shack should fulfill your need for North Carolina BBQ. They know how to cook a mean cue.

Original Q Shack Food Picks:
Three Meat Combo ($16.95) with St. Louis Cut Pork Ribs, Chili Rubbed Beef Brisket, and Smoked pork sausage. The ribs (Cooked 12 hours) and brisket (Cooked 3 hours) were fall apart good. Nice meat and smoke flavor to the brisket. Their BBQ sauce was deep and smokey.
The sausage was just ok.

Sides: Mac n Cheese was good, yet no premium cheese or pasta. Collard Greens had a slight kick and good flavor.

Blackberry cobbler ($2.95) was the cobbler of the day. Fairly sweet, lots of dough.

OK: (Order if you like this dish)
None

Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
None

Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – Very Good
Food Rating – Very Good
Service Rating – Very Good
Atmosphere Rating – Good
Value – Good

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – Yes

Facts:

Street Address with website

Original Q Shack
2510 University Dr
Durham, NC 27707
919-402-4227

Yelp Page

Moe’s Original BBQ

2014 Hillsborough Rd
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 237-1004
https://www.moesoriginalbbq.com/durham
https://www.yelp.com/biz/moes-original-bbq-durham
Moe’s was near the Duke campus and had 4.5 stars on Yelp, an easy selection. BBQ here is legit and worth a visit.

During the Covid 19 Pandemic in 2020, we visited Moe’s for take out.
We were trying to support local restaurants, so they can survive. All will get a 4 star review for being open.

Safety Pluses – Online menu, Delivery services available, online ordering, social distancing.
Minuses – None

Picks:
2 Meat Platter ($15) – Pulled Pork was good, but not as good as the Ribs. Smokey, tender, fall off the bone. Very strong BBQ sauce. Baked beans were done well.

Just OK:
None

Would not reorder:
None

Overall – Very Good
Food – Very Good
Decor – Good
Service – Good
Value – Very Good

Would we come back – Maybe

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, Durham, NC

4/13/18

Dames Chicken and Waffles Durham NC

Why did we dine here? – Dame’s Chicken & Waffles was our goto place to try the real deal Southern Comfort food. (No Waffle house!) San Francisco has a couple places serving this dish, but none that authentic. This restaurant was located in downtown Durham, near several bars and clubs. They have 3 locations in the area. They server almost nothing but this dish!

Cuisine – Southern
Location – Downtown Durham

Verdict – Dame’s Chicken & Waffles satisfied our need to try real deal. Food is decent and prices are cheap. Service was a bit slow.

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles Food Picks:
Classy Hen ($12.50) with regular waffle and fried chicken is a nice looking dish with crispy egg battered chicken cutlet and a thick classic waffle. Vanilla and Almond Shmear.

Classy Hen ($12.50) with Vegan Waffle and grilled chicken was almost as good as the regular one. The chicken is healthier and also not bad. The maple shmear is too similar to the maple syrup.

Orchard patch Salad ($8.50) was pretty ordinary.

OK: (Order if you like this dish)
None

Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
None

Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – Good
Food Rating – Good
Service Rating – Good
Atmosphere Rating – Good
Value – Excellent

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – Yes

Facts:

Street Address with website

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles
317 W. Main St
Durham, NC 27501
919-682-9235

Welcome to Dame’s Chicken and Waffles

Duke

Duke Dining (2)

We were visiting Duke and the tour took us through their beautiful new dining hall. Stations for everything from Mediterranean, Ramen, Pizza, and a ton more. The food was reasonably priced and VERY good. If you get a chance, check it out.

M Kokko, Durham, NC

1/19/21

Why did we dine here? – M Kokko is an Asian Fusion restaurant with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean dishes. They also operate the popular M Sushi next door.  We returned during the Pandemic in March 2021 for take out. There was in person dining but the place was far too busy and tables weren’t spaced well.

Cuisine – Asian
Location – Downtown Durham, NC

Verdict – With such a wide breath of dishes, this spot still serves up good food!

M Kokko Food Picks:

Hainan Chicken rice ($14) was surprisingly decent.  Low on chicken quantity though. 7/10

Ramen ($13) had lots of noodles in a robust broth. 8/10

KFC TO Go ($13) was very well done crispy Korean fried chicken. Best dish so here. 8.5/10

Curry Udon ($12) is also highly recommended. 8/10

Chicken Pho Kit ($15) was a bit lacking in salt, but a good chicken noodle soup that needed preparation.. 8/10

Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – Very Good
Food Rating – Very Good
Service Rating – 2
Atmosphere Rating – 2
Value – Very Good

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – Y

Facts:

M Kokko

311 Holland St Suite B

Durham, NC 27701

Website

Yelp Page

The Pig, Chapel Hill, NC

4/11/18

The Pig Chapel Hill (5)

Why did we dine here? – The Pig is a BBQ restaurant in Chapel Hill. We were on our way to UNC and found it convenient to stop here for lunch. We’ve heard a lot about Carolina BBQ and wanted to get some.

Cuisine – BBQ
Location – Chapel Hill, NC

Verdict – The Pig is a low key place with decent food and really good prices, especially compared to back home in San Francisco!

The Pig Food Picks:
BBQ Pulled pork sandwich ($6) was packed full of tender pork. Lots of moisture and flavor, so the bun fell apart fast. They have a sweet and smokey BBQ sauce on the table, decent.

Sides: ($3.25 each)
Mac-N-Cheese – Was rib sticking thick and decent. Pasta quality could have been better.
Collard Greens – Had a little bit of heat. Well done.
Beer Baked Beans – The best of the 3. Recommended by the order taker. Small beans.

Whole Green Salad ($6) hits the spot for vegetarians!

OK: (Order if you like this dish)
None

Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
None

Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – Very Good
Food Rating – Very Good
Service Rating – 2
Atmosphere Rating – 2
Value – 3

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – Y

Facts:

Street Address with website

The Pig
630 Weaver Dairy Road
Chapel Hill, NC 217514
919-942-1133

Website

Yelp Page

Monuts, Durham, NC

3/6/21

Why did we dine here? – Monuts is a popular restaurant for sandwiches, breakfast, donuts, bagels, snacks and more. It does get extremely crowded on weekend mornings and holidays.  Great Pandemic order flow and control.

Cuisine – American
Location – Durham Downtown

Verdict – Monuts is a cool little spot for breakfast, lunch or a snack.

Monuts Food Picks:

Large House Salad ($8) Romaine, cherry tomatoes, pecorino romano, basil-shallot vinaigrette hits the spot for vegetarians.

Avocado Toast ($4.50) house focaccia topped with lemon-avocado mash, sea salt, and red pepper flakes is a good sized portion. You can top it off with a donut. This would cost 2x in San Francisco.

Housemade Breakfast Sausage ($3 for 2) and Maple Siracha Home Fries ($3) are a nice breakfast combination.  The fries are the real stand out.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Vegan ($1.50) is the BEST vegan cookies we have had. Very chocolately and addictive.

Raspberry Rainbow Sprinkle Donut ($2) is a must get. Oh so good.

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – Very Good
Food Rating – Very Good
Service Rating – Very Good
Atmosphere Rating – Very Good
Value – Very Good

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – Y

Facts:

Street Address with website

Monuts
1002 9th St
Durham, NC 27705
919-286-2642
Yelp Page

Jack Tar, Durham

4/12/18

Jack Tar Durham NC (6)

Why did we dine here? – Jack Tar is a new American restaurant in downtown Durham, North Carolina. Downstairs from the Unscripted hotel, it is an all day eatery. Our original reservation, St James Seafood was closed due to a gas explosion.

Cuisine – New American
Location – Durham

Verdict – Jack Tar is a cool restaurant, but some dishes could be better.

Jack Tar Food Picks:
Old Fashioned ($9) was a strong cocktail. They know their juice!

Local beet Salad ($10) was a bit sweet, but solid.

Side sweet potato ($6) were cubed and cooked till al dente. OK.

Roasted Cauliflower ($10) was one big chunk that you cut up. Well marinated.

Side garlicy green ($6) was kale and hit the spot.

OK: (Order if you like this dish)
None

Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Chicken Pot Pie ($19) sounds good but was bland.

Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – 2
Food Rating – 2
Service Rating – Very Good
Atmosphere Rating – Excellent
Value – 2

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – Y

Facts:

Street Address with website

Jack Tar
202 N Corcoran St #100
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 682-5225

Website

Thai 54, Morrisville, NC

1/18/2020

Why did we dine here? – Thai 54 used to be Pho XO. It changed July 2019 and appears to be the same folks. This Thai restaurant south of Durham, NC. We were in the area looking for Asian food and saw a bunch of restaurants in this area.

Cuisine – Thai
Location – Morrisville, NC

Verdict – Thai 54 was better than expected. If you need some Asian food, give this spot a try.

Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – 2
Food Rating – Very Good
Service Rating – 2
Atmosphere Rating – Very Good
Value – Very Good

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – Yes

Facts:

Street Address with website

Thai 54
10290 Chapel Hill Rd STE 100
Morrisville, NC 27560
919-443-8038

 

Sister Liu’s Kitchen

Sister Liu’s Kitchen is a Chinese restaurant that specializes in dumplings. With 4.5 stars on Yelp, we gave it a go. This is really more of a takeout spot, but they do have some picnic tables.

During the Covid 19 Pandemic in 2021, we visited them for takeout.

We were trying to support local restaurants, so they can survive. All will get a 4 star review for being open.

Sister Liu’s Kitchen surprised us with some top notch dumplings and Chinese burgers. Some good cheap eats. They also have a location in Morrisville.

 

Safety Pluses – Online menu, Delivery services available, online ordering, social distancing, contactless payments.

Minuses – None

 

Food Picks:

P2 Cooked Pork Chives Dumplings ($8.95) hit the spot. Excellent filling and tender skin. You can get regular or spicy dipping sauce. They have a ton of other flavors. A must order here. 8/10

Warm Rice Noodle with Vegetable ($9.95) is a nice bow of noodles with sliced vegetables on top. Very simple but well done. 8/10

Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger ($8.45) was excellent. Medium spiciness with numbing action. Excellent bun and tender chunks of lamb. This bun is better than many nearby biscuits. 8/10

 

Just OK:

None

Skip:

None

 

Overall – Very Good

Food – Very Good

Decor – Good

Service – Very Good

Value – Excellent

 

Sister Liu’s Kitchen

5504 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd Ste 103

Durham, NC 27707

(984) 244-3973

https://sisterliuskitchen.com

https://www.yelp.com/biz/sister-lius-kitchen-durham-2

 

Biscuitville, Durham

4/12/18

Why did we dine here? – Biscuitville is a NC, VA chain that specializes in guess what? Biscuits. This food seems to be a big staple of the area. We stopped in for a quick breakfast.

Cuisine – Southern
Location – Durham

Verdict – Biscuitville is a quick stop for breakfast. The food is cheap and passable. Interesting spot. Goto a restaurant like Grub for the real stuff.

Biscuitville Food Picks:
Fried Chicken Biscuit ($3.69) was better than sausage. Sorta like a big chicken mcnugget between a biscuit. The biscuit was ok, freshly made but not great.

Sausage and Egg Biscuit ($4.39 meal) was okay. Slightly better than McDonalds.

OK: (Order if you like this dish)
None

Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
None

Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?

Ratings:

Overall rating (Stars) – Good
Food Rating – Good
Service Rating – Good
Atmosphere Rating – Good
Value – Excellent

Come Back (Y or N or Maybe) – No

Facts:

Street Address with website

Biscuitville
2822 Chapel Hill Blvd
Durham, NC 27707
919-419-8246

Restaurant Map:


Overall Rating: (Very Good 2.5)

Come Back?

Food Rating: (Good)
Service Rating: (Good)
Atmosphere Rating: (Good)
Value Rating: (Good)

Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

Alcohol:Beer, Wine
Attire:Casual
Parking:Street
Reservations:Yes

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