We had a great time on a walking food tour of Asheville during our honeymoon so Joe had the smart idea that we should do another food tour for my birthday. Last weekend, we finally used the tickets from February and embarked on an afternoon tasting tour of Durham with Taste Carolina. Like our Asheville tour, this one offered food tastings at five different locally owned restaurants with splashes of wine and tastes of beer.
As we toured downtown we realized that though we’ve been Durham residents for almost five months, there are still plenty of places we haven’t tried or even knew existed.
Where we went and what we ate:
We started at Daisy Cakes
where the owner gave a nice history of the bakery’s origins as a food truck years ago and their ongoing dedication to producing delicious savory and sweet treats daily. Here we sampled a ham and cheese omelet and a raspberry cake with toasted meringue. Both were very good and I’d return for the sunny atmosphere and to try their afternoon tea service (reservations required.)
Our next stop was my favorite (and one that my sister has been raving about for months): Pompieri Pizza
where the pizza is Neapolitan style, hand tossed, wood-fired and cut table side with scissors. It was delicious and we’re planning a return trip soon.
Here we sampled the Margherita and the Pompieri pizzas. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of their pizza!
Following Pompieri, we were escorted around the corner to the owner’s sister restaurant Bull City Burger and Brewery for half a burger, pickle chips and a taste of their Bryant Bridge Gateway Golden Ale.
Here the owner proudly shared that they make everything in house from the mayonnaise to the buns except the ketchup (apparently it takes a staggering amount of tomatoes to make 1 gallon of ketchup.) Joe and I have dined at Bull City twice before and my only complaint is that both times my food has come out cold and once my burger was so pink I had to send it back to be reheated. Additionally, the owner of Bull City was a bit long winded on his “pasture raised beef” lecture, but gave other good information and is without a doubt passionate about his restaurants and the food they serve. Joe gives the beer a thumbs-up and you can only taste it at the restaurant as they don’t distribute.
Our next stop was Toast,
a paninoteca, or Italian sandwich shop, and the most underwhelming restaurant on our tour. Here we were served a chicken and rice soup, (pretty much the last thing anyone wanted after walking five minutes in the scorching 90 degree heat to get to the restaurant,) and a crostini with pesto, red pepper and cheese.
Following Toast we were led to The Parlour, an ice-cream shop on Market St., right by the Bull statue downtown.
We sampled some delicious Girl Scout Mint Chip ice-cream with fudge sauce. Without a doubt, ice cream definitely tastes better when you’re pregnant and when the temperature is in the 90s. We rarely if ever go out for ice-cream but if we were downtown for dinner this would be a great place to get a special dessert. Their current flavors range from summer corn and salted butter caramel to traditional vanilla and chocolate offerings.
Our tour concluded with Joe’s favorite stop: Tyler’s Taproom. The bartenders here couldn’t be friendlier, there was a rousing beer trivia game (Joe cleaned up) and Joe bravely took on the task of drinking craft beer for two.
In addition to tastes and sips of Durham’s best food and drink offerings, the tour also promised to provide background on Durham’s history but this was definitely a bit surface. If you knew going in that Durham used to have a bustling tobacco-centered economy and boasted a thriving “Black Wall Street” in the early twentieth century you wouldn’t take much away from their history lesson.
All in all, the food was great, our guide was friendly and it was a nice way to spend an afternoon in one of my favorite cities. I’d definitely recommend a Taste Carolina food tour if you love food, have visiting houseguests, are planning a foodie bachelorette party or are looking to have a fun afternoon date.