Tag Archive: Chapel Hill restaurants

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit surprisingly authentic

photo by Danielle Cushing

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is a chain restaurant with locations all across the U.S., so I didn’t go in expecting to be wowed by its mass produced food. But I was pleasantly surprised.

There were eight meats on the menu, but only the southern pulled pork is “pulled” in the traditional southern way. I also ordered the signature chopped beef brisket because it sounded close enough to “pulled” – and it was.

The pork barbecue was the best I’ve tasted so far. Usually I find pork too dry, but this was really juicy and tender. There was also a hint of a smoky flavor.

The beef brisket was so tender that the slices just fell apart at the touch of a fork. It also had an interesting woody flavor that I enjoyed.

The meat didn’t need it, but there was a wide array of sauces to go on the side. I tried Dickey’s original sauce and the southern barbecue sauce (of course). The original sauce was much different than any bottled sauce I’ve ever tried. It was really sweet and then got mildly spicy and made my tongue tingle. I don’t think it was vinegar based, but it tasted like apple cider vinegar to me.

I was really excited for the vinegar-based southern sauce, because I love southern coleslaw. But I didn’t like the sauce at all. It had red pepper flakes in it and just tasted like spicy white vinegar. It could be good drizzled on a sandwich, with the bread to offset the flavor a little bit, but I didn’t like my meat dipped in it.

Hushpuppies come with every meal at Dickey’s, and they’re good – freshly made and too big to eat in one bite. However, I was a little disappointed with them (though not as disappointed as I was that Jim’s Famous BBQ didn’t have them at all) because they lacked the right texture. Superb hushpuppies have a crunchy outside and a light crust, but these were kind of uniform and the crust was a little too oily for me.

There were 12 other side items, of which I chose the green beans and bacon and the dill potato salad. I always order a vegetable so I have something green and healthy on my plate, and I hate it when I end up with something green and greasy or green and buttery. The green beans here were excellent! The bacon gave them a great flavor.

The potato salad was delicious too. I love anything dill-flavored because it’s such a fresh flavor. This dish reminded me of my mom’s potato salad, which she makes with dill pickle relish.

Overall, I’m going to mark Dickey’s one step behind Q Shack, but one step ahead of Jim’s Famous BBQ. The meat was delicious, they at least had hushpuppies, and they have a wide variety of sides, so anyone can find something they will enjoy.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

5218 New Hope Commons Drive (near Wal-Mart)

Durham, NC 27707

(919) 419-1101

-Danielle Cushing

Jim’s Famous BBQ: hits and misses

As the second stop in my series of barbecue blogs, Jim’s Famous BBQ ranks just behind the Q Shack. They serve up a variety of pit-smoked meats including pulled pork and chicken, chopped pork, beef brisket and more.

jim's bbq

Photo by Danielle Cushing

I felt obligated to try the pulled pork (on the right) since that’s what traditional southern barbecue is. It was a bit dry for me, but had a really nice smoky flavor. The texture was nice too; it was stringy and easy to pull apart into smaller bites. I chose the pulled chicken (on the left) as my second meat. It was melt-in-your-mouth moist. I couldn’t put my fork down! Both were served with a drizzle of barbecue sauce which was a tiny bit sweet, but had a surprisingly spicy aftertaste.

For my sides, I ordered the collard greens and corn pudding. The collards were unseasoned and bitter. They were so watery that I thought maybe the cook forgot to drain them after they were cooked. I love corn pudding and was excited to see it on the menu, but ended up being disappointed with it. There was too much filler, not enough corn and a little greasy.

I’m not sure why any barbecue restaurant would leave hush puppies off the menu, so I mentally deducted a few points for that too.

Jim’s Famous BBQ

115 S. Elliott Rd. (beside Whole Foods)

Chapel Hill, NC




-Danielle Cushing

The Q Shack brings barbecue on a budget to UNC

In case you missed the signs around Lenoir, you can eat from The Q Shack in Lenoir Mainstreet on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Born and raised in North Carolina, I consider myself to be somewhat of a barbecue expert. The Q Shack has quickly become one of my favorite joints.

They serve three different types of barbecue: pork, chicken and beef – and I’ve tried all three. The pork barbecue is like traditional southern barbecue with a vinegar flavor. It was a little dry, but most pork barbecue is. I thought the beef barbecue would be my least favorite, but I actually liked it better than the pork. It’s a deep brown color and tastes like a better version of a bottled barbecue sauce – sweet, but the pepper flavor adds a kick. Plus, it’s much more tender than I expected. I tasted the pork barbecue on a separate occasion, so it’s hard for me to judge, but it’s my favorite. It’s not vinegary and it doesn’t have any spice, but it’s very tender and I ate all of it.

Q Shack barbeque pork (top) and beef (bottom). Photo by Danielle Cushing

Q Shack barbeque pork (top) and beef (bottom). Photo by Danielle Cushing

Hushpuppies are served with every meal, but the side items change daily. The hushpuppies taste – well, like hushpuppies. They are definitely best eaten hot. They’re crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and they aren’t too greasy.

The macaroni and cheese is delicious (and I’m not a huge mac and cheese fan). It’s homemade with real cheese, not the runny Kraft kind. It’s creamy and has a little pepper flavor. The string beans are cooked to perfection – they aren’t soggy and overcooked nor are they too crispy. They have a nice smoky flavor. If you want something green on your plate, I definitely recommend these over the collard greens, which are too undercooked and a little too spicy for my liking.

Q Shack string beans, hush puppies and macaroni and cheese. Photo by Danielle Cushing

Q Shack string beans, hush puppies and macaroni and cheese. Photo by Danielle Cushing

Check out The Q Shack. The prices are good, especially considering the amount of food you get.

If you’d rather check out the restaurant, there’s one in Carrboro and one in Durham.

Lenoir Mainstreet meal choices:

Sandwich plate: sandwich, hushpuppies, one side $4.95

Barbecue plate: barbecue, hushpuppies, two sides $6.95

Double barbecue plate: two types of barbecue, hushpuppies, two sides $7.95

Vegetarian plate: three sides $4.95

-Danielle Cushing

As a college student, I think Whole Foods is a little pricey. Yes, I think its mission to sell the highest quality natural and organic products is important, but I can’t shell out $6 for a 5-ounce container of hummus.

That’s why I’d never eaten from their pay-by-pound buffet.

It was almost 4 p.m. and I hadn’t eaten yet, so when a friend asked if I wanted to tag along, my stomach overruled my wallet.

The Whole Foods buffet has variety of hot and cold foods, with something for every eater – carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescatarian, frescatarian and anything else.

Some foods can be found everyday while others rotate. You can always get southern barbecue (and other types of barbecue), make your own salad, eat from the taco bar or choose from a variety of soups. International fare changes daily, as do the different items on the hot and cold bars and the dessert bar.

Here’s a sampling of what I ate:

whole foods plate

Even at 4 p.m., I was surprised at how fresh the food was. I loved the Indian food. It had great flavor and wasn’t too spicy for me. I even liked the tofu, especially the Asian marinated one (I sampled five kinds).

My pretty large plate ran me $9.45 – a little more than I would normally spend on lunch. But it was natural, organic and better than another Lean Cuisine. Plus, I was hungry.

-Danielle Cushing

Foster’s Market: fresh, fast and student friendly

FostersMarket2Foster’s Market is located on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Hillsborough Road, but the café’s artsy décor and eclectic atmosphere remind me of a Carrboro eatery.

The seating arrangement is a hodge-podge of colorful tables, chairs and booths.The décor is both cheerful and utilitarian, with warehouse-style lighting, exposed pipes, large paintings and bright colors.

Sara Foster opened the first Foster’s Market in Durham in 1990 and the one in Chapel Hill eight years later. The concept for the market is based on using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients to prepare simple food.

And the food at Foster’s Market is indeed simple and fresh. I ordered The Herbie Bird Wrap, with herb roasted turkey breast, spinach, tomato, cucumber, dill havarti and basil mayo. The turkey and havarti tasted fresh, the vegetables were crisp, even if they went a little heavy on the spinach, and the basil mayo complemented the ingredients well.

And Foster’s Market is convenient (eat in or take out) and affordable. Students get a free fountain drink and bag of chips with any sandwich or wrap. Also check out the soups, salads and pizzas, the breakfast menu, the baked goods, the coffee and juice bar and the specialty grocery items.

-Danielle Cushing