Bull City Connections

The Bull City Connections team always tries to check out somewhere new to both of us, but February’s outing took us to a tried-and-true favorite. Dame’s Chicken and Waffles serves up an unlikely yet palate-pleasing combination of foods—fried chicken, waffles and “shmears” (whipped sweet crème butters). If you’ve been, you probably know how we feel about Dame’s… if you haven’t been—plan a trip immediately.

Dame'sWhere is Dame’s Chicken and Waffles?

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles is located at 317 W. Main Street

Using the BCC you’ll get off at:

Stop 10: Five Points

E. Chapel Hill St. at Main St.

GoLive Stop ID 6305

What did you order?

 LJL:  I had the “Frizzled Fowl” which is a panko-crusted Chicken cutlet on top of a classic waffle with Blueberry shmear, drizzled with plum sauce and almonds. The Frizzled FowlNo matter what my main dish is, I always go for the mac’ and cheese as a side—Dame’s adds some unexpected herb-y seasoning to the top that gives it a little more sophisticated taste than your standard creamy mac’ and cheese.

NJ: I ordered the Red Crested Rose Comb which is a classic waffle with candied pecans, two chicken legs, and strawberry shmear. I opted to go without the candied pecans. If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re suckers for mac and cheese, so I also went with their Triple Cheese & Macaroni as my side.

How was the service?

 LJL: The service at Dame’s is usually pretty good but I always get the vibe that the staff isn’t interested in any nonsense. But your glass is always full and the food sells itself—so we can just call it more of a laissez-faire style of service than other restaurants.image[1]

 NJ: The service at Dame’s is consistent. The only thing I’ll note if you’ve never been is that you have to wait until your entire party is present before you can be seated. So ride together or only invite your prompt friends- just kidding, well kinda 🙂

 Overall Impression?

 LJL: I’ve never been disappointed at Dame’s. The menu combinations are always interesting and unusual (a sweet potato waffle drizzled with Honey Dijon? How about Whiskey Crème sauce on a classic waffle with Peach and Apricot Shmear?). If you really want the full experience, step out of your comfort zone on flavor choices and try something new. You definitely won’t be sorry you did.

 NJ: The food was great! If you pace yourself you might be able to finish everything that’s in front of you, but I normally have enough leftovers to eat for dinner. Outside of the food, there are crayons and butcher paper on your tables! So get busy doodling after you place your order.

Would you eat here again?

 LJL: I’ve eaten here before and I’ll eat here again. I always plan to order something new and usually have some sort of internal struggle on whether or not to branch out from something I already know will be wonderful. Really, I can’t eat at Dame’s enough.

NJ:  Of course! I may be partial because I could eat breakfast for every meal, but you get no complaints from me.

Bull City Connections

Happy Belated New Year, BCC foodies! This month we found our way to Alivia’s Durham Bistro. This particular day treated us with temperatures in the 60’s and a covered patio, but we promise our review was not influenced by the great weather. Enjoy!

Where is Alivia’s Durham Bistro?

Alivia’s Durham Bistro (aliviasdurhambistro.com) is located at 900 W. Main Street

Using the BCC you’ll get off at:Alivia's Club

Stop 24: Brightleaf Square Main

Main St. at Gregson St.

GoLive Stop ID 6387

What did you order?

NJ: I decided to go with Alivia’s Club Sandwich minus the ham, but I added their pesto cream sauce. For a side, I chose the Bubbly Mac and Cheese (which you can also order as an entrée when it’s on special).

LJL: I’m a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to Cuban sandwiches and I’m always eager to see what kind of personal touch a restaurant adds to this classic. Alivia’s special edition is apricot-black currant chutney, combined with spicy mayo. It’s honestly one of the best Cubans I’ve ever had, by far—and the chutney gets the credit there. Alivia's CubanI also had the Bubbly Mac and Cheese as a side, because who can resist the gooey, sometimes crisply-crusted deliciousness of a freshly-baked personal macaroni and cheese? I certainly can’t.


How was the service?

NJ: Service is really casual here. You don’t feel rushed to move your meal along, so that was nice. Our waitress was also really helpful when it came to making recommendations and confirming the changes I wanted to make on my sandwich.

LJL: The service was pretty good. I always enjoy a server who really knows the menu and is happy to make recommendations, or (most often in my case) help a patron choose between two equally tempting menu selections. Our waitress seemed to know the menu inside and out and gave me detailed reviews of each of the options I was considering.

Overall Impression?

NJ: I really like the outside of the building! Doesn’t hurt that my favorite color is green though. When I walked inside I got a typical bar/tavern feel, but the food is nothing of the sort. I also really like that they have three options for seating- outside patio, covered patio, and indoor.

LJL: This is the kind of place that’s great for a relaxed, casual lunch with co-workers or friends. On the other hand, there are some great looking dinner options as well. I don’t find my self in Durham around dinnertime very often, but I may need to find an excuse to hit up Alivia’s in the evening soon (they offer a Pan-fried Ravioli entrée that sounds like it’s worth the trip from Raleigh).

Would you eat here again?

NJ: To be perfectly honest, this was my second trip to Alivia’s. The first time I stopped by, I had their Bubbly Mac and Cheese as an entrée with a side Caesar salad. I’m telling you right now, the mac and cheese is reason enough to return again- I did.

LJL: I really hope to eat here again, sooner rather than later!

Do you have a place that you’d like us to review along the Bull City Connect route? Let us know!

Bull City Connections

Bull City Connections is back (we sincerely apologize for missing our November post)! It seems that these two amateur foodies just can’t seem to get enough tapas, because our third restaurant stop is Mateo Tapas in Five Points.

  Mateo Tapas MenuWhere’s Mateo Tapas?

http://mateotapas.com/ is located at 109 WEST CHAPEL HILL STREET

Using the BCC you’ll get off at:

Stop 10: Five Points

E. Chapel Hill St. at Main St.

GoLive Stop ID 6305


What did you order?

HamburguesaNJ: I had the Hamburguesa minus the onions. However, I added the Hoop Cheddar and a side of Shoestring Potatoes. The shoestring potatoes are really tiny, so you’ll probably need a fork or someone sitting across from you that doesn’t mind when you shovel potatoes into your mouth.

LJL: I ordered the Jamon y Queso bocadillo with
Serrano ham, goat cheese, and pepper jelly on a toasted baguette. The combination of the goat cheese and pepper jelly was fantastic but the bread was just a little too thick and crusty for my taste. I definitely still recommend it!

Jamon y Queso BocadilloHow was the service?

NJ: Service was great. We were seating immediately when we walked in. Our waiter was really funny and kept our water glasses full, which I always appreciate.

LJL: Tapas menus can be a little overwhelming if you haven’t ordered it before, especially when most of the menu is written in a different language. Our waiter gave us a quick but thorough explanation of the menu and actually said, “We try to give you a game plan and then we let you attack the menu.”


Overall Impression?

NJ: Super cute! I love the décor! Everything feels really intentional and reclaimed at the same time– something that a lot of places struggle to pull off.

LJL: I love the choices they made with the seating and light fixtures. While the restaurant isn’t especially roomy, oversized mirrors on both long walls help open the space up. In general, Mateo feels casual but tasteful—a great spot for lunch with a coworker or friends.

Would you eat here again?

NJ: Yes! Their burger rivals many popular burger joints in the area. I liked the addition of chopped short rib to the burger. Next time, I would probably leave the Hoop Cheddar off and just stick with the pimenton aioli. Outside of the food, the place just has a really nice vibe to it.

LJL: There were so many other items on the menu that I wanted to try that I’ll have to come back soon. I think next time I’ll come for dinner and order a variety of small plates since I was curious about so many of their options.


Bull City Connections

Have you discovered downtown Durham yet? It seems like there are new restaurants and attractions popping up daily and luckily, Durham already has a convenient and eco-friendly way to navigate the foodie scene downtown. The Bull City Connector will take you on a culinary tour of downtown Durham, from Duke’s campus all the way to Golden Belt, without costing you a penny.

With all the great dining options in Durham, we’ve decided to highlight a few places on the BCC’s route, just to get you started.  Each month, two self-proclaimed dining-enthusiasts from the GoTriangle team will explore a new location via the Bull City Connector, and report back on our findings.

Our first stop on the tour is Taberna Tapas, which opened in June on Main Street. The stop location for the BCC is stop 6305 at E. Chapel Hill Street at Main Street.

What is your initial impression of the restaurant?

LJ: I really liked the high ceilings and exposed brick walls. The chalkboard menus, antique chandeliers and reclaimed wood floors create an atmosphere that feels rustic and modern at the same time.

NJ: I like the minimalist look they have going. We went for lunch but I think it would be a great spot for dinner as well. Overall, it was very cozy and would make a great location for a first date.

How was the service?

NJ: Great! Our waitress sat down next to us and explained the menu options, which was really helpful since the names of most of the dishes are written in Spanish. She also made sure to continue to check in on us.

LJ: When I asked about our waitress’s favorite menu items, she replied that she had never tried anything there that she didn’t love. She actually went on to say that she came in and asked for a job there so that she could eat her way through the menu. You can’t beat that kind of endorsement, even from staff.

What did you order?

LJ: I started with the arugula salad with Serrano ham, goat cheese, almonds and honey, which was a great combination of flavors.  Next I had a bocadillo (Spanish style sandwich) with pulled pork, chorizo, Serrano ham and Manchego with a garlic aioli, which was fantastic.

NJ: I ordered the short ribs with asparagus, which were tender, flavorful and a great portion for lunch and the sweet potato fries, which were airy and crispy (which was a nice surprise because sweet potato fries are usually pretty dense).

Would you eat here again?

NJ: Absolutely. The service was really quick and I enjoyed my meal.

LJ: I’ll definitely eat at Taberna again. There were so many delicious looking options on the menu that I had a hard time deciding the first time around.

What impressed you the most?

NJ: I liked that our waitress served dishes as they were prepared instead of waiting for multiple plates to be completed. The food was hot and delicious!

LJ: I appreciated that there were so many authentic Spanish items and ingredients on the menu, like the bocadilla and paellas.

Overall, we loved Taberna and both plan to go back. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

What’s so wonderful about the State Fair?

There are so many great things about October (aside from it being my birthday month).  There’s a crisp, chilly quality about the air, leaves transform to the beautiful reds and yellows of fall, and most importantly—the State Fair comes to Raleigh! Since I moved to Raleigh for school four years ago, the annual trip to the fair grounds has been a memorable and exciting experience for my friends and me.

Maybe you’ve never been to the Fair; maybe you don’t get what all the hype is about. I’m happy to fill you in—there’s a reason why the theme this year is “love-a-fair”. For those who loyally return each year to enjoy the rides, wonder at the native carnie lifestyle and (let’s not forget) to sample the delicious and novel array of foods, the fair is something like a dear old friend. There is catching up to do, new experiences to be had together and the eventual sadness of going our separate ways.

Think you can handle this?

I vividly recall my first encounter with the legendary Krispy Kreme burger; a culinary indulgence so decadent and intoxicating that even a full belly and a 30-minute wait in line may not be enough to deter a person from going after seconds.  Coming in at a close second for fair food must-haves is the roasted corn-on-the-cob, and if you can find the right stand, be sure to get it dipped in white queso and parmesan cheese. You probably shouldn’t miss the deep-fried Oreos, Mac-n-cheese, or banana pudding. Oh, and then there’s the giant turkey legs, funnel cakes and chocolate-covered bacon. All dieting/healthy-eating initiatives may promptly be resumed when the fair leaves town.

Then there’s Sampson, the world’s largest horse.  Signs on his enclosure claim he weighs more than 2,700 pounds and eats 150 pounds of food in a single day. You think, surely a beast of these proportions isn’t really just hanging out inside this tent, but sure—I’ll pay a dollar and find out.  And there he is, larger than life and casually munching on a bale of alfalfa. I can’t fully speak to the awesomeness of all the rides, I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to those things—but I can say the giant swings are a must. Of course, if you’ve never been on a Ferris Wheel, you should ride it at least once. If local agriculture interests you, be sure to check out the State Fair Ark in the Exposition Center, which features more than 60 animals showcasing North Carolina’s diversity in livestock.

Close your eyes, it feels like you're flying.

So now that you’ve decided that you absolutely have to make it to the fair this year, here are some great options for how to get there while avoiding the typical aggravations of fair traffic and parking. No matter where you are in the Triangle, if your destination is the State Fair, GoTriangle has you covered. Check out Go Info for specifics on the special times, rates and locations serviced during the fair. GoTriangle is giving away tickets to the fair through GoMade for those commuters who use their time commuting to create. If you use your time on the bus (or car or van-pool) to sketch, knit, or really create anything, submit a photo of yourself on the bus creating and get a free ticket to the fair! More information is located in the post below . You can also buy your tickets in advance on the State Fair website to avoid lines. Have fun, maybe I’ll see you out there—I’ll be the one in cowboy boots with my hands full of the above-mentioned delicacies and a big smile on my face.

Taking Baby Steps to a Healthier Planet

Some of you may know that World Car-Free Day is quickly approaching. Some of you may never have heard of this event at all.  Until recently, I had never heard of WCFD, which is held every September 22nd, and when I did find out… well, I felt a little left out.  I thought, “If I’ve never heard of WCFD (and I consider myself a relatively green-conscious individual) then there are probably lots of others who haven’t either. What can we do about this?”  So I’ll start with this blog, follow up with my personal pledge to be car-free, and finish with an event on NC State’s campus this Thursday, September 22, 2011.

Across the world, hundreds of thousands of people have pledged to leave their cars parked for one day and give alternate forms of transportation a shot.  Car-Free Day celebrations began in European cities in 1990, but it wasn’t until 2000 that an open call was issued for activists and citizens across the world to organize community events to celebrate the potential of cities without cars.  Participants in more than 1,000 cities in 40 countries now acknowledge world Car-Free Day.

Now, you may be thinking, “What difference will being car-free for one day really make?” Well, it can have a bigger impact than you may think.  CO2 emissions from U.S. cars and trucks alone are about 1 million tons per day. One million tons per day! That is twice the amount that every active volcano in the world produces in a day.   Do you commute and regularly idle in traffic? The gas burned by cars and trucks idling in traffic in the U.S. totals over 8 million gallons per day, which happens to be the equivalent of a 25-acre lake filled with gasoline. If we can see the many benefits of leaving our cars at home for just one day, imagine the potential of committing to ditch your car for a couple days out of every week.

With so many options in the Triangle for getting around sans-private vehicle, why not give it a try for a day? You may find it easier than you think. Check out www.gotriangle.org for information on ways to traverse the Triangle and tips on making your journey easy and stress-free. GoTriangle, in partnership with WolfTrails and NCSU Transportation, is hosting an event in the NCSU Brickyard to help get students into the World Car-Free Day spirit. Students can win prizes, get information on various student groups and pledge to be car-free for the day!

Transit Basics 101

Whether you’re headed to work, class or just out for a day-trip, it’s important to be able to get where you need to be—safely and on time. So, as a second installment to my original lessons on how to ride, I’d like to answer a few questions that have come up over the last couple weeks at local university’s student orientations on how to get around the triangle.

 Of course, the first thing that every student wants to know is how much does it cost to ride the bus? All NC State students can ride Triangle Transit, CAT, and Cary Transit buses for free with a GoPass that they can get through the NCSU Transportation Office. Carolina Students can also use a GoPass for Triangle Transit and DATA buses through the Commuter Alternatives Program. Duke students are now with the cool kids and also have the GoPass to get to class. They can also use the Bull City Connector for free to go between the University and downtown Durham.

 The next question I usually get is how do I know which bus to take? GoTriangle offers a great resource on GoTriangle.org called the Trip Planner. All you need is your starting location and your end destination and the Trip Planner does the rest! Your trip results include the stop number to get on and off at, options for what times you’d like to travel, the route number of the bus you’re taking and the fare for your trip. Thanks to smartphones, if you are on the go and need to revise your planned trip, all local transit agencies are on Google Transit.  All trip information is in the same place where you would get driving directions on Google Maps! All you have to do is click the bus icon and it will show you the closest stop and the next scheduled bus.

 The question that parents always ask is how can my student get to the airport? Students can use TriangleTransit buses for free with their GoPass or pay the regular fare rate of only $2. Just remember the Triangle Transit route 100 will take you to the RDU terminals.

 If your destination is close enough, why not bike? Some students prefer to use a combination of ways to get around town, such as biking to a stop, then riding the bus. What do you do with your bike once you get to a stop? That’s easy– on all buses, there ‘s room for two bikes to be loaded on the front of the bus. If you happen to have a folding bike, you can bring that onboard with you, just make sure it’s in a bag first.

 For students who want more flexibility in getting around and don’t have cars available, there is a great new program popping up on college campuses called Zipcar. When I explain this program to students and their parents, most think it sounds too good to be true! Zipcar is a car rental program that makes it easy for students to use a car for a few hours, a day or even a whole weekend— you only have to be 18 to rent and all gas costs and insurance are covered in the cost of rental. Similarly, the Zimride network makes it easy to find others to carpool with. By logging in with your student ID, you gain access to a private network that allows students with similar destinations to get where they need to go at less cost and environmental impact than riding alone.

 Any other questions on how to ride? Post a comment and get answers!