The Streetery: Discover Durham | Nik Snacks

This post is sponsored by Discover Durham and Downtown Durham, Inc. I received compensation, but all words and opinions are mine.

It's been a long time since I've been able to travel. 2020 has done a number on my wunderlust goals. I've gone on a few road trips with family members and my boyfriend, but nothing like once before. I added road trip #4 to my list last month.

Living that masked life: me and my boyfriend, Bill in Brightleaf Square in Durham

I was invited to 
Durham, North Carolina by Discover Durham to participate in the #BackOnTheBull initiative. The program is encouraging people to support local businesses in Downtown Durham. In order to do that, Discover Durham and Downtown Durham, Inc. teamed up to create The Streetery. Launched in September, sections of downtown are closed to vehicular traffic to allow for more outdoor dining. The pilot program kicked off on September 18 and will run every Friday and Saturday night through Dec 19, 2020. 

To see a list of participating restaurants and a map, click HERE, scroll through to see some of the places where we visted and dined.

Durham is one of the last places President-elect Joe Biden visted in the last days of his campaign trail. While he decided to get milkshakes from a local fast-food chain, he missed an opportunity to visit places like the ones below. 

We stayed overnight at Unscripted Durham hotel, a vintage hotel with modern boutique amenities right in the center of downtown. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to eat at as many restaurants as we could and be close to the action of downtown.

Unscripted Durham at dusk on a rain-soaked evening

The staff at the hotel could not have been any nicer. Check-in was a breeze and we were able to "upgrade" to a room with a view. A number of rooms at this hotel have no windows because when the hotel was opened in the 1960s as the Jack Tar Hotel, that was a popular option for lodgings. 

Our hotel room with a branded bag of toletries and bottled water

The hotel also has a few on-site restaurant properties. The Patio at Unscripted that operates as a rooftop bar, pool and lounge. Mere steps away from our hotel room! Already decorated for Christmas, you can relax at one of several cafe-style tables or private igloos for a personalized experience. You have to check them out. They're WILD! Pictured below is one of the drink specials, the Dirty Durm, which is a PBR and a shot of Jameson whiskey. It will get your party started right.

Keepin' it dirty in the Durm

Our second Streetery stop was literally behind the hotel: Alley Twenty Six. It's a local cocktail bar, with an online retail arm and restaurant that features casual yet upscale comfort food. The alleyway is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights when the cafe tables are set up and the strings of edison bulb lights are twinkling. Currently, all food is packaged to be eaten on the go, but if you can snag a table in the alley or adjacent courtyard, you're good to-go.

No stranger to supporting local producers and breweries, we got to have a couple of brews from my 2nd favorite NC brewery (it's a running joke between myself and the owner), Fullsteam Brewery and munch on some good eats. Elote, anyone? OKAY!

We're a two Paycheck household

Elote from Alley Twenty Six with Hot Cheeto dust

Next, we hit up one of my favorite restaurants in Durham: Viceroy, where East Indian cuisine meets British pub. Reservations are strongly encouraged because not only is Viceroy popular, they are employing some of the most strict social distancing guidelines I've experienced: Temperature checks at the door, sanitizer stations, masks and the staff executes this all with a sense of urgency and extreme hospitality. I felt as ease and comfortable the entire time. The restaurant is available for dine-in, but only for reservations. Otherwise, outdoor seating or takeout options are the way to go. We were lucky when we got here because we had the entire restaurant to ourselves. It was kinda romantic.

Look at that bar!

We started off with Gobi Sukka: Crispy battered cauliflower florets sautéed with chopped onions, diced bell eppers, and curry leaves. It is the absolute best cauliflower you will eat anywhere. Cauliflower is still having its moment as a mainstay in the keto and paleo diet worlds, but cauliflower was cultivated to taste just like this. This is where your cauliflower grows up and goes to college. Forget the Ivy League. Sign me up for the Curry League!

We also had the vegetable samosas and the jeera wings: heavily spiced roasted wings marinated in a spicy cumin blend with sautéed onions, bell pepper and carrots and a lime wedge for squeezing (which I highly recommend not only on the wings, but the gobi as well). While they come mild, medium and hot - the mild wings have a significant kick to them and I am a secret pepperhead who enjoys spice on some very high levels (I mean, I play with ghost pepper oil on the regular) and these little wings had my tongue and lips swelling and burning for all of the right reasons.

Jeera! Jeera! Jeera!

Day Two of Streetery fun took us to Bulldega Urban Market, Spanglish and outside of downtown to check out Clouds Brewing in Brightleaf Square.

Bulldega (a play off of the word 'bodega', an urban convenience store) is a family owned and operated grocery store located in downtown Durham across the street from Unscripted and it's where we were able to get to-go coffee in the morning, beer in the evening and sundries and souvenirs to take home, including this sweet shirt that Bill is wearing. How did Durham become to be known as 'dirty'? Not only is alliteration cool, so is the story behind the slogan

Bill is keepin' it dirty

Bill got the Spanglish Cuban, an iconic sandwich that many places try to replicate (including me) but they don't understand that it's all about the bread and everything else is extra. Slow roasted pork (pernil), ham, pickles, mustard, Swiss cheese and pressed buttered Cuban bread (it's a little like French bread, but with a softer crust and crumb).

The Cuban at Spanglish

I ordered the El Coqui (a species of frog found in Puerto Rico and the mascot of Spanglish) which consists of mofongo (mashed plantains with garlic formed into a bowl), pernil, maduros (sweet, fried plantains) and a sliced avocado.

I loved the pernil, maduros and pickled onion garnish. Y'all can have the mofongo, though. It's not for me.

Mofongo at Spanglish

The empanadas were the best things we ate. Order one, two or three at a time. Ground beef with sofrito and sweet plantains and the Pork-U-Pineapple with slow roasted east carolina style BBQ Pork (pernil with a kick) and chunks of pineapple. Each empanada is sealed with a press that says SPANGLISH on it but I didn't realize that until after my first bite. I look the photo, curious as to why the edge read "LISH". Well, these were DE-LISH, so there's also that. 

Empanada at Spanglish

One of our favorite things to do when traveling is discover new-to-us breweries in North Carolina. Clouds Brewing in Durham is the newest brewery to add to our list. 
This location features a German-inspired menu and 50 taps, including a 10 tap self-pour beer wall (which is currently not in service due to COVID-19 safety protocol. They also have a full bar and rotating guest taps. Our favorite part? They have a patio for outside seating and are pet friendly!

There are over 100 restaurants, breweries and retailers in Downtown Durham. The Streetery is an amazing opportunity to travel to the Triangle, go outside and patronize some of the small businesses that keep our economy strong.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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