It hasn’t been easy for restaurants in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and it isn’t always easy for people to get out for a meal. In times like these, restaurants look to their customers for support, which is why The New Hampshire is putting together a series of Durham restaurant guides to keep customers informed on the food options on and around UNH campus, and to encourage students and locals to continue supporting restaurants, whether it’s going in and enjoying a socially distant meal or helping the cause with takeout or delivery orders.
The first stop on this Durham food tour is The Big Bean Cafe. As far as breakfast places go, you can’t go wrong with the variety of brunch options. They cater to the classic breakfast with eggs, meat, home fries and toast, with “The 420,” but also offer plenty of breakfast and lunch twists that are a bit more unconventional: “The Smurfette” is an eggs benedict with basil pesto, tomato and veggie sausage. For something sweeter, the “Down East French Toast” is a massive plate of two thick-slices of cinnamon swirl toast and maple walnut cream cheese.
The Big Bean is an affordable breakfast and lunch place for students with fair prices. It’s not just a place students will enjoy though – it’s a comfortable space that is welcoming to families too – the perfect place to bring parents visiting for the weekend. Although their walk-in cafe is opening this Saturday, it will only be open on the weekend. Still, The Big Bean does have some nice space outside for enjoying some breakfast in the sun during the week.
A student favorite – Hop + grind – offers the craziest combinations of scratch made burgers imaginable. There’s a burger for every mood or craving, like the “Morning Glory,” a breakfast burger with a hash brown, fried egg, bacon and truffled maple syrup. Feeling like some dumplings? Go for the “Karate Pig,” a pork burger topped with house made kimchi, soy glaze and “dojo sauce.” For pepper and pickle lovers out there, Hop + grind often comes out with new limited time burgers, like the “Peter Piper” chicken sandwich – brined in pepper juice, topped with pickle ranch dressing and fried pickled peppers (it sounds like a mouthful and it literally is).
Hop + grind is a great student hangout, and they have plenty of craft beer selections available from local breweries. They offer cans and bottles if you want to take it on the go as well. Currently they are offering online ordering and they will bring the food out to your car for curbside pickup. They also have indoor and outdoor dining available. It’s worth the visit, and don’t worry, I don’t think it’s possible to leave Hop + grind without a full stomach.
Bamee is the perfect place to go if you want to try new types of Asian food. The Thai street noodle and Asian fusion at Bamee is a nice change of pace and they have a menu wide enough to serve any Asian food cravings. The crab rangoons, for example, are delightful, with a light and crunchy outer shell and the creamy filling boasting some of their Thai curry mixed in. They’re so good it might even be worth getting two orders – sometimes six just isn’t quite enough. The typical noodle or rice dishes at Bamee come with plenty of add ons – the crispy pork goes super well on top of a teriyaki rice bowl, while the crispy chicken compliments the noodles, but both are solid options, and sometimes throwing on a fried egg does the trick too.
A personal favorite of mine is the Panang Curry. It’s sweet and flavorful with a great amount of spice at the same time. One thing that truly shines about Bamee at times like these is how well their food translates to takeout. After having been takeout only since the pandemic ramped up, Bamee recently announced the opening of its patio for outdoor seating. It really feels like they want to treat their customers well, providing hefty portions for fair prices. Another reason why I like the curry: they give you a whole pint that you can save for two or three more meals after you’re already full!
You can’t go wrong with Wildcat Pizza. It’s a campus classic that fits the bill when you need something delivered, or some good quality comfort food. Their pizza is a solid choice – a decent ratio of sauce and cheese and not too much grease. It’s a great opportunity to stick with classic pepperoni, but they have a wide range of toppings to go with whatever your heart desires.
The calzones are where the place shines the most in my opinion. Not only is there a wide variety of great ones, from chicken parmesan to steak and cheese, there are some under the radar picks that are very good as well – the pesto chicken for example – with alfredo and pesto sauce mixed together. For the amount of food stuffed into the calzone, a small is plenty for one person and they’re all under $12 dollars! It’s definitely worth a try if you need a switch up from your usual. Wildcat Pizza opened back up on Wednesday, Sept. 9 for pickup orders.
Although there are plenty more Durham restaurants to share, they’ll be included in a later edition of the series. Needless to say, the restaurants that aren’t listed above still need the support from the local community – both students and Durham residents. Everyone has a role to play in continuing to bring business into Durham’s restaurants to keep them afloat during these tough times.