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Rick’s Diner

Posted by YAR 27 Sep 2008 19 Comments

I have been hearing about Rick’s Diner for years, but it is in one of those seemingly invisible (to me anyway) shopping centers behind Target that makes me never remember to go there.  But despite its boring location (the BB&T plaza), Rick’s sure will excite you!!

The sausage and gravy biscuits were fluffy and soft.

More importantly, the pancake (called a hotcake on the menu) was the best I have ever had, ever in my life, ever.  Seriously.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  It was the tiniest bit crispy on the outside, buttery, fluffy, cloud-like but lined with a thin crust of heaven.  Maybe you think I’m exaggerating.  At the very least, it has been voted Best Pancake in Durham in the Indy before (possibly 9 years ago), so there’s a bit of confirmation of my story, but I have never been so sure of anything in my life.

Yeah, you can’t tell from the photo.

The service was extremely friendly.  They have mimosas, wine, and a bottled beer selection that includes some of my all-time faves (Lagunitas, Bell’s, and Terrapin).  I will be going back very soon for their fried banana peppers rings.  But mainly…the pancakes.

Rick’s Diner (4015 University Dr.)
Sun – Tues. 7am-3pm
Wed – Sat. 7am-8:30pm


  • Ross Grady said:

    Don’t doubt yourself; Rick’s pancakes *are* the best, and if they don’t have any more recent “best pancake” awards on the wall, it’s probably because they retired the category in tacit acknowledgement of Rick’s dominance.


  • all is on said:

    In comparison with other pan-/hotcake options rick’s totally beats all (go short stack w/ blueberry & banana), but I think they’ve blanded out in the last couple years. Their omelettes ain’t what they used to be & the veggie options at least on the lunch menu are mediocre at best.


  • Beck said:

    Pancake perfection is in the perception of the partaker. I think Rick’s pancakes are too cake-y.


  • durhamfood said:

    I went to Rick’s diner when they had a spot on Duke’s campus (bottom of Mclendon Tower, it’s something else now). I wasn’t very impressed, so never tried the town location. Maybe I should…


  • YAR (author) said:

    Ohhh, I went to the Duke campus spot years ago and didn’t catch the connection. I also vaguely remember being disappointed with that one. But then, I only went once, so who knows :]


  • RIXSUX said:

    Don’t be fooled by Rick’s. It is one of the biggest shitholes in durham. Dirty kitchen, incompetent ownership, and questionable health practices. Stay away.

    From the H-S April 1 2008

    Durham Investigating Foodborne Illnesses

    Posted: Today at 1:40 p.m.
    Updated: Today at 1:47 p.m.

    Durham, N.C. — The Durham County Health Department is investigating a series of illnesses reported by customers at events catered by a Durham company over the past few weeks.

    Durham County Health Director Brian Letourneau said Tuesday that 50-60 people reported feeling sick after eating at events catered by Ricks Diner. The company was closed for decontamination and has since reopened.

    Letourneau said the specific illness has yet to be identified and the investigation is ongoing. health department does not believe there is an ongoing threat to the public.

    Most of the afflicted reported that their symptoms eased after 24 hours.


  • Beth1 said:

    Below is a better, more updated article on what happened back in April. Looks like Rick’s is fine now and getting A ratings from the Health Dept.



  • Gary said:

    Often a restaurant that’s had a public health episode, if it had an acceptable enough prior reputation to survive the hit, is one of the safest places to eat afterwards. The Jack in the Box burger chain out west sure cleaned up its act after an E. coli scare in the early 90s.

    Notable exception: Gumby’s on Hillsborough on Raleigh, which didn’t have an illness outbreak but whose low NC Health Department sanitation score actually went *down* after the inspector wrote them up and came back to check on improvements. The revisit score, 60.5 (yecch!), was sufficient to shut them down.



  • JL said:

    Things must have changed…I have several friends who like to eat there and I’ve never thought of it as anything more than edible.


  • Greg Barbera said:

    Rick’s has Bell’s and Lagunitas?



  • durhamfood said:

    Bell’s and Lagunitas (especially the latter) are doing a huge marketing campaign around here now. They are pretty much everywhere.


  • ACW said:

    Rick’s is wonderful, and they have patio seating on Sundays (maybe other days, too)… Their okra is simply divine.


  • Sant said:

    You should try Rick’s for lunch. It’s even better than their breakfast. It’s the best deal in town and the food is great. I espeically love their fried fish. They had some issues for awhile and their quality faltered but I think they are back on their A game.


  • Manager said:

    Hey all!

    Thanks for the stellar reviews on our food. Our number one goal is to make EVERY dining experience the best possible for each of our customers. I am somewhat baiaised because I work here as the manager but I will honestly say, from having years of fine dining experience, our breakfast (and food in general) is the best I can find. I am constantly critiquing my food to competitors and love coming back to my home! Sounds like a sales pitch but come debate this with me at any time. We LOVE positive feedback and ways to please a larger audience.

    As to the reports on illness; well all I can say is I was there daily working 60+ hours a week and NEVER got sick eating 3+ meals a day. I am the resident hypocrndriac and felt fine eating my meals there even after the reports. We all did. There’s a lot that could be speculated but its all in the past, and I honestly dont feel comfortable commenting on it since nothing was found at our location. We had health inspectors there quite a bit testing and we came through with flying colors. Honestly, the owner called the Health Department when the first report was called in!!! She and I honestly care about Durham, our business, and our customers. Come in any day and dare us not to call out almost 80% of our tables by name. We honestly care about you all.

    Back to the food… We are constantly tweaking the menu to make that last 10% happy on what we can do. From vegetarian dishes (including my addition of tofu from time to time), to breakfast all day, we welcome ANY feedback positive or negative. Being a small business you can come in and praise us or bash us all you feel and we want to listen. Our main goal is honestly to make every diner we serve want to love us. As for the blatently negative comments, well, I am sorry we haven’t lived up to standards set forth by you. We do have a 99.5 rating and a positive local reception. If you would like to talk I would welcome the chance to have an un-censcored discussion.

    Contact me (Josh) with any concerns feedback you may have. We really want our home to be yours and welcome you in any form or fashion.



  • Anonymous said:

    The ownership is rude and inconsiderant at best. Dirty mops, a floor that is seldom ever cleaned properly. You go there to eat, and the waitstaff is friendly, but incompetent. If you get your food in a timely fashion, there’s no silverware, no syrup, no ketchup. A handwritten ticket with no total leaves a lot to be desired.


  • shawful said:

    What happened to Rick’s Diner?
    I used to dine here about once a week for breakfast, which was always good. I had a couple of dinners that weren’t very good and then a really screwed up breakfast order. As a result, I stopped going for a while. I gave it another try yesterday, it took 20 minutes to get my food and it was cold. The place was half-empty on Saturday at 9am.


    Sant replies on February 22nd, 2010 at 11:59 am:

    They are supposed to be moving to a new location, a shopping center up Shannon Rd., near Tonali, so maybe they are suffering from transition pains?


  • Outdoor Dining Spots | Carpe Durham said:

    [...] Diner, 4015 University Drive, Carpe Durham Review. Note: Outdoor seating under an overhang. They’ll be moving to a new location [...]

  • tipperary said:

    I went there for a late lunch and the food was good. I had fried chicken with a very crunchy coating and some excellent macaroni and cheese. I didn’t care for the fried green tomatoes; they were deep fried with a batter so thick that I couldn’t taste anything else.


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