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Graham Soda Shop

Posted by MNT 6 Aug 2009 11 Comments
The Graham Soda Shop

The Graham Soda Shop

The first thing that has to be said about the Graham Soda Shop (22 NE Court Square, Graham, NC) is that it’s not just food, it’s an experience. Nothing wrong with the food, per se, but what makes the Soda Shop special is the small town setting. If you’re feeling like you need to get out of town, this may be just the ticket.

A half hour drive down I-40 West (off exit number 147, the exit for Hwy 87), a trip out to Graham makes for a nice drive, with a bit of local tourism in the process. The Soda Shop is located on Court Square. This traffic circle is the historic town center, and the courthouse, the original version of which was constructed in 1849, still sits in the middle. Today, the restaurant seems like a relic from a bygone era. The courthouse influence extends to the menu as well, a compendium of law, court and jail-related puns. (How about the “The Tip Off Sweet Potato Fries”, “Hit and Run Ham and Cheese” and MNT’s mother’s fave, the “Officer Patty Melt.”

Inside the Graham Soda Shop

Inside the Graham Soda Shop

Since this is basically a diner, the strengths are where you would expect them. MNT had the “Heavy Hitter Bacon Cheddar Burger” and it was delicious, with ample cheese and bacon and a passable bun. She definitely prefers the burgers to the salads and chicken offerings here. She once ordered the “Interrogated Grilled Chicken Sandwich” and was sorely disappointed by the flavorless and alarmingly huge piece of chicken (although XOR once made the mistake of ordering the “All American Velveeta Cheeeeeseburger”, a scary concoction with more pasteurized processed cheese product than a Shriner’s convention in Wisconsin). She also ordered the sweet potato fries, which are crispy and fried to a point where the outside caramelizes a little. These are served with a side of what seems to be a sweet whipped cinnamon-margarine, but they are also great plain or dipped in ketchup.Heaver Hitter Burger

XOR had the daily special, a meatloaf sandwich that was solid and tasty, but we were less impressed with the side of regular old Idaho potato fries. They were a bit too limp and not served hot. They do make their own potato chips, which looked better, though we didn’t try them. Some gals at our table swear by the “Legends Fried Chicken Tenders”.

Mmmm, meatloaf...

Mmmm, meatloaf...

The shakes were the highlight: MNT had a double chocolate, and XOR had the butter pecan, which were both rich, not thick nor thin, and out of this world sweet. At $3.49 and not that large, they are a bit pricey, but authentically old-time. We also had the “Court Square Pie of the Day”, a brown sugar pie (a la mode for an extra buck) and it was heavenly, a richer, deeper-flavored pecan pie idea sans nuts, and plated prettily too.pie

They have Coca-Cola products, standard American cheap beer, plus Yuengling and Heineken, and oh, REAL Heinz ketchup in glass bottles, which seems to be an endangered condiment these days.

If you’re feeling the need to wander, the “Just Desserts” bakery, just across the square, has exquisite baked goods on a somewhat higher plane of sophistication that the Soda Shop. The chatty owners will engage you in as much small town conversation and reminiscence as you could wish for. Check out the old fashioned hardware store next door, the dollar movie theater, the funky thrift stores, agricultural equipment on display… the whole nine yards. After all, a nice meal deserves a good constitutional.fireman


  • bart said:

    Great review! It sounds like a fun place.


  • Tooth said:

    What is going on around here? Posts about Raleigh and now Graham? Have I navigated to the wrong website? Are there no more food joints left to write about in Durham? Love, Tooth.


    MNT replies on August 7th, 2009 at 8:40 am:

    Hi Tooth, never fear, Durham reviews are in our schemes and sights… it’s apparently been a busy summer in other ways, for the new community posters.


  • liv said:

    Never even knew it was there. I’ll have to check it out!


  • What caffeine free diet drinks taste close to the original? | Airline Diet said:

    [...] Graham Soda Shop | Carpe Durham [...]

  • Barbara said:

    “Durham reviews are in our schemes and sights” ?

    But – this used to be a Durham blog.

    I miss the old Carpe Durham :(


    MNT replies on August 20th, 2009 at 9:26 am:

    Our trusty Carpe Durham founders have moved out of state. We miss them too! Before the new community bloggers began contributing, there were sometimes non-Durham postings. Courtesy of the “old” Carpe Durham: Panciuto (Hillsborough), Crook’s Corner (Chapel Hill), Maple View Farm (rural Orange county), and The Mint (Raleigh). Most postings are still for places in Durham.

    We think of Carpe Durham as a resource for people in Durham who love to eat. Many of those Durham people can and do regularly leave the borders of Durham to go out and eat, and we want to accommodate their needs as well. If you are concerned about having more Durham postings, why not get involved and post reviews? If want to participate and contribute, this is open to the community. See: http://carpedurham.com/2009/06/12/change-its-here/


    Tooth replies on August 20th, 2009 at 1:38 pm:

    I think I see what you mean about community participation:



    MEZ replies on August 20th, 2009 at 2:40 pm:

    Yep, I’m a new community participator at Carpe Durham! MEZ is my three-letter substitute for The Gourmez. I will post my Durham reviews here as well as at my own website.

  • steve said:

    this place is pretty terrible. it’s only been there a couple of years. the decor is terrible, the food is mediocre, the servers are non-attentive and there are a ton of places around here just like this. it’s nothing special.


    MNT replies on August 27th, 2009 at 8:44 am:

    I’ve been a half dozen times and always gotten good service. Do let me know what other diners in the area feature a faux fireman’s legs protruding from the ceiling, I’m dying to see more!


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