Home » Bakeries, Coffee, Restaurants

Parker and Otis

Posted by LHG 2 Sep 2009 18 Comments

dsc06267 Numerous excursions to Bright Leaf Square and Morgan Imports had left me curious about Parker and Otis, whose shabby chic exterior is fully visible from the parking lot.  I did not have the pleasure of dining there until lunch on a Tuesday, however, and I am wondering why I did not explore it sooner.

Parker and Otis is reminiscent of Fosters in that they provide sandwiches and salads within the setting of a gourmet food market.  However, Parker and Otis’ selection of foods for purchase is far superior to Foster’s: rows of hard-to-find candies and licorices, lots of mixes, cook books, jars of preserves and jams, etc.  I didn’t spend as much time wandering the foodie store as I should have, but then again I am trying to watch the budget and, therefore, trying to avoid temptation.

The feed-me part of the establishment does breakfast and lunch and serves food until 8:00 in the evening.  There is also a coffee shop section for those of you who crave the sacred bean.  You can eat inside among the rows of purchasable goodies or outside on a really cute, semi-industrial patio with a lovely wooden floor and rusty fans decorating the the railing.  Since this past Tuesday provided a gorgeous break from the summer heat, my two lunchmates and I opted to eat outside.  The place was fairly hopping around noon with downtown worker types and presumable students with laptops and piles of paper.

You order your food at the counter, give the person your name, and then take a seat and chill until you are called.  My lunchmates, AL and HG, decided our name should be “Hungry,” because we were, and so we were pleased when our name was called.

dsc06269AL had the grilled pimento cheese sandwich with tomato on sourdough ($5.99 plus .$.50 for the tomato).  The pimento was really delicious and artery-clogging in the best way, with tons of sharp, fresh cheddar cheese.  The tomato brought a good crunch and freshness to the otherwise extremely heavy (but delicious!) sandwich.


HG had the Black Forest ham and Swiss panino with honey mustard on sourdough ($7.99).  HG raved about the sandwich and the tangy, vinegary and (most importantly) not-too-mayonnaisey cole slaw with which all the sandwiches are served.  You can substitute another side, such as the summery looking corn and tomato salad, for two dollars extra.

Since a dead cell phone and job search woes on Monday had caused an instance of eating my feelings via an entire slice of red velvet cake, I decided that my body needed to recover in the form of copious vegetables.  Thus I resisted other tempting sandwich possibilities such as an excellent looking curried chicken salad sandwich and a tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwich on fontina and went with the totally healthy white bean spread with avocado, red onion, tomato, and sprouts on sunflower bread ($6.99).  The sandwich was extremely fresh and healthy tasting, the veggies were all incredibly crunchy, but I would have preferred a little more of the hummus-like bean spread, whose taste got lost within the barrage of verdant goodness.



AL and I split a crisp that we thought was peach and raspberry but turned out to be just peach ($3.75 for a small serving), which wasn’t problematic.  Heavy on the fruit, light on the crisp, this was one of those semi guilt-free desserts that could have been exponentially improved by a scoop of vanilla ice cream–which Parker and Otis, sadly, did not have.  The crisp was still yummy, mind you, but I feel that everything is better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Why no a la mode, Parker and Otis?



Ice cream absence aside, Parker and Otis is one of those places where I’d love to chill with a book, frequent for lunch, or shop for foodie gifts.  An excellent choice for lunch if you’re doing any shopping in the Bright Leaf area.

112 S. Duke Street

Durham, NC 27701


Breakfast: $5-$10

Lunch: $5-$10


  • sleepasaurus said:

    I have been here a few times.

    I agree that the slaw is OUTSTANDING!

    Also, every sandwich that I have gotten has been tasty. I love the salami and cheddar panino(i?).


    LHG replies on September 2nd, 2009 at 7:49 pm:

    Panino! I’m one of those annoying people who took Italian in undergrad and who insists on correcting the faulty Italian seen on so many American menus. Panini is plural, panino is singular, so unless you are ordering multiple pressed sandwiches panino is proper. I also like to pronounce bruschetta properly–with the hard “ch” sound, “brusketta” instead of “brushetta.”

    Glad you enjoyed Parker and Otis as much as I did!


    sleepasaurus replies on September 3rd, 2009 at 8:41 am:


    I am going to have to try that cobbler…looks great!


  • vanessa said:

    I think Parker and Otis is my new favorite lunch place; today I had the pimento cheese special (pimento cheese, avocado, tomato, red onion, sprouts) and corn salad. And they’re the only place around here that sells both Boylan seltzer and Ritter Sport. Yay!


  • Ralph Haygood said:

    I live a short walk from Parker and Otis, so I go there fairly often. My single favorite thing there, among many tempting options, is the zucchini cupcakes. They’re really wonderful, the best zucchini cupcakes I’ve ever tasted.


    Sant replies on September 3rd, 2009 at 9:59 am:

    Yeah, I like to get slices of their zucchini cake– hard to pass up that 1/2″ thick layers of frosting! :-) I can only eat one layer and take the other layer home for later.

    The best deals at P&O are you can get a slice of quiche and a cup of their soup of the day for $2.50 each.


  • Suzann said:

    Mmmm… reading this makes me crave their pimento cheese sandwich. I love this place, and am glad to hear that others do too.

    My only teeny, tiny gripe about P&O is the wait – which can sometimes get a little ridiculous at lunch. But I still go and I still wait.


  • Julie Foolie said:

    I refer to PandO as my Happy Place. When I need something good to happen, or just need to be surrounded by goodness, I go to my happy place. I could live here. In a tent, on the floor, inside or out. And I HATE camping.


  • MEZ said:

    I had no idea Parker & Otis was more of an order-at-the-counter spot and not a sit down restaurant. Plus old-fashioned candy galore? Must try soon!


  • enwiebe said:

    I’d like to make a pitch for Friday night happy hour/dinner at P&O. Pretty much every week on Fridays they have live music from 6-8pm. Most of these weeks it’s the Duke Street Dogs playing roots music as they have for 20+ years (many will remember them in an earlier incarnation as Rebbeca and the HiTones).

    Same great food as described above. To that you can add a great selection of beers and affordable bottles of red and white wines (think wine store prices rather than restaurant prices). The staff will open the bottles for you, give you glasses and an ice bucket for white wines on hot days. Most importantly is a laid back, kid-friendly crowd that supports the music and has a great time.


  • Sarah said:

    I agree — I wish I would have come here sooner! They have great lunch options, and I really need to go more often. And I love the chill atmosphere..


  • Robert said:

    I’ve been their several times and like you, I had the Black Forest ham and Swiss Panino and a side slaw that was to die for. I want to try the breakfasts as I love to go out early. Also I would like for them to have more wine tastings as I am an avid Wino!!.


  • gillianp said:

    parker and otis is the most amazing food establishment ever- i wish i could eat here every day. the staff is super friendly and helpful- the owner clearly knows what good food is.


    Tooth replies on September 25th, 2009 at 8:40 am:

    Maybe I’m just ordering the wrong things at P&O, but for the same type of fare, I think the food at Foster’s is much, much tastier.


  • Caro said:

    You hve to try PO’s BLT………I am absolutely addicted to them, so good!


  • Outdoor Dining Spots | Carpe Durham said:

    [...] Parker and Otis, 112 South Duke Street, Carpe Durham Review. [...]

  • Carter said:

    In general, I like Parker & Otis, but perhaps they are becoming victims of their own success. I ordered two basic sandwiches to-go today at lunch time and waited 25 minutes for them. People were making comments like, “When they finally call your name – you feel like you’ve won the lottery”. The many other disappointed patrons said things like “How did you get so lucky?” Sadly, the employees at P&O didn’t seem to care. No one mentioned long waits when we ordered. One man I chatted with for about 15 minutes during the wait had only ordered pasta salad. No one apologized for the long wait when they brought the food. And to add to the frustration of the many people patiently waiting, they seemed to have a lot of staffers who didn’t seem to be engaged in anything. For example, at times they had three people standing behind registers even though no one was in line. Good food, but they are clearly not geared up for a lunch crowd and their communication/customer service needs improvement.


  • J_Ronn said:

    Shrimp BLT… it can turn your day around!


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