Home » Bars, Beer, Restaurants

Bull McCabes

Posted by DID 18 Feb 2011 26 Comments

Like the Federal, Bull McCabe’s is just one of those places where we routinely end up for dinner. It’s affordable with a great atmosphere, extensive beer list and a cool, laid back vibe. Most of Carpe Durham readers have probably checked it out for themselves – popped in for a burger, played trivia or just spent some late nights having beers there.

So why the review? I wanted to make sure that folks aren’t missing out on some of the gems on the menu. As many of you have probably noticed Bull McCabes has stepped up its food offerings in the past few months revamping the menu, adding rotating daily specials and including some local sourcing on the menu.

We’ve really enjoyed some of the daily specials that seem to make regular appearances. The new charcuterie┬áplate with house-made relishes is solid and the Carolina hot dogs on Guglhupf pretzel rolls are hard to resist and really a meal big enough for two. The special sides we’ve sampled have all been great (macaroni, onion rings, etc.) and the desserts really tasty (apple pie a la mode and cheesecake).

From the regular menu, aside from solid burger/fries offerings, I really dig the newish smoked brisket and black bean chili. It’s rich, spicy and flavorful while the chunks of brisket take it over the edge.

But my go-to, it’s-hard-not-to-order-every-single-time meal is. . .the veggie burger. I know it’s not what you wanted to hear and it sounds horribly boring. But honestly, even for a unabashed carnivore like myself, MccCabe’s veggie burger or “Elizabeth’s Spicy Veggie Burger” as they call it, is just, well, awesome. What makes it special? A butter-toasted fresh bun for one and the addition of pepper jack cheese, avocado, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo. Interested now? Really, give it a try and if you order it with a baked potato or salad you can, like I do, convince yourself it’s healthy.

With solid food and great beer specials, Bull McCabes has become one of Durham’s finest watering holes and has even made it hurt a little less that Joe & Jo’s is gone.

Note: Sorry for the pics, Bull McCabe’s lighting makes it really tough to take non-obnoxious, flash-less photos. Will try to update with some better shots.

Bull McCabe’s
427 West Main Street

Durham, NC 27701

(919) 682-3061


  • tsq75 said:

    I’m so glad that delicious veggie burger is someone else’s go-to. Its not even remotely healthier that the cow burger, and leaves you feeling just as stuffed and greasy…but damn its good.


    DID replies on February 21st, 2011 at 11:39 am:

    let me have my delusions :)


  • Julie said:

    The veggie burger is the greatest, and I’m a carnivore. Other favorites: fries (add malt vinegar to go over the top!), the burger w/ bacon & blue cheese, the quesadilla, chicken pot pie (when they have it), and the best ever soup du jour: spicy sweet potato & blue cheese!


  • Sant said:

    I really like their Philly because you can get it with both sweet and hot peppers. You can also add fried oysters to their Ceasar salad, which makes it crazy good!


  • Laura said:

    The shepherd’s pie…*drool*


  • Jason said:

    My go-to is their burger, with pepperjack cheese, bacon, fried egg, mayo, ketchup, and pickles…along with those great garlic fries! (Where’s the defibrillator?!)


  • Dukie11 said:

    I dined here on Friday night for the big game. I had Chipotle wings and a salad. Both were just O.K. More importantly were the events that led me here. The kitchen manager…total douche bag. The owner is very nice. Overall, I would not eat here again.


    Suzann replies on April 4th, 2011 at 1:17 am:

    You are absolutely correct – the kitchen manager is not the nicest person, while Malachy is the friendliest person you’ll haver meet. There’s a reason that one is out front pouring beers and one is cooking your food. I have been eating at this place for years and have never once had a chicken wing or a salad. There’s a reason the burger menu takes up half a page. You’re only selling yourself short if you never go back here based on chicken wings and a salad.


  • Sant said:

    Had their corned beef sandwich today…they corn their own beef. Wow, unbelievably tasty.


  • mike said:

    three letters for you……BLT. Bam.


    Roger replies on May 24th, 2012 at 11:59 am:

    Come for the BLT….stay for the coloring contest.


  • Matt said:

    Racist. One of the white bartenders compared a poor women of color to an animal and commanded me not to feed the bears. All she wanted was to bum a smoke. They also enclosed that nice green public space in downtown. They don’t own the sidewalk either. Good riddance. Do yourself a favor and check out the James Joyce a few blocks over. This is a true story. It happened in front of many people outside on May 8, 2012.


    Jess replies on May 22nd, 2012 at 4:41 pm:

    I happened to be there. It was the night that NC banned gay marriage. I was really offended by the behavior of some of the staff. It is this type of behavior that can result in denying rights to some people. They should be ashamed and boycotted by the african-american and LGBT community and allies.


    Some guy replies on May 23rd, 2012 at 9:56 am:

    That nice public green space actually isn’t public at all and is privately owned…. Just sayin’


    judas_escargot replies on May 23rd, 2012 at 2:11 pm:

    Privately owned space… that was probably swindled away from the Native Americans!


    termite replies on May 23rd, 2012 at 6:31 pm:

    So was your house, I assume.

    m. frank replies on May 24th, 2012 at 10:59 am:

    maybe it was the racist bartender who bought the green space from the native americans and is planning to have no gay people there, what is wrong with you people ?

    Also, as a gay man, there are probably 2 bars in durham i feel comfortable in, one is mccabes.

    Bonybonez replies on May 24th, 2012 at 11:04 am:

    Personally I have never encountered any kind of discrimination at bull maccabes by the patrons or any of the staff, who all seem to be quite nice and friendly. It’s a great neighborhood bar and we will continue to come back. Keep up the good work guys.


    J_Ronn replies on May 24th, 2012 at 1:02 pm:

    I was there with some friends that night, including a gay woman who is a long time regular of the bar, and I can tell you that the only person who mentioned the color of anyone’s skin or compared anyone to an animal is this guy Matt. The comment about the bartenders being racist is absolutely not true; they’re also not homophobic.. just good Durham folk.

    I’ve always enjoyed the food (try the specials!) and beer selection and, as someone who likes to eat and drink on their patio, I appreciate that they discourage panhandling; I don’t enjoy having my meal interrupted repeatedly by people walking by asking for change or cigarettes. That may not be the nicest thing to say, but it certainly isn’t racist.


    bonybonez replies on May 24th, 2012 at 1:38 pm:

    Couldn’t agree more, hooray for great durham folks!!


    Dave replies on May 24th, 2012 at 1:52 pm:

    I was also there that night and witnessed the entire situation. Your analysis could not be more inaccurate. If I were Carpe Durham I’d remove your post as inflammatory and slanderous.

    There was a regular homeless woman who was stopping at all of the privately owned dinner tables asking diners for a cigarette or change while they were eating. For one, no restaurant in Durham permits panhandling on their property. Secondly, while she may have ‘legally’ been on a city side walk, it’s also not legal to panhandle in Durham a)without wearing a vest, and b) after dark at all. So she was in violation of both local and private statutes.

    I also witnessed your outburst after the employee had moved Rose along. This was also inappropriate and not needed. Not sure what sort of point you were trying to make, but in the spirit of especially what that evening represented, your tirade was unnecessary and a needless attempt to prove nothing.

    In terms of the “public green space”, that space was purchased by Bull McCabes and was enclosed so that people like you can enjoy dining outside in downtown Durham once ALE starts to clamp down on non-fenced outside drinking areas.

    I’m sure if you don’t return to the restaurant no one will miss you, but make no mistake, there is not a racist, sexist or culturally insensitive employee at that bar.


    Rob replies on May 25th, 2012 at 9:09 am:

    Speaking of… what ever happened to the city/planning departments study of outdoor drinking downtown? I know there was some talk of trying to figure out some sort of permit or lease situation to allow drinking in what is now the public right-of-way in the downtown properties (see Toast, Whiskey, Bull McCabe’s for examples). Did anything come of it?


    BVal replies on May 24th, 2012 at 2:05 pm:

    Word has it they will be serving free happy hour beer today to dispel these vicious accusations. Way to go Bull McCabes!!


    termite replies on May 24th, 2012 at 3:02 pm:

    When is happy hour?


  • J_Ronn said:

    I’ve spent some time today writing quick reviews for some of my favorite Durham places, so I thought I’d return and do more than defend McCabes.

    The food here is delicious; if you’ve never been, I recommend one of the specials; they’re awesome. Can’t go wrong with a burger or BLT either, especially if you get the fries. They also serve late night food.

    Great beer selection; about 1/4 of which rotates pretty frequently. I’ve been disappointed to find a favorite gone, but there is always something I like on tap.

    Great trivia on Wednesday nights, but it gets extremely packed, so if you’re just looking for a beer and a bite, it might not be the night to go.


  • Dan said:


    I was also there that night and I have to say you acted like a dick.


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