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Bull City Burger and Brewery

Posted by TIF 2 Apr 2011 75 Comments

There’s nothing like good buzz to precede a restaurant opening and Seth Gross, owner of Bull City Burger and Brewery (BCBB) knows that better than anyone. In the first two days of business, BCBB served over 1100 customers. You see, Seth had Durhamites anticipating BCBB long before its doors opened on March 25th through the Golden Bull contest that awarded five lucky winners one free meal a week for a year. Although I never found one of those golden bulls, I still felt like a winner as I sank my teeth into one of the best burgers I’ve had in Durham.

The Beef Burger (*written in collabo with DID because I don’t eat beef!*)

Overwhelmed by the options on our first visit, we tried the pimento burger (pimento cheese and pickled veggies) and the green monster (Gruyere, raw onion, roasted poblano peppers). The pimento burger surprisingly came topped with pickled beets and jalapeno peppers. The beets added a welcome hit of sweet/sour crunch while the jalapeno added spice. The green monster was tasty as well with the rich gruyere, crunch of raw red onions and spice of the poblano. The meat on both, which is ground in-house daily, really stood out. I resisted adding ketchup to my burger just to savor the flavor of the meat.  Our only complaint is that you can’t order your burger any way other than medium well. A note on the menu says its NC state law that burgers be cooked to 155º, so there’s no pink in these burgers.

My friend also order the pimento burger and couldn’t stop raving about the texture of the meat. She said the flavor was perfect, that the pickled veggies were awesome, and that the proportions of meat, veggies, and bun were spot on. She also was impressed by how the pimento cheese held up from the first to the last bite.

The Veggie Burger

Folks insistent on their freedom of choice can order custom burgers, and I exercised this option by customizing my veggie burger–a non-meat bean burger. I ordered my burger with cheddar, beer mustard, lettuce, and grilled mushrooms. The burger was hearty (not mushy at all), the flavor was rich–making me wonder if there was beer in the magical mix, and the cheese was perfectly melted. I have finally found a veggie burger in Durham worth bragging about.

The Bun, the Sides, and the Beer

All of BCBB’s burgers are served on soft, fluffy buns. As my friend put it, “it’s a legitimate piece of bread!” The bun has a subtle flavor and held up to our burgers and the fixings. Best part–the buns are baked fresh, in-house, daily. We also ordered the deep fried pickle chips with pretzel crust, which admittedly sounds a bit strange to me, but were crispy, crunchy, sour and delectable. My friend loved the rich and decadent duck fat frites. The night that we went, BCBB featured beer from local breweries, but we were assured by waitstaff that their BCBB brewed beer would be available this Monday.

Fresh, innovative ingredients and the care with which they’re treated set these burgers apart from those you’ll find elsewhere around town. The ambiance–with its terra cotta walls, Enomatic wine dispenser, communal seating, and echoey, somewhat industrial interior–creates a warm and relaxed vibe. Knowing that BCBB honors local farmers, is dedicated to running a sustainable business, and supports the community through monthly donations means that you can eat burgers and drink your beer with pride.

Bull City Burger and Brewery

107 East Parrish Street

Durham, NC 27701


  • tsq75 said:

    I managed to convince my husband and brother in law to go on opening night. ok, in hindsight, maybe not the best decision…lol. the ordering process was smooth, but we did wait for 1 1/2 hr for our orders. :(

    HOWEVER…what i got was delicious. I got the BCBB burger of the day, which had honey-pickled jalapenos (will have to remember that lil combo for my summer pickling endeavors) and a gruyere-ranch type spread? I havent had a beef burger in about a year, but i made an exception for the grass-fed/non-hormone local cow, and what a difference! the buns, i thought, were perfect. not overly airy and disintegrating, and not dense. good flavor. solid roll.

    i’m going to give them a couple more weeks (or a month) for them to really get their groove on, then i’ll be back for that veggie burger!

    oh! and i need to try the onion loaf!


  • Tiffany (aka TIF) (author) said:

    No need to wait a month for the veggie burger…it’s pretty on-point right now! I went at 6pm for dinner, which was PERFECT. Food came out in about 10 minutes. A friend came around 7:15 though and the wait was 45 minutes for food. Sooooo, if folks don’t want to wait, it may be best to go in between lunch and dinner, or after the dinner rush.


  • DGM said:

    I took the family there a few nights ago, 2 adults and 2 kids…The bill came to over $40 and that was with kids meals. While I dont mind spending money on great food…I do have a problem with spending $3 for 15 pickel chips and $3 for less then a hand full of fries.I do agree it was the best burger ive had in Durham….come on potatoes and pickels are cheap! make me feel like im getting what I payed for….we left and had to go to Mcdonalds because the kids were still hungry.

    …Im hoping things get better in the portion department because the concept is great and again the food is great, and its a place I would love to support.


    KW replies on April 13th, 2011 at 2:23 pm:

    …we left and had to go to Mcdonalds because the kids were still hungry

    I have no idea why we have a childhood obesity problem in this country.


    Kid Stardust replies on April 13th, 2011 at 2:39 pm:

    Right, because BCBB is health food.


    DGM replies on April 13th, 2011 at 3:50 pm:

    Lol! what does the “local bought” sourcing of product make BCBB a health food burger joint…they can add that to their marketing… I would believe that if you saw my kids you would agree there isnt an obesity problem.

    KW replies on April 13th, 2011 at 5:33 pm:

    Nobody said BCBB serves health food. Why is everyone obsessed with seeing the culinary world through only two lenses: health food vs. everything else? Plenty of people eat healthy without eating health food. And part of healthy eating is knowing where the food you put in your mouth actually comes from and knowing what it is you’re actually eating.

    Regardless of that, you still have to eat in moderation and if you’re teaching your kids that it’s ok to eat McDonalds right after eating at BCBB, I guess I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re not setting them up for a future of great eating habits. But maybe that’s just me, perhaps ask other people if they think that sounds like a great life lesson to be teaching.

    Kid Stardust replies on April 13th, 2011 at 8:04 pm:

    M-hm. Or, perhaps in the real world of parenting, a trip to McD’s is rescuing a disappointing night out at BCBB for the kids. How many kids do you have, by the way?

    DGM replies on April 13th, 2011 at 9:21 pm:

    You are correct Kid S..we have 3 small ones.I mean, what growing kid could be full off of roughly 12 fries and a small burger for I believe $7…at least Mcdonalds you get a bag of apple slices, a burger, and some milk at $3.99…..but again this isnt my argument.

    not only do we get the culinary master mind of KW I get some good ole fashion parenting tips.

  • JeremyT said:

    Pretty sure that ridiculous NC law requiring burned burgers is only if you’re buying prepackaged ground beef; if you’re grinding your own, you’re off the hook. There are quite a few places in Durham where you can still get a rare burger, sad to hear that this ain’t one of them.


    pgym replies on April 4th, 2011 at 2:21 pm:

    @JeremyT – Nope. As BCBB points out on their menu, “In the great state of North Carolina you can have your burger cooked any temperature you like as long as it’s at least 155º F – It’s a myth that if you grind your beef you can cook it rare! Bummer.”

    The relevant regulation (NC DENR 15A NCAC 18A .2609) makes no distinction between pre-packaged ground beef and beef ground in house. See http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/ehs/images/rules/t15a-18a.26.pdf

    So while there ARE places in Durham that will serve a rare burger, they are technically violating the law by doing so, and run the risk of a not-insignificant fine (and, possibly, losing their license) should a member of the public complain to the Health Dept.


  • mw said:

    I agree that there are places where you can get a medium burger, I think its a shame that BCBB are marketing this and so ensuring that every where else is forced to follow suit. Nice job..


  • Jonn said:

    I didn’t enjoy my first visit. Didn’t like the black bean burger, prices were too high, and the wait was super long. I’ll give it another shot some time later though.


  • Donny said:

    I ate at BCB&B about a week ago and it was one of my worst dining experiences in Durham. My food was cold, overpriced and small in portion. A beer, a burger and some fries should not come to almost $15.00. The restaurant has a very bizarre decor making me feel like I should be eating vegan sushi and not home ground burgers. I have helped open several restaurants in my lifetime and understand opening jitters. This restaurant is in need of some serious revamping before I eat there again. Many of my friends have asked me about my experience and I have told them about it. They took it for what it was worth and dove into the BCB&B experience themselves. What they told me was much of the same. They were ultimately disappointed and felt like this was not the place for them to spend their money in the future. Looking forward to this opening as with fellow Durhamites was truly a thrilling experience to be apart of. However, I felt hoodwinked by a sub-par restaurant with local and fresh piggy backed on the a mediocre restaurant with sub-par food and service.


    DGM replies on April 5th, 2011 at 12:12 am:

    Couldnt have said it better! Everyone ive talked to has had the same response…high prices with small quantity, and a very loud environment.

    The marketing alone…can not demand those prices. The Durham market is just to saturated with great places to eat.


  • peewee said:

    Worst veggie burger I’ve ever had … hands down. It was so salty that it was inedible. I waited 60 minutes to eat a bun with lettuce. (the bun was, admittedly, quite delicious).


  • Fritz said:

    I enjoyed my burger there

    yes it was a bit pricey…. but the Boylan Soda Machine and the fact they
    have an in house brewery adds to the attraction of the place, overall I was happy

    I just wonder if this place can go the distance with their current
    restaurant vision. I hope they succeed.


  • Aaron said:

    Yes, the burger was good that I ordered, but both my wife and I agreed, as others have said on here, that it is WAY TOO EXPENSIVE. The burgers are not very big to begin with, and you are pretty much looking at $10 just for the burger. If you want fries, you are up to $13 before tax. Add a drink, and you are over $15.

    The place was very tasty, but I just cannot justify spending this amount of $ for a burger and fries. There are way too many other places in Durham that has a great burger for less $ and also gives you a lot more of a burger for your $. Food was great, but we won’t be back.


    Brent replies on April 10th, 2011 at 3:01 am:

    A burger is $6 and if you want a cheeseburger, it’s $7. That includes lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions. Fries are $2 for the dirty and $3 for the duck frites. You can add special toppings like bacon, pimento cheese, egg for $2 each.

    I’m not quite sure what burger you ordered, but a normal cheese burger with dirty fries will set you back $9. I’m also not quite sure what restaurant you’ve been eating at where a quality burger and fries is cheaper (Both Federal and James Joyce offer similar options for the same price – they’ll also charge you extra for similar, extra toppings).

    $9.00 isn’t too much to pay to eat a meal at a restaurant. If you’re used to McDonalds then, yes, it’s more expensive. But keep in mind you’re actually eating price competitive food that’s fresh and of amazing quality – not prepackaged frozen nonsense.

    I just don’t understand what people are expecting – $5 burgers? Go to a fast food restaurant for that.


    Donny replies on April 11th, 2011 at 2:50 pm:

    Last time I checked Only Burger single burger price was $4.75 and as far as I know they are not affiliated with the McDonalds Corporation.


    Dave replies on April 11th, 2011 at 4:11 pm:

    Yeah, and at BCBB a burger is $6. A burger and fries is only $1.50 more at BCBB than OB, and OB doesn’t make their own buns, pickles, or use local, sustainable, grass-fed meat.

    KW replies on April 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm:

    There’s also a hidden cost associated with eating fast food beef that doesn’t show up in the price at the counter. It shows up years later in extra weight, clogged arteries and higher likelihood of cancer and diabetes. It shows up in the pollution from feed lots.

    Of course, a lot of people don’t care. They’ll wreak havoc on their bodies and the planet as long as they’re dining is cheap and fast. Which is just wonderful for the rest of us that do care because we have to share the planet and the burden of their poor health decisions.


    DGM replies on April 13th, 2011 at 3:53 pm:

    Are you really wanting to start a debate on the health merits of a Burger and Beer joint??!! really??


    KW replies on April 13th, 2011 at 5:15 pm:

    Ah yes the old black and white argument. Let’s not complicate things by having to think for more than two seconds about them. You can only be healthy by eating tofu and drinking wheatgrass juice. Anything other than that, you shouldn’t give a crap what you put in your mouth, it’s all equally bad for you.

    Kid Stardust replies on April 13th, 2011 at 8:14 pm:

    A lot of people eat cheap and fast not because they don’t care; they do it because they’re poor. How could they be so thoughtless as to make such bad life choices that they can’t afford a grass-fed beef burger and house-made locally sourced pickles!

    DGM replies on April 13th, 2011 at 9:23 pm:

    lol..I dont need to respond…Kid has this one covered.

  • Mike said:

    I’ve been several times, food is great. Atmosphere is cool. Prices are reasonable. Concept is socially responsible. Crowds continue to be large. Don’t know what else you could ask for. Thanks Seth!


  • Erik said:

    I never judge a restaurant on first impression (if I did, I would never have gone back to Dos Perros), but if the law is that you have to overcook burgers, I’m going to places that break the law.

    Like I said, I’ll give it another try, but there are so many good burger and beer joints in town, they’re going to have to up their game if they want to stay in it.


    Res replies on April 8th, 2011 at 7:25 pm:

    Went the other day and their burger doneness level isn’t exactly consistent. While the meat was still flavorful, my burger was definitely well-done — not a spot of pink and texturally dry. But my friend’s burger came out medium (had a bite – great), and I saw another diner send back a medium-rare burger for more cook-time.

    As for the fries: their aioli makes a fantastic dipping sauce.


  • Maria said:

    I went to BCBB last week, and it was awesome.

    Yes, the food is more expensive – because you’re paying the actual cost of your meal. That’s how sustainable, local food works y’all – I pay for my meal; the environment, my children, and tax payers don’t. I don’t go out for burgers that often, and when I do, I am more than happy to pay what I did for the delicious, transcendent burger that I was treated to.

    Bun – perfect. Patty – great, and SO good to know where that meat somes from (yay Farmhand!). Toppings – ridiculously way better than anything else you can find in Durham. Fries and pickle chips – fantastic (though I will agree with the previous post that the fries could be more abundant for $3 – one way to make diners feel more satisfied.)

    I have been recommending this place to all of my friends, but like the author, advising them to make it a happy hour/early dinner, to avoid the crowds.


  • MRS said:

    “Toppings – ridiculously way better than anything else you can find in Durham.”

    Even if true, one of the funniest sweeping appraisals in the history of this site.


  • MW said:

    There are many silly laws out there and alot of them never get policed. BCBB wants to change that by bringing attention to the “legal” cooking temperature of burgers. Nice way to f%@k it up for everyone else.


    Dave replies on April 10th, 2011 at 2:50 am:

    That’s not really fair. The Durham Health Department is arbitrary, ignorant, and powerful. Knowing BCBB serves fresh meat and just burgers, they probably scared and threatened BCBB into these disclaimers under threat of not giving them their permits to open, or closing them down if they catch them serving rare meat.


    midnight scentist replies on May 2nd, 2011 at 10:47 am:

    I happen to know the staff at another restaurant in town where they cook their burgers to less than 155 (they grind their own), and when the health inspector came in the other day, she gave them hell and a warning that there would be a hefty fine next time. They’re complying, at least for now. I also happen to know a couple of health inspectors in other counties, and think Durham may have a new inspector with a bee in her bonnet…some are more lenient than others when it comes to joints that grind their own beef.

    Also, can someone lobby to get that changed? I mean, if you can serve raw shellfish and undercooked eggs as long as you give fair warning that you can get sick, why should freshly ground beef be any different. Outbreaks are almost always caused by co-mingling, not a problem if you grind a whole piece of beef in house.


  • Greg C said:

    I went on opening weekend and had a decent burger. Good bun, lacking/overpriced toppings (no tomato, $1 for a carmelized onion, $1 for ‘sauce’?), and burnt-beyond-recognition burger.

    1 week later, it was “oh, hey, it’ll be a TWO HOUR wait.” For a burger. Whose grill is that small? We walked out.

    One week later, they sold me an overcooked burger, left off my cheese, no tomato (it’s out of season/not local!), cold fries, no napkins, and yelled at me when I asked to get ketchup for my fries (“it’s on the table!” / “no. Not outside, it’s not”).

    A pox on Bull City. I’ll be over at Onlyburger.


  • judas_escargot said:

    And by some strange twist of fate, OnlyBurger has now become the place to go if you want a decent burger served in a timely fashion and for less money.


    Sant replies on April 12th, 2011 at 2:33 pm:

    Not for me, I’d rather go to King’s Sandwich Shop. Their burger, fry– love their fries!– and drink combo is $6.25! Okay so their beef isn’t organic, local, etc., but I like that they toast the inside of the buns on the grill, their toppings taste fresh, and their homemade lemonade is killer. They also make a darn good all-beef hot dog.

    I visited BCBB this past weekend. After standing around a few minutes while the bartender chatted up some ladies sitting at the bar I was able to ask her if they were serving their own beer yet. “Nope” was her terse reply. Considering we just came from the friendly environs of Fullsteam, where they gladly let me exchange a beer since I didn’t care for the Hogwash smoked porter, this was really galling.


    judas_escargot replies on April 12th, 2011 at 5:02 pm:

    Cool, totally forgot King’s since their re-opening. I was joking about OB, at any rate.


  • Rochelle said:

    I’ve been to BCBB three times. I went on opening night because I knew the scene would be crazy and, for me, fun. I had a blast drinking myself sick on amazing Boylan sodas–all you can drink for 1.75, plus some of the homemade lemonade. It took forever to get food, but that was exactly what I expected on opening night, and that’s why I invited all my friends to come with me–so that I’d have people to talk to while I waited. My burger was delicious. I don’t eat meat if the restaurant can’t tell me where it came from, so it was pretty special to eat a burger out.

    The second time I ate there, service was very quick (I arrived around 6:15 p.m.) and the burger even more delicious (since I was less ravenous that the first time!). The burger came promptly–maybe 10 or 15 minute wait. Burger was again delicious and I savored the beer mustard and amazing pickles. Oh, those pickles are so crunch tasty perfect.

    I was there again last night. Service was a bit slower; it took about 30 minutes to be served, but I wasn’t going there for a quick bite, I was going to meet and hang out with someone–what better place to meet a new friend? The burger was great (as were the pickles and mustard!!) and we were told BCBB beer will be on tap on Thursday, so I’ll probably be going back again.

    People who have been bitching about the cost, I think that you’ve already been given the what for by several peoples’ comments, but I also want to weigh in. BCBB serves local, pasture raised meat. It costs more. It’s more expensive than Kings and Only Burger. Look around these locations. Which one is the largest and is likely paying the most rent/mortgage? The OB truck doesn’t have seating. The brick and mortar has VERY limited seating (on Shannon). At Kings you sit outside at a picnic table. These are all good experiences. One validly, I think, costs more than the other.


    Kid Stardust replies on April 13th, 2011 at 11:16 am:

    I think it’s safe to say that the burgers ‘n’ beer crowd generally isn’t the crowd most likely to give a shit about locally, sustainably sourced ingredients. (Note I used the words “generally” and “likely” before responding “You’re wrong! I like burgers and I care about local ingredients!”) That may be where the sticker shock is coming from. I like grass-fed beef and local ingredients, but I think applying those standards and their accompanying cost to a burger joint is pretty ridiculous, to say nothing of waiting 1/2 to 2 hours for a burger. So I won’t be visiting BCBB anytime soon.


    DGM replies on April 13th, 2011 at 1:10 pm:

    Like I stated in my earlier post…Its not the cost that hinders me….Its the 15 pickle chips for $3, or the less then a handfull of fries for $3. Pickles and potatoes are cheap, and its very easy to make it look like you are getting alot for your money with those two side dishes.


  • Aaron said:

    The problem with BCBB is that to order a customized burger, they nickel and dime you to death (actually $1 you to death). By the time you add some cheese, some mushrooms/onions, sauce, and/or avocado, you are at $11-$13 FOR JUST THE BURGER. It tasted good, just not nearly good enough given the price point. They should be using kobe beef given the size of their burgers and cost. I honestly think Cookout’s burger was as good as BCBB, but I will only being going to Only Burger if I want to go to a sit down burger place in Durham going forward.


  • Brent said:

    From my first visit – Looks like a pretty large portion of fries to me: http://i55.tinypic.com/2h2ghvd.jpg
    I can’t speak for the kids menu, but my meals have always had large portions. I’ve never left hungry.

    And regarding the amount of time it takes for the food: If you go to a recently opened restaurant with 60 people waiting in line during lunch or dinner (which I’ve experienced at BCB&B), I think it’s ridiculous to complain about how long it takes for your food to be ready. If the line is out the door during dinner or lunch, do you expect your meal to be ready in 10 minutes? If so, your expectations aren’t grounded in reality. The long wait doesn’t speak to how efficient the restaurant is, it speaks to the demand. The demand for BCB&B is especially high because it’s NEW.

    The restaurant, during peak times, will be this busy until the idea of it being new wears off. Things level out. Initially, that’s how it goes with new places that the community is excited about and wants to embrace! If you don’t want to wait for your food when it’s packed, then eat somewhere else (or at least use common sense to know that if you see it’s swamped, and you choose to eat there, that it’s going to take longer than expected).

    I’ve eaten at BCB&B 3 times since the week after it opened. Once during lunch, twice during dinner. I’ve never had to wait more than 15 minutes for my food. Realizing that this isn’t always the case, I had friends who were waiting in a line that stretched out the door on a Saturday evening. Wait time was 45 minutes for my friends. Were they upset? Absolutely not – because they had realistic expectations for a new business swamped with customers.


  • AME said:

    2x visitor, once the opening week, then again last night. Simply put I can get a better Burger & Beer experience in a whole bunch of other local spots for the same price point or less. Sure it’s locally sourced grass fed, I support that, but that is not an excuse for eliminating flavor. I purchase whole cuts of beef from Durham and Carrboro markets and grind patties at home for the grill. Always juicy. When I go out to restaurants and pay for ambiance and execution I expect something equal or better than I can do at home.

    Patty: not juicy, overcooked

    Bun: average

    $3 duck fat fries: the biggest of the disappointments, small serving and since they are cut so thin there’s really no taste just a crunch texture. maybe I’m just not a fan of shoestring fries.

    Service: sat at bar, bartender/waitress pretty inattentive and slow moving. Bartenders should be fast and efficient in an effort to sell more drinks and not let customers wait. Also my clothes came out smelling really smoky upon leaving. Ventilation could be better.

    I did not see the outdoor space but heard it’s not exactly inviting.
    Only Burger & The Fed have better burger/fries. I hear there is a new burger place going into the old Pops location at Brightleaf. Also looking forward to the Geary Beer Garden.


    Fritz replies on May 4th, 2011 at 2:31 pm:

    I thought it was illegal to smoke in restaurants anymore?


    judas_escargot replies on May 4th, 2011 at 8:07 pm:

    Restaurant? Hell, you can’t even smoke in a proper bar anymore.


    MRS replies on May 5th, 2011 at 10:13 am:

    Whiskey is a proper bar.

    Fritz replies on May 6th, 2011 at 9:04 pm:

    then how did his clothes smell smokey?

    from the char-grilled burgers? yah right

  • Aaron said:

    ^What about a new burger place at the old Pops location? I would love some info on that.


  • Cheri said:

    I have to vote with the Not Impressed people. I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to the opening of this restaurant. I wasn’t able to go until just last week, but thought that was ok, the “opening jitters” would have been worked out. Not true. We went at about 6:15, there were four of us. It was so loud when we walked in we all immediately recoiled. After noticing the alcove by the ordering stand, we were able to get a seat where the noise was at least low enough to allow us to hear each other. Line was short, maybe two people in front of us. Regardless, it was 40 minutes before two of us got our food, another 20 before the other two did. The burger was small, dry and tasteless. The duck fat fries were cold. The pickle chips were good, but like others have said, a ridiculously small serving. And I did expect some kind of sauce with them. A friend ordered the hot dog, and it came without the mustard. When she asked for mustard, the owner (yes, the owner) said “We have to put it on for you, give my your hot dog.” After an hour wait, she wasn’t about to give up the hot dog and said no thanks, I’ll do without. The owner actually argued with her! He left our table, and eventually returned with mustard in a little cup, which I thought he should have done right away BEFORE arguing with his customer. She then outlined to him all of the issues we had thus far. He offered a free half-glass of wine, took her wine glass, leaving the empty ones in front of the rest of us at the table who had the exact same bad experience, and brought a half-glass of wine back to her only. I don’t object to the prices, but do object to the serving sizes and the lack of any garnishment. The hot dog, by the way, was good. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine going back on purpose. I suppose if someone else said they were there, I wouldn’t refuse to meet them, but that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?

    Small servings.
    Inconsistent taste (burger bad, hot dog good).
    Cold food.
    Disinterested, almost rude service, starting at the top.

    I am so disappointed. I really wanted this to be a great place to go after work.


    Biff replies on April 15th, 2011 at 11:06 am:

    I tried BCB for the first time this week. I was really looking forward to the addition of a great burger place downtown. But it was not to be….

    The burger tasted fine, though it was under-seasoned. More importantly, the portions are skimpy all around – small burger, very small serving of fries that cost an extra $3(!), even deceptively small beers (British style nonic glasses, which are usually 20 ounce Imperial pints, have been downsized to American 16 ounce pints – sneaky).

    The bartender needed a serious direct injection of caffeine. She was very friendly, but not capable of accomplishing the necessary tasks required to keep drinks in front of her patrons. I’d prefer surly and efficient any day.

    The space is entirely unappealing. I understand the effort to pander to current trends by promoting the “green” building techniques, but this backfires when the space is underlit and the harsh acoustics (bare concrete floor, bare walls, flimsy metal chairs) lead to unpleasant noise levels.

    I really wanted to love this place. Disappointed.


    AME replies on April 15th, 2011 at 11:18 am:

    why would they have to put mustard themselves? why wouldn’t he just bring some over and let the customer do it? that’s so odd.


  • GG said:

    Ate dinner there last night. While the bar/restaurant environment was lively, overall I think OnlyBurger tastes better and left me more satisfied. Between the three of us, we all had different specialty burgers. While decent, they were all a little dry. I tried the duck frites since I’ve never had them before but I think I would have liked them better if they were regular sized as opposed to shoestring. Bonus points for the Boylan soda fountain. Maybe I’ll be back to try their beer when it’s ready but I still prefer OnlyBurger.


  • Duke Don said:

    I ate raw ground beef (steak tartare) at Vin Rouge last week. That junk wasn’t even cooked! And it was ground beef! Was it local?? I don’t know. Was it grass fed??? I don’t know! All I know is that it tasted AWESOME!!! It also cost less than a dried-out burger with cheese, bacon, onions and fries from BCBB.


  • Leigh said:

    I was supposed to meet a friend here for dinner tonight. Thankfully she did not show so I was able to escape this place. I have *never* in my entire life walked into a restaurant and immediately thought, “Oh my God. Get me out of here.” If she had shown I was going to suggest we go to Dos Perros. The place was loud, packed, and the line to order food (I went at 6:00 pm) was very long. Now I understand the reviewers that said it was taking one or more hours to get their food made. There were people standing next to me who got their food and had no place to sit. They were standing at the bar by the window to eat it.

    I didn’t try the food so I cannot comment on it. I was looking forward to going here despite the mixed reviews. However, I found the general atmosphere to not be my cup of tea so I won’t be returning to try it out. I’ll go to Only Burger when I need my hamburger fix.


  • Heather said:

    I really, really wanted to like this place a lot more than I did. The space itself is very cooland exceptionally clean. The bar is lovely and the overall decor is very appealing. We went late on Saturday night and were able to avoid the long wait that many people have been venting about. We looked over the menu and picked pickle chips, duck frites, a hamburger with caramelized onions, cheese, and bacon, a beer, and a fountain drink. The fact that they serve Boylan sodas out of a fountain is one of the two things that impressed me – that, and the beer. We were excited about the fried pickles, but that passed quickly. The concept was great, but the pickles were too thinly sliced and overcooked to taste anything but the pretzel ‘breading’. The duck fat fries were too thin to be able to eat with your fingers, or dip into anything without losing half of them. The burger was tasty, but overpriced (and they left the cheese off, which costs $1). The hotdog was…interesting. It was small and surrounded by too much bread. Since it didn’t have any casing, the texture was odd. It has the consistency of spam, something I haven’t eaten in 25 years but I’ll never forget. I couldn’t taste the beer mustard and the texture of the saurkraut was a bit mushy. Our meal cost $30.
    We will try again – I love supporting local businesses and hope for the best for BCBB.


  • MS said:

    I do not get the hate. At all. Not even a little bit. We have a firm rule about not eating at an establishment until it’s been open for a month, so maybe they’ve worked out some kinks since opening. Since it had been a month since they opened, we went last Wednesday and again on Friday (because we enjoyed it the first time and wanted to make sure we weren’t out of our minds in our enjoyment considering the bad reviews).

    The bun was great…slightly sweet, firm enough to not fall apart, but not overly dense. As for the patty, it had a good flavor and was cooked just fine, with touch of pink in the middle and not at all dry, though could have been a bit juicier. This held true for my husband’s burger and those of our dining companions. The flavor reminded me of when I salt my meat overnight before I grind it for burgers…very similar to the flavor of the burger at Zuni Cafe. As for the size, I happen to like smaller—no, make that [i]perfectly normal[/i]—portions of meat. I get sick of American sized portions…do you really need a 1/2 pound burger? Their patty is not small, and should be enough for anyone.

    The toppings were delightful, though my husband prefers the chili at King’s. The pickles are great, I love the BCBB sauce, and the bacon is freakishly good. As far as fries go, there were plenty of them…the first time, we got the dirty fries and my husband and I split them. Plenty enough food. The second time, we split the duck fries. MORE than enough food. Let me add that my husband is a big guy and I’m a big enough girl with a healthy appetite, and we’ve both been full after leaving the restaurant.

    The beer needs a little work, but that isn’t unusual for a new brewery. It isn’t bad, they just don’t have it quite dialed in. The pale ale and porter both had some diacetyl present…not so bad in the porter, pretty strong in the pale ale. The IPA is actually already pretty darn good already.

    We waited in line for about 10 minutes to order, then another 30 for our food, which at 7:30 on a Friday did not seem unreasonable in the least, especially since our beers were brought out straight away. Everything came much faster on Wednesday night, and they were fairly busy then as well. Both nights we went, we paid around $35 for two burgers, an order of fries, two beers, and a soda. We do not go out often, but we go out often enough to know that is not out of line for dinner (even when it’s just classed-up burgers), especially when alcohol is ordered as well.

    I will be up-front about the fact that I do not like Only Burger. My associates and I agree that their burgers are nothing special and they burn the heck out of their fries. I don’t like their buns, and when I was preggers and had to ask for a well-done burger, they gave me the stinkiest of stink eyes, which really got my goat. I would much, much rather go to King’s, the Fed, or Wimpy’s.

    Not that I don’t have a couple of complaints about BCBB, but they are few and fix-able. I’ve already mentioned the unacceptable (to me) levels of diacetyl in the beer. In addition, the burgers could stand to have a slightly higher fat content. That would make them juicier regardless of degree of done-ness. Also, I would love it if the frites were served with aioli, gratis, and without having to ask for it. Finally, I was disappointed that Boylan’s ginger ale was not on the fountain (it’s my fave by far).

    P.S. Stop whining about them ruining everybody’s fun by pointing out and complying with the law.


    Fritz replies on May 4th, 2011 at 2:38 pm:

    “The Stinkiest of Stink eyes” hahahha great description


  • Eric said:

    I am happy to report that, as one who had a less-than-ideal first visit shortly after opening, a second visit last week was much more agreeable. My group waited about 10 minutes for our food on Friday for lunch, which is quick for table service.

    Also, I had the hot dog for the first time, which was really quite delicious- meat, bread and toppings were all unique and tasty.
    Having their own beer flowing was also a plus.

    I honestly hope the sputtering start hasn’t given these guys too much bad press or word of mouth, because they have clearly fine tuned their game. I recommend to anyone to give them another go- they really are a valuable addition to our dining and beer scene.


  • Aiantis said:

    A belated review- I went a couple of weekends ago with two friends. We went around 4pm on Saturday, figuring we’d miss the dinner rush. We were through the short line in 2 minutes and received our food quickly. We had a little bit of everything:

    -The pickles were good but some of the pickle taste was lost because of the thin slices

    -We tried to order the Bull Nuts but they were out that day (a pity!)

    -Can’t comment on the beer as it wasn’t ready yet, though they had several excellent local choices

    -I had the Over Easy burger; it was cooked perfectly, the bun was excellent, the meat was flavorful and the bacon/egg combo was fantastic

    -The veggie burger was good but not otherworldly (comment from my vegetarian friend)

    -My other friend had the Pimento Burger, about half of which was seriously undercooked. When she pointed this out, they took her plate without hesitation and cooked her another one which she said was great.

    -We had both kinds of fries- the dirty fries were very good, and the duck frites were tasty but would have been better if they weren’t shoestring (a comment I would make about any local place that does shoestring frites)

    By the time we left, the line was very long and people were searching for table space. But everyone from the cooks to the servers to the bar staff to the other patrons were friendly. It definitely has a different vibe than other burger joints, with the shared seating and cozy (aka loud) space, but we enjoyed it, though I can see how some would be put off.

    I’d say the prices are slightly higher than most people are used to paying for burgers, but I think the quality of the food was excellent and worth the extra expense.

    The portions aren’t as big as I’ve seen at other burger places, but honestly I think most places serve too much food (I’m looking at you, Five Guys).

    I like Only Burger, the Fed, etc., all strong local choices, and while I wouldn’t say BCBB was head and shoulders above the other burger places in town, overall I think it’s certainly another good option.


  • Donny d said:

    Skip this place. Just had the best burger (fries included) and beer combo at Geer St. Garden.


    Donny d replies on May 6th, 2011 at 10:59 pm:

    Oh and at day 2 of being open, they had no visible jitters.


    DGM replies on May 6th, 2011 at 11:49 pm:



  • bb3 said:

    $16 & change for a burger, fries and a small beer, so it’s a pricey joint. beer is not impressive – skip it. burger was fair but you have to pay for each item you put on it(except for lettuce & ketchup i think). I will not go back. too many other places around to get a great burger & a great beer for the same price or less.


  • KrellPw said:

    I have to agree with folks that the price of a meal got expensive when I customized my burger. However, I really did think it was exceptional. I had bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic on mine. I thought it was outstanding. My wife, who is not a burger fan at all really enjoyed hers.

    As far as the beer goes, I really enjoyed the IPA. I thought it was remarkable. We took our family for an early (roughly 5pm) dinner on a Saturday in early May. We walked right up to the register to place our order.

    In the end, I’m looking forward to going back and exploring more of their beers and experimenting with some other burgers.


  • tess of the durhamvilles said:

    We had our second lunch at BCBB this weekend. First time out we tried the hot dogs (I am a sucker for a bacon wrapped dog…) and they were huge and delicious. 4 of us shared both kinds of fries – large portions, perfectly cooked. I especially like the fried rosemary leaves in the duck frites.
    This weekend we had burgers, and they were also fabulous. I had the pimento burger with house pickled veggies, partner had the bacon & blue. The meat was juicy and rich tasting, the buns were superior, and we were both happy with our topping choices.
    We liked the golden ale so much that we bought a growler to take home and drink on the deck in the evening. It is a perfect summer brew.
    We’ve had great experiences with all the staff, and Seth seems to be there all the time keeping an eye on things.
    A great addition to our local food scene.


  • pretentious foodie said:

    Good quality food with ridiculous prices and small servings. The service was slow and I found the employees rude. I won’t be going back.


  • Marta L said:

    Absolutely the best experience I’ve had in Durham in a long time. There was a table-full of us for a small family celebration – all ages including several teenaged boys. The staff was friendly, and everyone enjoyed their meal. The portion size filled up the boys and those that could enjoyed the beer. We felt we got our money’s worth for the excellent meal we had. The owner visited our table and you could just tell he was passionate about providing a great burger and a great dining experience. We will definitely go back.


  • Andy said:

    I very much like BCBB. The burgers can’t be beat. The bull nuts are also good. As a big fan of duck, I was a bit disappointed in the duck fries (too salty tasting). The beer is ‘good’ but if you’re a ‘beer geek’ then you’ll observe that the porter is a very generic porter and the same can be said of their other beers. They are good, just very generic, nothing distinctive. That being said, the Bitter is better than average micro-brew. They also have a great bar and fresh squeeze their juices. If you are just looking for more unique beer selections that is more the specialty of Full Steam in the central park area. That being said, the burgers are worth the trip and the beer is above average for washing it down.

    I also went opening night. If it was noisy and too big of a line then, I suggest trying it again. Also my kids find the portions satisfactory, as do I. I try not to go too often to watch my weight :-) On the other hand we do not let them eat at McD’s anyhow (and I find McD’s gross).


  • Hammer said:

    Unfortunately, the term beer geek has come to mean someone who will only like “outside of the box” or extreme beers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with traditional beers made well, it has served the Brits and Germans well for hundreds of years. The bitter is good, and actually a true session beer at 3.9% ABV.


  • Dee said:

    I went for the 2nd time to BCB&B this past Friday night. Per usual, downtown looked like a complete ghost town but when we entered the restaurant, I swear over 200 people were in there. The atmosphere was lively, casual, fun, perhaps even exciting simply because there was so much activity. We ordered at the cash register at the back and I expected to have to wait, but my burger and fries were delivered to my table within 5 minutes and it…was…delicious. I also ordered the Golden Ale that too was amazing (smooth, not heavy or bitter, no aftertaste). Maybe it is priced $2 too much but the ambiance, deliciousness and supporting Durham-local makes it worth it to me.


  • bonybonez said:

    I waited till the hype had died down and the beer was flowing before I visited Bull City Burger and Brewery and was not disappointed, the burgers were just the right size and freshly prepared, the fries were really good and our food arrived in a very timely fashion. They had a really good selection of beers too, I tried the dunkelweiss bier which was bliss on a warm weekend afternoon. Looking forward to returning and trying out more of the drafts and burgers too.


  • Bob Ickrath said:

    Possibly the most over rated joint in Durham. Friday afternoon with 7 people at the bar and another 15 maybe at tables. God awful service, if you call it service at all. The burger was good, though tiny. And no tomatoes? Plenty at Harris Teeter and Krogers last time I checked. And since they are going with the whole “locally sourced” B.S., I bet they are still mixing screw drivers with out the benefit of locally sourced oranges. Maybe the bar in Durham has been set so low, people think this is a good place. I won’t be back.The Tavern had a better burger at a much better price, and free parking!!! Not to mention better beer.


  • Tooth said:

    I agree that BCB&B is extremely overrated but, seriously, there is no point in eating tomatoes that aren’t ripe and fresh off the vine during the prime of their season. All grocery store “tomatoes” are horrible year-round.


  • Tim Decapua said:

    Tim Decapua…

    Bull City Burger and Brewery | Carpe Durham…

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