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Saltbox Seafood Joint

Posted by DID 18 Oct 2012 27 Comments

This week a legitimate seafood shack opened just outside of downtown Durham, the Saltbox. A simple order at the window, no seating, everything is considered take-out seafood shack. The Saltbox has a simple motto – local fish, freshly cooked.

The man behind the Saltbox, Ricky Moore, is no stranger to the food scene. He was the executive chef at Carrboro’s GlassHalFull and has competed on Iron Chef America. Moore is keeping the menu simple at the Saltbox, just a handful of fried seafood sandwiches and plates. Options on the chalkboard menu include a rotating list of flounder, shrimp, grey trout, spot, and more. He is sourcing his fish from the North Carolina coast.

We stopped in for lunch and tried the flounder and shrimp sandwiches. Moore is cooking the sandwiches to order so this isn’t exactly fast food, but the sandwiches came out within ten minutes. The portion size for both sandwiches and plates are large. The flounder sandwich had three pieces of flounder and the shrimp sandwich had a dozen large, plump shrimp.

Both sandwiches were excellent, the fish and shrimp extremely fresh. Sandwiches were served on commercial hoagie buns that had been buttered, but not toasted. I made a mistake of requesting no slaw on my flounder sandwich. The flounder was light and flaky but could have used the added texture and bite of the herby slaw. The slaw was a blend of shredded cabbage, carrots, dill and vinegar and added a nice punch to the lightly breaded shrimp. Saltbox includes a container of hot sauce, tartar sauce, ketchup and vinegar with each sandwich for doctoring to your taste preference.

The Herald Sun did a nice write-up a month or so ago about the Saltbox and Moore’s vision for his new venture.

Saltbox Seafood Joint
608 N Mangum Street
Durham, NC
Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-8pm (or until out of fish)
(919)908-8970

 

 

27 Comments »

  • Kid Stardust said:

    Do they take credit cards?

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    D replies on December 21st, 2012 at 8:36 am:

    Yes via Square

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  • FitMom said:

    Sounds worth trying – but surprised a guy who competed on Iron Chef America would submit such fresh catch goodness to “commercial hoagie buns that are buttered, not toasted.” Expecting better!

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    Chris replies on October 19th, 2012 at 12:29 pm:

    You expected him to bake his own buns in that tiny shack? Get real. Expect orders from Guglhupf/Ninth Street/etc.? Eh, the good old white bread fits the concept of a “shack”.

    Surprised no one mentioned the fries yet, which are fresh potato slices (halved) and treated with a dash of vinegar. Yum.

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  • ernesto said:

    Yes, they do take credit cards. I made my 2nd visit to the Saltbox today. I was told they do take credit card and was shown a smartphone with a plug-in card reader.

    My first time I ordered a soft shell crab sandwich. I was hooked with my first tastes of the delicious cole slaw and chips (fries) – and then I got to the sandwich! Yummy soft shell – a little crispy on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside. Chef Ricky was very friendly and the service was excellent. He knows his FRESH fish!

    Today, I was immediately recognized as a returning customer. I ordered a spots plate. I’m not sure I had ever had spots before. I got a few tips on how to eat them and brought them home. They were delicious and fun (for me) to eat – you need to be ready to work through and around the bones.

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  • brubeck said:

    Oh man, that shrimp sammich was yummy, and call me crazy but I liked the melty buttered bun. Definitely get the slaw!

    The staff is really friendly, and yep, they take credit cards.

    [Reply]

  • Kid Stardust said:

    Is the noon opening time given above correct? I got there at 12:30 today and they were out of all fish but black drum and catfish. Opted to try again some other day.

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    Heather replies on October 21st, 2012 at 12:28 pm:

    drum (red or black) is a fantastic fish. You should have gone for it.

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    Kid Stardust replies on October 21st, 2012 at 11:48 pm:

    I’ve had it before.

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  • dbird said:

    No offence to any specific operation, but I have not been pining for more pizza, bread, or cupcakes. For years, most every new entry in the Durham restaurant scene has appeared within waddling distance of rolled, leavened, and ‘frosted’.

    But fresh fish– there’s a stirring cry. I’ve now loitered outside the Mangum street hut twice, both times for black drum. Once because it was the only option outside catfish. I understand they were expecting delivery later in the day. I happen to love black drum so guess I was lucky both times.

    I haven’t gotten the sandwiches so can’t comment on bread other than to say I can see both sides re commercial vs local. I do think they might switch up beverage offerings for a more traditional selection of sodas– maybe cheerwine and RC cola and the like instead of lipton’s iced green tea. But that’s a marketing suggestion (I don’t drink sodas) and expect they’ve got a better handle on the economies and targets. Personally happy to have them concentrate on the fish!

    Thrilled to have Saltbox in the neighborhood, and hope it succeeds on its own merits including ‘until sold out’ principle, although I understand being disappointed if you’re next in line before last order. Yet and still, wouldn’t you prefer taking your chances on what’s fresh than on what’s left over?

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  • Kid Stardust said:

    Went today and ordered the spiced grilled mahi plate. HOLY CRAP was it good. I got there at about 12:40 to no waiting, but about 8 customers came and ordered while I waited, most of them return customers from the sound of it. This place should do really well–I wonder for how much longer the tiny shack will meet their needs. Don’t go if you’re in a hurry though.

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  • derekt said:

    managed to get there by 7pm, ordered the haddock sandwich. VERY nice … cripsy breading, flakey and fresh filets, nice slaw and bun. and friendly conversation besides. best fish sandwich I’ve had since living in Pittsburgh (fish sandwich mecca).

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  • J.Norris said:

    I wanted to like it more.

    My catfish (not seafood, I know) was barely seasoned, and catfish likes a little spice. There was no accompanying hot sauce or other condiment, except a single packet of ketchup. The sliced potatoes (not fries on this or any other planet) were limp and underseasoned as well.

    The slaw — well, I like a vinegar slaw, but this seemed oddly salty and even more oddly herbal. Sometimes a talented cook can try too hard to add a twist to a standard dish.

    Nevertheless … I’m going back and hoping for better. It’s early days for Saltbox, and there’s room for improvement.

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  • Ken Macdonald said:

    I recommend the blue fish plate. Nicely paired with a one-hop rye IPA nearby at Fullsteam.

    [Reply]

  • Kid Stardust said:

    Went back today and paid nine bucks for a haddock plate. Sat down to eat and the plate only had one not particularly large piece of fish in it. If their growth strategy is to give customers less food for the same prices, I don’t think it’s going to work out too well.

    [Reply]

  • bulldurham said:

    Food is satisfactory. A bit pricey for a shack on side of road. You get more on your plate for same price or less at Shrimp Boat, Bullocks, Hog Heaven.

    Always fun to try but will spend my money elsewhere.

    [Reply]

    lovesfood replies on November 18th, 2012 at 11:47 am:

    Yes, and you’re likely getting factory farmed, antibiotic riddled, unsustainable, endangered, maltreated & environmentally & ethically uncool food at the latter 3 places. Apples and oranges.

    [Reply]

    Kid Stardust replies on November 18th, 2012 at 5:54 pm:

    Endangered pork?

    [Reply]

  • J.Norris said:

    Steamed shrimp plate: Seven shrimp (two medium, five medium-large), with a nice homemade cocktail sauce and no sides, seven bucks. A nice snack, but not much a value proposition. Maybe the third time will be the charm …

    [Reply]

  • Kid Stardust said:

    Or, you could teabag a hamster.

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  • ernesto said:

    Made my first cold weather visit to the Saltbox today. Oyster plate and catfish plate both delicious.

    [Reply]

  • rhoda said:

    Made me hungry looking at the pics! :(
    get followers on instagram fast and free

    [Reply]

  • Edith said:

    I so want to like this place, but come on. Three for lunch. One sandwich and two plates for $38.50? Sort of mediocre fish and soggy potato slices and some slaw. All fried fish and limited choices plus standing out in sleet waiting. Won’t be back.

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    ernesto replies on April 5th, 2013 at 6:35 am:

    Did you ask about having your fish cooked a different way other than fried. I thought that was an option.

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  • hunter said:

    It’s great

    [Reply]

    Kid Stardust replies on May 14th, 2013 at 9:55 am:

    Give it up for hunter, ladies and gentlemen!

    [Reply]

  • BobinMass said:

    Nice article about Mr. Moore and the Saltbox in North Carolina Magazine this month. I’ll be trying it tomorrow!

    [Reply]

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