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The Pit Durham

Posted by DID 27 Feb 2014 8 Comments

Not much needs to be said about this new addition to the Rigsbee block. It’s been covered extensively elsewhere. Honestly, the valet stand makes me cringe, but I do look forward to taking advantage of the coming rooftop patio.

The atmosphere is nice – it’s large and airy with lots of subway tile and metal seating. The wall full of cleavers is a nice touch. But something about it just feels like a joint that business folks take out of town clients to to ¬†give them a taste of the South. Even the occasional Bob Garner (who is a part owner) sighting feels a bit forced.

I’ve tried a few of the cocktails and they’ve all been excellent, though you should avoid the Tequila Mockingbird if you aren’t a fan of beets. Whether you choose to sit at the bar or a table, you are presented with a basket of biscuits and hushpupies when you sit down, which is a nice touch.

The food is pretty standard – the ribs and bbq are good options. The sweet potato cornbread was disappointing. The macaroni and collards are excellent. The sauce options include vinegar, tomato based and a blend of the two. We look forward to seeing how it compares to Ed Mitchell’s Que when it opens later this spring.

The Pit
Mon-Thurs 11:00am – 10:00pm
Fri & Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm
Sunday 11:00am – 9:00pm
321 W. Geer St.
Durham, NC 27701


  • Ralph Haygood said:

    I have a higher opinion of the place. I tried it with only middling expectations, having been to The Pit in Raleigh and been not exactly disappointed but not exactly wowed either. I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve found almost everything I’ve eaten there in five visits quite good, including sliced pork, short ribs, fried chicken, various sides, and even the sweet potato cornbread that disappointed you. The one thing I didn’t think much of was the brisket, which was a little dry and tough – the besetting sins of brisket, at least outside Texas (the best brisket I’ve ever eaten was at Black’s BBQ in Lockhart, TX).

    By the way, their lunch plates are enormous. I eat about a third of a plate there and take the rest home for two more lunches. It’s excellent value for money.


    Tom Covalla replies on March 1st, 2014 at 10:25 am:

    While I agree Black’s BBQ, I think Smitty’s BBQ also in Lockhart is better. When one enters at the back of the building the aroma from the fire on the floor and the meat above next to the entrance is really something. Another well known Lockhart BBQ place is Kreuz’s it is my least favorite, but I am not saying it is bad.

    Many say Lockhart, a short ride from Austin, is the BBQ capital of Texas and I would agree. If one has the chance, it is worth the trip or trips and try all three to pick a favorite.


  • Jon said:

    I’ve only been once so I plan on giving them another chance, but my first experience was pretty bad. The service seemed good at first – friendly waiters and whatnot – and the appetizers and drinks were good. Good biscuits, decent hushpuppies (on the sweeter side) and a nice presentation of their bourbons (with water and rocks glasses on the side) so you can make it any way you want.

    That’s when things went down hill though. We sat there for over an hour waiting on our entrees. Our waiter was nowhere to be found for the last 20 minutes after telling us our meal was the next to be fired. We eventually started looking for her and found the manager who investigated and found the kitchen had originally fired our entrees too early. I give him some credit for boxing up the food (at that point we had to go) and comping our meal (not just the entrees). However, when we got home we found only about half the food we’d ordered were in the box. So at the end of the night we were still hungry and had a pretty frustrating experience.

    Of the entrees, I though the barbecue was pretty good (both Lexington and eastern NC styles) and the brisket was solid. Portion sizes seemed pretty good.

    I’ve heard from others also this place is still very much working out the kinks in their service. I plan on giving them another try but wanted to share my experience.


  • Fritz said:

    I’ve got a feeling the Ed Mitchell place is going to be a winner


  • ERDavis82 said:

    I also am far more interested in Ed Mitchell’s new restaurant than a new branch of The Pit.

    I don’t know what happened between Mr. Mitchell and the folks at Empire Eats, but at the 2012 Big Apple BBQ Block Party rumors were swirling about his unceremonious sendoff from the folks at Empire.

    My wife and I were taken to The Pit’s Durham location right around New Years by my wife’s aunt. While edible, it was worse than the few times I went to the Raleigh location right when it opened in 2007-8. Biscuits were OK, hushpuppies were definitely sweet but decent, ribs were solid. Sides were OK but again nothing actually noteworthy.

    Up-charging for ambiance and a long bourbon menu is OK to a point but the food was the same or lesser quality than other places around the Triangle that don’t have a PR machine behind them.

    In terms solely of pork BBQ, I can’t see any reason to go to The Pit with Byrd’s BBQ a 6-8 minute drive away. Their website doesn’t have a mission statement but it does show their daily specials including some great meatloaf on Thursdays.


  • MarkyMark said:

    I’ve been to the Raleigh Pit 3-4 times over the past 6 years. Each time the food was great.

    I’ve been to the Durham Pit twice and I can’t say either visit was good.

    I don’t care for Brisket that is pre-sauced and the Durham location loves to put what sauce they think belongs on their Brisket. Both times the Brisket came drowning in a brown sauce that was not good.

    The portion sizes were large the first visit but about a month later, the portions had shrunk noticeably.

    The hush puppies and the service was great though.

    I will probably eat out of Full Steam’s food truck next time…..


  • HNguyen said:

    I tried the Pit on a Saturday Lunch and I agreed with the review here. The place seems to catered to business folks more so than regular Q diners (at least that what the atmosphere and decorations impressed upon me). The food is standard BBQ with nothing to jump out at you. I had the fried chicken and my son had the short ribs. The ribs were better than the chicken. You can find better options for fried chicken elsewhere. The room was noisy. The bar seems like a better place to hangout than the dining area. The service was very good. I would come back but only if I have out of town guests/clients to entertain. If I go down to Rigsbee with my local friends and family, I would hit Geere Street and Parts and Labor first.


  • ERDavi82 said:

    Made it to Que by Ed Mitchell over the weekend and it was a huge disappointment.

    Despite two lackluster visits to The Pit in Durham, it was far better than Que. The chopped pork was cold and under-seasoned, the pulled pork had no seasoning whatsoever, the brisket was 80% inedible fat and the ribs were dried out as well as tasteless. Collards were bland, mashed potatoes were worse than KFC, mac and cheese was tasteless and gelatinous. The prices are just the same if not a bit more than The Pit and the service is pretty much nonexistent.

    Had to go to Byrds today to set things straight. It never disappoints.


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