It is no secret that the Raleigh-Durham area has boasted an established academic and techie reputation for a number of years. However, it has also housed an incredibly rich culinary scene through restaurants, bars, and now food trucks. At the beginning of 2013, the nationally known “Dishcrawl” organization came to our area to “bring people and communities together over food.”
A “dishcrawl” is essentially the foodie equivalent of a pub crawl. However, instead of stumbling to an assortment of bars, hungry groups explore a plethora of tasty eateries. Carolina STYLE Magazine was invited to the July 24th Dishcrawl, which toured local multicultural favorites in the historic Moore Square area.
The meeting spot and first meal of the night was Cooper’s Barbecue, a local, national, and personal favorite. There was a great turn out, and according to RiAnica, the bubbly Dishcrawl ambassador, it nearly sold out. We feasted on traditional Southern favorites of pulled pork, coleslaw, and hush puppies while we listened to a brief history of the restaurant. It was so mouthwatering that I made the rookie mistake of eating seconds despite the fact we had THREE more restaurants to visit. Not to sound like Kanye but…Cooper’s Barbecue has some of the greatest barbecue of all time, y’all.
The second stop of the night was Zinda, an Asian fusion restaurant and a positively chic and beautiful venue. The open set up made it a little easier to mingle and chat with fellow Dishcrawlers, and we had the opportunity to enjoy some adult beverages. We were served a trio of favorites that included: vegetable samosa, curried carrot and ginger soup, and steamed pork bun. All were delicious, spicy, and tantalizing to the taste buds.
The third stop was an enjoyable curveball. We trekked to Tir Na nOg, a traditional Irish pub, to munch on some… Middle Eastern food? We learned that every other Wednesday, Tir Na nOg hosts a Midweek Feast that features foods from an entirely different country. Our group enjoyed fresh naan, baba ghanouj, and chicken shawrama. This was the exact point I realized my colossal mistake of greedily accepting seconds at Cooper’s; I was so full I could hardly finish my plate, and I knew we had dessert at the next stop. It was the ultimate #firstworldproblem.
Our final stop of the night was Calavera, Empanada and Tequila Bar + Restaurant. The colorful venue and sultry atmosphere was the perfect setting to indulge in dessert: horchata, a key lime empanada, AND the king kong, a banana and Nutella empanada. It was all incredibly delicious, and every plate was cleaned off despite the fact we had very full bellies. I am still unsure of how I managed to finish it all, but I narrowed it down to two conclusions: superhuman powers or pure gluttony.
It was evident that a good majority of Dishcrawlers were new to the area and used it as a fun way to explore their stomping grounds. For instance, Bonnie, a fellow Dishcrawler, enjoyed the Durham Dishcrawl so much that she wanted to try another one and brought her colleague and new RDU citizen, Luanne. Another group celebrated a birthday, and there were a couple of very adorable dates.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the full Dishcrawl experience. I was initially skeptical because I felt $45 was a bit steep for a few amuse-bouches (with no drinks included?!) and a bunch of walking. Furthermore, I had been to each restaurant before so I was admittedly a little jaded. However, the portions were extremely generous, I gained more favorite dishes, and I had the opportunity to chat with some great people.
Ultimately, I would recommend a Dishcrawl to RDU newbies, and anyone celebrating a special occasion. I think it is a bit too time consuming to be a casual weeknight dinner outing, but it is a great way to round up a group of fellow foodie friends and try something different. Just remember, pace yourselves!
For more on Raleigh’s Dishcrawl: http://dishcrawl.com/raleigh/
Photography by Jason Rizzo.