Blue Note Grill recently moved from Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard to its new home near the old Durham Athletic Park, and next to the new Durham Distillery. The popular barbecue and live music venue has now planted its roots downtown.
The new space is pretty large, with plenty of tables inside by the bar.
And plenty close to their stage, where live music is featured daily, mostly of blues performers.
And on a warm day there is ample seating within a covered outdoor dining room. Eating barbecue (barbeque, if you must) in this blossoming area of town, next to a section of abandoned track, is a wonderful Durham experience.
The fans and wide-open layout do their best to mitigate the warm weather- but make no mistake: summers in Durham are hot. Roll up your sleeves and try the food.
The Smoked Wings (8 for $7.99) can be tossed in one of five sauces. They are treated with a dry rub, smoked, then fried. The ones pictured above have taken a spin around a bowl of Sweet Red Chili Sauce, which is a sugary glaze that maintains a hint of spiciness. The wings themselves are very tender, not too crispy, and seem to hide the fact that they’ve recently left a boiling hot pool of oil. In fact, the smokiness of the wings is what really shines through.
The Redneck Cheese Fries ($7.99) come covered in pimento cheese and served with ranch dressing for dipping. Here we’ve added bacon ($1), to make it a little healthier. This hefty pile of soft potatoes must be eaten with a fork due to its weight and texture. It’s a great, indulgent appetizer that is perfect to share. Please don’t eat these all by yourself.
Ah, the half rack of ribs ($15.99 including two sides). These are…wait for it…
the best ribs in Durham.
Boom. There, we said it. Any attempt to grab a meaty bone is futile. The act of lifting the rib off the tray results in a juicy hunk of tender meat sliding off onto the wax paper below. This is what we expect from slow-cooked ribs.
The sauce is sweet and thick, generously slathered over the moist pork that has already been dry rubbed and cooked all day.
The Mac-n-cheese is a combination of soft macaroni and a river of molten cheese. Classic.
These Green Beans, our second side, are sauteed in bacon and onion. The vegetables are almost mushy, with a strong bacon fat flavor. Both are served in a paper boat.
The hush puppies are incredibly crisp spheres of fried dough. As I write this, I can audibly hear the sound of our teeth tearing through the rigid crust to uncover the sweet dough. 2-3 bites per puppy. What else could you want from this popular side?
We welcome this popular Durham barbecue restaurant to their new home, closer to all the action. Come for the food (get the ribs!), stay for the live music.
The Blue Note Grill
709 Washington Street, Durham, NC 27704