It’s been a minute since our trip to Durham, NC earlier this year, but I think you’re still going to enjoy learning about this fun, irreverent town. You just gotta love a city that embraces the slogan: Durham. It’s not for everybody. But it was definitely for us. I hadn’t been to Durham in over a decade, having worked in Raleigh as an intern in 1998. We were working there in January and had a few minutes to check out some fun local spots. And I must say – Durham is like a totally new place since I was there 12 years ago!
Our first stop of course, was food. Using Happycow.net we found Beyu Caffe. It was a chic, hip eatery in downtown Durham’s 5-Points area – with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu. Beyu is a coffeehouse, bistro and bar – serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We would not have minded eating there for all our meals, honestly! The location itself is super cool – the building is historic and feels like something out of a Batman movie. Inside the cafe was very modern and cool. There were tall ceilings, retro-style lights, black & white photos on the walls – oh – and a live jazz band. They offer live jazz every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Love it!
Being in North Carolina, the southern hospitality was tops. Really! Our server, Morgan, was friendly, upbeat and knew the menu very well. When we explained we are vegans, she knew just what items to suggest, as well as beverages to pair with them. She was fantastic! We started with an appetizer: a Vegetable Small Plate. It contained rosemary potatoes; steamed broccoli, carrots and cauliflower; and wilted spinach. The entire dish was tasty – nothing was mushy or overcooked. But we both loved the wilted spinach. It was outstanding with a hint of vinegar but not too much acid, and a sweet, smoky undertone. It was soooo good!
For entrees, we ordered Thai Veggie Saute and the Vegan Napoleon. The Thai Saute was smooth and creamy, but not too soupy. It was chock full of veggies: red and green peppers, green onion, mushrooms, zucchini and squash, served with saffron rice. The portion size was ideal as well – not too much, not too little. Just right for dinner. And the spiciness level was complex and flavorful, but not overdone.
If the Thai Saute was very good, the Vegan Napoleon was over-the-top-awesome. The Dirty Hippie gave it his PFG seal of approval, which doesn’t really come out of the arsenal all that often. (In case you live in a cave, PFG means Pretty F&*king Good) The Napoleon is a stack of sweet potatoes, apples and bok choy with a curry sauce and a blackberry balsamic reduction, all topped with toasted walnuts. Drooling yet? This dish was really special – creative, tasty, and completely unique!
The overall effect of both dishes was truly vegan by which I mean, the chef has a good understanding of how to cook for vegans and vegatarians, unlike places where the veg offerings are lame-ass baked potatoes and frozen veggie burgers! Oh – and additionally, the chef even stopped by our table for a moment and asked how we liked the food. Which in a busy place like Beyu was a nice touch and very much appreciated!
Though we were ridiculously full already, we ordered a dessert to share: a luscious vegan chocolate mousse. It was perfect – the flavor was well balanced between sweet and chocolate, the texture was smooth and thick, and that coconut cream on top was outstanding! The fresh fruit and mint made it vibrant. Honestly – no matter how full we may have been – there is always room for a decadent, elegantly prepared vegan chocolate mousse like the one at Beyu Caffe!
Besides the dishes we sampled, there are a number of other vegan and vegetarian offerings at Beyu Caffe. They have salads, of course, as well as and a hummus with salsa that sounds amazing. For vegetarians, they offer an oven-baked spinach and Gruyere dip, cajun cheese fries and a veggie pita with arugula pesto and feta cheese. There are also daily specials and a selection of pizzettes, too. We heard rumors of a vegan cake- but they were sold out when we visited.
The bar at Beyu Caffe also bears a mention. The DH tried several of their house cocktails, his favorite of which was the Cactus Flower Martini. It contained a mix of tequila, elderflower liquor, cucumber juice, lime juice, rose water, bitters and a custom house syrup. It was refreshing, tangy and sweet, with a hint of tequila – not like a margarita. The Caffe occasionally runs a special where you get a free dessert when you order a martini.
If you want to visit Beyu Caffe, it’s at 335 West Main Street, Durham NC 27701. The phone number is 919-683-1058. A great place for vegans and vegetarians for lunch or dinner!! (The breakfast menu is also good for vegetarians!) Beyu is closed on Sundays.
So, after eating… shopping! The kind folks at our Inn (more on that in a sec), told us we’d love Dolly’s Vintage Shop. And we did. It was super convienent that Dolly’s was right down the street from Beyu Caffe- literally about a block. You can park once and visit both places. Just look for the big pink flower!
The thing we loved about Dolly’s was that it was so crazy-funky fun! The shop sells men’s and women’s vintage clothing, with offerings that range from coats to formal wear to jeans. They also have loads of accessories of all kinds to complete your retro look – wigs, tights, shoes, sunglasses, jewelry, bags, gloves, boas – some new, some vintage, all cool. And there are gift items too, like eco-friendly nail polish and locally-handcrafted soaps and lotions. Shopping at Dolly’s is truly groove-a-licious – I scored a gorgeous black lace two-piece dress with a circle skirt for only $40.00! In the Balto/DC area, the same garment would sell for at least 3 times that price.
Aside from the great vintage at Dolly’s, the decor and openness of the displays were just terrific. The shop has true personality – it’s quirky, cute and easy to browse in. A lot of vintage shops are cluttered and you end up having to rifle around to see the merchandise like you’re at a neighborhood yard sale. Not so at Dolly’s – everything is displayed creatively – and with plenty of room to take it all in as you shop. The gal behind the counter was also super sweet and helpful. She assisted in trying on clothing and was knowledgeable about the wares in the store. Oh – and fitting rooms were spacious and clean – another rarity for most vintage shops. We were very impressed.
A few of our favorite finds at Dolly’s Vintage: Aunt Jemima syrup bottles repurposed as vases; Elvis wearing a tiara; pony rides for fifty cents that goes to a local charity; and go-go boots! Sexy! On the eco-cool side: Dolly’s repurposes old baseball cards as price tags! Cute, cute, cute – especially in Durham, a town famous for their baseball team, the Bulls (anyone remember Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in that movie set in Durham, circa 1988? Classic flick!)
If you want to visit Dolly’s and pick up some adorable finds, they are located at 213-B West Main Street, Durham, NC 27701 or to call, 919-682-1471. Note that Dolly’s Vintage is closed on Sundays and Mondays, so plan your shopping accordingly!
So after you’ve shopped and had a meal, you need a place to rest and relax. In Durham, that’s gotta be the King’s Daughters Inn, located across the street from the lovely campus of Duke University. To describe the King’s Daughters Inn as a simple B&B does it a serious injustice. The building is a completely renovated historic site – and its makeover was both elegant and 100% green!
The Inn reopened in April 2009 with 17 guest rooms. It was originally built in 1920, and was restored by innkeepers, Colin and Deanna Crossman. The couple’s green initiatives focused on both preserving the original site, as well as making the systems within more eco-friendly to reduce future impact.
Some of the green elements at the King’s Daughters Inn include a 10,000 gallon cistern and a rain garden to collect roof storm water run-off and avoid using public water resources to maintain landscaping; a parking lot made of pervious concrete, so rain water is absorbed into the ground, instead of draining off the site; an ultra-high efficiency water heater and a gray water system that cleans and recycles the laundry water to flush the toilets; a fully integrated energy management system.
And the results of the Crossmans’ efforts… are stunning!! The renovated Inn is comfortable, upscale and luxurious. It is the kind of green building that gives green a good name. Each room is different and absolutely breathtaking. Even the bath products are fab – and locally made for the Inn in a refreshing scent called tea olive.
As everyone knows, it’s the little touches that take a hotel – or any business- from good to great. How about turndown service with organic port and locally-made chocolate truffles? Or a Mac Mini computer in every room, hooked up to a big-screen TV? Still want more? No worries – the entire Inn has book cases, full of great novels, cookbooks, gardening manuals – really something for everyone to read. And you can get in-room hot tea service delivered anytime while you read/surf the net on your Mac/watch cable TV. Or buy a bottle of vino from the wine list – it’s all either organic or biodynamic, of course.
No Inn is complete without a sumptuous breakfast and the King’s Daughters Inn delivers again. We called ahead to request vegan breakfasts and were treated to tofu scramble with salsa, soy yogurt, almond milk and fresh fruit with coffee or tea. Filling, delicious, well-planned! This was a wonderful vegan breakfast! I could have hugged the cook. If she had come out of the kitchen, I would have.
For vegetarians, the list expanded even more: homemade muffins, scones with lemon curd, waffles and pancakes. Fabulous. Really, no one goes wanting for anything at all at the Kings Daughter’s Inn. They do serve more traditional meat-based breakfasts as well, but as one of the innkeepers is a vegetarian, everything is prepared with great sensitivity to food needs.
The service, the food, the atmosphere are all perfect. Staying here made our visit to Durham absolutely outstanding. Everyone we encountered at the Inn was warm and welcoming. Just a wonderful, wonderful place!
We know you’re ready to book your trip to Durham now, so to stay at the King’s Daughters Inn, call the innkeepers at 919.354.7000. The Inn is located at 204 N Buchanan Blvd., Durham, North Carolina 27701.
Even after all this, there was a good deal of Durham we didn’t get to explore. We heard tales of a tasty South American eatery with vegan offerings, called the Blue Corn Cafe. There is also a legendary vegan brunch on specified Sundays in the city, too at a music venue called the Pinhook. For spending the day, you shouldn’t miss Duke Gardens, either. Guess we need to stick around longer next trip!