cozy lunch for vegetarians in Durham
December 6, 2008 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Cozy & quiet, not-too-expensive lunch or brunch for 6-8 vegetarians, one pregnant, in Durham, NC. Where?

My friend lives in Durham and is rather great with child. It's not a baby shower, just a lunch or brunch, or possibly dinner, that I'm putting together for her and some friends.

I don't want to make her drive to Chapel Hill, where there are at least two places I can think of that would be wonderful.

A couple of people have suggested Guglhupf cafe, but it seems loud (sonically live, lots of hard surfaces and often crowded) and a bit uncomfortable - one waits standing in line to order one's food. We'll want to talk -- the guest of honor is a fairly quiet person -- and I don't want to make her stand up any more than is necessary. She's in the eight month of her pregnancy.

Can anyone suggest somewhere better? There are definitely 6 of us, five of whom are vegetarian, and probably two more. I think some are graduate students, which means it would be kindest to avoid anything too extravagant.

We're planning to get together on Saturday Dec. 13 ... somewhere.
posted by amtho to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Off the top of my head:
Blue Corn (Latin American)
Thai Cafe (self explanatory)
Piedmont (New South fusion--great weekend brunch)
Watts Grocery (ditto)
posted by hydropsyche at 7:35 PM on December 6, 2008

Response by poster: I've not tried Piedmont or Watts Grocery; they sound interesting. Not a whole lot of vegetarian stuff on the menus except cheese and eggs (for breakfast/brunch), unfortunately, but still interesting to know about.

I know we both like Thai Cafe, so we may go with that; it's pretty good, but I'd love to find someplace else!

Blue Corn is OK too - thanks for the suggestion.

Can anyone recommend anything else? Is there anything up near I-85?
posted by amtho at 8:50 PM on December 6, 2008

Anotherthyme looks good, but I've not been there. I'll second Blue Corn and Piedmont, but Watt's Grocery is a little light on the veggie options. The Federal is very good as well. Jeeze, amtho, you're making me hungry!. None of these is cheap on the graduate student level, though. Q-shack has some of the best mac and cheese around.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:55 PM on December 6, 2008

Which part of I-85?
posted by Stewriffic at 8:56 PM on December 6, 2008

Twisted Noodles?
posted by Stewriffic at 9:00 PM on December 6, 2008

- Watts for delicious local eggs and specials and they'll sub vegetarian options for the meat stuff. But for lunch as opposed to breakfast, you're better at Piedmont.
- Piedmont for sure - delicious eggs, french toast, specials - when you make a reservation ask for a cozy table downstairs
- Alivia's Bistro has really good french toast, good omelette options and nice booths that could probably fit 5-6, or definitely 6 especially with a little table on the end. I get annoyed with their service though.
- Rue Cler downtown is really really cozy, great service, delicious french toast and omelettes and (hello!) these little beignets to start with - get a basket for your table. Not good for dinner for vegetarians though.
- Parker and Otis has delicious breakfast until 3 on weekends but it's not as cozy
- ditto for the Nasher museum (great food though)
- Thai cafe has good lunches
- Twisted noodles is good - but not really cozy

Blue Corn has gone downhill, I think. It's alright but nothing delicious. Federal is awesome for a number of reasons but a) smoking; b) not cozy for a group of ladies lunching. Anotherthyme gets good reviews but I'm never that impressed for some reason.

Dinner with vegetarians
Thai Cafe
Pops for pizza
Magnolia Grill if you want to drop a bit of cash
Definitely my house is tops though ;-)
posted by barnone at 9:23 PM on December 6, 2008

Short version:

Just go to Piedmont for brunch -- you're likely to have a great meal.
posted by barnone at 9:25 PM on December 6, 2008

Actually if you want quiet, Rue Cler is calmer for brunch. And they take reservations now. And if it's for brunch, vegetarians will be fine :-) And beignets!!!
posted by barnone at 9:27 PM on December 6, 2008

See I thought of Rue Cler, but I think of it as incredibly loud (the high ceilings and brick walls, I think). But I've never been there for brunch. And I just remembered that Piedmont sometimes has live music at brunch, in which case being upstairs is necessary if you want to have a conversation.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:03 AM on December 7, 2008

I'm trying to think of near 85. There's Hong Kong on Guess Rd for Dim Sum. The vegetarian options may be a little slim, though. There's also a really good Vietnamese place on Guess, whose name escapes me. In general, the restaurants right along 85 tend to be either fast food/chains or hole in the wall ethnic places--especially Latin American along Roxboro, some of which may have great vegetarian stuff, but I don't know.

You could also browse some of the Durham food blogs, Carpe Durham being the premier restaurant reviewing one.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:08 AM on December 7, 2008

Piedmont and Rue Cler are both worth the 40 minute drive for The Gravys even though we are very picky about our food. Two of our favorite restaurants in the triangle area and both surprisingly affordable.

See I thought of Rue Cler, but I think of it as incredibly loud (the high ceilings and brick walls, I think). But I've never been there for brunch.

I think of it as more cosy-- it is a pretty small, bistro-type setting. I've had several very romantic, quiet dinners there. Piedmont is a bit more noisy with the high ceilings and the live music. But again, I've eaten lunch and brunch there and haven't found it too loud to carry on a conversation.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:07 AM on December 7, 2008

Response by poster: It doesn't have to be near 85; Ninth street, or the area near Thai Cafe or 15-501 is fine. Duke U. areas are fine.

Thanks for the recommendations so far!
posted by amtho at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2008

Almost all of those Mexican and Latin American places are excellent but...not so good for 5-6 vegetarians :-) Kim Son (the Vietnamese place on Guess) is good for what it is, but it's not really what I think of for women having a pseudo-shower-brunch thing.

Rue Cler = cozy, and it's not always packed at brunch. Ask for a nice corner table so you can have some walls around you, dampening the sound. Sometimes it has a bit of a din of a busy bistro, but it's totally fine for conversations. And hello, a basket of beignets while you wait! Genius.

Piedmont is a bit noisier with the tall ceilings, as Gravy points out, and when they have bluegrass playing it can be a bit loud for a small group.

Now I want brunch.
posted by barnone at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2008

I just thought of another one. Several older Durhamites have told me that they love Vin Rouge for brunch. I have never done that, but since it's not as trendy currently it might be less crowded.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:02 PM on December 7, 2008

Response by poster: Well, most of these places _have_ vegetarian stuff, but not the most healthy; I finally gave up on Durham and made reservations at the Weathervane Cafe in Chapel Hill. They have a fabulous brunch menu with amazing-sounding vegetarian features, including a tofu main dish, and I'm very much looking forward to it. It may not be the quietest, but I think it's on a par with what's available in Durham. It's also got full table service -- the first runner up was probably Guglhupf, and I didn't really want to make my friend stand in line (probably a long line) to order her food :)

Thanks for all the suggestions. Sorry, Durham, maybe next time.
posted by amtho at 1:36 PM on December 8, 2008

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