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Feb 15, 2004

The Barbecue Joint | Destination (near) Durham

Chef Damon Lapas and half of the day's menu.

Here’s what happens if you grow up in Kinston NC, travel in SE Asia, and go to school at the New England Culinary Institute: you open the Barbecue Joint.  And it's three cheers for Damon Lapas, proprietor and chef of this 3-year-old wonder on Weaver Dairy Rd. in Chapel Hill.

I keep forgetting about this restaurant because I almost never travel through the northeast corner of Chapel Hill’s suburbs, but last week I went there with Dave Thomas for a fantastic lunch. I ordered a pork barbecue sandwich and the celery root soup.  Dave chose the gumbo with smoked chicken, catfish & tasso, and a mixed green salad.  We shared the herb-roasted mushrooms and the Brussels sprouts with garlic and bacon.  It took us a while to finish, but we called our secretaries and had them reschedule all our afternoon appointments.

Unfortunately, there was no room for the shrimp and crawfish etoufee, the Asian noodle soup or fried eggplant muffaleta, but maybe we'll have those next time.  Or maybe not, since the two-blackboard menu changes daily, an ever-evolving landscape of food love.

Many professional eaters have noticed this restaurant, and always with happy mouths.  I only wish it would move to a more attractive and convenient location.  But what the heck, I can drive for a good meal, and who needs décor when you’ve got the food and great company.  Note to food/clothing fetishists: the Chinese meat smoker action will make your clothes will smell seductively edible for the next two days.  I'm just saying.


And a note on dining with the well-mannered Dave:  Some years ago he observed that when ordering, it is much nicer to express one's desires as a considerate preference ("I'd like the Brussels sprouts, please.") rather than a demand ("Let's see, I'll take the salmon," or "I'll have the spaghetti," or (heaven preserve us) "Why don't ya gimme the steak.").  Of course, all bets are off if you're dining with Dave at Penang.

08:50 PM in Triangulations | Permalink


Very evocative entry, Phil. It makes me feel like I was there.

Posted by: dbt | Feb 16, 2004 11:38:52 AM

The cucumber pickles there are the best ever. The first time I went, he was almost out of them. That was a tragedy averted.

And how ironic that it's just down the way from a Weight Watchers center?

Posted by: pinky | Feb 16, 2004 5:46:12 PM

Are they at least upwind from the restaurant?

Posted by: Phil | Feb 16, 2004 6:17:48 PM

Phil, I love it, but have you noticed that The Barbeque Joint is a stone's throw from "That Coffee Place" on Airport Rd? I swear, living near both, I have begun to just label restaurants as "The whatever place"

Posted by: Jenny | Feb 16, 2004 6:46:02 PM

Oh boy. I need to get me some of that barbeque. Do they have smoked brisket? (Mark Inman's first year in SF, I sent him barbeque, Air Express, from A Southern Season.)

There's a new place a few blocks from my apartment that's supposed to be good (all the white folks come up for it, so you know it must be). But part of barbeque is the humidity and Southern locale that accompanies it. It tastes different up here.

It's like eating a brat when you're in North Carolina. It just doesn't work.

I will take the ordering manners to heart.

Posted by: Crouching Hamster | Nov 28, 2005 10:59:39 PM

Crouching Hamster -- I don't know about the smoked brisket, though I suspect that Damon would make you one if you requested.

Posted by: Phil | Nov 28, 2005 11:03:50 PM