Deep, deep in Duke territory lies the fabled bar, Dain's Place. I had been here years ago but as a Carolina grad, I tend to shy away from 9th Street for some unknown reason! But I was checking out the Doughman Race which does an after-party at Dain's so it was definitely time for a return visit. As a quintessential college bar deep in downtown Durham, how could I resist? And I'm glad I was able to make it back...
Dain's is one of those old-school bars that dishes out a small menu of bar eats along with great beer. Inside there's lots of worn, polished woods, small booths and a couple of long high-tops down the center. Really a classic bar feel and usually the place is packed and busy. My friend and I grab a seat at the high-top and hang loose with the menus. Lots of young families and just a boisterous feel to the place, the owner Dain comes in with his new infant, looks like the Doughman post-race has just finished up! I order up the same meal I did years ago, the famous Tots on Fire and the Defibrilator burger showcased on Man versus Food. We're talking about a 1/2 lb. burger with bacon, cheddar, sweet chili and a hot dog on top for good measure! Well, who wants to live forever?!
Service here at Dain's is spot-on, the staff and bartenders are all very cool, friendly and efficient. That same attitude is reflected in the crowd here, it's a fun group. Ten minutes later we get our big bowl of tots covered in cheddar, chili and jalapenos. Two forks tucked in on top gives us some tools to handle this monster appetizer! Dain's tots are awesome! Super-brown and well-crisped, they make for a great base to all that chili and cheese on top, super-yum... And the defibrillator burger? A tall, pile of beef, pork and more cheddar on a nice kaiser roll, good stuff. Probably too much for one human being!
Overall Dain's Place does a great job at being the type of bar that anyone can feel at home in. Good beer, a small menu of bad for you but tasty eats along with some friendly people. It's really hard to go wrong with that formula! Still I have to confess that I'd probably prefer to come visit when Duke is out of session! What can I say but some old habits die hard. But if anything would lure me back into enemy territory, it would be the tots at Dain's Place. They are THAT good...
754 9th Street
Durham, NC 27705
4 stars out of 5