Over on W. Main Street in Durham you’ll find Brightleaf Square and a block of classic restaurants. Located between the ever-popular downtown Durham and 9th street neighborhoods, these two blocks often get forgotten by visitors to the area. But you’ll find a handful of interesting restaurants and bars ranging from the Little Dipper to Parker and Otis and more. One Durham fave for many years has been the Federal. Part pub, part restaurant, the Federal strikes a balance between old-school and hipster that’s appreciated by locals!
Head on over to a little white-washed brick building and you’ll immediately notice the Federal’s outdoor patio seating. Inside the Federal it turns into a dark and seasoned pub setting with lots of worn, weathered dark woods. You’ll usually find a good mix of plaid and beards here at the Federal, the place tends to appeals to in the know hipsters and locals. The large L-shaped bar with red leather stools dominate the space but you’ll also find a back room for your dining pleasure!
The Federal offers up a decent selection of draft beers along with a small menu of carefully curated eats. Basic appetizers like fries, hummus and nachos. A handful of salads, sandwiches and plates, mostly American fare. And while it may not look that impressive, where the Federal really shine is its daily specials! Here you’re find the Federal chef stretching his wings a bit and dabbling in the gourmet category so make sure you take a long look at that specials menu. And pretty much everything here is $15 and under, very reasonable prices for the Bull City.
Over the course of my handful of visits at the Federal I’ve chowed down on a wonderfully spicy, braised pork sandwich covered in melty cheese and jalapenos. And another visit turned up a perfect fried oyster poboy dressed with some wonderful lettuce, tomatoes and onion! And absolutely don’t miss the double-fried garlic fries which are amazingly pungent. Crispy, crunchy and garlicky, they will leave you wanting more.
Service at the Federal is casual but pretty well buttoned-down. They do a volume business here and are usually quite busy but well-run. So thank you, Federal! You’re a little bit hip but plenty delicious! And while there are newer, hotter restaurants in downtown Durham, it’s the main-stays here in the Bull City that are so crucial to keeping things real.
914 W Main Street
Durham, NC 27701