As a food blogger, I’m often chasing down the newest, latest and greatest restaurants in the area but I try not to forget the classic restaurants in the area. Take Toast at Five Points in Durham, for example. Opened up by Kelly and Billy Kotler in the early stages of Durham’s restaurant revival (February 2008), I remember stepping into Toast for the first time on a Taste Carolina gourmet food tour. And I remember being pretty impressed with the food and concept, right off the bat. And ten years later, Toast is still going strong, feeding the locals in the now busy, Five Points area in downtown Durham. And you’d be remiss to forget about this tiny, little, turquoise gem and it’s great eats. Here’s why!
Located in the hopping 5 Points section of Durham in a prime location, Toast is now sandwiched between great restaurants such as Mothers and Sons along with Viceroy. But what makes Toast a bit unique is its more casual, quick-casual, counter order setup. Bathed in bright blue colors, Toast paints a casual and comfortable interior. The stencil wall mural proclaims it culinary commitment as a paninoteca, otherwise known as an Italian sandwich shop.
Over the order area is a neatly scripted chalkboard menu outlining all the great eats at Toast. They range from panini (pressed sandwiches, to tramezzini (cold sandwiches, crostini along with soups and sandwiches. Given Durham’s culinary reputation, what’s amazing is that pretty much everything here is under $12, super affordable. Toast’s focus on high quality meats, cheeses and produce really uplifts the humble sandwich given the talent in the kitchen. The dining room at Toast is a bit tight but certainly take advantage of their sidewalk seating on good weather days!
A recent lunch visit had me ordering up their popular 3 cheese sandwich stuffed with grana padano, asiago fresco, pecorino and accented with truffle oil. This rich and gooey was served on thick, white bread and perfectly grilled. Cut diagonally into triangles (hooray) the cheese spilled out onto the plate in a deliciously unctuous mess. Biting into this sandwich is a cheese addict’s dream and wonderfully addictive.
Paired with a crunchy and toothsome arancini lovingly served in a white porcelain cup, it was a fantastically simple and delicious meal. While Toast offers up the usual sodas and juices, I usually like to take advantage of their affordable house wines to really make it feel like I’m in Italy. Service here at Toast is always casual but attentive and professional, another plus.
I’ve eaten at Toast many times, trying out quite a bit off the menu and across the sandwich types. And the food here is always fresh and bursting with flavor. While you can certainly spend a LOT more money for your meal in the Bull City, I’m pretty sure you can spend half as much at Toast and walk away wonderfully satisfied no matter what eenie (panini, tramezzini, crostini) you choose. In the category of quick casual near DPAC you might also try Only Burger or the new Neomonde but I can guarantee you that a meal at Toast will never leave you disappointed, buono appetito!
345 W Main Street
Durham, NC 27701