Tony, the owner of Bandido’s Mexican Cafe, learned the tricks of the trade while working at his family’s Mexican restaurant as a teenager. Today, he and his wife own and operate three Bandido’s locations, which serve sizzling fajitas, crisp tacos, and burritos stuffed with beef, chicken, pork, or sautéed spinach. The Herald-Sun's readers praised Bandido's as the Best Mexican Restaurant in 2009, and the restaurant returns the favor by awarding individuals who finish the El Gigante burrito—a massive compilation of steak and chicken fajitas, rice, black beans, and shredded cheese—with a T-shirt and gentle pats on the back. The restaurant often hosts live entertainment, and the Durham location supplements its selection of lunch and dinner fare with a Sunday brunch menu served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Talulla’s re-creates traditional Ottoman cuisine in an opulent milieu, surrounding visitors with antique rugs, vibrant draped fabrics, and waves of eclectic, ambient music. Seated on plump cushions, guests can take in an authentic dinner menu of centuries-old Turkish recipes, lovingly coaxed into being with top-quality meats, organic flour and vegetables, and upside-down belly dancing. Meals may begin with one of Talulla’s Mediterranean mezzes—small, savory plates including the patlican ezmesi ($7), a smoked eggplant purée served with chopped walnuts, yogurt, and tahini—before continuing to robust entrees such as the sebzeli musakka ($17), a layered concoction of eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, peas, onions, and potatoes, topped with cheese and béchamel sauce. Flash syrupy grins between bites of authentic desserts ($5–$7), or stop by for lunch to chow down on char-grilled lamb kebabs ($10) or Turkish-style pizza ($8–$10).
The Tedesco family draws upon freshly sliced meats and ingredients from local producers in a kitchen that fills with a jangling symphony of pots and pans. As they work, scents roll into the dining room, hinting at lobster ravioli, blackened salmon, and thin-crust Brooklyn-style pizzas. Bartenders dole out cups of wine and imported beers from brands including Peroni, and delivery drivers rush past, bearing bruschetta and shrimp scampi to diners staying in for the evening or pretending that they aren’t stuck in a hammock.
The eclectic menu at Jujube features hybrid dishes sourced from a mixture of traditional Asian fare and contemporary western cuisine. The restaurant's welcoming atmosphere beckons diners to experiment with cross-culture culinary combinations, such as scallion calamari with three sauces ($9). Snag some pan-fried pork-and-cabbage dumplings ($5) to finally find out what meat-filled victory tastes like, or hang a fang on the most popular dinner entree: grilled lemongrass hanger steak with cucumber salad and spicy peanut sauce ($19). Faithful soup fanatics slurp spicy oyster mushroom curry soup, made with coconut milk, chili, lime, and cilantro ($5/$9) and Italiasians can feed their dual bellies with the Jujube Bolognese ($11 lunch/$15 dinner), which is an Asian take on classic Italian meat-sauce pasta. It is served in a rich sauce of braised pork, hoisin, and ginger skillfully harvested from wild gingerbread men.
Amante Gourmet Pizza blends wholesome, all-natural ingredients to pack its menu with tasty Italian treats. Batches of pizza dough are prepared by hand to ensure freshness and employee wrist fitness. Persnickety patrons sharpen their teeth on a pie prepared to their specifications ($8.99 for a medium), lathered in their choice of sauce (tomato, dijonnaise, olive oil with basil and rosemary, and more) before being topped with edible accessories from Amante's extensive list of creative toppings ($1.50 each). Those too hungry to reinvent the pie can enjoy a preconceived specialty pizza such as the Pollo Resistance, glazed with olive oil and then topped with barbecue chicken, red onion, and mozzarella cheese ($12.75 for a medium), or the vegetarian-friendly Greek, with fresh garlic, spinach, black olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, and feta ($14.50 for a medium). All pizzas are built on your choice of regular or whole-wheat crust foundations judged up-to-code by the North Carolina Pizza Authority.
At the newly opened Guru India Restaurant, head chef and proprietor Narinder Singh simmers and seasons an extensive spread of authentic Indian cuisine. Chef Singh’s special dinner kicks off with spice-dusted, deep-fried bites of shrimp pakora before running palates through a delicious gauntlet of the creamy nav rattan korma’s nine vegetables. Next, diners flex jaw muscles around a hearty helping of flame-licked meats with a plate of tandoori mix grill. The tasty fish curry dances across taste buds, leaving a trail of complex spices and hopelessly lost Hansels and Gretels, and fluffy pieces of garlic naan and creamy bowls of the yogurt-like raita escort meals to their mouthwatering finish: sips of tea and a lip-smacking dessert.