Vanderbilt Student Union – Salad was a disappointment, but the cheeseburgers and fries got high ratings from the boys.
Rippy’s Smokin’ Bar & Grill – Nashville, TN – The best honky tonk bar of the trip. Okay, it was the only honky tonk bar of the trip, but it still gets a thumbs up. A friend had taken the time to fax me a travel piece from Gourmet Magazine with Nashville restaurant recommendations. Sadly, I lost the fax. I’m fairly certain this place was not written up in Gourmet, but it works if you’re up for a "Hog’s Sampler Platter". We also liked the live bluegrass, and it was here that we met "Mr. Underpants", who provided material for a mildly-amusing running joke.
Magnolia Grill – Durham, NC – Asked our Duke freshman host where his parents eat when they come to visit. He said that everyone’s parents eat at the Magnolia Grill, ranked 11th in "America’s Best 50 Restaurants" by, yes, Gourmet magazine. The decor reminded us that we were in Durham rather than Berkeley, but the place was quaint in a foodie sort of way, with a celebrity chef and cookbooks for sale. Then, disappointment: their grocery shipment had been delayed and they literally had run out of food.
Blu Seafood Bar – Durham, NC – The folks at the Magnolia Grill sent us to Blu, where we had the amazing whole trout. The place to go when Magnolia’s truck doesn’t show up.
Pauly Dogs – Durham, NC- A cart on the patio outside of the Duke student union, clearly an institution. Even if you normally avoid hot dogs, these are excellent. Offerings include beef, turkey and veggie dogs with every imaginable topping, even crushed potato chips.