June/July 2019 – Best of Durham

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This year, our Best of Durham issue comes on the heels of a tragic event. The gas explosion on April 10 has left a deep scar that is going to take a long time to heal. My heart is still with all of the victims continuing their recovery, and especially with the families and friends of the two who lost their lives – Jay Rambeaut, a first responder locator for Dominion (formerly PSNC) Energy tasked with shutting off the line when the explosion happened, and Kong Lee, the owner of Kaffeinate coffee shop. (Read more about what you can do to help everyone affected by the blast on page 26.)

As a customer of Kaffeinate, it pains me to know that no one will again have the chance to enjoy what Kong and his family built within the walls of that coffee shop – because it was more than lattes and fluffy waffles. It was a community. And that’s what helped make it a successful business.

The restaurants, organizations, businesses and shops featured on the readers’ favorites list that begins on page 60 have these same attributes. They’ve proved their mettle, well, because you patronized them, and then voted for them, many year after year. And we know it’s not easy, especially in industries like food and dining, where we’ve seen so many longtime establishments fold in the past few months – I know many Durhamites are going to miss Tyler’s garlic fries and its pint selection, blu’s crab mac-and- cheese and the inventive pasta dishes from The Boot.

It’s important to recognize the hard work that these folks – our neighbors – are putting in to make the Bull City a place where we all want to live. Your mission: Continue to support local – ensure that your favorite businesses thrive. It’s just the Durham way.


34 Getting to Know You
The skinny on the top four favorite new restaurants

37 Sensational Sips
Hand-picked wines to suit every taste

38 Give Them Something to Taco ’Bout
Signature meals from this year’s Mexican food favorites

42 Picnic Perfect
Your favorite shops for home furnishings and accessories stocked us with summer essentials for the ideal garden party

46 If You Build It …
Our best builders share some special projects from the past year

50 Come on Over
The YMCA just launched its Red Rover mobile group exercise classes in Durham

54 Backstage Pass
The folks behind your favorite community theater venues give us VIP access to their performance halls

60 Best of Durham 2019 Voting Results

72 The Incomparables
Eight events you’ll find only in Durham and with a flavor all their own


78 A Room with a View
What it’s like to live on the 15th floor of One City Center

92 The 2019 Directory of Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living, Independent Senior Living and 55+ Living Communities


104 Shop Talk
We chat with Andy Stober, the CTO of AveXis, an Illinois-based company in the booming gene therapy industry that is expanding its footprint in RTP

106 Biz Briefs

108 Coastal Credit Union Branch Construction Kickoff Ceremony

109 State of Downtown Durham

110 Building Equity
The recent sale of 109 W. Parrish St. brought a prime market price and a chance to pass on its legacy of black ownership to a
third generation


28 Healthy Durham: Big Ideas Surrounding
Nutritious Food Access

76 Adopt A Pet
Three cats at Animal Protection Society who are looking for forever homes


8 Go. See. Do.
Our hottest events for the summer

20 Noted
What we’ve heard around town …

24 Just a Number
Duke’s Dr. David S. Pisetsky discusses retirement options and his own decision to remain in his ‘starter house’

26 Come Together
Bites of Bull City’s Amber Watson reflects on Kong Lee and Kaffeinate’s legacy, and how you can help the victims of the April 10 gas explosion

30 Wellness
Teaching kids and their parents mindfulness, one breath at a time

118 Taste
Discover our city’s best restaurants

127 Engagement & Wedding
Tying the knot, Bull City-style


12 Project Access of Durham County’s 10th anniversary celebration

14 Durham 150 Sesquicentennial Birthday Party

16 Second annual Pints for Paws at Durham Central Park

18 22nd annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

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