As an impoverished college student, I didn’t have the funds to purchase a campus meal plan from the cafeteria. I ate a lot of oatmeal and beefaroni cooked in my popcorn popper that stayed hidden in my dorm room closet. But there were a few economical places that were favorites for dining out with friends on special occasions. One of those places was Bullock’s Barbeque in Durham.
Every now and then, during my freshman year, girls from my dorm would pile into the cars of upperclassmen (freshmen weren’t allowed cars on campus) and head to Bullock’s for an early dinner. You had to be there by 5pm or suffer a long wait. And they often ran out of pie. We would order our pies first and insist that the waitress place them on our table at the beginning of the meal to ensure that we actually got them. I always ordered the combination barbeque and Brunswick stew plate, served with hush puppies and coleslaw. I think it cost about $4 back then.
For years, I didn’t know if Bullock’s still existed. Then I saw an article about their barbecue in Bon Appetit magazine. Rejoice! So over the next few years, we tried to dine at Bullock’s twice, but they were always closed when we were passing through Durham to visit family.
This trip, we were in luck. We landed in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon and my priority was to eat at Bullock’s before we headed to the beach. I skipped lunch in anticipation of our early afternoon dinner. There was no wait at 4:15, but by 5:30, the line was out the door. Some things never change.
We both ordered my standard combo (now $7.80), even though the menu has greatly expanded in the last (almost) 40 years. Has it really been that long??!! They even serve quesadillas now, which I had never heard of in 1972. I must admit it wasn’t as amazing as I remembered, but I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgic experience. We were too full for dessert, but for old time’s sake, I had to order pie just to see if they had it. We split a slice of chocolate chess pie, a Southern specialty. I won’t need to eat again for days.