What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Burger review of the Month: Bull City's exotic meats

Posted March 15, 2012 12:04 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:20 p.m. EDT

The gator burger at Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham. (Images by The Straight Beef)

Greetings, Out & About readers. We are The Straight Beef, a group of professional burgiatrists that reviews, rates, and ranks Triangle-area burgers at our award-winning blog. It is with great pleasure that we accept the post as Out & About ’s new burgiatrists-in-residence. We look forward to providing Out & About readers with reviews of burgers from Selma to Siler City, complete with musings on the world’s greatest food—and tales of burgers gone by.

You can read more about The Straight Beef, including our education and scholarship, ratings system, and burger categorization method, here

Some combination of at least two of us will carry out each Out & About burger mission. Here’s Review #1, anchored by Michael and Scott.

bull city burgers

Our first Out & About mission brought us to Bull City Burger and Brewery in downtown Durham, to tame the wild comestibles of BCBB’s “exotic meats March.” So we packed our jungle-clearing knives, donned our wide-brim safari caps, and wrapped ourselves in mosquito netting. (Note: That wasn’t for the review; that’s just how we dress.)

Bull City Burger and Brewery is about as cool as they come – a hip, down-home, college-y hotspot, featuring an in-house brewery, self-serve wine dispensers, Boylan fountain sodas, and menu items with pleasingly weird names like “duck frites and “bull nuts.” BCBB uses North Carolina pasture-raised beef, bakes its own buns, and concocts its own condiments. Applause all around on those counts. Our first visit to BCBB was on the decidedly negative side, but, we thought, marking our path with reflective jungle-marking tape as we entered the restaurant, this was a day of new, exotic beginnings.

The exotic meat of the night? Alligator.

bull city special burger

Nothing at burgiatry school could have prepared us for this. Non-cow burgiatry is an emotionally charged issue in the burger community, and few experts have dared explore the terrain. During our sophomore year, one professor conducted a clandestine seminar called “Elk vs. Antelope Meat: Which Is Weirder?” and was denied tenure. So naturally we were apprehensive. In addition to the alligator burger, we ordered the BCBB Burger of the Day – with mozzarella cheese and a fried egg – to keep one foot in beefa firma.

And now a sentence we never thought we’d utter: The gator was surprisingly tasty.

The fact that the alligator was served modestly – just bun, lettuce, and "special sauce"– bode well for the burger; we’d been burned before by condiments-related atrocities designed to mask an otherwise mediocre patty. The gator itself was reminiscent of sausage, though more heavily spiced and with a subtle fishy flavor. The “special sauce” was a tomato-onion-bell pepper concoction reminiscent of scallopini sauce, and who could say 'no' to meat from an 800-pound lizard topped with scallopini sauce? Certainly not we. In fact, we preferred the gator burger to the standard beef fare, which was good but not exceptional.

bull city burger

Size was a considerable drawback, as BCBB burgers of every genus are on the small side. Prices on the exotics ($13) and daily specials ($11) are a bit steep – despite the A+ fries that come standard.

Above all, Bull City Burger and Brewery is to be commended for its bold shake-up of the Triangle burger universe. Just don’t make the same mistake we did: Before you start eating, remove the mosquito netting.

Our review of the gator burger:

Michael 4.25/5

Scott: 4/5