Owner Damien Moore is the man behind Dame’s Chicken & Waffles in Durham off Main Street. This flagship location opened in 2010 and has quickly grown and gone on to successfully open locations in Greensboro and an express joint in Duke University. Plans are on the near horizon for a downtown Raleigh location, too.
As any Southern restaurant should offer, I ordered up a glass of Dame’s sweet tea. After my glass was put down on the table, a small drip of tea ran down the side of the cup. I reached for the cup for the first sip and the cup stuck to the table for a second. The taste matched its appearance – sticky sweet. Again, I prefer a docilely sweet tea, so for those who love super sweet Southern tea, this is right up your alley.
Despite living in the South for my entire life, I have never had chicken and waffles. I am not a fan of pairing sweet and savory items together in such an overt fashion that chicken and waffles seems to be. My chicken and waffles skepticism was quickly put to rest after experiencing Dame’s Chicken & Waffles. Dame’s Daily Deal ($10.50) includes a waffle, chicken and shmear of choice. This is a true deal for the price and the sheer amount of food you are served. The classic waffle, chicken cutlet and baby blueberry shmear were recommended per my server, Morgan, and she did not lead me astray. This whole meal was so satisfying and complex, yet so simple. The classic waffle was perfectly crisp on the outside, yet eggy, tender and fluffy inside. The chicken breast cutlet was super crispy golden brown with an interior of juicy perfection. The chicken was also well-seasoned with an herby finish, giving it a unique taste as compared to your typical fried chicken. To preface, I am not a huge fan of condiments, as I find they can sometimes steal the show from the main ingredients. However, the baby blueberry shmear is crazy good. Creamy, tart, sweet; it is undeniably one of the best flavored whipped butters I have ever experienced. As I spread it onto the waffle and ate it with the chicken, I no longer had a doubt as to why the shmear is a necessity in this Daily Deal. It belonged and served a purpose in bringing another layer of flavor to amplify the dish. The waffle also comes with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. As I mentioned, I prefer less sweet items, so next time I will order this without the powdered sugar. However, this combination of sweet, savory and spicy still left me yearning for more after each bite.
My chicken and waffles experience was already blowing my mind, and I hadn’t even tasted the side dishes. The mean collard greens ($3.25) were aptly named for their massive kick of heat from crushed red chili flakes. I am not lying when I say these are the best greens I have yet to eat here in the Triangle. The greens were cooked from fresh collards, obvious from the hand-cut and asymmetric appearance. The greens were so incredibly soft and tender without being mushy and gray. The heavenly juice at the bottom of the bowl of greens, aka the pot likker…don’t even get me started. I could easily have drank a bowl of that and been a happy camper.
Cheesey Ceci’s Mac & Cheese ($3.25) only continued to up the Southern food game of Dame’s. So often restaurants serve mac and cheese that is creamy without any real cheese flavor or gritty and greasy from too much cheese and not enough sauce. Dame’s was the blissful hybrid of both. Creamy and cheesy, this mac and cheese without too much sauce made for a warm bowl of Southern comfort.
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles more than lives up to its name by serving up amazing chicken and waffles. While this sounds like a no-brainer, there are many places whose namesake leave you disappointed after you taste the dish they are “famous” for. Even though it’s not a far drive to downtown Durham, I know those living closer to Raleigh will be more than happy when this Southern goodness spreads east.
Address: 317 West Main Street, Durham, NC 27701
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @