Location, Location, Location. Tobacco Road Sports Café was paying attention in real estate class and has landed one of the best new spots for sports and food in the Durham area. Located above left field of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and across the street from the American Tobacco Campus in Downtown Durham, this spot hits a home run with sports fans and food lovers…a.k.a. Girls with Guts.
After eyeing them on a previous visit, we were back to order the “House Made Corn Dogs” which are deceivingly described as “mini” (although mini is probably accurate to someone who has conquered the 1-lb. Shaq at Joe's Diner). Four regular-sized, all-natural beef hot dogs are dipped and fried in corn and jalapeno batter and served with Dijon aioli. We split the dogs and shared an order of “Triple Sliders”—a platter including your choice of miniature BBQ sandwiches, burgers and corndogs (we thought this sounded like the makings of a pretty perfect meal).
Maybe our egos have gotten the best of us, but being seasoned state fairgoers we did not expect to struggle over a couple of corn dogs. The first was enjoyable and tasty, but even the thought of the second one was a little hard to swallow—we hit the grease wall (but we did finish them in true GWG style). The dogs were deep fried in batter with a slight hint of the corn and jalapeno bits you could see with your eyes, although a little more spice wouldn't hurt. Maybe it was the buttery, cheesy side of mac & cheese that brought us down, but we think that finishing all four of the greasy meats on a stick could be considered a food challenge.
The mini burger and BBQ sandwich added variety to the meal but didn't deliver much on flavor. Although the meat was tasty, each would have benefited from a spicy mustard, BBQ sauce, or other add-on to give it more interest. The buns could also stand a makeover for a place serving upscale bar food—they were reminiscent of the cafeteria, out-of-the-bag variety. Being minis, in two bites the sandwich disappeared leaving you looking for flavor.
Despite our corn dog difficulties, we found the side dishes to be very pleasing— all of the choices say southern comfort, and we chose mac & cheese and cheddar grits. Featuring more cheese and less mac, the macaroni was mixed with country ham providing a nice compliment to the creamy richness of the cheese. We are not exaggerating when we say this dish was swimming in cheese. The cheddar grits were more subtle but also pleasing—a nice alternative to its greasy counterparts.