Last night M and I took in the recently (April 24) opened Bull McCabe's, an Irish Pub in downtown Durham. Occupying the site of neighborhood favorite (to be fair, neighborhood only, but a very cool place nonetheless) Jo and Joe's, which closed last fall.
We just had a couple of pints, so I can't attest to the food (yet), but the taps, decor, and service are fantastic. At this point, I'd say this is probably the best overall place to grab a beer in Durham (I remain very fond of the Joyce and the Federal--Tyler's is great if you want to try 45 different beers, but I find it too fussy for my mood most of the time and the food is mediocre at best.) The 18 taps (plus 2 not in operation) had a nice distribution of selections from Ireland, England, continental Europe, and the States. None of the "Big Bad 3", which is always a plus. Off the top of my head: Guinness (naturally), Harp, Smithwicks, Belhaven IPA, Speckled Hen, Newcastle, Bass, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Carlsberg, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissen, Stella Artois, Pilsner Urquell, Brooklyn IPA, Highland Gaelic Ale, Yuengling, Shiner Bock, and a porter and cider that escape me at the moment.
We chatted with Malachy, one of the owners, most of the time we were there. Great guy--a born barman who can carry on a good conversation while monitoring the fluid levels all up and down the bar (there were probably a dozen or so patrons last night.) He hails from Sligo; I find Guinness just tastes better when the man or woman pulling it has the accent for it.
Bull McCabe's has also done a great job assembling (Malachy's words: "mashing togehter") a great atmosphere without resorting to shipping in the ready-made Irish pub kit from Ireland like so many do. The bar was bought on eBay from a place in Oswego, NY (it is 120 years old and beautiful
), most of the seating was assembled from local antique dealers (old church pews, chairs, and tables) and the lighting also came from a local dealer. There are the standard Irish road signs and a big bookcase. The old tin ceilings are about all that remains of the previous occupant...and it all comes together very nicely.
Check it out:
427 W. Main St
Durham, NC (one block from the Carolina Theater)