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Carpe Durham blog trying every non-chain restaurant in town

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Perhaps you read this column because you're interested in eating adventures. Let me point you to Carpe Durham (carpedurham.wordpress.com).

Like many food blogs, the entries at Carpe Durham are often one person's reflections. But these bloggers—a handful of Duke University law students, with occasional help from friends—eat at seriously out-of-the-way places. For example: Cheek Road Grocery & Grill (5801 Cheek Road, 688-9196), a "combination grocery, grill, gas station, bait & tackle shop, social gathering spot and mini pool hall." Or Pupuseria y Taqueria Orellana (5300 N. Roxboro Road, 471-3299), a doughnut shop turned convenience store serving Mexican and Salvadoran food.

"We somehow started discussing, in the basement of the law school, how awesome taquerias were, followed by throwing around the names of hole-in-the-wall places we liked," says Andrew Prins. "We decided our goal was to eat at every non-chain restaurant in Durham at least once before we left the area. We haven't quite gotten there yet, but we have made great progress."

Why do they do this? "We want to expand people's minds," says Sarah Ribstein. "Well, at least their food horizons. Also encourage a closer relationship with Durham, which we love. I have been to parts of Durham that I probably wouldn't have thought to explore if not for the blog. Meeting the proprietors of small businesses, who are always friendly and psyched to see new faces and explain their foods to us, has made me feel much more connected to Durham."

After they find a place they love, they want to make sure it stays around. "If no one is going out and supporting my favorite random taco stand or Asian noodle restaurant, then they may not be able to stay afloat," says Talia Wenzel.

And finally, Prins adds, "People in Durham seem to spend a lot of time discussing how we can build a closer community, yet often what it seems like they need to do is stop thinking about it and actually just live in it like a community. There are so many fantastic places and parts of Durham that most residents have probably never seen, and that we certainly wouldn't have seen without the blog."

Happy 20th birthday to Brigs Restaurants (www.brigsrestaurants.com). When David and Susan Brigham opened their first all-day breakfast place (8111 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, 870-0994), Interstate 40 did not pass through Raleigh and their location was outside the city limits. They've since expanded and franchised to three more locations: Durham, Cary and Wake Forest. Plans are under way for a second Cary Brigs and one in Southern Pines.

On Sept. 24, Brixx Wood-Fired Pizza (501 Meadowmont Village Circle, Chapel Hill, 929-1942, www.brixxpizza.com/dir_chapelhill.shtml) will host a four-course dinner featuring beers from Raleigh's Big Boss Brewing Company (www.bigbossbrewing.com). It's not just pizza 'n' suds: Think wood-roasted pork tenderloin with Bad Penny reduction and fall vegetable risotto, paired with Bad Penny Brown Ale. Cost is $30 per person.

Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at food@indyweek.com.

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