350 feet from downtown Durham, “Major” the bull
136 E. Chapel Hill St, Durham 27701
Hours: Mon-Thur 7AM to 5PM, Fri 7AM to 8PM, Sat 8AM to 8PM, and Sun 9AM to 3PM
The Coffee Shop Vibe: Authentic, unpretentious, casual, comforting
Sunday, January 5th, 2020 @ 11:49 AM
Happy New Year!
It’s late morning here at Ninth Street Bakery on a brisk, sunny day in early on in January. It’s also our new decade! The outdoor patio, which is a highlight of the bakery, is (not surprisingly) empty of people given the temperature outside. Inside, there are a few customers grabbing a bite to eat. Meanwhile, other patrons pop in and out to purchase bread or pastries.
As its name implies, Ninth Street is primarily a bakery, and this is its history. But it does serve its own coffee. In addition, there many other items for consumption – including an assortment of fantastic sandwiches (see below) and some really cool Durham tees. Ninth Street sources its coffee beans from Genuine Origin and roasts them on-site, but not today. Today the roaster is on the fritz. Because of this, they are getting coffee from another great coffee house in Durham, Bean Traders, until their roaster is back on-line.
The sweet scent of fresh baked goods permeates the place, both outside and in, and the aroma is transporting. Organic baked goods are Ninth Street Bakery’s specialty, offering over 15 types of bread along with classic pastries such as croissants, scones, muffins, cookies, cookies, sweet buns, and biscotti, among others.
The history of Ninth Street Bakery is thirty years rich. It opened in 1981 as a retail baker and café on 9th Street in Durham (thus the name). In 1992, Ninth Street opened a bakery plant at its current location in downtown Durham where it continues to operate both the bakery and café (the original 9th Street location has since closed). But while the focus shifted from retail to wholesale (you see Ninth Street goods featured across Durham and Triangle restaurants, as well as in select Harris Teeters) it still maintains the café element, offering beer, wine, lunch, pastries, and of course coffee, at retail.
The menu rotates, but it features a good selection of classic and unique sandwiches — many of which you cannot get anywhere else downtown. As you’d expect, the sandwiches are served on Ninth Street’s delicious breads, such as the Wilensky (pan-seared salami, mustard, mayo, spicy peppers and onions in a pressed brioche roll) and the Meatball (handmade meatballs, two kinds of cheese, 6-hour sauce, on a toasted house roll), and several vegetarian options like the Veggie Melt (sautéed greens, peppers, onion, melty cheese, red pepper pesto on country bread), and the Farm and Forest (grilled veggies, including greens and mushrooms, on artisan country bread). Interestingly, Ninth Street has international flavors as well — two vegan curry bowls and a Korean BBQ Chicken Sandwich. Hearty dishes and comfort food. And, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale appears to be perennially on-tap. You can’t get much better than that in our book.
As mentioned earlier, the outdoor patio is one of Ninth Street’s best features. The 30+ person seating area is a former covered loading dock that now includes sturdy, wood tables, bench seating, and garden planters. The full shade is welcome when the weather is warm. In the winter, however, the cold shade discourages folks from sitting outside. Inside, the small retail area does have a dining area that seats about 20 with another half-dozen stools at their bar.
Is Ninth Street technically a coffee house? Eh, not really. But it is a café, and they do roast and serve coffee. Music is always playing. On a Friday afternoon in September it was Bootsy Collins, Prince, Maxwell, The Temptations and other rhythm and blues, soul, and funk bands. Today it’s Beach House, Childish Gambino, Chromatics, Future Islands, and Yellow Days – languid, contemporary, atmospheric tunes – setting the tone). Ninth Street is a fantastic spot to get a cup of joe or sip on a Two Hearted draft while sitting out on the patio, or warmly ensconced inside. The place is authentic; real Durhamites of all types enjoying the food, coffee, aromas, and atmosphere.
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