I love their signature burger, The Dainer ($8.25). It is a thick burger with lettuce, tomato, 1000 Island dressing, bacon, sautéed onions, and cheddar. You can also make your own meat sandwich, selecting from either ¼ pound Hebrew National dog, 8oz Angus burger, or marinated chicken, and adding some of the dozens of available condiments. I dig the dog with sweet chili ($3.98).
And of course, no pub would be complete without the ultimate bar food, bacon cheese fries ($5.50). The ones here may not be the best in town (I would give that to Bull McCabe’s), but Dain’s are still very tasty. They’ve got a cheez-whiz-y processed cheese on them that is pretty delicious for what it’s worth, but I think I prefer a real-cheese texture. The fries themselves are also especially good–according to a commenter on a previous burger discussion, they use a more expensive fry and change their oil more often than most places.
And although I just said that bacon cheese fries are the ultimate bar food, I’m now second-guessing myself in favor of Dain’s Ring of Fire, which I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s a basket of fries (or tater tots! Or half of each, if you ask for it, which is probably the ideal solution) covered in cheese, jalapenos, and sweet chili. In the end, bacon cheese fries still win out for me, but only by a narrow margin and only because of the bacon.
Rumor around Chowhound is that Dain’s also makes one of the best cheesesteaks in the area (I guess the cheez whiz goes better here, and definitely adds to authenticity). I liked the one I had there but I have to admit it’s the only one I’ve had in town. What are the other good ones? Eat at Joe’s Cheesesteak List seems like where I’d start if I got around to a cheesesteak mission, but it’s a few years old.
Dain’s is one of the few non-smoking pubs in the area with an amazing beer selection. When you add in the free wifi, the friendly bar service, and the sweet, hypnotizing fan contraption, this is one of my favorite places to hang out in Durham.
Update: Should have mentioned that Dain’s is not open on Sunday or Monday. They’re open for lunch until late night (I think dinner stops around 10?) every other day.