Words like “transform” and “revitalization” have been used for decades when talking about Murchison Road, the much-traveled but too often ignored thoroughfare that connects downtown Fayetteville to Fort Bragg, Spring Lake and other points northwest of the city.
The road runs through Fayetteville State University and the city’s historically Black neighborhood. A few fast-food restaurants call it home, though the Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store closed in 2018 after three years, rendering much of the area a food desert and making access to fresh, healthy foods difficult.
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Earlier this year, the city was awarded a $450,000 federal “revitalization grant” to build and maintain new affordable and mixed-income housing. A proposed $33 million road improvement project would totally transform one of the area’s busiest intersections.
Those additions will hopefully come to fruition, but to only focus on what may happen in the future does a disservice to what the neighborhood has to offer today — including some excellent food. Here’s a look at what Murchison Road has to offer:
Jamaican food in a drive-thru? After placing an order at the pick-up window on the side of the restaurant, diners park in front and wait only a few minutes before the heaping plates of jerk chicken, braised oxtails and curry chicken arrive. Your meal might take a minute or two longer to make than the Hardee’s up the street. They’re both handed to you through your car window, but the similarities end there.
The jerk chicken ($8.60 for a medium) leans more to the mild side, with a fall-off-the-bone tenderness indicative of a long braise. Plain white rice is an option, but the rice and peas (red beans) is the way to go.
The beef patties ($2.25) might not be made in house, but they’re generously filled and hefty, with no deceiving air pocket often found in inferior patties. They alone would be worth a stop as a quick snack on the go.
Address: 2401 Murchison Road, Fayetteville.
Das Bavarian Haus
The fluorescent-lit dining room is decorated with beer steins and other memorabilia, decorative plates and a large inflatable pretzel. There’s sheet music at the piano by the front door, leaving open the possibility of an impromptu concert.
Opened in 2014, Das Bavarian Haus is a decidedly old school place serving an old school menu of schnitzels, wursts, sandwiches — the Reuben, made with either corned beef or pastrami, is their signature sandwich — and plenty of German beer.
On Thursdays, those beers are just $4 for a half-liter and on Friday, you get a free soft pretzel when you buy a beer. On Sunday, the Black Forest cake, Bienenstich (bee sting cake) and the rest of their desserts are half-priced.
The schnitzels ($13.95 to $15.95), made with either pork or chicken that’s been pounded flat, breaded and fried, are available in six varieties. On a cool day, the homemade spätzle and vinegary red cabbage will warm you right up. In the summer, the cucumber salad and German potato salad will cut both the heat and the richness of the rest of the meal.
Dining Out:Bavarian Haus features made-to-order German food
Address: 3500 Murchison Road, Fayetteville
Feena’s and the University Dollar Store share a common space inside Bronco Plaza, across from Fayetteville State University. While the dollar store has been around since 2005, Feena’s is a relative newcomer, having opened in the fall.
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Ice cream is available, but it’s the smoothies and frulato, akin to a soft-serve Italian ice, that are specialties. The strawberry frulato ($4 for a small), which is made from fresh fruit, evidenced by the tiny seeds that pock the smooth, pink dessert, is available every day. A second flavor rotates regularly.
When you go, go on Wednesday, when Feena’s offers $1 full-sized smoothies, available in eight different fruit flavors. When it comes to summertime treats, it’s one of the best deals not only on Murchison Road, but all of Fayetteville.
Address: 1047 Murchison Road, Fayetteville.
NY Supreme Steamers
On the other side of Bronco Plaza is NY Supreme Steamers, where they’ve been serving plates of fried and steamed seafood for a little more than a decade.
Owner Tyrone Burnett, a Brooklyn native, told the Observer in 2017 that as a former social worker, his goal with the restaurant was to help people eat healthier.
Dining Out:At NY Supreme Steamers, the focus is on seafood
It appears his lessons have worked, as all the call-in orders on a recent Wednesday afternoon were for platters of crab legs, tilapia, shrimp and other seafood ($9.99 to $17.9, steamed along with a mix of broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots.
But while it plays a clear second fiddle, don’t sleep on the fried seafood. $7.99 gets you fried fish and fries, both dusted in a seafood boil seasoning heavy on the paprika and celery seed. The packets of ketchup, tartar sauce and Texas Pete that come in the bag are all you need.
Though not on the online menu, a sign in the restaurant advertises a $4.99 fish sandwich that they’ll still honor, though with hush puppies instead of a roll. Fish fried to order for a fiver and change is hard to beat.
Address: 1047 Murchison Road, Fayetteville.
Or Time Saver, depending on whether you read the sign along Murchison Road or Shaw Road. The gas pumps at this one-time gas station are long gone. The awning, under which cars park as if the gasoline still flowed, advertises three things: fried chicken, gizzards and livers.
It’s a convenience store first and foremost, so for the sake of time, the food is cooked and kept hot next to the register. When it comes to fried food, you don’t want it lingering under the heat lamp for too long, so for the best food, visit closer to regular lunch and dinner times.
Two thighs or two legs, plus a roll, will run you just $2.99. The Time Savor special, which includes a breast, leg and potato wedges, is a deal at $3.99. By comparison, a single leg a la carte from KFC is $2.99.
The fried chicken is good, but the gizzards are exceptional. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find fried chicken gizzards on any fast-food chain menu, they’re a traditional southern dish.
Gizzards are part of a chicken’s digestive tract that the bird uses to grind its food. If you have trouble stomaching these fried stomachs, just think of it as darker, chewier popcorn chicken.
Just like the fried chicken, the gizzards are a bargain, as well. For $2.25, they’ll fill up a 5-by-5-inch Styrofoam clamshell container with so many gizzards that they can’t close it and instead just stick it inside a white paper bag. The large for $4 would certainly feed a family.
One five-star review on Google sums it up most succinctly:
“The best gizzards anywhere. If they were a movie, they’d be the Gizzard of Oz. They are the Dukes of Gizzard. They are the G.O.A.T.- Gizzards of All Time.”
Address: 5555 Murchison Road, Fayetteville.
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Jacob Pucci writes on food, restaurants and business. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @jacobpucci or on Facebook. Like talking food? Join our Fayetteville Foodies Facebook group.