The Dankery’s newest location in Raleigh opened in early January, an expansion of the popular Durham food truck — now stand-alone restaurant — started by owner Ian Burris. The spot is known for selling American-style fast food offerings with a bevy of customizable options, from entrees to sides and sauces.
We headed to the new 2526 Hillsborough St. location and tried the joint’s most popular menu options, sampling chicken, subs and even cookies.
Myra Bari, Culture Editor (MB): It smelled amazing when we walked in. After ordering a massive spread of offerings, our order was completed in under 15 minutes — crazy fast! Customer service was top-notch, and a big shoutout to the patient employee that took our order. My only complaint was that the music was really loud, and we could barely hear ourselves talk.
Jameson Wolf, Assistant Culture Editor (JW): The space itself has a laid-back, late-night feel with accent greenery on the back wall and painted columns to match the classic orange metal chairs. There’s plenty of space in the back to hang out and watch the game while you eat or wait for your food.
MB: I’m usually a chicken tender girly, but these were honestly OK. I wasn’t super impressed by the sauce they were doused in. We chose the hot honey sauce, and it wasn’t as spicy as we expected, a lot more on the sweeter side. A warning about the tenders though — I got a bit peckish later on and I bit into some cartilage, so beware.
JW: My personal favorite were the wings with the Thai chili sauce. Though the wing was well-cooked, it primarily served as a conduit for the sauce which had the perfect amount of chili kick while including a hint of sweet and sour. There were six in total, plenty for a meal, especially when made into a tray with any of the several options of fries.
MB: I wasn’t expecting the queso fries to be so good. The cheese was a welcome addition. If you’re getting fries, I highly recommend you get some sort of sauce with them since the fries themselves aren’t really seasoned. We also added cajun seasoning to the fries, which honestly didn’t add too much in terms of flavor.
JW: The queso fries were fantastic. The cheese had a provolone quality that elevated it above your typical fast-food cheesy fry. I’d suggest you eat them first when the cheese is still warm and gooey.
MB: I thought the shrimp burger was OK overall, but it was a little bit hard to eat due to its size. I liked the mumbo sauce we got with it better than the hot honey sauce on the chicken tenders because it had a little bit more flavor to it. The shrimp themselves were pretty good, although there’s a lot of breading on them. By the time we ended up eating this, the bread had gotten a bit soggy, so make sure to eat it right away.
JW: The shrimp burger has good shrimp-lettuce-bun proportions, though the label of “burger” is somewhat misleading, since the entree is made of individual fried shrimp rather than a single patty. The shrimp itself was great, though, and went well with the mumbo sauce. If you’re feeling extra shrimpy, I might suggest going for the shrimp and queso fry for something a little more exciting.
MB: I might be wrong, but I thought the vegan chicken nuggets tasted exactly like the Impossible plant-based chicken nuggets. There were five nuggets in total, and I loved how crispy and saucy they were. We added the Dankery sauce to the nuggets, which tasted somewhat similar to Chick-Fil-A’s Polynesian sauce.
JW: The vegan nuggets were definitely a win. Though simple, they’re a great vegan/vegetarian option and definitely brought out the Dankery sauce, a well-deserved favorite.
MB: The dry garlic-parmesan fries were disappointing — the seasoning was not enough and only emphasized how bland the fries were without any sauce. The queso fries were far better.
JW: As a big garlic fan, I was a little let down by the lack of garlic in the garlic-parmesan fries.
MB: The chicken and steak queso subs were really mediocre and both featured ground meat. The lettuce was a nice medium between the saltiness of the queso and ground meat. I don’t think either of these subs are worth getting, you’re better off heading to Subway or Jersey Mike’s and getting more bang for your buck.
JW: Though not the biggest fan of subs anyway, neither of the subs stole the show by any means. Both could have benefitted from some extra veggie toppings to mix up the flavors and textures. They’re definitely heavy on the meat, so they might appeal more to meat lovers.
MB: We also bought two of Ashleigh Bakes Daily’s cookies sold in the store. We tried both the cookies and cream and chocolate chip cookies, and my favorite was the cookies and cream for sure. It was super decadent and fudgey. The chocolate chip option was also pretty solid, with a nice proportion of cookie to actual chocolate chip.
JW: Huge shoutout to Ashleigh Bakes Daily for the cookies! Both were thick, fluffy and excellent with just the right crunch to chewiness ratio.
MB: The chicken options were the star of the show. While I don’t think everything on their menu is a 10/10, the Dankery has the best customization in comparison to other late-night food options nearby. That being said, there’s definitely a trade-off in terms of cost. The Dankery is a splurge for sure — you can expect to spend at least $15 if you’re going for a complete meal.
JW: Overall, the wings, tenders and nuggets outshined the subs and burger by allowing room for the real star: the sauce. Each of the sauces we tried were excellent and there’s lots of opportunity to mix and match to find your perfect sauce-entree combo. Though definitely hard on the wallet, the welcoming space, convenient location and the food itself make for a solid post-party nosh option every now and then.
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