Graffiti

Graffiti designs cover the walls of the new Dank Burrito location in downtown Raleigh, which opened Friday in the Transfer Co. Food Hall at 500 East Davie St. (Contributed photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Local restaurant Dank Burrito held a grand opening of its third location Friday at the new Transfer Co. Food Hall in downtown Raleigh.

The new location, at 500 East Davie St., is the first outside Carteret County. Owner and chef Clarke Merrell said in a release announcing the opening his mission is “to serve bold, ‘craveable’ flavors with the craftsmanship of fine dining and the convenience of street food.”

“We’re not your typical burrito joint,” Mr. Merrell said. “I come from the fine-dining world where you don’t cut any corners, and you can spend days just enhancing the flavor of a single ingredient in a dish. We want to take that fine-dining flavor experience, which few get to enjoy, and bring it to the street. We take inspiration from the most craveable street food flavors everyone loves, then we source the freshest possible ingredients and enhance them through fine-dining techniques. We wrap it all up in a humble tortilla and serve it in a causal space so that anyone, regardless of where you come from, can enjoy it.”

Dank Burrito offers chef-designed tacos, burritos, bowls and salads with an ethnic-fusion style that is anything but Southwestern, according to a release. The use of “dank” (slang for “fresh” or “high quality”) in the name hints at Mr. Merrell’s passion for serving what he calls “fresh-to-death” ingredients, as well as the brand’s urban street vibe echoed in the graffiti art-covered walls and food truck, which bear the name.

Dank Burrito is committed to hand-crafting ingredients from scratch, including proteins like slow-roasted soy ginger pork shoulder and chili-marinated carne asada; toppings like kimchi, banh-mi, coleslaws and salsa; and the tortilla chips with signature house-blended seasoning and choice of salsa that come with every order, according to the release.

“The beauty of burritos and tacos is that you can pack a ton of flavor in one bite,” Mr. Merrell said. “That’s why we call them ‘Flavor Bombs.’”

The burritos, bowls and salads are enough to feed a large appetite, according to the restaurant, while the tacos are sized for two per person, allowing guests to mix and try multiple flavors.

Mr. Merrell is the creator of a variety of food concepts throughout the Crystal Coast region, including Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria in Morehead City and Beaufort Olive Oil Co. with locations in Morehead City, Beaufort, Emerald Isle and Swansboro. He also owns Merrell Estate & Gardens, a destination wedding and event venue in Indian Beach.

Dank Burrito began in 2014 as a food truck. Over the following year, the concept was so successful on its routes from Beaufort to Raleigh that in 2015 Mr. Merrell established the first brick-and-mortar location in Morehead City. In 2017, Dank Burrito added a second location on the historic Beaufort waterfront.

After years of participating in Raleigh Food Truck Rodeos and serving Triangle vacationers in Morehead City each summer, Mr. Merrell and his wife, Liza, say they are thrilled to expand Dank Burrito and join the Triangle community as they debut their Transfer Co. Food Hall location.

“Liza attended high school in Raleigh, and we spent the early years of our relationship living and working in Raleigh after I graduated from Culinary School, so we are excited and honored to return and serve this city alongside the esteemed group of chefs and brands at Transfer Co. Food Hall,” Mr. Merrell said.

Dank Burrito will open for lunch and dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until the food hall opens for a full seven days a week. Delivery and catering/event services to downtown Raleigh are planned to roll out later this year. For more information, contact 81 Hospitality’s business office at 252-773-0592.

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