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Durham’s Little Bull Seeks to Redefine American Comfort Food With Birria Dumplings

Chef Oscar Diaz officially opens his newest project on June 7

Hands reaching over plates on a table.
Little Bull serves food from chef Oscar Diaz’s upbringing.
Lauren Vied Allen
Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas, covering the food and restaurant scene across North and South Carolina.

The chef behind lauded Raleigh restaurant Cortez Seafood + Cocktail (413 Glenwood Avenue), Oscar Diaz, branches out to Durham with the opening of Little Bull (810 North Mangum Street) this Wednesday, June 7. Diaz wants to redefine American comfort food through his view as a first-generation Mexican American who grew up in Chicago and ended up in the South. He’s calling it “pocho” cuisine, referring to the Spanish slang word for Mexican Americans.

As someone who has moved around quite a bit, Diaz feels like opening a restaurant in Durham makes him an “official” resident of North Carolina. “This feels like a really solid pillar in my life,” he says, “I’ve been blessed to have a good reputation, and I’ve put in a lot of work. I’ve had some great people by my side that have helped me. It means a lot. Coming into a new community, I feel nervous, but I like putting myself in uncomfortable positions.”

The menu at Little Bull includes items like local catch ceviches, beef cheek barbacoa with bone marrow, and piri piri chicken. When asked which item everyone must try, Diaz cites the birria dumplings. His parents are from Jalisco, which is known for goat birria, so he’s honoring his heritage, but also drawing from his experiences living all over the U.S. “I put the birria in a dumpling, because I love the broth,” says Diaz, “I feel like you don’t get enough of that when you’re dipping a tortilla. All the braised goat meat goes into a wonton, and we serve it with consomé on the side and all of the Mexican accouterments. It’s a mixture of two worlds — a little bit of Asian and a little bit of Mexican. Those are things that I love to do — having lived my whole life in the U.S. and going to Mexico and working in all these different restaurants with different people with different cultures. I just kind of love that melting-pot cuisine.”

Little Bull is open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.