The Triangle is known for several things: world-class universities, an expansive research park, and food. That’s right—you don’t need to travel to Manhattan or Chicago to get an outstanding meal; some of the best places to eat are right in the neighborhood. From award-winning, reserve-ahead bistros to hole-in-the-wall shacks, here are some of the can’t miss restaurants in the Bull City. Whether you’re a Durham native or new to the area, you’ll want to add these eateries to your bucket list.
When You Need Some Classic Southern Comfort Food
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles: People who aren’t from the South may not understand this strange combo, but chicken and waffles is an essential Southern meal. And no one does it better than Dame’s. A Durham pillar, Dame’s always has a line out the door, especially on Sundays after church (another Southern essential). While the menu offers other Southern staples, the crispy chicken and fluffy waffles are a must, especially paired with their many flavored “schmears”. Dame’s Chicken and Waffles is currently closed for relocation.
Q-Shack: With locations in both Raleigh and Charlotte, the Durham location prides itself as the “Original”. You’ll feel like you’re at a real barbeque with the outdoor picnic tables and trays, but the real focus here is the food. The restaurant’s slogan is “BBQ as Tender as a Mother’s Love”—a love that also includes heaping sides of mac and cheese, fried okra, and hush puppies. 2510 University Drive, Durham, NC 27707
When You’ve Had a Long Week and You Just Want a Burger and a Beer
Bull City Burger: A true farm-to-fork style joint, everything at Bull City Burger is made in-house, including the beer. With enough options for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, Bull City Burger is a Durham classic and an all-around fun place. 107 E Parrish St, Durham, NC 27701
When You’re Finally Going on That Romantic Date Night
Mateo: From the award-winning chef behind another Durham favorite Vin Rouge, Mateo is the French bistro’s Spanish counterpart. This tapas bar offers seasonal rotating small plates in a trendy and romantic atmosphere. Accompanying the flavorful plates is one of the largest sherry selections in the country. 109 W Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701
When You Want to Shop Around While You Wait
Parker and Otis: Located in a renovated warehouse, Parker and Otis is a swiss army knife of quaintness: a breakfast and lunch cafe, a coffee bar, a wine store, and a gift shop. Not only does this shop sell local snacks and goods, but they use local ingredients in their food whenever possible. Try the pimento cheese—you won’t regret it. 112 S Duke Street, Durham, NC 27701
Foster’s Market: Foster’s is a casual deli serving breakfast, lunch, salads, coffee, and homemade baked goods. After you order, browse the charming shop with jellies, candies, cookbooks, and wine. This quaint cafe is both vegetarian and vegan friendly, and has outdoor seating for those gorgeous Durham mornings. 2694 Chapel Hill-Durham Rd, Durham, NC 27707
When You Want to Experience Some Culture
Guglhupf: Guglhupf is an innovative restaurant offering authentic German cuisine with a Southern twist. The striking space provides a cozy and unique ambiance fitting for a family dinner or a special night out. Guglhupf offers the best in German eats—from imported bier and small plates to German style brunch and, of course, wiener schnitzel. 2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, NC 27707
When You’re Up at 2:00am and need Mexican
Cosmic Cantina: The self-proclaimed “best Mexican food on the planet”, Cosmic Cantina is a local favorite for cheap, good, late-night food. The very definition of hole-in-the-wall, this place has some of the best burritos in the Bull City (not to mention they’re roughly the size of a football). 1920 Perry St, Durham, NC 27705
When You Want A Classic Diner Breakfast
Elmo’s Diner: Elmo’s Diner has everything you want from a classic American diner: comfy booths, endless coffee refills, and breakfast all day, every day. This locally owned and operated diner is a hot spot for Duke students and Durham families alike, and the casual atmosphere and friendly servers keep people coming back. The menu is extensive, but you can’t go wrong with anything you choose—and there’s even some vegetarian options for those who choose to forgo all the breakfast meats. 776 Ninth St, Durham, NC 27705
Durham has a diverse and delicious food culture that allows you to discover the heart and soul behind one of the South’s most appetizing towns. But you don’t have to take our word for it—discover for yourself.
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