A few weeks ago, I received a message from a follower on Instagram who was looking for my favorite spots to grab a bite to eat in Durham and I realized that my website was lacking in an article rounding up our favorite spots. So, with that in mind, I sat down and started thinking about the places I like to visit in Durham for a delicious meal. Here are 11 restaurants to try in Durham, NC.
11 Restaurants to Try in Durham, NC
Located on the first floor of 21c Museum Hotel, Counting House offers an exception bar and dining experience. The menu is bold, yet familiar and is located in a modern art museum. And, you might just have one of the iconic pink penguins join you for your meal, as well.
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles
Photo via Dame’s Chicken & Waffles Instagram
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles is a staple in downtown Durham. If you get there and there is a wait, put your name on the list and walk around for a bit because it’s worth the wait. My go-to order is the Orange Speckled Chabo, which is served with a chicken cutlet, a sweet potato waffle, orange-honeycomb shmear, and “drizzled” with honey dijon.
Geer Street Garden
I love Geer Street Garden for a low-key, casual outdoor spot to grab a good meal. Order the Pile, their loaded fries, and a Cobb salad.
Jack Tar & the Colonel’s Daughter
If you’re looking for a spot that is an upscale twist on comfort food, look no further than Jack Tar & the Colonel’s Daughter. Their Brussels sprouts are delicious with a hint of spice and heat that I haven’t found with the dish anywhere else. And if the shrimp burger is on the menu, it’s a must-order!
Listen, I couldn’t pick just one of the M restaurants to feature here, so I decided to feature them all. I wrote an article a couple of years ago after trying all of the ones in Durham, and let me just say, they’re all worthy of a visit.
Photo via Mateo Instagram
One of the best restaurants I’ve ever dined at in North Carolina is Mateo. I have fond memories of an epic girls’ night here where we ordered whatever the server recommended and sat in a booth trying new dishes, laughing way too hard, and enjoying catching up. Their menu is an absolute gem, like the Almejas dish pictured which features NC little neck clams, boiled peanuts and jamon.
During the height of the pandemic, QueenBurger opened in the parking lot behind cocktail bar, Kingfisher. The space served up smash burgers & fries, bottled cocktails, and offered space to social distance while still having a place to hang and get out of the house. In 2022, QueenBurger opened as its own brick and mortar and is still serving up tasty smash burgers & fries right near DPAB & DPAC.
This hip diner is located on the first floor above Kingfisher and has a retro dinner feel. Order at the bar and then pick your favorite spot to hang out while you wait for your meal. I ordered the chicken crispers and fries, though I am definitely going to order the Birria Dip the next time I’m back.
Now, y’all may know that I am a self-proclaimed eastern NC BBQ connoisseur. Picnic BBQ is a delight to stop in and spend some time. Their starters include my go-to orders of pimento cheese with fried saltines to fried oysters to deviled eggs. For an entree, a BBQ sammie with fried okra is the move here. If they’ve run out of okra, the mac and cheese is a fine substitution. Finish up with a piece of chocolate chess pie.
Press Coffee Crêpes Cocktails
Press is a fantastic spot for a leisurely weekend brunch. Order the avocado club crepe with a side of tater tots.
Saltbox Seafood Joint
Listen, I will not turn down an opportunity to have a meal at Saltbox Seafood Joint. Whatever you do, order the hush honeys and thank me later. The fried oyster and fried shrimp roll are my go-to orders.
Where is your favorite restaurant in Durham? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!