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Imagine the Triangle cities as sisters. In this case, Durham is the laid back one you’d think was just as good looking as her sister Raleigh, but a little more relaxing to be around. Great food trucks, interesting galleries, cute little eateries–Durham has it in spades. It may be a little trickier to navigate, but once you get the lay of the land, you’ll want to stick around for a beer or two and strike up a conversation.

HEY HEY, We’re revamping! Stay tuned for a bright, shiny new Durham guide!

North Durham

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Picnic  Chosen by Time Magazine as one of the top BBQ spots in the state, Picnic is completely worth a trek out Cole Mill. Picnic serves heritage pork from a farm just fifteen minutes down the road. If their take on traditional Southern sides don’t win you over, we’re sure the Slushee cocktails will. Try the succulent, perfectly crisped Smoked Buttermilk Fried Chicken.1647 Cole Mill Rd. Closed on Tuesdays (E)

Gocciolina has garnered Restaurant of the Year (by News Observer food critic Greg Cox) their first year out of the gate. Aaron Benjamin’s convivial Italian spot has a small, but well-honed menu. From the house-cured pork belly in the Spaghetti Carbonara to the caramelized onion in the Marinated Corona Beans each detail is executed perfectly. Get into the spirit of things and try an Amaro or Grappa flight. 3314 Guess Rd. (E)

Bleu Olive 1821 Hillandale Rd. (E)

Durham Distillery  Their Conniption Gins and Damn Fine Liqueurs are essentials on a good Southerner’s bar cart–heck, on a Northerner’s too. Vapor-distilled in a German pot still then infused with delicate botanicals via a modern vacuum process, Durham Distillery blends the best of the old with spanking new techniques to produce award-winning spirits you’ll be proud to serve and even happier to drink. Besides, it brings a chuckle to concoct libations for our guests using their Navy Strength Gin. We’re planning to stock all our holiday stockings with their coffee and mocha liqueurs. 711 Washington St. (D)

Farmer Foodshare connects “people who grow food with people who need food.” They focus on small beginning farmers or those with limited resources to help expand their access to a broader market. Volunteer or find out more about how Farmer Foodshare is feeding the hungry in your community here. 902 N. Magnum St.

Durty Bull Brewing CoSpecializing in barrel aged and sours, this nascent brewing company is beginning to hit its stride. Named one of the best new breweries of the past year by Beer Advocate, Durty Bull is delivering some unique brews like Orange-Rosemary Sour and the popular Baltic Porter. You can hit up your favorite food truck and veg or sign up for Pi-Yo (pilates/yoga) class on Saturday mornings to stretch your way into nirvana before you sidle up to the taps. 206 Broadway St. Suite 104 (E)

9th Street Shopping District and Duke Area

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Yes, the once “Alternative Shopping District” now houses Whole Foods and Ben&Jerry’s. So while you’re there…support the local retail heroes.

Watts Grocery  Farmer’s cheese hush puppies, trust us. 1116 Broad St. (E)

Oval Park Grille  This welcoming neighborhood spot whips up tasty fare featuring local seasonal ingredients like their marinated beet, apple and avocado grilled cheese or the NC Trout. 1116 Broad St. Suite 100 (E)

Frog Hollow Outdoors  Whether you’re looking to perfect your kayak rolling skills or considering signing up for one of their Moonlight and Starlight Night Paddles, Frog Hollow has plenty of paddling adventures in store for you. Brush up on your fundamentals or try stand-up paddleboarding or rock climbing this year. They also offer summer camps for the younguns’. 614 Trent Dr. (D)

Monuts Donuts was started by a woman selling donuts by tricycle. Maple Bacon Bourbon, you say? Chocolate Pomegranate? Dark and Stormy? Monuts Donuts, you bewitch us. 1002 9th St. (E)

Vintage Home South  Lend your space some French farmhouse style as this stellar design shop. 764 1-B 9th St. (S)

Durham Cycles is loved by commuters and professional cyclists alike for their dedication to making Durham the most bike friendly town in the South. Their “Fit First” system “is designed to improve comfort, reduce injury, and maximize efficiency on your current or new bicycle.” With their Standard, Progressive, Diagnostic, Power, or Custom Fit services you’ll know you’re getting the best ride possible. If you’re looking to test out a new bike, Durham Cycles rental program might be the way to go. For you hard core cyclists, or those working up to it, join them in the warm weather months for Tuesday Night Street Fight–two hours and two trips up Mount Sinai. 756 9th St. (S)

Chubby’s Tacos  The Guacatillo sauce on the salsa bar has won fans from near and far. 748 9th St. (E)

Juju Asian Tapas + Bar comes to you from the owners of Jujube in Chapel Hill. Their late night menu alone boasts five different types of dumplings, plus Steamed Pork Belly Buns and Crispy Brussels Sprouts among other lovely noshes. Don’t wait for the weekend–get in there for 1/2 priced wine on Tuesdays. The Shops at Erwin Mill #210 737 9th St. (E)

Regulator Bookshop has been feeding people’s brains since 1976. Stop in and cop a squat. 720 9th St. (S)

Vaguely Reminiscent  This quirky boutique is brimming with unusual gifts, cards, novelties, decor, and an eclectic selection of shoes and clothing. The space is tight, but always entertaining. 728 9th St. (S)

Hunky Dory  New arrivals hit the bins every Wednesday and Saturday. Check out the basement for some killer finds and show some Durham pride with their local tees. Vinyl hunters won’t want to miss Hunky Dory. 718 9th St. (S)

For those who slept in on Saturday morning, LoMo Market Truck has you covered. They’re roaming the Triangle with a mobile full of wholesome goodies fresh from North Carolina farms. Pick up Beanpeace Roastery beans, Slingshot cold brew coffee, PlowGirl honey, tons of seasonal greens and more at the roving LoMo Market Truck weekly.  Check their schedule and featured producers here.

Happy and Hale  We’re stoked to see one of our Raleigh faves open on 9th. There’s even a yoga studio, Yoga Off East, housed inside the airy, light-filled space. Get your bowl, smoothie, or cold-pressed juice and nourish those neurons right. 703B 9th St. (E)

Ninth Street Flowers  When is the last time you selected flowers for an impromptu bouquet? Make it now. Your day needs it. If you happen to pass by after-hours, you might find a bucket of lovely stems outside with a “free” sign–such a sweet way to pay it forward. 700 9th St. (S)

Zola Craft Gallery represents over a hundred artists and craftsmen. Buy something handmade today. 626 9th St. (S)

Blu Seafood and Bar serves responsibly sourced seafood.  They’re consistently voted best seafood place in the triangle, and they have a menu section devoted entirely to oysters, if that tells you anything. We can’t get enough of their P.E.I. Mussels (narrowly avoiding slurping the broth) and we’ll merrily polish off a heaping portion of Cornmeal Calamari topped with a bright haystack of cabbage salsa.  Try the fragrant Mariscada Cuban stew or the chimichuri slathered steak with bacon onion jam. 2002 Hillsborough Rd. (E)

Vin Rouge  You won’t want to overlook Durham’s beloved authentic French bistro, Vin Rouge.  The Gratin de Macaroni made the Best Thing I Ever Ate (Food Network) list.  Consistently earning top spot in Durham Magazine’s Best of Durham and Indy Week’s Best of the Triangle, Vin Rouge is the restrained decadence you need right now. 2010 Hillsborough Rd. (E)

Chaz’s Bull City Records  The hometown record store is Chaz’s— loaded with vinyl, new releases, and a knowledgeable, friendly staff. 2600 Hillsborough Rd. (S)

Locopops has Mango Chile pops. Need we say more? 2604-A Hillsborough Rd. (E)

Black Twig Cider House  We are all about the cider, but that’s not all you’ll find at Black Twig. They’re slinging craft cocktails featuring local Conniption Gin and Pittsboro’s Fair Game Apple Brandy. Black Twig serves beer and wine as well, plus relaxed fare like Lamby Joes and a plethora of Firsthand Foods’ sausages including the vegan Smoked Potato Apple Sage. 2812 Erwin Rd. (E)

Sunday Funday @samsquikshop #packedhouse #perfectpatioweather #craftbeers #mondayprep #crowler #durham #nc

A photo posted by Hip Green Scene (@hipgreenscene) on

Sam’s Quik Shop is legendary. A convenience store with a selection of over 1600 craft beers, Sam’s Quik Shop is mind boggling for the uninitiated. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Sam’s is a must stop for the complete Durham experience. With taps in the front and the back of the store plus a patio out back, Sam’s is definitely the hip gathering spot.1605 Erwin Rd. (S)

Nasher Museum of Art has an outstanding small permanent collection including Mickalene Thomas and Fernand Leger. 2001 Campus Dr. (D)

D.I.Y. District

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Man Bites Dog Theater stages edgy and socially aware plays. Support local theater!  Click here to check out their current season. 703 Foster St. (D)

King’s Sandwich Shop  This is the best place in town to go old school.  Go ahead and order the fries, King’s has been perfecting them since 1942. We were stoked to hear they serve legendary milkshakes, even malts. 701 Foster St. (E)

Nomadic Trading Company  We’re just a little envious of you Durhamites having Nomadic Trading Company in your own backyard (so to speak). Besides the incredible rugs for which they’re known, NTC   carries pendant lights, hemp poufs, antique dowry chests, Turkish bread boards, and more to lend some mystery to your lair. 619 Foster St. (S)

Two Doors Distilling is coming soon. This artisan distillery will be sourcing local grains for its line of Revival Spirits. We hear moonshine and absinthe might be in the offing as well. Fingers crossed. 609 Foster St. (E)

Cocoa Cinnamon This bustling coffee, chocolate, spice, and tea lounge got its start from a plucky woman and her roving Bike Coffee cart. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Areli Barrera de Grodski and Leon Grodski opened their brick and mortar on the corner of Geer and Foster. Try their sipping chocolate, often described as a melted chocolate bar in a cup, only better. 420 W. Geer St. (E)

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Geer Street Garden  Locals swear by their Sunday brunch, served buffet-style. But any day is a good day to hang on Geer St.’s patio with a Durhamite, and by this we mean their house cocktail of Limoncello, black tea and lemonade. 644 Foster St. (E)

The Makery at Mercury Studio  Let’s just face it, a trip to the D.I.Y. District would not be complete without stopping at The Makery. Housed in Mercury Studio, a coworking, art and event space, The Makery is “a retail collective, selling exclusively NC-made and curated goods.” Pick up some Vesta Natural Apothecary soaps, a witty t-shirt, or a succulent garden terrarium to gussy up your pad. 401 W. Geer St. (S)

The Pit   Locals love the complimentary flaky biscuits and tender hush puppies almost as much as the whole hog, pit-cooked bbq. Ribs, mmm. Features all over food tv may have solidified The Pit’s culinary stardom, but Durhamites didn’t need much convincing.  Now there’s no need to drive to Raleigh to get your fill. 321 W. Geer St. (E)

Fullsteam Brewery is hailed “the king” of plow-to-pint beer. This is a self proclaimed family and dog friendly tavern (law requires children exit by 9 pm). You may bring your own grub or partake of the food trucks corralled outside. Tip: Come on out Wednesday evening at 6 for Fullsteam Ahead! Bull City Running Club, where all runners and paces are welcome. No worries. Choose the 3, 4, or 6.4 mile route, or name your own adventure. 726 Rigsbee Ave. (E)

Motorco Music Hall/Parts and Labor  They open up the garage doors when the weather is fine. Who knows what entertainment awaits: Pop Up Chorus, a movie screening, community game night, a concert by your favorite band–it’s all there. Bonus: They now serve your favorite eats at Parts and Labor. 723 Rigsbee Ave. (D)

Surf Club  This neighborhood bar keeps it to the essentials: 11 taps, pool, darts, shuffleboard, the occasional bocce game and a killer outdoor space. 703 Rigsbee Ave. (E)

Brian Allen Artisan Printer  For those intrigued by the art of letterpress and book making, Brian Allen is the man you need to see. He offers Saturday and weekend classes that range from Graphic Design for Letterpress to Linoleum Block Cutting and Printing. Sign up for the Wood Type Printing Experience with your bey. 812-B N. Mangum St. (D)

Saltbox Seafood Joint  Get thee to the SaltboxIron Chef contestant Ricky Moore brings it in this amazing seafood shack in Little Five Points. Fried Brussels SproutsHush-Honeys (cornmeal dumplings glazed with spiced local honey), Bone-In Panfish, Cod Roll–consider our world rocked. Everything is fresh and seasonal, so the menu varies. 608 N. Mangum St. (E)

Durham Craft Market in Central Park deets here 530 Foster St. (D)

Durham Farmers’ Market is open year round.  The winter hours for the Saturday market are 10 to noon. The Wednesday market runs mid-April to mid-October from 3:30 to 6:30. Be sure to hit the food truck corral across the street. 501 Foster St. across from Central Park (S)

Piedmont  Huffington Post declared Piedmont’s Maple Leaf Farm Duck Leg Confit “swoon-worthy.”  They’ve garnered a surge of press lately and for good reason. Chef Ben Adams’ touch with regionally sourced ingredients will delight your palate, and their cocktails are just as creative. Try the PDT— housemade bacon bourbon, Steen’s cane syrup, and orange bitters. 401-B2 Foster St. (E)

Bull City Arts Collaborative is “an arts and creative professional alliance comprised of two studios producing commissioned work and retail artworks in a variety of media.” Horse and Buggy Press (graphic design and letterpress) and Groove Productions (producer of documentary films and videos) currently reside at the collaborative. The Upfront Gallery features work by members and invited artists. Third Fridays is the perfect time to drop by and see what they’ve been up to at BCAC. 401-B1 Foster St. (S)

Brightleaf District

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Social Gameroom and Tap is where to go to get your pinball fix in Durham.  You can play Wii on the big screen, or tournament level shuffleboard on their 22 ft. Champion.  There’s boardgames, Cards Against Humanity,Thursday trivia nights and plenty of local and craft brews. Grab a beverage and stay as long as you like. Tell Ms. Pac Man we said hello. 1007 W. Main St. (E)

Other End of the Leash is “Durham’s locally owned source for the highest quality, fairly traded pet supplies, holistic nutrition and wellness product expertise.”  This colorful little shop will keep your companions looking fly and feeling chipper. 1000 W. Main St. (S)

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

The Federal is your happy place. Whether you want the crowd pleasing pork nachos or the Fed Burger au Poivre, the food will be on point. The Fed has a great selection of craft beers on tap and a full bar to mix it up with the best of ’em.  But where The Federal really shines is in the execution of the nightly dinner specials–heavenly creations like Buratta Salad with Balsamic Reduction and Local Baby Mustard Greens or N.C. Sea Trout with Sous Vide Egg, Cactus Puree, and Apple-Avocado Salsa. 914 W. Main St. (E)

James Joyce Irish Pub is a suitably dark little watering hole right in the thick of things on West Main.  This is just the type of place to inspire the characters in your next novel. 912 W. Main St. (E)

Vert and Vogue  Lucky Magazine rated them a top store in America. This fashionable boutique carries women’s and men’s “luxury essentials.” V and V carries all your favorite lines, like Raleigh Denim Workshop, Coclico shoes, Shinola watches, Billy Reid bomber jackets, and on and on. They even design a line of Vert and Vogue ultra-wearable, button-down shirts and cotton tees. Look for local artist Ashlie Brodie’s jewelry. Brightleaf Square, 905 W. Main St. (S)

Indio  If you have not found your way to Indio, you are missing out on one of Durham’s loveliest shops. Filled with fabulous design and gifts, Indio’s textiles, homegoods, and jewelry will keep you effortlessly on-trend. We love their global, modern flair. From air plants to apothecary goods, Indio had us at hello. Check out their popular in-store workshops like Flower Crowns and Tarot Card Basics, too. Brightleaf Square, 905 W. Main St. (S)

Schoolkids Records  We stopped counting how many times Schoolkids has been voted Best Record Store in the Triangle by Indy Weekly readers when it surpassed a baker’s dozen. Suffice it to say, this place is rad. 905 W. Main St. (S)

Maverick’s Smokehouse 900 W. Main St. (E)

Morgan Imports  You never know what you’ll find at this home furnishings and gift store, and that’s the beauty of it. Why get a teddy bear when you could give your honey a giant stuffed microbe? If you’re looking for something a little more functional, check out their wide selection of Baggallinni messenger bags. 113 S. Gregson St. (S)

Roses’s Noodles, Dumplings, and Sweets 121 N. Gregson St. (E)

Parker and Otis  Housed in a former tobacco warehouse, Parker and Otis is a pleasurable diversion from whatever else it is you might be doing. Their grilled pimento cheese on sourdough generates quite the buzz. If you decide to imbibe from their large wine selection, they’ll cork for free. Be sure to allow time to wander the whimsical gift selection.112 S. Duke St. (S)

Motto Restaurant has gotten national attention as one of the bright spots for dining in the region. Motto’s  creative fare is a little left of center and exactly what is needed to wake up your palate. Try the Braised Pork Cheeks with green chile grits nestled in guarjillo broth or the most upscale Gyro Platter we’ve ever seen, complete with roast eggplant confit and fermented beets. Lively cocktails and a wonderful wine selection round out the menu. 605 W. Main St. Suite A (E)

Saint James Seafood Restaurant and Raw Bar 806 W. Main St. (E)

Gonza Tacos Y Tequila  Serving Columbian-Mexican cuisine, Gonza has the Triangle a little gaga for the luchador, and who can blame ’em? Try the El Platano because the perfectly caramelized plantain stuffed with steak is just the right counterpart for that sassy cocktail we know you’ll be ordering. We’ll be succumbing to their Chilaquiles Verdes, too. All this festivity makes us hungry. 604 Fernway Ave. (E)


D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Beer Durham  Just up the hill from the Farmers Market, is one of our favorite stops in Durham. With twenty frequently rotated taps from local, regional and national breweries, as well as plenty of bottles on the shelves, Beer Durham is working hard to bring the best of craft beer to your growler. 404 Hunt St. Suite 110 (S)

The Art of Cool Project is a non-profit organization promoting the proliferation of jazz music throughout the region. They produce the epic Art of Cool Festival in late April. Check out the deets here.

The palatial Carolina Theatre was voted Best Place to See an Independent Film in the Triangle by Indy Weekly readers. Whether it’s a screening as part of the Full Frame Documentary Festival, a concert, or a flick from their Retro Film Series, a trip to the Carolina Theatre will be memorable. 309 W. Morgan St. (D)

Durham Arts Council 120 Morris St. (D)

Third Fridays Art Walk

Pleiades Gallery is a community-minded artists’ collective in a gorgeous space downtown.  Swing by the artists’ receptions, hosted every 3rd Friday or during the week Tuesdays through Saturdays 109 E. Chapel Hill St. (D)

Pizzeria Toro is the stop you need to make–incredible wood-fired pizzas, antipasti, and cocktails. This is the kind of place that serves Prosecco on tap, and we’re all for it.  Their crave-inducing brussels sprouts and house pancetta white pizza is back on the menu.  Order the ricotta dumplings or the radicchio salad to start.  You really can’t go wrong here. 105 E. Chapel Hill St. (E)

The Cupcake Bar  Pop in for a mini from their inventive assortment in this sunny shop.  We hear they serve frosting shots, but we’ll have to leave that to you. 101 E. Chapel Hill St. (E)

Bullseye Bicycle  This friendly, green, little bike shop has all the expertise you’ll need to get you on a sweet ride.  They sell new, used and consignment bikes and offer full-service repairs.  We love that you can rent from this convenient downtown location for those that left their bike at home. Join Bullseye for monthly cruiser rides or (when seasonable) shred some trails. 102 Morris St. (S)

The Republik holds quarterly art shows “showcasing the work of the area’s forward thinkers.”  Their Franco show was kickin’. Stop by to see visual activist Franco’s work or click here. We look forward to the next installment of the “art-design movement.” For more info. check out Republik’s website. 211 Rigsbee Ave. (D)

The Roof at The Durham 315 E. Chapel Hill St. (D)

Alley Twenty Six  It is the little touches that make you love a place.  For us, it’s the Faulkner quote on the menu, listing a mixer as “Mexican Drug Cartel lime juice” (as a cheeky reference to the lime shortage), and a romantic little alley strung with white lights.  Alley Twenty Six was voted best cocktails in the Triangle (Indy Week). 320 E. Chapel Hill St. (E)

Rue Cler  For brunch try the duck confit crepes and beignets. Rue Cler offers a Prix Fixe menu at dinner, $30 for three courses. 401 E. Chapel Hill St. (E)

Dashi is a first rate ramen shop and Japanese izakaya. Head upstairs for small plates like Beef Tataki, Takoyaki (octopus) Hushpuppies and lovely seasonal Asparagus Tempura. If you’re craving one of their slurp-worthy ramen bowls with soy-marinated soft egg, they serve them on the first floor only. Dashi’s impressive selection of sake and shochu inspires a little experimentation. 415 E. Chapel Hill St. (E)

Scratch sits just 18 hungry, pie loving people. Pastry chef Phoebe Lawless was nominated as a James Beard Award semifinalist this year. Swing in for lunch or brunch, and leave room for…well, need we say it? Pie. 111 Orange St. CLOSING AT THE END OF FEBRUARY–check out Phoebe’s newer projects: Baby Scratch and The Lakewood at 2022 Chapel Hill Rd. (E)

Bagel Bar  Get your NY-style bagel fix at Bagel Bar. This Chapel Hill eatery has a plethora of breakfast and lunch options, all bagel-based, naturally. Props for adding the vegan and dairy free Sama Spread made from almonds. They serve Carrboro Coffee Roasters coffee, too. 104 City Hall Plaza #101 (E)

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Bulldega Urban Market  Pick up some East Durham Pie Co. hand pies 104 City Hall Plaza (S)

Pompieri Pizza has a excerpt from Virgil’s Aeneid on the menu. C’mon, that is impressive. Their Neopolitan style pizzas are equally so. We especially dig their house-made crackers served alongside a tin of mixed greens tossed lovingly in a tangy, smoky tomato vinaigrette. 102 City Hall Plaza (E)

Dos Perros

Bull City Burger and Brewery is “farm to fork,” has a core value of sustainability, and serves a darn fine burger. See why they were voted Best Burger in town by Durham Magazine. 107 E. Parrish St. (E)

The Atomic Fern 108 E. Parrish St. (S)

Littler  110 E. Parrish St. (E)

The Zen Succulent 125 E. Parrish St. (S)

Everyday Magic 125 E. Parrish St. (S)

Seven Stars Cycles  “Mechanic owned and operated, focusing on maintenance, repairs, and upgrades to your current bicycle. We also build and sell a limited variety of new commuter/utility/transportation oriented bicycles.” Seven Stars has a detailed pricing list for repairs and rentals on their website.  It is also a pretty chill place to hang out. 104 W. Parrish St. (S)

Peters Design Works  Love reclaimed wood? Peters is your man. Check out his tornado chair or side table. Find some architectural salvage pieces to gussy up your pad or commission Peters to redesign them for creative use. 107 W. Parrish (S)

Loaf  Pick up the baked goods of your dreams at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, or stop by Loaf’s brick and mortar on Parrish. You can find their bread and pastry schedule on Loaf’s Facebook page.  While there is no place to linger (pick up only), you’ll be happy to hear the Pain Au Chocolat, Gougeres, and Lunch Flatbreads are so popular they make them daily.  111 W. Parrish St. (E)

Chet Miller 118 W. Parrish St. (S)

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

21 C Hotel and Counting House  111 N. Corcoran St. (E)

Msushi  311 Holland St. (E)

Quarter Horse Bar + Arcade 108 S. Mangum St. (E)

The Parlour  They started out as a food truck (well a school bus wielding creamy treats to be exact).  The mobile scoop shop is still on the go in fairer weather, but now you can visit the brick and mortar on Market to fulfill your hankering for Burnt Sugar with Italian Plum, Salted Butter Caramel, or Vegan Chai (amongst many other wonderful ice cream concoctions). 117 Market St. (E)

Mateo  This James Beard Best New Restaurant semi-finalist is the place to go for tapas or a glass from their extensive Spanish wine list. This stylish hub has the largest collection of sherry in the nation. Enjoy. 109 W. Chapel Hill St. (E)

Mother and Sons Trattoria 107 W. Chapel Hill St. (E)

Lucky’s Delicatessen 105 W. Chapel Hill St. (E)

Vert & Vogue Femme  353 W. Main St. (S)

Toast Paninoteca  You didn’t know that you needed a panini restaurant, did you? Well now you do. Follow the crowds. Amazing. 345 W. Main St. (E)

Beyu Caffe 335 W. Main St. (E)

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles  How can we break this to you gently?  There is going to be a wait for Dame’s crispy chicken, tasty schmears, and waffle-formed pockets of love.  This is a good thing. Embrace the anticipation. 317 W. Main St. (E)

Letters Bookshop  This great new bookshop on Main will win your devotion.  Truly, everything you need in an independent bookstore including an inviting space with a thoughtful selection of new and used books and a vibe that makes you feel like you’re the first person to discover it.  313 W. Main St. (S)

Dolly’s Vintage  While the sweet flower logo might lead you to think of grandma’s doilies, don’t be fooled. It is true–the eclectic shop is a homage to owner Jennifer’s grandmothers, Doll and Thelma, but we can only presume they were pretty hip gals.  Inside you’ll find tutus, neon wigs, vintage duds for guys and gals, and tons of novelties (because we know you were looking for a barbie chandelier). Lighten up your day with a trip to Dolly’s Vintage. 213 W. Main St. (S)

Runaway 212 W. Main St. #102 (S)

Rock’s Barber Shop  Not only can you get a straight razor shave, you can also drink a glass of homebrew while you wait or shop their small, but spiffy collection of menswear and grooming products.  We love the wide open feel and penny-tiled counters. 119 W. Main St. (S)

The Pinhook  Whether you’re there for Tuesday Night Trivia, Monday Really Open Mic Night, an obscure (or not so obscure) band, or just want to throw down on the dance floor, Pinhook welcomes you. Plop down in one of their retro armchairs with your beverage of choice. After all, The Pinhook borrowed its name from the infamous Pinhook Grog Shop of the 1850’s, reputed to host a few scalawags back in day. There’s a  historical precedent for ya. 117 W. Main St. (D)

Pie Pushers 117 W. Main St. upstairs from The Pinhook (E)

Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas 112 W. Main St. (E)

COPA: Tapas and Cocktails of Old Cuba is coming to downtown in March! 107 W. Main St. (E)

Bar Virgile  It’s from the owners of Nana’s; it will be French cuisine; it is bound to be awesome. 102 E. Main St. (E)

Carolina Soul Records 117 E. Main St. (S)

Bar Brunello 117 E. Main St. (E)

Tre Bella Inc. gained a national following through its floral and bridal design mastery. But you don’t need to be walking down the aisle to appreciate their sophisticated jewelry, accessories, and swell fashion. 124 E. Main St. (S)

Food Truck Watch: Pie Pushers, KoKyu BBQ, The Parlour’s Bus, Chirba Chirba Dumpling, Bang Bang Bahn Mi, LaFarm Bakery, Porchetta, American Meltdown, Locopops, Parlez-vous Crepes,Chez moi cake truck,  Belgian Waffology, and Wicked Biscuit, Will and pops,  and Boricua soulfood
Click here to locate your faves.

Golden Belt District/East Durham

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Old Havana Sandwich Shop  We don’t kid about cuban sandwiches. 310 E. Main St. (E)

Bull City Cider Exploratorium Your favorite ciderworks is gussing up its new home. Find their brews around town until then. For something unexpected, try their Steep South, cider cold steeped in black tea at a leisurely Southern pace. 305 S. Roxboro St. (E)

Ponysaurus Brewing 219 Hood St. (E)

Unexposed Microcinema 105 Hood St. Suite 5 (D)

Supergraphic Labs offers space and materials to do “your thang” or sign up for groovy workshops to share your brilliance with the world via ink and fiber. Screen print workshops held at Super G Print Lab. Find out more here. 105 Hood St. Suite 4 (D)

Hey Monkey! Design and Print 105 Hood St. Suite 1 (D)

Golden Belt Artists  Join them on Third Fridays to wander the open studios. 807 E. Main St. (D)

The Brothers Vilgalys Spirits 803 Ramseur St. (E)

The Carrack Modern Art  947 E. Main St.(D)

The Shed Jazz  807 E. Main St. (D)

Spectre Arts 1004 Morning Glory Ave. (D)

East Durham Bake Shop 406 South Driver St. (E)

Firsthand Foods “connects North Carolina’s pasture-based livestock producers with local food lovers, restaurants, and retailers.” There’s more good news! You can sign up for a (M)eat Box subscription for your very own full of succulent pasture-raised pork and beef cuts from fine N.C. farmers “who raise their animals humanely outdoors without growth-promoting antibiotics, added hormones or animal by-products.” Learn more here.

Make us Proud: Bumble and Sweet; Lo and Behold Natural Body Care; Five Fork Studio furniture makers; Riv Tak Handmade; Waxing Gibbeous Pottery

American Tobacco Historic District

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Basan Bull City Sushi 359 Blackwell St. Suite 220 (E)

NanaSteak  From the folks that brought you Nana’s comes this first rate steakhouse next to the Durham Performing Arts Center. While as you can imagine everything is glorious, don’t overlook the burger comprised of filet, ribeye, and wagyu beef. The Meat and Cheese Plate is the perfect nosh to share at Happy Hour. 345 Blackwell St. (E)

Bull Durham Brewing Company

The Ice Factory  Get your “skate on” now through January 20th at The Cage. They’re closed for private parties on Mondays. Check rink hours here. (D)

The Cage  Though it is open only to YMCA members and American Tobacco tenants, The Cage bears mentioning. This sheltered outdoor basketball court draws a crowd. If you’ve got a Y card, head on in and pick up a game. In the heart of the American Tobacco Campus. (D)

Full Frame Theater is located in the Power Plant Building which houses Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies as well as the offices for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The festival happens every April.  Don’t miss this international event right in downtown Durham. For more details on the festival click here. 318 Blackwell St. (D)

Counter Culture Coffee Winner of the Southeast Regional Brewers Cup, Counter Culture has quickly drawn a near cult following in Durham.  But you didn’t need that to convince you of the superiority of the pour-over coffee, did you?

Make sure to visit The Rock and Shop Market Facebook page to find local maker pop ups. Click here for more info.

Power Plant Gallery  Their tagline is “A Laboratory for the Arts.” This joint initiative of the Center for Documentary Studies and Duke’s MFA program in Experimental and Documentary Arts produces reliably thought-provoking installations and gallery shows. Power Plant Building Suite 100, 320 Blackwell St. (D)

Pine State Flowers 2001 Chapel Hill Rd. (S)

Baby Scratch  2022 Chapel Hill Rd. (E)

The Lakewood 2022 Chapel Hill Rd. (E)

The Scrap Exchange moved to Norwood– This “reuse” palace must be seen to be believed. Allow plenty of time to sift through bins and ponder the possibilities. 2050 Chapel Hill Rd. (S)

Be sure to check out Riv Tak’s workshop schedule to wake up your little maker heart.


D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Taqueria La Vaquita  They put a cow on the roof. Really. Let it be your guiding beacon to some excellent Mexican food. 2700 Chapel Hill Rd. (E)

Vegan Flava Cafe 4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. (E)

Guglhupf Bakery and Patisserie  Place your order and stakeout a seat outside when the weather is fine. Guglhupf’s  artisan bread, delectable pastries, and “contemporary cuisine with a German twist” has Triangle folks lining up. Join the fray, it’s totally worth it.  2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. (E)

Foster’s Market  If you’re in the mood for down-home Southern, Foster’s is the ticket. Entrepreneur and cookbook author Sara Foster’s gourmet market draws a loyal crowd on the weekends. If it’s got Foster’s Seven Pepper Jelly on it, order it.   2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. (E)

Kamiya Furniture builds handcrafted wood furniture made with no nails or screws. Browse their showroom or talk to Kamiya about a custom piece. This is the place to find a teak stump side table or accent piece. 2611 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. (S)

Wine Authorities was voted best local wine store 6 years running by Indy Weekly readers. Wine Authorities specializes in “estate grown wines from small, up-and-coming, family- owned wineries from around the world.” Drop in on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the free wine tastings. 2501 University Dr. (S)

The Boot  2501 University Dr. (E)

Beer Study and Starpoint Brewing 2501 University Dr. #4 (E)

The Original Q Shack won the coveted Best of Durham award for BBQ. In this cozy little shack you’ll find all their meats smoked with both hickory and mesquite (pork, beef brisket, chicken, turkey, and sausage).  You know we can’t resist the jalapeno-topped deviled eggs. Grab a PBR and a picnic bench, we’re right behind you. 2510 University Dr. (E)

Nana’s or Nanatacowe’ll leave it up to you. Chefs and civilians alike can’t stop praising the lamb cheek tacos and milkshakes at Nanataco, be it plantain or Mexican chocolate. Afterwards, slip next door to Miel BonBon Patisserie and Confiserie for a French macaron or two. 2514 University Dr. (E)

Big Spoon Roasters  These local nut butters are the panacea for well, everything. We love their Cocoa Nib Peanut Butter made with Wildflower honey. You’ll see them at vendors around town. Don’t pass them by.

The Valley

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Sake Bomb  If you’d like a little atmosphere with your sushi, check out Sake Bomb. (Don’t let the strip mall fool ya.) 4215 University Dr. (E)

Only Burger  It all started with a truck. The burger success story continues. 3710 Shannon Rd. or downtown at 359 Blackwell St. Suite 125 (E)

Tonali  Fish tacos with crispy baja slaw, and a dessert of luscious flan might just be our perfect meal (throw in some expertly prepared plantains, and we are in heaven). Tonali, thank you. 3642 Shannon Rd. (E)

South Durham

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Funny Girl Farmstand 504 Erwin Rd. (S)

The Ward Theatre Company  If you haven’t taken advantage of the fact that a celebrated, international ensemble cast has taken up residence in Durham, you need to remedy that immediately. Wendy Ward’s Meisner-trained actors are bringing remarkable theatre, including riveting original productions, to the Triangle. Thank your lucky stars and buy a ticket. 4905 Pine Cone Dr. (D)

Yamazushi Japanese Cuisine  There are some meals you do not forget. The intention with which George Yamazawa crafts his traditional 8-course Kaiseki is among them. Widely heralded as one of the most unique dining experiences anywhere, Yamazushi seats just four tables nightly for an exquisite Japanese dinner plated on Yamazawa’s own pottery.  A ceremonial Matcha tea service and sake pairings are also available. 4711 Hope Valley Rd. Suite 6-A (E)

Small Cakes 4711 Hope Valley Rd. (E)

Growler Grlz  Beerophiles, rejoice. Not only do you have 42 ever-changing taps of craft beer available daily, you also can trounce your companions/enemies hop knowledge when you play Beer Trivia at Growler Grlz on alternate Tuesdays. Consider Growler Grlz to be your magic carpet, bringing you the most unique beers in the country, which you can then consume on your couch. 4810 Hope Valley Rd. (E)

Sam’s Bottle Shop is the brother store of Sam’s Quik Shop. While convenience might be a factor, as you can find nearly everything under the sun on this strip of highway, we’re still partial to the original. That being said, Indy Weekly readers voted it Best Beer Draft Selection in Durham County, so there’s that…and that sweet second story patio. 1112 W. Hwy 54 (S)

Tre Forni is our favorite spot to pick up a wood-fired Napoletana pizza after sampling some new craft brews across the street at Sam’s. We are all about the Bianca Verde because pizza deserves broccoli rabe and their Pistachio pesto is spot on. 1125 W. Hwy 54 Suite 805 (E)

Primal Food and Spirits  202 NC-Hwy 54 (E)

Makus Empanadas  It’s all about the chimichurri sauce, believe us. Makus bakes their empanadas, giving you all the more reason to order a few more tasty hand-pockets. 1125 W. Hwy 54 Suite 304 (E)

KoKyu Na’Mean 4823 Meadow Dr. (E)

Backyard BBQ  Nothing fancy, just great pit-smoked BBQ of all kinds here–pork, chicken, beef, and turkey. You can even get a fish dinner and Pineapple Lemonaide.  Whichever protein you choose, get the collards! 5122 Hwy 55 (E)

The Glass Jug  The new craft bottle store in town, The Glass Jug, is doing it right. Already winning regions of fans, The Glass Jug offers counter-pressure growler fills, 16 taps of local and craft beer, and plenty of new bottles introduced weekly. Be prepared for plenty of tap takeovers from the featured brewery of the month.  5410 Hwy 55 Suite AF (E)

True Flavors Diner  As if Southern food weren’t decadent enough, True Flavors manages to make your favorite dish even more tempting: Southern Fried Chicken drizzled in chipotle honey hot sauce, Bourbon Bacon Meatloaf, Duck Hash, and their Howling Moon French Toast topped with moonshine sauce and housemade vanilla bean ice cream, to mention a few. This busy caterer is only open until 2:30 and closed Tuesdays. So if you’re hankering for one of their Orange Floats, you better get a move on. 5410 Hwy 55 (E)

Bowerbird Flowers & Apothecary 5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. (S)

Rise Biscuits and Donuts  Word on the street is you have to get up early to get the good stuff.  So that being the case, plan ahead. The North Carolina Botanical Garden is just 11 minutes away. You’ll need all that sustenance on the trails, right? 8200 Renaissance Pkwy.

Harvest 18  8128 Renaissance Pkwy. (E)

KoKyu Na’Mean  Yup, KoKyu finally has a brick and mortar, and it is just as awesome as you were expecting. Now you can satisfy your Bahn Mi obsession on a regular basis without stalking their food truck (though that still is an option). All your faves are in the offing, as well as stellar daily Na’Mean specials like Pig Mac, Pyongyang Hot Chicken and Braised Pork Ossobuco. 4823 Meadow Dr. (E)

Out of Door Adventures

Looking for a unique place to run or bike? Try the Greenway at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

RodinNCMC’s Museum Park will provide plenty of scenic interest as you push through to your next personal best. Running, walking or strolling are all permitted on the nature trails, but bikes and dogs are asked to stick to the paved lanes. 2110 Blue Ridge Rd. Raleigh (this is technically not in Durham, but so close~ so very close)

Eno River State Park is roughly 15 minutes from downtown Durham, but you’ll feel worlds away hiking its varied terrain. Outdoor enthusiasts worship daily. 6101 Cole Mill Rd. Durham

Other favorite running and biking trails in the area include the American Tobacco Trail which stretches from New Hill to downtown Durham and Al Buehler Cross Country Trail, at Duke, with a 2.91 mile main loop. For maps and more information on Triangle trails click here or to learn more about Duke Forest click here.

For a more romantic setting, choose Sarah P. Duke Gardens. These gardens are spectacular in the spring, as one would imagine. But be warned, you’ll be dodging wedding parties. Admission is free with a nominal parking fee. Voted one of the ten best public gardens by Southern Living. 420 Anderson St.

Walk the 239 outdoor steps to the top of Duke Chapel for a stunning view and a tighter backside.

East Coast Greenway Alliance

Not to Miss Events

Freeze Your Balls Off Scooter Rally  deets

Art of Cool Jazz Festival



Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

Festival for the Eno

Patchwork Market

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3 Responses to Durham

  1. Tobin

    Great review of some of Durham’s greatest spots! I feel so lucky to live here. BTW – Scrap Exchange moved form Golden Belt to Lakewood Plaza and I don’t think the Farmery is at ATC anymore. Next time you come through Durham, I hope you get a chance to explore some more of South Durham’s gems like Harvest 18, Bocci, Bean Traders, Mad Popper, Primal, City Hall Burgers, etc.

  2. Liz

    Add the Little Dipper to the Brightleaf Sqaure suggestions, best place for a romantic date and it is one of the top 100 restaurants on Open Table 🙂


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