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Taste Carolina: The Best Durham Food Tour for These 7 Reasons

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Our Durham food tour with Taste Carolina led to amazing experiences at some of the city’s best restaurants. We also learned more about Bull City’s background and sampled dishes that we might not have thought about ordering if we’d visited these places on our own. And that’s just a small sampling of why we love this company and why a food tour through Downtown Durham is worth your next weekend outing!

This guide is part of our series on Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours and more North Carolina Food & Drink. It was originally created on September 6, 2019.

Taste Carolina: The Best Durham Food Tour

Special thanks to Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours, who provided a complimentary tour. No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of our experience without outside influence.

Sample the Best of Downtown Durham

Restaurants in Durham NC Pizzeria Toro Image
Pizzeria Toro. Mamma Mia!

I’m biased because I live in Bull City, but we have the best restaurants, whether you’re talking casual, date night, ethnic, whatever. And if you want to start eating in Durham, then Downtown is a great place to start. But as Christina mentioned during her Raleigh food tour, it would take tons a week to eat at five to six restaurants and that’s if you’re going to one each day. With Taste Carolina, you’ll visit them in a few hours. 

Learn from Local Chefs

A Taste Carolina tour means getting a seat at a table with restaurant owners and creators of the amazing food you eat throughout. I know he’s not on every tour (see below), but Seth at Bull City Burger and Brewery‘s “beef sermon” was an obvious standout.

His talk about pasture-raised beef was one of many moments we shared the same room with passionate restauranteurs, chefs, and managers. I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s a treat to listen to the people responsible for the food you’re eating while you’re eating it. 

Bonus Thought: And after hearing Seth, Simply Heinz has replaced ketchup containing high fructose corn syrup in our fridge.

Learn About Durham’s History

It’s easy to assume that Taste Carolina is just about what you eat, but there’s much more to this Durham food tour. Since we were in Downtown Durham, our guide shared info about the city’s rise as a tobacco hub. We also spent time on Historic Parrish St. That meant, of course, stopping by the Black Wall Street historic marker. I won’t spoil the rest for you, but as a person who loves looking into the backstory of all the places we visit, learning about a city’s history between delicious meals is beyond fun. 

Do This All with a Local Guide

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“Local” doesn’t end with the food with Taste Carolina. That’s because their guides have always either grown up in the area or lived there long enough to really know it. Our Durham guide grew up in Bull City, which is becoming more and more of a novelty these days. Throughout the day, I enjoyed hearing her talk about a previous era in Durham, mentioning things about the city that only someone who lived here for much of their life would know. 

Multiple Times and Dates Available

We joined the 1:30 pm Durham Downtown Tasting Tour but this isn’t the only time available. You can also join their food tour in Durham at 10:00 am every Saturday. And if you want a more adult beverage-focused adventure, check out the 3:15 pm Durham Downtown Evening Tasting & Drinks tour. It’s available on Saturdays and some Sundays, too! Just remember to drink responsibly and have a DD or transportation home ready. 

Please let us know if these dates and times change and we’ll be happy to update this information. Also, Custom dates and times are available by request and from what we’ve heard, many companies love to do private tours for work outings. Just saying! Check here for more info.

An Allergy- and Dietary-Friendly Food Tour

When we did our first Taste tour in Greensboro, I had just come off a round of the Whole30. Before the tour, I thought I’d have to jump right into the world of gluten and added sugar. However, I reached out in advance and found out that Taste passes on any restrictions to their restaurants. Most will work to accommodate your allergies or dietary restrictions. Isn’t that awesome? I think so. 

Venues Change

Durham Food Tour Taste Carolina COPA Image
A Cubano Sandwich a la COPA.

I wanted to save the best for last. Why? Because knowing that venues change means you’ll likely never get the same tour, no matter when you decide to join. That means during one tour, you can sample COPA’s farm-to-table offerings, a hand-crafted cocktail from Alley Twenty Six, or both. You’ll also visit the other amazing options found in Downtown Durham. Due to a variety of factors, you won’t know where you’re going until the day of your tour. For a list of places you may visit during your Durham food tour, check the “Restaurants” tab on this page

Can’t Wait for the Next Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour

I never thought we’d learn so much from a Durham food tour with Taste Carolina. And of all the cities in North Carolina that I’ve wanted to visit with Taste Carolina, the Durham edition had long been on my mind. And now that it’s over, I can’t stop thinking about where we’ll go next when I join them again. 

Four Tips to Help You Enjoy a Taste Carolina Durham Food Tour

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Before we move on to dreaming of future Taste Carolina food tours, I want to drop a few tips on you before you join one in Durham. 

  • Don’t eat it all in one place: I think I wanted to throw in the towel three restaurants into our tour. That taught me to pace myself next time. And also, I’m going to eat a super light breakfast before the tour to have plenty of room for eating. 
  • Prepare for the weather: Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours run rain or shine. We’ve been there when the weather didn’t cooperate, so don’t worry. You’ll spend most of your time inside restaurants and bars, so the weather worries are minimal. Just dress accordingly and let the awesome food experience take care of itself. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Since you walk from place to place, it’s very important to bring comfortable shoes. During our Taste Durham food tour, Christina’s FitBit racked up the steps, so prepare accordingly! 
  • Please tip your tour guide: We can’t mention this enough because tipping your guide can easily get overlooked. Just so you know, the gratuity at each of the restaurants has been included in your ticket price. However, you should bring some cash or Venmo (@tastecarolina) a tip for your tour guide. It’s not required, but their awesome work carting you around is worthy of some extra love at the end. 

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