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10 Absolutely Delicious International Restaurants in Durham

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on April 24, 2024.

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Thanks to many years of international immigration, the world-renowned research and academics of Duke University, and the booming tech startups, it’s no surprise that Durham also has a plethora of high-quality international restaurants.

We’ve been eating our way through North Carolina‘s Bull City for years and want to share our favorite international restaurants in Durham. Beyond barbecue, fried chicken, and other southern staples these are 10 of the international restaurants that make up part of the city’s food scene.

This is our must-eat list of international restaurants in Durham, from Downtown to its surrounding neighborhoods and beyond.

This post is part of our series on Durham and North Carolina Food and Drink. If you’re looking for a great place to stay in the area, check out these Durham Airbnbs.

International Restaurants in Durham

We’ve also shared quite a few places to eat in our guide to Casual Restaurants in Durham if you’re still hungry.


Menu | 107 W. Main Street

Located in the heart of Downtown’s Baldwin building, COPA serves up delicious farm-to-table tapas-style Cuban bites. While the small plates are a can’t-miss, the cocktail selection at COPA is secretly our favorite reason to visit.

Please do yourself a favor and sip on La Diosa Negra after the Cuban tobacco smoke works its way out.

And in case you notice something familiar about COPA, the owners previously owned the Old Havana Sandwich Shop and brought those favorites over to feature on the lunch menu during the week.

If you join a Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour in Durham, you might get a sampling of COPA’s awesomeness.

Cosmic Cantina

Facebook | 1920 Perry Street

Downtown Durham Restaurants Cosmic Cantina Image

Looking for a late-night place to shovel chips and queso? Cosmic Cantina is that spot. A hole in the wall can be hard to find if you aren’t in the “know,” but the food is always delicious, and they’re open until 4 am.

Located off of Ninth Street up a dark and questionable stairway, you’ll find some of the best chimichangas and tacos in all of Durham.

They also have a great little hidden patio where a pitcher of margaritas is always a crowd-pleaser.


Website | 415 East Chapel Hill St

Dashi Durham NC Best Ramen Image

The smell of slowly simmering Firsthand Foods bones wafts through the dimly lit Japanese noodle shop that we all know as Dashi in Durham.

Meaning “soup base” in Japanese, this shop serves plenty of that, filling piping hot bowls with the best ramen, accompanied by Japanese whiskey and sake.

Whether you’re enjoying the open kitchen in the restaurant downstairs or getting late-night snacks in the upstairs Izayaka, Dashi’s flavors and aesthetics will quickly transport you to the back alleys of Tokyo and Osaka.


Menu | 910 West Main Street

Best Durham Restaurants NC Goorsha Image

Goorsha means “a hug between friends” and offers up deliciousness and a cozy atmosphere at its location in the Brightleaf District. All I’d is that you should expect to arrive at Goorsha hungry and willing to get your hands dirty.

Forks are not something found at your place setting, as Ethiopian food is traditionally eaten using your hands and a soft spongey bread called “injera.”

While Goorsha does offer a wide assortment of meat dishes, our recommendation is to get vegan dishes like Timatim Fitfit or Metin Shiro and split with a friend!


Menu | 2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.

Best Durham Restaurants NC Guglhupf Image

Guglhupf mixes a German bakery, café, and Biergarten and is perfect for brunch or dinner. Strings of twinkle lights and humming waterfalls converge with the smells of proofing bread and sounds of interesting conversations.

Once only known for its brunch and café, Guglhupf is expanding its dinner menu to include German sausages, spätzle, schnitzel, and delicious assortments of meats and cheeses.

Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)

Lime and Lemon

Menu | 811 Ninth Street #150

One of the problems with most Indian restaurants is that they only represent one region on that massive subcontinent. But that’s not the case with Lime and Lemon on Ninth street.

Using traditional spices and extreme attention to detail, the dishes at Lime and Lemon are both delicate and bold.

Serving traditional North and South Indian fare, you can find your old favorites and some new and interesting dishes to try!

We’re also fans of Sitar of 15-501 and Naan Stop on Erwin Road.

M Restaurants


M Pocha Durham Restaurant 2
M Pocha serves Korean street food

Starting with M Sushi, Chef Michael Lee absolutely slays every restaurant concept he has started. From delicate fresh sashimi to street food style Korean, there isn’t an M Restaurant that we wouldn’t dine at.

M Sushi is definitely more upscale and a date night experience, but don’t disregard them for a lunch spot! The bento box is affordable and (don’t tell anyone) cheaper than it is at dinner!

While the entrance to M Kokko is “around that corner and in the basement of that building,” it’s never hard to find with the line of people outside waiting to get a sweet taste of their famous chicken wings.

Durham restaurants M tempura
M Tempura’s lunch of Chilean Sea Bass is perfection!

M Tempura is also another “hard to find spot,” but the flavors are totally worth it when you do find it. Light, delicate, and intimate.

We spent five years living in South Korea, so we were tickled when we saw that Lee was opening a Korean street food joint! M Pocha embraces family-style seating and harkens to the flavors we know so well. Make sure to order a bottle of makgeolli and sip it from a bowl!

The restaurants all have small and intimate settings, but all packed with Chef Michael Lee’s flavors!

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)


Menu | 5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd

Durham Restaurants Namu Image

Tucked away off of 15-501, Namu dishes up the most delicious Korean fare. Sprung from their popular food trucks, Bo’s Kitchen and Bulkogi collaborated to bring Durham the best Bibimbap, green tea lattes, and mandu.

Korean for “tree”, Namu has a beautiful outdoor patio section and equally peaceful indoor seating.

Next door to the coffee shop is a beer hall, which serves over 120 varieties of domestic and international beers.


Menu | 2200 West Main Street

Durham Restaurants Parizade Image

Parizade is not just incredible food but an experience in bold Mediterranean flavors. Built by chef and restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias, Parizade has spent 26 years feeding the people of Durham.

The whimsical interior design matches the chef’s fine attention to detail, as beautifully plated food makes for a visual and delicious feast.

Whether you’re hosting a business meeting, catering special events, or just meeting a friend for a delicious and healthy lunch, Parizade is the place to be.

Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings and Sweets

Website| 121 N. Gregson Street

Durham Restaurants Roses Noodles

From meat market to noodle shop, Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings, and Sweets is a delicious hidden gem in the Brightleaf District. Serving East Asian-inspired dishes with North Carolina ingredients, the noodle game is strong!

Most menu items are strong in a Chinese background, from the belt noodles (pictured) to the delicate dumplings made in-house. Brunch at Rose’s is truly a delicious experience as they only serve pho, porridge, and steamed buns for two hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Not to be missed- the sweets. Rose’s has a display case filled with decadent and delicious options. But we’ve been told not to skip the ice cream sandwiches! Next time, we’re ordering those first!

Parking for Rose’s can be a pain- mostly because the spaces in front of the restaurant are reserved for the other businesses and not the restaurant. The best bet is to look for residential parking along the side streets!

Read More: The Best Breakfast in Durham and 15+ Essential Restaurants to Start Your Day!


Menu |  4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd

Awesome Ethnic Restaurants in Durham NC Zwellis Image

Did you know that the only Zimbabwean restaurant in the US can be found right here in Durham?

From peanut braised collard greens to the chakalaka, health-conscious diners will be pleased to find that all of the sides at Zweli’s are vegan.

For me, the must-order dish is the Piri Piri chicken, seasoned and grilled over an open flame. It’s spicy but not overpowering, and the skin is charred but still juicy.

And with so many new and interesting flavors coming out of this kitchen, it’s no surprise that many foodies in Durham are flocking to Zweli’s.

*Zweli’s is currently closed for relocation, but in the meantime, they have opened a modern upscale restaurant with similar dishes across the street called Ekhaya!

Honorable Mentions and Final Thoughts

Before anyone gets too angry, here are some honorable mentions that we still love: Guasaca, Luna, Mediterra Grill, Super Taqueria, La Superior Carniceria, Twisted Noodles, and Vin Rouge.

Since the city’s food scene is always changing and evolving, this guide will move with it. We can’t wait to see how the folks on this list continue to succeed and how more international players come to Durham and shine with their dishes.

We know there’ll be plenty of room for them.

Got any favorite international restaurants in Durham that you’d like to share? We’d love to know and eat our way through them, too!

13 thoughts on “10 Absolutely Delicious International Restaurants in Durham”

  1. You can’t leave out Dames Chicken and Waffles. Chicken and Waffles are fantastic and the shrimp and grits are unbelievable

    • Certainly a great place to eat! We’ve included them in our guides to Durham’s restaurants and Bull City’s Black-owned restaurants. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I was amazed to not see Gocciolina on your list! Last time I was there, I was knocked off my feet with the best dirty martini I’ve had ANYWHERE, bar none, and extraordinary Italian dishes, the likes of which I’ve never tasted!
    Go, go, go there!

  3. Really missing KoKyu here. If you’ve not been to KoKyu, you’re missing out! One of the best spots in Durham – possibly in the entire state.

    Also, Nuvotaco. One of the best Taco places around.


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