30+ Delicious Restaurants in Durham (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert!)

Last Updated on September 21, 2022

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We’re going to keep things low-key and share the best restaurants in Durham here. There are so many ways to explore Bull City’s food scene, and we’ve mixed things up with some Downtown Durham restaurants, as well as those in other neighborhoods.

So before you venture out for your next meal here, take a gander at our favorites!

Read More: Central North Carolina (and 100+ Amazing Places to Visit)

Must-Eat Casual Restaurants in Durham

If you’re looking for specific restaurants in Durham, here’s how we’ve organized things:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch & Dinner
  • Dessert

Let’s get started with the most important meal of the day!

Breakfast in Durham

Many of these restaurants in Durham serve lunch and dinner, but we want to focus on how they dish out the best breakfast!

Read More: 50+ Awesome Things to Do in Durham, NC for EVERYONE (Fall in Love with OUR Bull City)

Beyu Caffe

341 W Main St

Beyu Caffe is a place where you can truly be you. Founded on the principles that we all have more in common than our differences, Beyu is a restaurant in downtown Durham restaurant with its own signature coffee blend and catering operation.

With no need to transition from breakfast to lunch, all items on the menu are served all day.

No matter when you visit, one item that you cannot leave without is the Carver’s Peanut Butter Latte. It’s crafted with espresso, peanut butter, and dark chocolate. This drink is like taking a giant sip of a Reese’s Cup and we are here for it!

Read More: Black-owned Restaurants in Durham

Debbie Lou’s Biscuit Shop

Located inside of True Flavors Diner

Debbie Lous Biscuits Restaurants in Durham

Everything that you love about Chef Sidney Cove’s True Flavors biscuits can be found at Debbie Lou‘s but in sandwich form. Add in some exotic meats and incredible sauces, and you have yourself an above-average biscuit experience!

Elmo’s Diner

776 Ninth St

Casual Restaurants in Durham Elmos Diner

Now, you can’t come to the Bull City without having breakfast or meals throughout the day at Elmo’s Diner. This Downtown Durham restaurant is an institution and you’ll hardly ever walk by during weekend mornings without seeing a line out the door.

If it’s on Sunday, that’s because they’re likely waiting for the best brunch in Durham! Everything is delicious here, but their quiche is something to die for!

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)


1200 W Chapel Hill St

Restaurants Durham NC GRUB Image

GRUB makes some of the best lunch in Durham, but we think of it as an absolute breakfast go-to. Housed in a renovated 1950s Pure Gas Station, this is a great place to grab a milkshake, breakfast, and bites throughout the day.

Their eclectic décor and melt-in-your-mouth biscuits make GRUB a must-eat Durham restaurant. The choices here are endless, and our favorites include chicken biscuits that won’t quit and their juicy burgers.

Hot tip: Enjoy $6 Taco Tuesdays or a gourmet milkshake on the rooftop.


1002 Ninth St

Durham Restaurants Monuts Donuts Image

Who said doughnuts can’t be a complete meal? At Monuts, you’ll also usually find a line out the door. But with a fresh list of cake or dough selections, Monuts is THE breakfast spot and totally worth the wait!

Don’t like doughnuts? They also have incredible breakfast sandwiches and bowls! Every person who orders gets a fun fact card to read while they wait, too!

Rise Durham

401 Foster St

Rise Biscuits Durham NC Restaurants Image

Rise Durham is a growing franchise with a location by the Farmers’ Market and Durham Central Park. There, you’ll find a showcase the most amazing and fluffiest biscuits you’ll ever see. Definitely get a Righteous Chicken biscuit AND their Fried Green Tomato and Pimento Cheese Biscuit.


Silver Spoon

5230 North Roxboro Rd

Silver Spoon is our favorite place to grab breakfast in North Durham. You may get overwhelmed by their massive menu, but remember that Silver Spoon’s breakfast skillets are what many people come for. 

We love them, too, but also anything else that comes out, like the basics—pancakes with a couple of meats and eggs. Also, don’t forget to grab some baklava on your way out because it’s simply amazing!

True Flavors

5410 Highway 55 Suite AJ AK

If you’re looking for biscuits like momma makes, Chef Sidney Coves of True Flavors dishes them up alongside upscale southern favorites in a casual diner atmosphere.

You can chow down on smooth cheesy grits, duck hash, and their buttery biscuits while catching up with friends from all over the Bull City! This spot is absolutely one of the best places to eat in Durham, so what are you waiting for?

Lunch & Dinner Durham Restaurants

One of the things I love about all these casual restaurants in Durham is how there are hardly two that offer the same types of food. The city’s restauranteurs know that you have to find a niche and once that’s been served, there’s always a new one to search for.

Backyard BBQ Pit

5122 NC 55

Backyard BBQ Pit Durham NC

If you’re new here, then you need to know that we are major North Carolina barbecue nerds. And it doesn’t come lightly when we say that Backyard BBQ Pit on Highway 55 is our favorite barbecue in the Triangle!

The parking lot at Backyard is always filled from the moment they open until closing time. The no frills, counter service, low-key vibe is exactly what you’ll find from this Black-owned Durham restaurant.

From the moist smoked pork barbecue to the saucy ribs, everything at Backyard is delicious. Delicious AND affordable. Backyard reminds us that restaurants should be about the food, first and foremost.


900 Park Offices

Boxyard is located in RTP (Research Triangle Park) and is a super cool shipping container food hall concept. Multiple vendors serve food, clothing, and desserts and on the weekends there are some pretty awesome events going on!

Boxyard RTP Fullsteam pizza

Some of our favorite Durham restaurants even have second locations in Boxyard including Beyu and Fullsteam Brewery. At the Boxyard location of Fullsteam you’ll find the incredible brews you’re used to but also the fluffiest square pizzas you’ll ever taste. They are so good that I’ve tried to recreate them at home and failed. Must be all that beer making them extra yummy!

Boxyard is also home to Lawrence Barbecue, which will always have a line. Bring your stretchy pants and order everything. Yes, everything. And afterward, save a spot for a serving of gourmet cotton candy from our friends at Wonderpuff! Flavors like Haitian Cake, Blueberry Waffles, and Roasted Honey Pear will dance across your taste buds.

Bull City Burger and Brewery

107 E Parrish St #105

The perfect restaurant to grab an in-house beer and grass-fed burger in Durham, Bull City Burger and Brewery has a lot going for it. There’s always a fun new item added to the specials list, which is fun if you’ve been there more than a few times like we have.

And if a fun rotating menu isn’t enough for you, check out BCBB’s exotic meat month each April. That’s when tarantulas, reptiles, scorpions, and more fun animals appear on the menu.

If you join a Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour in Durham, it’s likely that you’ll stop by Bull City Burger and Brewery.

The Chicken Hut

3019 Fayetteville St

Best Restaurants Durham NC The Chicken Hut Image

The Chicken Hut is a cafeteria-style restaurant and has been an institution in Durham for over 60 years. With daily specials and fresh made-to-order fried chicken, people line up around the block for that and their incredible side dishes and moist cake, too.

This place is open for lunch-time orders so make sure you plan ahead and get in fast!


107 W Main St

Copa Durham NC Cuban Restaurant Image

While COPA is more upscale during the evening for their tapas-style menu, their lunch menu is much more casual, harkening to the owners’ previous Old Havana Sandwich Shop. Delicious Cuban sandwiches served on home-made bread are just a part of why COPA is a must-eat casual restaurant in Durham.

The owners source from their farm in Hillsborough, keeping every bite as local as possible at this Durham restaurant. Our recommendation? You can’t go wrong with any of the sandwiches, a side of maduros, and definitely one of their in-house sodas!

Read More: How to Explore Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough

Cugino Forno

800 Taylor St

Restaurants in Greensboro pizza

Get a true taste of Italy when at Cugino Forno! Three cousins spent years perfecting their craft and researching the best Neapolitan style pizza so they could dish it up to you. Located in the Golden Belt district in Durham, expect true authentic and fresh ingredients. With 80% of the ingredients imported directly from Italy and the pizzas fired in a 900º Napoli oven, we guarantee this is the best pizza you’ll have in your entire life! 

Cugino Forno also has locations in Winston-Salem, Clemmons, and Greensboro

Read more: The Best Pizza Restaurants in Durham, NC

Dame’s Chicken & Waffles

530 Foster St Unit 103

Dames Chicken and Waffles Durham NC Restaurants Image

We all think of chicken and waffles as a Southern thing, but really the first tales of poultry and hot griddled carbs come from the arts renaissance in Harlem during the 1920s. The interior of Dame’s Chicken & Waffles in Durham honors that period of art and jazz.

They also make chicken so juicy and crispy that you will keep coming back for more. Choose a waffle (we love the sweet potato), one of their seven shmears, add a drizzle, and you will surely be in heaven!

Dame’s Chicken and Waffles also has locations in Greensboro, Cary, and Chapel Hill.

Durham Bulls Athletic Park

409 Blackwell St

Head to Durham Bulls Athletic Park when Minor League Baseball is going (April to September) and you’ll find great games, but also delicious eats. Classic favorites include Bright Leaf Hot Dogs and brews from Bull Durham Beer Company.

More awesome eats inside DBAP include Gonza Tacos y Tequila by left field and slices from Pie Pushers inside the concessions area. Note: Both Gonza and Pie Pushers have standalone locations in Durham, with the latter also driving around and serving via their food truck!

If you’re not around during the season, other great choices include Tobacco Road Sports Cafe and Nana Steak. These are some of the best restaurants near DPAC, which is close to the ballpark.

Durham Filling Station

617 Hick St

Durham Filling Station

If you want the most bang for your buck and a delicious burger, then the Durham Filling Station is for you! The counter-service restaurant grills to order and harkens back to the good old days of concessions. With picnic tables over a garage port in the back, this casual Durham restaurant makes for good fast eats.

Oh, and don’t skip on the dessert! With the menu changing daily we’ve seen ice cream sandwiches and banana pudding hit the board! You are bound to be full and happy after a burger at Durham Filling Station!

The Durham Food Hall

530 Foster St

New to the foodie scene, The Durham Food Hall features a wonderful mix of chef-driven restaurants, a bar, coffee shop, florist, and shop. Whether you’re getting your taco fill at Ex-voto Tacos or gourmet bagels from Everything Bagels, there’s something on the menu for everyone.

Eastcut Sandwich Bar

3211 Old Chapel Hill Rd

Restaurants Durham NC Eastcut Sandwich Bar Image

Eastcut wanted Durham to have a place where a variety of culinary tastes met. With transients coming from all over to live, attend school, or work, they knew there was a market for it.

Here, you can chow down on delicious items like the Buff Chick and Clifford’s Cutlet. You can also check out the blackboard special each day! Either way, make sure to order a side of house-made sweet potato tots and a “frose!”


726 Rigsbee Ave

You cannot come to Durham without stepping foot into the beer mecca that is Fullsteam Brewery. We wouldn’t have craft beer in North Carolina without Pop the Cap, spearheaded by Fullsteam Owner Sean Lilly Wilson.

And not only is the beer incredible and innovative (I mean, who else makes beer with pawpaws?), but the food from their kitchen is perfect. This is the perfect place to grab a board game, a brew, and relax in Durham!

Boxyard RTP Fullsteam

Read More: 10 Craft Breweries in Durham (The Go-To Guide for a Bull City Pint)

Heavenly Buffaloes

1807 W Markham Ave & 2816 Erwin Rd Suite 205

North Carolina Restaurants Heavenly Buffaloes Durham

While it isn’t exactly a “restaurant,” this little shack off Broad Street is packing some serious heat! Wing and waffle fries are really all many people need in life and Heavenly Buffaloes is there to cater to your every need.

They even consider vegetarians, vegans, and anyone with an aversion to chicken with an incredible meatless wing! Also, who doesn’t want to Burnie Zass-Hoff?

Heavenly Buffalos also has locations in Chapel Hill and Greensboro.

Jack Tar and the Colonel’s Daughter

202 Corcoran St

The owner of Pizzeria Toro and Littler, Chef Gray Brooks, has done it again with Jack Tar. Brooks is known for his flare in flavor and sophistication and diners recognize that.

That’s a big reason why this place remains packed for brunch, lunch, and dinner!

Named after the former Jack Tar Motor Lodge which is now the Unscripted Hotel, Brooks serves classic diner food but with a modern and contemporary spin. Stop in for all-day breakfast and see menu items such as Julia Child’s omelet or a turducken sausage sandwich on a house-made English muffin.

Pictured is the Szechuan Peppercorn Hot Chicken which is so perfectly crispy that you could have sworn your grandma made it. Always leave room for the fried to order crullers which are rolled in cinnamon sugar and layered atop chantilly mascarpone and house-made jam.

King’s Sandwich Shop

701 Foster St

King’s Sandwich Shop (701 Foster St) is the OG of casual restaurants in Durham. Preparing home-cooked food on Foster Street since 1942, King’s is right around the corner from the Historic Durham Athletic Park.

Restaurants in Durham Kings Sandwich Shop

We love walking up and ordering something random but challenge you to a Royale with Cheese or a couple of Spicy Blackbean Burgers, depending on your lifestyle.

Luna’s Rotisserie

112 W Main St

Lunas Where to Eat in Durham NC

Bringing authentic South American Cuisine to downtown Durham, Luna’s is an international restaurant that’s worth the hype. With a diverse menu that also features vegan and gluten free options, we can’t help but fall in love every time we take a bit of maduros!

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M Pocha

101 E Chapel Hill St

M Pocha Durham Restaurant 2

After spending five years in South Korea, we became very familiar with “Pocha,” or Korean street food. Occupying the small corner spot west side of Downtown Durham, M Pocha takes Chef Michael Lee’s love for street food and spreads it across all Asian culinary cultures.

If you arrive for lunch, you will probably find a bento box option featuring several choices of Korean proteins and a mix of banchan (side dishes) which change daily. The evening menu, which also varies, features bacon dumplings, kimchi army stew, Malaysian rice dishes, and noodles to slurp.

The environment, much like in Korea, is communal seating. With seats looking out the window lining the store and one long community table in the center, M Pocha is a place to share laughs and great food in a casual environment.


Formerly NanaTaco

2512 University Dr

Best Food in Durham NC Nana Taco

$5 Margaritas? Yes, please! Not only does NuvoTaco serve up Mexican-American food with fresh, local ingredients, but they are one of the only restaurants to get dirty! Their meats are what I’m talking about, so get your head out of the gutter!

If you’ve never had a taco with beef tongue taco or hog jowls and want to try it, this Durham restaurant is the place. You don’t have to eat the dirty stuff, though. I will judge you if you come here without the Big Daddy Burrito!

I guarantee it’s the size of our toddler’s face.

Parts & Labor

723 Rigsbee Ave

You’ll find delicious food, craft brews, and spirit-filled drinks at Parts & Labor, which pairs nicely with the amazing Motorco Music Hall. Here, you’ll find an eclectic menu that landed P&L among our favorite casual restaurants in Durham.

Whether you’re chowing down on marsala poutine, veggie samosas, or their delicious udon salad, the laid back vibe, this place perfectly accompanies all the great music that comes through Motorco!

Parts & Labor earns bonus points for having some of the best late-night food in Durham, too!

Picnic Durham

1647 Cole Mill Rd

Food Durham NC Picnic Durham

We’ve been coming to Picnic Durham for a long time and we’re not alone. This place is well-known for its whole hog BBQ and picnic tables outside. Go for the pulled pork or sway away from traditional NC BBQ with some brisket.

Also, don’t be afraid to be tempted by their smoked buttermilk fried chicken, which might be the tastiest bone-in bird you’ll ever eat. However, you must eat their bacon-braised collards. That’s an order!

Picnic Durham is near Eno River State Park, which is one of our favorite outdoor spots in Durham

Read More: 17 Amazing Eno River State Park Trails (+ Bonus Hikes)

Pizzeria Toro

105 E Chapel Hill St

Pizzeria Toro Durham Restaurants Image

Pizzeria Toro is what we like to call an “upscale” casual Durham restaurant. That’s because it’s accessible to all but with more advanced flavor profiles. I mean, you won’t find Buffalo mozzarella, spicy lamb meatballs, soft eggs, zucchini bechamel in your typical take-out pizza place.

Here, you’ll find the main dining room with an open kitchen layout, a farm table in the center, and tables along the walls. It’s not uncommon to see strangers conversing with each other over the farm table spurred by the question, “What’s that you got there?”

Grab a friend and split their PNW Chanterelle mushroom pie and the kale salad that I still dream about every night!

Pompieri Pizza

102 City Hall Plaza

Neapolitan isn’t your standard style of pie and Pompieri Pizza isn’t your typical neighborhood pizza joint.

With a casual laid-back vibe, Pompieri serves elevated flavors with locally sourced ingredients and a wood-fired char. In true Neapolitan style, you won’t be served with your pie precut and the dough puffs out at the sides giving a light and airy crust.

And is it kid-friendly? With an in-house children’s play area, you bet! Feel free to bring your kiddos for a night out at this awesome Durham pizza restaurant.

Hot tip: Check out their all-you-can-eat Family Meal Pizza on Sundays from 4:30 pm-6:30 pm! The chef chooses the pizza, though, so bring your adventurous tastebuds for some of the best food in Durham!

Read More: 11 Delicious Pizza Restaurants in Durham for Your Next Slice or Whole Pieizza in Durham!

Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings & Sweets

121 N Gregson St

What used to be Rose’s Meat Market is now an unassuming spot that packs giant flavor. Dishing up East Asian inspired meals with North Carolina ingredients, diners at Rose’s slurp, devour, and leave happy.

While parking at Rose’s can be tricky, don’t be discouraged and find street parking! Also, while we typically do take our toddler with us to most of these causal restaurants, we went kid-free to Rose’s. The space is tight, the tables are high, but we would take her for an ice cream sandwich or a macaroon!

Read More: 10 Absolutely Delicious International Restaurants in Durham

Saltbox Seafood Joint

608 N Mangum St & 2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd

where to eat in Durham Saltbox Seafood

Chef Ricky Moore brings the fresh daily caught seafood to Durham and we can see why there are always long lines! People are always flocking to Saltbox Seafood Joint all year round, but don’t miss the annual lobster roll!

Coming from a fine-dining background, Moore makes simple food shine. The chalkboard menu changes daily based on what is being caught right here on our shores. Nothing is ever frozen and while prepared simply, each menu item is treated with care.

Ricky Moore’s cookbook (purchase locally or via Bookshop) landed on our guide to essential North Carolina cookbooks.


104 City Hall Plaza

If you eat at Spanglish and not take a selfie in front of the mural, did you even eat there? This thriving food truck from Raleigh arrived in Durham to serve us all some modern Puerto Rican food and we couldn’t be happier!

One of Spanglish’s most traditional dishes they serve is Mofongo, which mixes crushed plantains and a delicious broth.

Served with juicy pork, maduros, and avocados, it’s filling and the perfect way to experience Puerto Rican food for the first time!


4900 NC Highway 55, Suite 510

Places to Eat in Durham NC Sushioki RTP Image

Visit Sushioki for sushi burritos, bowls, nachos and more! More than double the size of your standard sushi roll, this place brings fresh, fast, and healthy to RTP.

And not only is the food delicious, but Sushioki partners with organizations such as World Relief to hire area refugees while paying them livable wages. And before you stop by, check out their daily specials for $2 off designated rolls!

ZenFish Poké Bar

810 Ninth St

ZenFish Poké Bar is one of the healthiest (and most delicious) casual restaurants in Durham. With a variety of base options from white rice, brown rice, salad, quinoa to even zucchini noodles, this is the ultimate stop for the rising Poké trend being seen across the country.

One of the best parts of ZenFish is their commitment to the community. The signature bowls of Compassion, Gratitude, Courage, and Kindness are an inspiration and reminder of how to let love into your life.

Sourcing ingredients from local farmers and making sure that everything is compostable makes this guilt-free casual restaurant a must-stop!

Dessert in Durham

For some, Dessert is what you eat after an amazing meal at a sit-down place. But as you’ll see there, these dessert-specific spots are the perfect way to finish your journey through our favorite casual restaurants in Durham.


2618 Hillsborough Rd

With seasonal flavors and tastes inspired by owner Summer Bicknell‘s travels, Locopops is the perfect place to dangle your legs off a front porch and lick a pop! We love their baby pops and silky ice cream, too.

Thanks to their expanding menu, you can even grab a slice of Mexican chocolate chess pie.

If you’re into inspirational stories (I mean, who isn’t?), read our interview with one of our favorite People of NC, the loco lady herself, Summer Bicknell!

The Parlour

117 Market St

Want a sweet treat while strolling around downtown? The Parlour is the best place to go! Local fresh ingredients and 18 percent butterfat means this ice cream will leave you wishing for a double scoop.

They have plenty of treats for everyone, with vegan-friendly fruit sorbets and coconut milk-based creamy ice cream! Personal favorites include their Bourbon Butter Pecan, Vietnamese Coffee, and Salted Butter Caramel.

Ready to Dig Into these Restaurants in Durham?

These are not the only casual restaurants in Durham that we love, but this should get you started if you’ve never eaten here. With such an awesome food scene to tackle, this was tough.

If you’ve explored some of the Bull City’s places to eat, what’s been your favorite so far? What’s your favorite casual spot to grab food in Durham?

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5 thoughts on “30+ Delicious Restaurants in Durham (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert!)”

    • We definitely need to include this here. Nice catch! We have it on our guide to breakfast in NC, but certainly should have it here. Thank you, Kendell!

  1. Cocoa Cinnamon is a great place to try in Durham. They have 3 locations. Best atmosphere great place to relax & many different blends of coffee made to your order, also delicious pastries.


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