Durham Hidden Gems You Should Discover
It’s not hard to find top-notch food, entertainment, and retail in Durham. But if you’re looking for the hidden gems — tucked away eateries, boutiques, and outdoor sanctuaries — you'll have to dig a little deeper.
Posted By Discover Durham Staff
Get ready to expand your Bull City horizons and explore unfamiliar retail, entertainment, restaurants, and outdoor spots. We read comments from our loyal @DurhamNC social media followers and the r/bullcity subreddit users to learn their favorite secret-spot restaurants, not-so-obvious stellar finds, and one-of-a-kind finds (did you know that we have a tuba museum?) so that you can discover even more of Durham on your next adventure.
If it’s cash-only you know it’s good. This cozy restaurant on Ninth Street offers fresh flavors from Vietnam and China.
If you've been wondering where to get that ‘RUN DRM’ swag, you've come to the right place. Voted best running store in the Triangle by Indy Week, this retailer is “dedicated to building a community of runners and walkers”.
La Cacerola Cafe and Restaurante is a Honduran restaurant near the Walltown neighborhood. “We take everyone we know to La Cacerola,” wrote Reddit user Smokeahontas. “Get the guacamole and the pickled vegetables!”
Located on Fayetteville Street, this cash-only, 60-year-old soul food restaurant is known for its mouthwatering fried chicken. You can also find barbecue, collards, and more Southern staples depending on the day of the week.
This woman-founded venture was the passion project of Virginia George, who left a tech job to bring her dream to fruition. This D.I.Y. bar endeavors to "bring communities together through creative exploration and continuous learning." Here, you can get a craft set or bring your own, with friends or family to share a drink and a creative experience. Kids are invited too!
Located in south Durham at Sutton Station, this delectable spot earned this Yelp review: "Oh. My. God. So delicious. Why did I wait so long?? Their BLAT (bacon lettuce AVOCADO toast) is to die for. Their cobb salad? Perfection. All of their breakfast items also look amazing. And their portion sizes are VERY generous. Nothing to complain about here."
Looking for an old-school pool hall. Check out The Green Room on Broad Street. They have billiards, shuffle board, darts, foosball, and beer. And this is the same pool hall that was featured in the movie “Bull Durham”!
Open since 1995, Home Plate Restaurant serves cafeteria-style Southern cooking with a variety of entrees and sides.
Itaewon Grill open before the pandemic and immediately picked up a loyal following. This Korean fusion restaurant is independently owned and has delicious, fresh ingredients.
King's Red & White has been a family-owned fixture of Durham since 1956. This market has a fantastic butcher shop along with a ton of local products and amazing service.
Pop on over to The Mad Popper, Durham's local gourmet popcorn shop. They pop fresh popcorn daily and cover it in over 40 different flavors ranging from sweet to deliciously savory.
The falafel will melt in your mouth here. Tucked away in the Parkwood neighborhood since 2014, this spot is owned by three men who are committed to made-from-scratch gyros, baklava, and other Mediterranean delicacies.
Here, there's drool-worthy Italian cuisine with Spanish influences tucked away in a strip mall. You'll find classics like Bolognese and spaghetti alla puttanesca, along with a globally inspired tapas menu.
Quickly Tea House
When owner Jackie Zhou moved to Durham, she... quickly started her search for great boba in the Bull City and decided to open her own shop. In addition to boba, you can get snacks like popcorn chicken and gyoza.
Rubies on Five Points is a must for any dive bar fan. Basking in a red glow, you can find quirky artwork, live music, and great drink specials.
Next to the Duke Arts Annex on Gattis St, you'll find a unique art exhibit. Inside Durham's Burch Avenue Neighborhood, there were a bunch of decommissioned satellite dishes from Duke Tel Com department in the 90s. Instead of sending them to the scrap heap, organizers turned them into a work of art. Each satellite was painted by a different local artist. The park is open from dawn until dusk.
Although it's official name is Sennett’s Hole, it’s more commonly known as Turtle Hole. It’s an almost 2-mile round trip through the woods from West Point on the Eno City Park so be prepared for a trek. This is also a destination you DO NOT want to get the directions for on Google Maps. Check out the Eno River website for directions to Turtle Hole.
For those of you who might be worried that we just spoiled your favorite secret swimming hole, fear not. People have been posting photos of Turtle Hole on Instagram for years.
You might've seen this spot while zooming along Chapel-Hill Blvd, and it's time you swung by. At Sitar, you'll find Indian cuisine with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Gluten-free and vegan dishes are available, and they just opened up a new patio.
Tucked away in a shopping center, Thai Spoon serves classic Thai dishes. "So good, food is made to order, prices are reasonable," wrote Facebook user Liz Stabenow.
Imagine: five rooms filled with 328 instruments procured from around the world by a passionate, knowledgeable couple. Come for the atmosphere, but stay for the vast expertise and storytelling about this musical behemoth invented in 1835. Vince joined the NC Symphony in the middle of the 20th century after discovering the tuba after playing trumpet as a younger musician. He and Ethel never looked back, and now, you get to reap the benefits of tubas everywhere.
You might be thinking at this point, "Where do I even begin?" The good news is that you can't go wrong with any of these choices. But, what would be smart to decide first, is where to stay. Check out our 70+ lodging options, ranging from AAA Four Diamond properties and locally owned boutique hotels to convenient spots along major thoroughfares and other bed and breakfasts off the beaten path.