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Durham Hidden Gems You Should Discover

Estimated Read Time:
5 minutes

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 with a loyal following of regulars — you'll have to dig a little deeper.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff

Explore unique Durham districts and unfamiliar retail and entertainment spots to expand your Bull City culinary horizons!

We read comments from Durham's loyal Facebook fans and Bull City Reddit users to learn their favorite secret-spot restaurants. Locals pitched in with the recommendations listed below.

Before visiting any of these hidden gems, please check in advance with each directly about COVID-19 safety precautions as well as updated hours and offerings.

Satellite Park

Next to the Duke Arts Annex 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 done by a different local artist. The park is open from dawn until dusk.

The Atomic Fern

This bar is not for those wishing to indulge in 'sports ball' watching. More for the gamers (board and otherwise), as well as local craft beer connoisseurs, this is a hangout hideout you should explore soon.

Banh's Cuisine

This cash-only, cozy restaurant on Ninth Street offers fresh flavors from Vietnam and China.

Benson Nursery

This Durham retailer of quality locally grown trees and shrubs since 1998 is right off of Guess Road and home to hand spun wreaths and delightful foliage.

Benson Nursery 

Bull City Running Co. Store

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.'

Bull City Running Co.

Chicken Hut

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.

Crafts and Drafts NC

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!

Dulce Cafe and Gelato

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 sandwich) 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."

Dulce Cafe and Gelato 

El Chapin

Tucked away in a strip mall, El Chapin serves inexpensive Guatemalan food and doubles as a small grocery.

For Garden's Sake

Do you like feeding crackers to alpacas and goats? Do you enjoy wandering about expansive spaces filled with ceramics, succulents, and perennials? Make plans to discover this incredible garden center filled with shrubs, trees, and gifts.

The French Corner Bakery

In a nondescript shopping center north of Highway 85, The French Corner Bakery "makes the real deal Parisian-style breads and pastries," according to Reddit user FlowersForMegatron.

Home Plate Restaurant

Open since 1995, Home Plate Restaurant serves cafeteria-style Southern cooking with a variety of entrees and sides.

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Itaewon Grill

Itaewon Grill is about a year old, but it's already picked up a loyal following. This Korean fusion restaurant is independently owned and has delicious, fresh ingredients.

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King's Red & White

King's Red & White has been a family-owned fixture of Durham since 1956. This market has fantastic butcher shop along with a ton of local products and amazing service.

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La Cacerola Cafe and Restaurante

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!"

The Mad Popper

Durham's local gourmet popcorn shop pops fresh popcorn daily and covers it in over 40 different flavors ranging from sweet to deliciously savory.

The Mad Popper-1 

Mediterranean Grill and Grocery

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.


Melo Trattoria & Tapas

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.

Refinements Consignment Shop

Filled with statement jewelry and timeless pieces for an affordable price, this shop is filled wall to wall with gems you won't find anywhere else.

Refinements Consignment   


Indian cuisine with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Gluten-free and vegan dishes are available, and Sitar offers a lunch buffet daily.

Thai Spoon

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.

The Vince and Ethel Simonetti Historic Tuba Museum

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.

Vince and Ethel Tuba Museum

You might be thinking at this point, "Where do I even begin?" Luckily for you, the good news is that you can't go wrong with any of these choices.

About the Author

Discover Durham Staff