Dine Outside at These Durham Patios
Here's how to eat well and social distance in Durham.
If you're visiting Durham and looking for an outdoor spot to meet up with a friend or family member, or if you need to leave the house and enjoy some cooking that's not your own, here's a list of places where you can feel safe eating outdoors and savor the flavor with a bit of elbow room.
We've included spots with permanent outdoor spaces, but many of Durham's favorites restaurants have created temporary outdoor seating during the pandemic. Please check with the restaurant you have in mind to see if they have something set up as you plan your outing.
Blue Note Grill
Family-owned and operated, the Blue Note Grill is a live-music venue, complete with a full-service restaurant and bar. Their musical reputation and Southern-style menu have people coming back again and again. The slow-smoked barbecue and ribs are ready and the beer garden patio is open, so head on over for some outdoor music, food, and fun.
Bocci Trattoria & Pizzeria
Bocci, the game, is an Italian classic rich in tradition and reminiscent of good times with family, friends, and food. This Italian restaurant's goal is to create an "Old World" experience that reflects the sights, sounds, and aromas of authentic Italian cuisine. They offer an array of tempting Italian favorites that can be enjoyed outside on the large patio.
The 1999 Freightliner MT55 Tool Truck powering this 'Southern soul, Caribbean flair, Euro-African' cuisine possesses a bold, unapologetic moniker: The Soul Patrol. We're so glad it does, because that's exactly what Boricua Soul gives: food for the soul. Husband and wife team Toriano and Serena Fredericks have been melding their Puerto Rican and African American heritage into delightful bites for locals everywhere, and are enjoying a large permanent space at the American Tobacco Campus under an industrial awning, where folks can practice social distancing while eating a delicious meal.
Boxcar Bar & Arcade
Grab your friends and head to Boxcar Bar & Arcade in downtown Durham for the ultimate drinking and gaming experience. With a 7,000 square foot outdoor patio and gaming area, there is plenty of space to relax, enjoy a meal, and have some fun.
Bull City Burger and Pompieri Pizza
When you can't decide between pasture-raised beef burgers and Neapolitan-style pizza, we have a solution for you. Diners can enjoy delicious food from both Bull City Burger & Brewery and Pompieri Pizza all on the same outdoor patio at the same time. Access the patio from Mangum Street, find a seat, then place your order at the ordering window on the side of the Pompieri Pizza building.
Bull McCabe's Irish Pub
This Irish pub is the place for people and pups to spread out and take in the Durham skyline from picnic benches sprawled across an expansive lawn. It might also have the largest outdoor space in downtown Durham, complete with a wraparound patio that seats nearly 85 guests in addition to its lawn space.
Cloche Coffee is one of the latest coffee shops to arrive in the Ninth Street district. The beautiful tranquil interior full of greenery and plants is the perfect place to work, catch up with friends, or recharge, and they serve organic, ethically sourced coffee from Larry’s Coffee. Take your brew onto the patio, or spread out across the street on the grass at Duke's East Campus.
The Rooftop at The Durham Hotel
Enjoy one of Durham's best views from a midcentury marvel. You won't find a dining patio from a higher vantage point than this one. The Durham Hotel's rooftop patio is home to drinks, dining, and yoga.
Geer Street Garden
What do you get when you transform a dilapidated brick building and one-time gas station into a casual hub for comfort food, beers, and cocktails? Geer Street Garden, of course! Relax outside on their covered patio, and enjoy some chicken and dumplings, the fried chicken plate, tamales, and more.
Goorsha and GoJo
Prepare your tastebuds for a taste of Ethiopia in the heart of Durham. Enjoy traditional Ethiopian fare like tibs, meat sautéed in spices, and shiro, chickpea stew, with a modern twist, on Goorsha's spacious outdoor patio. Last year, Goorsha announced the opening of their expanded new second space called Gojo. Grab some delicious Ethiopian tea or coffee and a panini, and enjoy lunch outside on the covered patio.
Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a tasty meal in an old gas station turned hip Southern eatery? GRUB Durham owners Stacey Poston and Wendy Woods combined their passion for community with their love and experience in the restaurant industry to create this full-service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and catering. With both a patio and rooftop bar, they have plenty of comfortable outdoor seating options.
This German-style café and bakery serves contemporary cuisine with a nod to its southern German roots, emphasizing local and seasonal ingredients. Their eclectic, architecturally striking building and garden patio filled with plants and flowers is the perfect backdrop for a casual yet unique dining experience with friends and family.
Open-air fireplaces, a spacious patio, and Asian fusion tapas and cocktails await you at the edge of Durham's lively Ninth Street district. Juju serves up small plates with bold flavors, each prepared creatively with attention to tradition, whimsy, local integrity, and, of course, deliciousness. In addition to its extensive menu, Juju also features a dynamic beverage program of hand-made cocktails, extensive Sake selections, artisan wines, and craft beers.
Madhatter's Cafe & Bakeshop
This cafe and bakeshop connects with local farms to create mouthwatering dishes that nourish the body and soul. Stop by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or grab a coffee and pastry. Their contactless patio dine-in is up and running, so you can sit at an empty table on their patio and put in your order on your phone.
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 friends who are committed to made-from-scratch gyros, baklava, and other Mediterranean delicacies. Outdoor seating and a vast parking lot (bring your own chairs!) await you here.
What do you get when you combine a coffee shop with a beer hall with a Korean-inspired menu with a zen garden? You get the ever-inspiring Namu. It's fitting that the restaurant is a combination of wonderful things because it was the result of two food trucks (Bulkogi and Bo's Kitchen) combining their forces to create a Megazord of culinary delights. Enjoying a meal outside in their zen garden provides all the "new normal" vibes you'll need.
NanaSteak offers high-energy upscale dining at its finest. With an award-winning wine list to complement any meal and incredible downtown Durham views, this is the perfect backdrop for an extraordinary evening. Reservations are currently being accepted for their newly renovated patio.
Head chef Giorgios Bakatsias learned to cook at the foot of his mother’s stove in the quiet village of Karista, Greece. He immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of 12, and his parents’ small diner, above which the family lived, was his first introduction to Durham. After learning in kitchens in New York, Paris, and the Mediterranean, he proceeded to acquire over 30 years of experience in restaurants, food venues and gourmet markets.
Experience the history and talent of this James Beard nominated chef in the intimate outdoor dining space at Parizade.
Chill out with a cold beer and varied snacks on Ponysaursus' grassy lawn, sheltered patio, or lofted deck. Their picnic tables are seven or eight feet long, so you can safely enjoy a socially distanced beer with a friend. With their air filtration systems and more, there's no shortage of social distancing options at this forward-thinking, delightful, open-air brewery.
Calling all beer lovers! Pour Taproom aims to support and showcase local craft beer, so they offer a unique self-serve system that allows you to try a large variety and selection of beer, cider, and wine. Grab a sandwich or a small bite, serve-yourself at the bar, and then hang out on the expanded patio and take in downtown Durham vibes.
The Refectory Café
Established in 2005, the original goal of the Refectory Café was to be a one-of-a-kind farm-to-table restaurant where every diet classification could delight in delicious, satisfying, creative food from a common menu. Let them cater your event or join them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner outside on their lovely outdoor patio.
The Rooftop at Unscripted Durham
Take in downtown views from the comfort of this colorful poolside rooftop outfitted with comfortable seating where you can grab refreshing cocktails and delightful bites to enjoy. The patio features a diverse new American small plates menu in a casual, lively environment.
Saltbox Seafood Joint
Head chef and founder Ricky Moore was nominated for a James Beard award for best chef in the southeast for his fresh catch and scrumptious seafood seasoning. A U.S. Army veteran and author, chef Ricky established Saltbox as a Durham favorite ever since the tiny shack opened on Mangum Street in 2012. People would line up down the block for an hour (or more!) to wait for the delicious fried catch of the day or some trademark Hush-Honeys®. Popularity grew, and he has since opened a second location. Both restaurants have beautiful outdoor seating options.
From oysters and lobster to foie gras, caviar and champagne, this restaurant has both an extensive, delicious menu, and a serene outdoor patio with extensive foliage and string lights. Tables are spread more than six feet apart, and masks and chalkless menus enhance touchless initiatives and sanitary measures.