The Durham Food Scene Spring Surge
Here's the dish on the best new places to eat in Durham – just in time for summer.
Against all odds, new restaurants continue to develop and open up across Durham. Kudos to local restaurant owners who have created online menus, built new patios for outdoor dining, opened up completely new establishments, and pivoted time and again during the pandemic. We are excited to get back to normal-ish and welcome new cafes, pizza shops, a mini Korean food hall, and so much more to the Durham food scene.
With so many new things to eat and places to discover, we joined forces with Amber Watson, owner of Bites of Bull City, to bring you a roundup of new restaurants in Durham just in time for summer. Whether you're visiting or looking to fuel up as you adventure around, make sure to check out these new spots with the people you love.
Everlou Coffee Co.
There’s a brand new coffee shop in downtown Durham on N. Mangum St. You don’t have to be a coffee expert to enjoy Everlou Coffee Co.’s new space, which welcomes all to share connection and creativity over a good cup of joe. The shop features Pure Intentions coffee out of Charlotte, NC and treats from local bakers such as gluten-free JP’s Pastry and Junie B’s cookies.
Research Triangle Park (RTP) continues to expand with new restaurants filtering into the area. In what was briefly Gusto Farm to Street, there is a new healthy grain and salad bowl fast-casual restaurant called Farmside Kitchen, a women-led business that prides itself on using ingredients sourced from local and regional farm partners. In addition to their delicious food, they also serve hand-crafted sparkling drinks containing herbs from the restaurant’s in-house vertical garden.
The Glass Jug
This South Durham taproom and brewery has a second prime location in the middle of all the action in downtown Durham. The new spot serves exclusive Glass Jug beers on draft, plus draft wine and cider. Stop by and enjoy a drink on the patio overlooking Durham Central Park.
Heavenly Buffaloes continues to maintain a solid business from their popular take-out shack near Duke’s East Campus. They now have a second Durham location in the plaza off of Erwin Road near Duke Hospital in what was formerly The Tamale Factory. Their buffalo wings are heavenly indeed, especially when paired with their signature waffle fries!
Little Pizza Box
Who doesn’t love more mouth-watering pizza? Little Pizza Box (which stems from Oakwood Pizza Box in downtown Raleigh) is now open in the Ponysaurus Brewing Co. taproom, serving guests 14-inch pies (and cannoli!). Guests can now enjoy pizza and beer under the newly-roofed second-story patio and in the brewery's spacious beer garden. Online ordering is also available for pick up and takeout.
Another RTP addition was created by the team at Chapel Hill Restaurant Group (CHRG) and the former chef of Lula’s in Chapel Hill. LuLuBangBang offers an eclectic array of pan-Asian street food like pad thai, tom kha soup, coconut char-grilled skewers, and kung pao shrimp, along with tasty tiki-inspired cocktails. Check out their beautiful modern new space off Page Road.
Park’s Food St.
The owner of Itaewon Grill, a Korean barbeque bowl fast-casual restaurant off Erwin Road, took the leap to open a mini Korean food hall in the former location of Piper’s Deli. The Park’s Food St. space, which also has an outdoor patio, features three delicious concepts: 1) Cupdak which is Korean fried chicken served in bowls, sandwiches, and wings; 2) Ramyum which is Korean noodles dishes; and 3) street tacos, including fried fish, beef bulgogi kimchi, fried chicken, and pork belly.
For the vegan crowd, there is a new comfort food restaurant with owners spreading the joy of vegan soul food as a fast food concept. You will find Pure Soul poised in a little oasis off Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. Here, diners can enjoy dishes like popcorn “shrimp,” fried “chicken” sandwiches and vegan BBQ platters in a bright and welcoming space both indoors and out (as well as to go). The menu also features fresh housemade lemonade and local vegan baked treats, including Taylor Street Sweet Cupcakes and Dee’s Kitchen.
Rofhiwa Book Cafe
East Durham gained a new neighborhood hangout this spring with the addition of Rofhiwa Book Café, located on the corner of Angier Ave. and Driver St. Rofhiwa is a Black-owned independent shop featuring a collection of books for all ages that capture the artistry and experience of Black writers across classic and contemporary works. Enjoy a cup of coffee from the café as you browse through their extensive collection.
Simons Says Dip This
In exciting ice cream news, Simons Says Dip This is finally open on the ground floor of One City Center. This soft serve ice cream shop makes our wildest childhood dreams come true with over 20 different house-made flavors of chocolate to dip in! Sprinkle your cone with toppings like crystalized cookie butter rocks or caramel popcorn. You can also purchase their artisanal nut butter spread on-site or leave with a bag of their fun freeze-dried candies like puffy Jolly Ranchers and Skittles.
Tobacco Wood Brewing Co.
This female-veteran-owned taproom opened their second spot in NC at Meridian Parkway. Tobacco Wood Brewing Co. features 30+ craft taps and delicious bites like pork belly grilled cheese, BBQ tacos, and flatbreads. Enjoy all the outdoor seating and grassy nooks with your family and your dog.
More refreshing treats can be had at Golden Belt this summer thanks to the addition of Yaya Tea, specializing in freshly brewed fruit and milk teas with boba or jellies, along with snacks like rice balls and gyoza. This is the tea shop’s second North Carolina location, with the first having grown a steady following in Chapel Hill.
There are a few other establishments to keep on your radar for summer openings, including the following:
BB’s Crispy Chicken
BB's Crispy Chicken, a triangle fried chicken sandwich chain spearheaded by James Beard Award-winning chef Ashley Christensen, is opening at the University Hill development this summer.
Golden Belt will be gaining a new pizza tenant this summer. Cugino Forno specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza using ingredients certified by the Italian government. (We already know it's going to be good!) They import almost 85% of their ingredients from or around Napoli, including fresh buffalo mozzarella and San Marzano tomato sauce.
Press is a European-inspired coffeehouse offering quality coffee and a variety of sweet and savory crepes. The first location opened in Graham, NC, and the second location is slated to open at the American Tobacco Campus this summer.
The owners of Kingfisher cocktail bar and the QueenBurger pop-up plan to open Queeny’s, a restaurant and bar, this summer. Queeny's will include a drip coffee bar, a curated bookstore, and a zero-fee, soundproof podcast studio. Expect hot and cold sandwiches, fried pickles and so much more!