While the historical city centre has changed little over the last couple of centuries, the city’s food scene is certainly fast evolving. We’ve rounded up just a few picks for the best places to eat in Durham.
Durham’s restaurant scene has been gathering momentum in recent years, with the city’s gastronomic offerings branching out to include not only British staples – like the award-winning Bells fish restaurant and exemplary Finbarr’s Restaurant – but now also welcoming dishes from around the world.
These global flavours include Thai and pan-Asian cuisine from Zen and La Spada Ristorante’s authentic Italian.
The popular chain restaurant La Tasca brings a taste of the Mediterranean to the city, with its meaty mains, varied tapas menu and a hearty mix of appetisers, sides and desserts. Food is served in a warm, welcoming interior with candles burning away cosily in empty wine bottles. It’s easy to lose a sense of where you are and expect to step out into the balmy climes of Catalonia, especially after sampling a tipple off their plentiful drinks menu.
For a feast from further afield, Lebaneat serves up deliciously tempting Middle Eastern food. If it’s your first foray into Lebanese food, mezze platters will give you the opportunity to sample a bit of everything. If you’re already well-versed in the delicious flavours, you’ll find a whole host of favourites, like fresh, hearty salads, densely packed wraps and juicy shawarmas cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
You can read more about our pick of the best Durham restaurants on our dedicated page.
As the little sister venue to the venerable Flat White Kitchen, the Flat White Café had some big shoes to fill. At home in a charming red brick building, with tables spilling out onto the cobbled street, the Flat White Café has a small food menu that changes every week, offering homemade sandwiches, hearty soups and savoury croissants.
Of course, when your café is named after a coffee, food isn’t the main focus. Boldly claiming to serve the best coffee in the city, the Flat White Café puts its baristas through six rigorous months of training and uses the finest beans from the Ouseburn Coffee Co.; Newcastle’s first independent roaster.
Not to be forgotten, tea lovers can find refuge in the enchanting Tealicious Tearoom, by Elvet Bridge. Borne out of a quest for a decent brew, Tealicious serves 24 individual blends of loose leaf tea, cheerily displayed behind the counter in glass jars. You’ll feel as if you’ve happily stumbled into a country farmhouse kitchen as you sip from fine bone china teacups and indulge in one of the cafés’ fresh handmade cakes, scones or sandwiches.
Not to be out-punned, Cafédral Durham is a welcoming home from home. Just a stone’s throw away from Durham Cathedral, behind a bright blue door just off Saddler Street and up a set of pretty tiled steps, you’ll find home baked scones with generous dollops of clotted cream, delectably moist cakes, steaming soups and filling sandwiches on offer amid charmingly mismatched chairs and tables.
If you wanted a café in keeping with Durham’s rich historical roots, you won’t find a better fit than Vennel’s Café. With the higgledy-piggledy charm of olde England, thanks to its crooked ceilings, heavy beams and original fireplaces, Vennel’s has space for over 150 people, with seating over three floors of the 16th century building. All of Vennel’s delicious food is baked daily on the premises, giving you a wonderfully authentic experience in the heart of one of the UK’s oldest cities.
For fresh, local produce, look no further than Durham’s Market Hall, overlooking the River Wear. A 19th century timestamp, the hall remains the beating heart of Durham’s trader community with over 50 independent stalls trading from Monday to Saturday every week. The beautifully restored Victorian hall still has original cast-iron pillars and vaulted ceilings, while the hustle and bustle hark back to a time when the market was the main focus for trade in the city. You’ll find 14 food stalls plying their trade here, from traditional bakers, butchers and fishmongers to stalls selling wines, beer and pizza by the slice.
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