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15 Best Restaurants in Durham, NC in 2023

two racks of ribs on a bbq

This list of the best places to eat in Durham covers delights from the best sushi, to the best ribs, and everything in between. North Carolina is known for its own particular blend of tomato-based, pork barbecue that’s slightly sweeter than others you may have tried. But don’t be fooled into thinking that barbecue is all to be found in Durham.

I recently spent three glorious months housesitting in Durham, North Carolina. Having that length of time there really gave me a chance to immerse myself in the local environment, and being a huge foodie myself, I did my fair share of exploration into the city’s culinary scene. Here, I am going to share my list of the 15 best restaurants in Durham, NC.

15 Best Restaurants in Durham

There are so many top restaurants in Durham, that this has been a pretty difficult list to finalize. I had a lot of favorites that I enjoyed revisiting time and again during my stay, and I’ve made sure to give some variety as I could have easily come up with 15 great barbecue spots alone!

It’s also worth noting that as well as offering great ‘restaurant food’, many of the places in this post offer bar snacks or lighter bites too; perfect if you’re pushed for time, or are happy to sit at the bar. Here are my 15 top picks for where to eat in Durham:

1. The Blue Note Grill

As one of the best traditional restaurants in Durham, The Blue Note has to be first on my list. I went back so many times as it’s not only a cool setting with daily live music, but it also offers some truly fantastic barbecue. The service is excellent, the prices are very reasonable and the portions are so hearty that you’ll do well to finish your plate!

Stepping into The Blue Note Grill, you’ll likely hear some Bluegrass (1940s American roots music) being performed on the in-house stage by local musicians. You’ll find groups of between 2 and 6 playing there most afternoons whilst you enjoy a bite and the sound of the string band music in the background gives an authentic vibe, which I loved.

The full rack of ribs is pretty impressive. It comes with two sides (I had the mac and cheese and collard greens) plus hushpuppies, and it’s easily enough for two to share. The option to order a plate of sides, where you can pick any 4 for $11.99, is a popular choice; especially when looking for a delicious selection of smaller bites, or if you simply can’t make up your mind.

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