Restaurant Recos for Durham NC

My son and his girlfriend pulled a daily double by BOTH of them getting into Duke MBA school (Fuqua). I need restaurant recommendations (all types) for the next two years. Thanks.

Congrats! A few of my favorite places:

A little further away, my pick for best restaurant in the region:

Any of these are generally worth trying:

Gets a lot of foodie love but I’ve only had one approaching-great meal here:

Not a restaurant but very highly recommended:

We’ll have to see how some other places fare as they come out of hibernation.

Did you see this? Some are listed here, others I don’t agree with or are inconsistent, the rest I haven’t checked out:

Don’t forget Rue Cler. I haven’t been but board member nathan is part owner so the wine list is one that would make me happy with Baudry and Ollivier. Menu is French bistro.

Have had some really good meals there over the years but Nathan had discussed here having a tough time with the pandemic, and wanted to hear from him and try again before making a recommendation - looked at the website before posting and the restaurant is open, but there has been a fairly significant menu update ($35 prix fixe is now $60). Potentially a very good place to add to the rotation.

Similar situation with the restaurant at The Durham - couldn’t tell from their website if Reusing is still cooking there, and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been. Panciuto on the other hand I ate at last weekend.

I would like to find a truly great Central American or Mexican place there. Nothing I’ve tried has been at the same level as Taqueria Mi Pueblo so many years ago, even though east Durham had this national coverage of these places a while back.

Is the Angus Barn still in business? When I was at Duke law school (65-68) it was the top restaurant in the area.

Yes it is, probably a Raleigh address though, even if it is pretty close to Durham. I’m generally not a steak house person but they are a local institution, and have a loyal following and fairly deep verticals of DRC back to the mid-90s at below-market prices.

Thanks for all the input. It’s what makes the WB so special.


Thanks for the mentions, Stan and Jay.

Rue Cler has reopened and we’ve been lucky enough to add significant talent to both the front and back of the house while keeping our chef, Todd, and sous chef, Alex. Because we were closed for so long some of the things have been slow to come around. The website is still a work in progress, but Resy is now live for online reservations and the menu is updated. The wine list isn’t quite online yet.

Our beverage director is very well connected in the industry (previously running the Absenthe group wine program in San Francisco) and we will be getting our wine events up and running soon.

We’ve made some calculated changes to our business model that I think are good for our guest experience and our employees long term.

Skip the Angus Barn and go to NanaSteak. It has become a tourist trap, especially during the holidays. Most new restaurants around Durham have trended toward casual. Luna Rotisserie, Mateo Tapas, and Local 22 are some favorites of mine. If you go to Rue Cler stop by the Izakaya down the street for a night cap. You can also eat a full meal there if you desire.

We’ve had some stupendous meals at Mateo, but it had been somewhat inconsistent later…certainly haven’t given up on them. Luna is on my list of places to try.

Dashi, the Japanese place down from Rue Cler you mention, turned me and my two kids away one night when the place was nearly empty downstairs without offering a wait list and, right or wrong, my gut feeling at the time was that they didn’t want to be accommodating. The kids are my good restaurant buddies (had been to Arpege, Toutain, and Ledbury with me by then) and since M-Kokko and his other places are good and literally right around the corner, I haven’t wanted to return.

Edit: I wonder if the original Nana’s will come out of the pandemic in some way. Like I say, I am not a steakhouse person and have not been to NanaSteak, although I see one or two of the signature Nana’s dishes have migrated over. No DRC as far as I know, but no Wild Turkey kitsch either :slight_smile:. Howell had closed a year before, then reopened, then the pandemic happened. It had been one of our favorite comfortable places over the years even if predictable, along with MG.

mothers and sons, sister restaurant to mateo and next door.

A few years ago, I was in Durham for a business event and we had one private dinner upstairs at Mateo Tapas and it was stellar … I still dream of the steak we had there. There was also a cool brewery that has good food trucks outside which was so much fun even for a non beer drinker like me. And there is a 21c Museum hotel - I always enjoy them for fun hotel rooms and good food options for breakfast etc. I really liked Durham a lot … good atmosphere, lots of fun food options.

Crazy to see this thread and realize i haven’t back in several years and time has not been kind to my favorite places (An in Cary is a great example).

If you want a deep wine list, Fearington House was always the place to go. Angus Barn was a great visit and is right next to the airport (I did a couple of impromptu dinners with eBob guys there) but the last time I was there it was way past its prime. Nana’s was always a favorite, especially when I was back on a recruiting budget. Weekend breakfast at Vin Rouge was also fun. If you’re up late, Cosmic Cantina for the DUKE win!

I’d hit up my boy Hai at as he still keeps a close eye on that scene, even though he’s moved to PA.

He was at Herons / Umstead wasn’t he…an outstanding pro. I remember his wide-eyed enthusiasm for some things I brought for my 50th birthday (e.g. '90 Raveneau Valmur, the best showing for a white wine I’ve cellared), and good recommendations from the list when I’d asked about relative values at other times.

I took the kids to Fearrington a couple of years ago after many years absence - great staff and a wonderfully classy country inn atmosphere, but the wine list wasn’t up to the same standard as then, and dinner seemed like a pleasant homage to 1980s Julia Child. I remember being quite surprised that it was such a throwback.

Siun, Durham has been the happening place in this area since I was a kid in the 80s :slight_smile:, we have a Raleigh address but spend a majority of our dining and entertainment time in Durham.

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Same guy :smiley: I met him when he came out of Duke undergrad via a wine board (Wino Depot, iirc), when he a wine distributor in the area. We used to hang out on Friday nights, sit in the driveway and go through the samples. Great guy and Siun, in particular, would appreciate his IG feed.

Sad to hear Fearrington is going downhill. I need to get back on the recruiting circuit and take a trip back to the mothership!

Thanks for the tip! I need to branch out on IG more.

Spent two days in Raliegh-Durham. Very fun time, excited to go back. I go often but it is always in and out for meetings so this was my first time there for a weekend.

Oakwood Pizza Box is excellent. Pizza very good and inspired by Di Faras and a truly excellent wine list (although they don’t really have a list), best ever in a Pizzeria.

I had very low expectations for Fearrington and we were pleasantly surprised the food was extremely good and creative. The Fried chicken dish had black garlic which was outstandingly cleaver. The wine list was per the wine director recently repriced and was still cheap. Lots of back vintage Riesling that I tool full advantage of…

Some photos of the weekend!

Nice! I’ve heard from wine friends here about Oakwood Pizza Box for wine, especially Champagne, but haven’t been. (Technically, these are in Raleigh and the rural outskirts of Chapel Hill not Durham, but it’s effectively one metro area and no more than a 45 minute drive or so from any one place to another.) Also good to hear about Fearrington - it has a special place in our local culinary history and should be as good as this.

Thread hijack

Daughter and son-in-law just relocated to Raleigh (north side), so looking for recs.
They like wine but are more into the brewery scene.

Can’t recommend Oakwood Box Pizza enough and that is coming from a spoiled NYer.