College rivalries are no laughing matter, however, the same goes for hunger. Despite my undying love for Chapel Hill and all things UNC, I will be the first one to tell you that there are some real dining gems just 8 miles down the road. Don’t get me wrong, Franklin Street surely offers plenty of great options. However, if you’re feeling ambitious, I strongly encourage you to head over to Durham and check out the food scene. I know, I know, the blasphemy! At the same time, I strongly discourage showing any support/appreciation/affection towards Duke on your adventure. Remember that this is strictly in the name of food. It is and always will be: A GDTBATH.
When I say that the line is always out of the door, I am not being dramatic about how many people are trying to cram themselves into this tiny bakery and café. Seriously, plan to wait outside. This counter-service restaurant serves everything from sandwiches, salads, soups, house-made bagels and biscuits. However, if you’re not going to get a donut then just stay in Chapel Hill and swipe into the dining hall.
As far as the bagels, I recommend going for one of the daily specials. I mean, when else are you going to get a bagel with a fried egg, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, avocado, cream cheese and peach jam? Everything is fresh, local, seasonal and ridiculously tasty. I must warn you: After your first experience at Monuts, every Good Morning Camper at Alpine just won’t taste the same.
Location: 110 E Parrish St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of Operation: 7am-3pm Monday-Thursday, 7am-5pm Friday and Saturday, 8am-3pm Sunday
Holy S*&t! This bakery and brunch café is no joke. Scratch is worth the drive because all the ingredients are local and seasonal so your food is guaranteed to be handcrafted, wholesome and straight up awesome. As a heads up, the weekend brunch menu is different than it is during the week. If you go during the weekend, the avocado toast is a MUST.
The wall-sized chalkboard menu can be a bit intimidating, especially since half the words seem completely foreign, but don’t be discouraged! Skim the options, find a food that you recognize and order that. This is my technique and it has worked without fail every time. If the language barrier is just too overwhelming, calmly walk over to the bakery case and let your eyes do the ordering. The pies have been featured in Bon Appetit, USA Today and New York Times, to name a few, so you are in good hands!
Location: 111 W Orange St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of Operation: 7:30am-4pm Tuesday-Friday, 9am-3pm Saturday and Sunday
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles
A brunch at Dame’s is more than a meal – it is a culinary experience. It is not any day that you can go to a restaurant that will serve you massive pieces of fried chicken atop a house-made waffle. To top off all of that goodness, all the chicken and waffle entrees are paired with a variety of world-famous “shmears.” Not gonna lie, I was a bit frightened by the initial idea of this food combination, but sometimes in life you just need to take that leap of faith and sink your teeth into a piece of fried chicken and a golden waffle…simultaneously. Wait, what?
Definitely arrive with an empty stomach because they do not skimp on portions here. Not only will you leave with a satisfied appetite, but also with a new perspective and maybe even a little bit of regret after you think long and hard about what you just consumed. But hey, carpe diem, am I right?
Location: 317 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of Operation: 10am-3pm Monday, 10am-9pm Tuesday-Thursday, 10am-10-pm Friday and Saturday, 10am-4pm Sunday
This cozy sandwich shop offers authentic Italian cuisine that will have you falling in AMORE! There are paninis (hot sandwiches), tramezzinis (cold sandwiches), crostinis (small toasted bread with toppings), salads and soup. Any comparison that I could make to Panera Bread would be doing this restaurant a huge injustice.
The husband-and-wife owners have a fine-dining background, and all the food is cooked using local and seasonal ingredients. The attention to detail in every meal is what sets Toast apart: the fine cheeses, the cured meats, house-made pesto and fresh produce. Next time a craving for Italian food hits, spare yourself and all your roommates from another pot of plain pasta and give Toast a try.
Location: 345 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of Operation: 11am-3pm Monday, 11am-8pm Tuesday-Saturday, Closed Sunday
Rise Biscuits and Donuts
Waking up is undoubtedly the worst part of the day, but if Rise is your first destination, then it isn’t so bad. Rise is the place to go if you’re looking for a cheap and quick breakfast that you wish would never end. There’s typically a pretty long line, but I usually spend most of my time in line struggling to choose between all the different plain, cake, filled and iced donuts. A raspberry cheesecake filled donut? Yes please, I’ll take three.
They also do not mess around when it comes to biscuits. There are weekly biscuit specials, or you can customize yours with their wide selection of meats, cheeses, eggs and other toppings. It’s very important to note that they’re open from 7am-2pm, and their most popular donuts (and CRONUTS) sell out like literal hot cakes, so set an extra alarm and go in the morning. The donut flavors are seasonal and constantly changing, so you have a valid excuse to make this a weekly routine. #noshame
Location: 8200 Renaissance Pkwy, Durham, NC 27713
Hours of Operation: 7am-2pm
While Franklin Street certainly has no shortage of cupcake options, you should still head over to this sister-owned bakery. The cupcake flavors are inspired by fun cocktails and beverages, not to mention they are moist and incredible. It’s a fun little place to hang out, grab a cup of coffee, and treat yourself to a selection of standard and mini sized cupcakes.
Baking from scratch in college is not always convenient or accessible, so you’re better off just coming here for a cupcake. It is also a great “bar” to head to for those of us that are under 21 but still looking for an inclusive and social hangout spot (they do not serve alcohol here). Let’s get chocolate wasted?
Location: 101 E Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of Operation: 11am-8pm Monday-Thursday, 11am-9pm Friday and Saturday, Closed Sunday