Ever spent more time searching for places to study than actually studying? Stop the search now. I’ve found the best places around Durham to get your fingers typing and taste buds tingling.
Known for their monstrous cake slices and breakfast burritos, Mad Hatter’s is a feeding ground for Dukies. It lures students with its all day breakfast, Duke-themed cookies and, most importantly, its walk-able location.
Workability: If you can work surrounded by constant chatter, you’re set. MadHats is packed with tables and has outlets all along the back wall. Beware on weekends – they’ll kick you out if more desirable customers (i.e. ones not refilling a single cup of coffee for 3 hours straight) are waiting.
Favorite menu item: Cup of Oatmeal. Ask for bananas instead of strawberries, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and BOOM Christmas in a bowl.
Location: 1802 W Main St, Durham, NC 27705
Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 7am to 9pm Sun, 8am to 3pm
Half kitschy store half restaurant, Potis defines eclectic. Their outdoor patio is quiet and usually people-free during the week, making it an ideal work spot.
Workability: You don’t see many people dining with their laptops here, but it’s definitely doable (as I have tested many times). They have tons of spacious seating, inside and out, plus they serve coffee in Friends’ sized mugs. Oh and there’s no Internet – debatably a pro or con.
Favorite menu item: Cheddar cheese biscuit
Location: 112 S Duke St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of operation: Mon-Sat 7:30am to 7pm, Sun 10am to 3pm
Cocoa Cinnamon’s exposed brick and twinkly lights create a cozy yet trendy atmosphere, great for studying. It’s a drive away, but a single visit will keep you feeling #hip and #indie for days. Cocoa Cinnamon prides itself on its extensive and in-depth coffee menu featuring international blends and ingredients.
*beanies + oversized glasses required
Workability: Cluttered with huge armchairs, CC has plenty of places to work. And when it’s pretty outside, there are long tables with benches to work on.
Favorite menu item: They have over seven specialty hot chocolates with fancy names like “Kallari” and “Askinosie”…you can’t really go wrong.
Location: 420 W Geer St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of operation: Mon-Thur 7:30am to 10pm, Fri 7:30am to 11pm, Sat 8am to 11:00pm, Sun 8am to 10pm
Shooters and Fodil emptying your wallet? Hit up the Nasher, where food points reign. Eat delicious food on Daddy’s dime…and he won’t care because it’s for the sake of learning (right?).
Workability: Modern and spacious, the Nasher is prime as long as there isn’t a crowd (hint: avoid weekends and lunch hours). They have plenty of outside seating, but limited outlets. If you ever need a study break, you can check out the art for free.
Favorite menu item: Red, White and Green Panini plus turkey. Patriotic and palatable!
Location: 2001 Campus Dr, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of operation: Tues, Wed, Fri 10:30am to 4pm, Thurs 10:30am to 9pm, Sat 11am to 4pm, Sun 12pm to 4pm
Known less for their work environment and more for their gelato, Francesca’s is a hidden study-place gem on 9th Street. Open until 10 (which is late for Durham), Francesca’s is walk-able and work-able.
Workability: Dim lit and cozy, Francesca’s is a great place to bang out that essay. They have plenty of booths to spread out in and great access to outlets.
Favorite menu item: Affogatto (a scoop of gelato with espresso on top)
Location: 706 9th St, Durham, NC 27705
Hours of operation: Mon-Wed 8am to 10pm, Thurs-Sat 8am to 11pm, Sun 10am to 10pm
If Francesca’s gelato is too distracting, hop two doors down to Market Street Coffeehouse. Be nice to the baristas: the person brewing your coffee may be in one of your classes.
Workability: Although the first floor seating is limited, the basement is full of tables and chairs. You can curl up on a comfy couch to read or spread your work out on a big table. Get there early if you want to set up camp on Sunday though.
Location: 714 9th St, Durham, NC 27705
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 6:30am to 8pm, Sat-Sun 7:30am to 8pm
“What?” you say. “Isn’t Grace’s that CHINESE restaurant? The one shoved in the basement of…what’s that building’s name….Trent?” Ah yes, that is exactly the restaurant I’m talking about. Grace’s is the most underrated on campus study spot. Where else can you get Kung Po shrimp, a burger AND an omelet while reading Econ?
Workability: Grace’s has plenty of booths and tables, and a side room that’s typically empty. It’s usually quiet, you have guaranteed Internet and sweatpants are acceptable (and encouraged).
Favorite menu item: Chicken fried rice and a large serving of fresh fruit
Location: 310 Trent Drive, Durham, NC 27710
Hours of operation: Sun-Fri 10am to 9pm
If there wasn’t a small, neon blue sign above the door, it would be easy to miss. Respite, a boutique coffee shop right across from Bright Leaf, is my favorite place to work. Not only is it run by a Duke Law graduate, it has big round tables, comfy couches and chairs and a side room just for studying. Respite feels more like a retro living room than a coffee shop.
Workability: Respite isn’t huge, so if you snag a table you’re guaranteed a quiet, calm work environment. Plus, it has multiple large tables that are great for spreading out or working in groups. Or if you want to snuggle up and read Macbeth, there are lots of plushy couches.
Favorite menu item: Anything on their enormous tea menu.
Location: 115 N Duke St, Durham, NC 27701
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri 7:30am to 8pm, Sat 9am to 6pm