As a graduating senior, I'll soon be leaving Durham's restaurant scene behind. To celebrate the last hurrah with my giant party of 9 family members and friends, my graduation weekend is jam-packed with restaurant reservations. Over the last few months of planning, I've learned the ins and outs of reserving graduation restaurants. You cannot procrastinate, otherwise your family might be dining at Harris Teeter during grad week. Restaurants book up much faster than you’d think–we're talking multiple months.

Families typically fly in on Thursday night and out on Monday morning. However, this could be different depending on your  Baccalaureate service, or if your family's driving in. You'll likely want dinner reservations for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Breakfast/brunch reservations are common on Friday and Saturday, depending on your schedule of events. Commencement takes place Sunday morning, so you might also want a lunch reservation on Sunday.

Read on and plan accordingly!

5 Months Ahead


pastry, syrup, cake, sweet, dairy product, cream, chocolate

Cuisine: Upscale mediterranean food with a wide menu of seafood, meat and poultry entrées.

Features: Off-site and on-site catering available. Available for both lunch and dinner.

Reservations: OpenTable via the Parizade website, or call (919) 286-9712.

4 Months Ahead

Bleu Olive Bistro

sirloin, sauce, fillet, pepper, vegetable, pork, barbecue, steak, beef, meat

Cuisine: Mediterranean bistro with a menu of seafood, pasta, meat, and poultry.

Features: Outdoor and indoor seating. Open for lunch M - F, Dinner M - Sa, and brunch on Sunday. 

Reservations: For parties of five or more, call at (919) 383-8502. Private dining room (seats 25) can be reserved by phone. All other reservations can be made on OpenTable.

Mothers & Sons Trattoria


Features: Contact them to inquire about their private dining room.

Reservations: Parties of 2-6, reserve online. For parties larger than 6, call (919) 294-8247.

Washington Duke – Fairview Dining Room

pepper, meat, tomato, sauce, vegetable, pork

Cuisine: Upscale dining offering American fare made with local ingredients.

Features: Able to pay using Duke University Food Points. Private rooms for up to 20 guest available for reservation.

Reservations: Dinner or brunch reservations made on OpenTable. Call (919) 493-6699 regarding private rooms

3 Months Ahead

Blue Corn Cafe




Blu Seafood & Bar

Cuisine: Seafood with an extensive oyster bar. 

Reservations: OpenTable (

Juju Asian Tapas + Bar

fish, chicken, asparagus, pork

Cuisine: Asian tapas bar with an extensive menu of small, flavorful plates.

Features: Dine at the bar, in the main dining room, or around the patio fire pit.

Reservations: Reserve via OpenTable.

Local 22

onion, potato, sweet, sweet potato

Cuisine: A gastropub serving a menu of local Southern fare with a seasonal spin.

Features: Prefix graduation dinner for $35 per person.

Reservations: Reserve via OpenTable.

Mateo Bar de Tapas

chicken, sauce

Cuisine: A contemporary setting with a menu of southern-style Spanish tapas.

Features: Available for private events; contact Mary Carr.

Reservations: Reserve on OpenTable or by calling (919) 530-8700.




Reservations: OpenTable


tomato, pepper, vegetable

Cuisine: A daily-changing menu of locally sourced, contemporary American flavors.

Features: Private events for up to 40 guests in the main dining room available for reservation.

Reservations: Book your spot via OpenTable.

Primal Food and Spirits

vinaigrette, pea, salmon
Meredith Davin




Taberna Tapas



Reservations: OpenTable

 2 Months Ahead

Vin Rouge

crust, tomato, vegetable, meat, cheese, sauce

Cuisine: An authentic French Bistro serving a menu of seafood, shellfish, and meats.

Features: Private events available for reservation by contacting Michael Maller.

Reservations: Reserve via OpenTable.

1 Month Ahead


Cuisine: A menu of upscale New American fare with à la carte and tasting options.

Features: Private dining room has capacity for 24; meeting room has capacity for 50. Contact Amber for inquiries.

Reservations: Book 30 days in advance at 10 AM. Reserve via phone at (919) 493-8545 or OpenTable.





Rue Cler




Watts Grocery

fish, vegetable, meat, chicken, crab cakes

Cuisine: A menu of local, southern American fare in a refined setting.

Features: Tables can fit parties of up to 20 guests.

Reservations: Reserve via OpenTable or by phoning (919) 416-5040.