So you’re here at Duke: maybe it’s your first time wandering through the gothic wonderland, or maybe you’re a seasoned veteran who’s lived through the struggles of campus dining (vegan mislabeling mishap, anyone?). With the opening of the brand new West Campus Union, there are dozens of fresh eats to try on campus. Ultimately, though, you’ll find yourself eager to escape food points and swipes at Marketplace. Never fear, Spoon Duke is here to tell you where, when and how to treat yo’self off campus. Dubbed the “foodie capital of the south,” Durham has more good eats than you could possibly imagine.

1. When you’re sick of Joe Van Gogh and Vondy Coffee: Cocoa Cinnamon

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Photo by Izzi Clark

Cocoa Cinnamon has quickly made itself known as Durham’s favorite coffee shop. They offer up the best artisanal drinks in town that you know are top-notch quality.

What to Order: If you’re downtown, grab a Dr. Durham Latte. There isn’t much seating inside, but during the warmer months the patio is perfect. If you’re looking to stay and sit, check out their newer location on Hillsborough off of East Campus.

Locations: Cocoa Cinnamon on W Geer Street – 420 W Geer St, Durham, NC 27701 (7 minute drive from West Campus, near West Village apartments)
Cocoa Cinnamon on Hillsborough – 2627 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27705 (5 minute drive from East Campus)

2. When Perkins and Lily Library are full: Francesca’s Dessert Caffe

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Photo by Kathy Dai

There are only so many reading rooms and you’re probably sick of pumpkin bread at this point. Try studying off campus. Located right off of East Campus on 9th Street, Francesca’s is your go-to off campus spot for studying and snacks.

What to Order: When you need a studying pick me up, get an affogatto – a scoop of gelato with espresso poured on top. The caffeine and sugar should help you finish up that paper you’ve been writing all night.

Location: 706 9th St, Durham, NC 27705 (5 minute walk from East Campus)

3. When you’re going on a Tinder date: Geer Street Garden

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Photo by Meredith Davin

Right across the street from Cocoa Cinnamon in downtown Durham, Geer Street has a homey feel with its outdoor seating and hanging lights. This place doesn’t feel too fancy and is perfect for any first date (Tinder or otherwise).

What to Order: Grilled Fish Tacos. Served with slaw, salsa verde, pico de gallo, crema and lime, this dish will keep you entertained even if your date doesn’t.

Location: 644 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701 (10 minute drive from West Campus; 7 from East)

4. When you’re craving late-night Mexican: Cosmic Cantina

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A classic post-Shooters destination, Cosmic has some of the best guac in Durham. This spot will become your favorite for late-night eats.

What to Order: A burrito. They’re huge – the perfect size for some absurd drunk eats. Appetite not amplified by alcohol? Order a mini.

Location: 1920 Perry St, Durham, NC 27705 (right off of 9th Street; 8 minute walk from East Campus)

5. When you’re craving sushi: Vine

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Vine may not deliver on food points like Sushi Love, but sometimes it’s good to eat sushi on real plates instead of plastic.

What to Order: Sushi Lunch special. 6 pieces of sushi and a California roll for $11 is a pretty good deal.

Location: 2955 Broadway, New York, NY 10027 (5 minute walk from East Campus; next to Ben & Jerry’s) 

6. When you’re craving greasy food: Cookout

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Photo courtesy of @betz.eatz on Instagram

Cookout is the go-to spot when you want to throw nutrition out the window. It’s fast, cheap and open until 3:30am.

What to Order: Definitely design your own milkshake; you can combine any flavors you want (chocolate fudge cookie dough brownie, anyone?). If you’re feeling extra hungry, tack on a burger, fries and hush puppies for only $5.25. The calories-per-dollar deal cannot be beat.

Location: 3624 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27707 (7 minute drive from East Campus)

7. When you’re craving a slice: Pompieri Pizza

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Photo by Emily Waples

Yes, it’s easier to order delivery. But Pompieri, which specializes in Neapolitan pizza, blows anything you can order in (or at Marketplace) out of the water.

What to Order: The Drunken Horse Pizza, made with beer crust dough and house-made sausage. Feeling some veggies? Try the BC pie, with portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, caramelized onion and rosemary.

Location: 102 City Hall Plaza, Durham, NC 27701 (in Historic Firestation #1, around the corner from Bull City Burger & Brewery)

8. When you’re trying to be healthy: Happy + Hale

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Photo by @spoon_duke on Instagram

If you’re craving a salad that isn’t from ABP or just want to feel like you’re in SoCal, stop by Happy + Hale.

What to order: The açaí bowl is probably the only one you’ll find in Durham, so it’s worth ordering at least once.

Location: 703B 9th Street, Durham, NC 27705 (a 7 minute walk from East Campus, near Harris Teeter)

9. When you’re trying to be fancy: Parizade

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Photo courtesy of Parizade

A mediterranean restaurant, Parizade has a trendy, upscale ambiance. Definitely keep it in mind when you start booking for graduation.

What to Order: The seafood risotto, which has shrimp and scallops, gives you a taste of two dishes Parizade excels at: fish and pasta.

Location: 2200 W Main St, Durham, NC 27705 (located next to Crescent Ninth Street apartments)

10. When your parents are visiting and footing the bill: Nana’s

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Photo by Jay Winfrey courtesy of

Nana’s is the place to go when you’re looking to splurge, so why not do so on your parents’ dime? Be sure to check out the sister restaurants, NanaTaco and NanaSteak, which have unique vibes but equally delicious food.

What to Order: The 5 course tasting menu. Nana’s changes their a la carte menu every month, too, so your meal will be unique no matter what you order.

Location: 2514 University Drive Durham, NC 27707 (11 minute drive from East Campus; across the street from NanaTaco and The Original Q Shack)

11. Where to blow your food points: Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke


It’s a toss-up between brunch and dinner for the best meal at the Fairview. Whatever time of day, the food tastes all the better when paid for by food points. The end of the semester is a popular time for Duke students to visit, so be sure to call ahead and get a reservation.

What to order: 3-course brunch. Worth it just for the dessert bar.

Location: 3001 Cameron Boulevard, Durham, NC 27705 (on West Campus, just past the athletic complex)

14. When you turn 21: Gonza Tacos y Tequila

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Photo courtesy of Steve W. on

The vibe is the perfect blend of bar and restaurant, as is their menu. Enjoy delicious Colombo-Mexican food and some of the best margaritas in Durham, if not the Triangle.

What to Order: A sampling of tacos and a passionfruit margarita.

Location: 604 Fernway Ave, Durham, NC 27701 (6 minute drive from East Campus)

12. When you’re doing it for the Insta: Monuts Donuts

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Photo by Meredith Davin

Monuts’ location on 9th Street is bigger and better than it used to be. Expect a line out the door on weekends (stick it out, it’s worth the wait).

What to Order: A donut and a bagel sandwich. You can’t go wrong with anything at Monuts, so try a few of their ever-rotating flavors of donuts and a sandwich – either make your own or one of their featured creations.

Location: 1002 9th St, Durham, NC 27705 (an 18 minute walk from East Campus)

13. When you’re craving something sweet: The Parlour

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Photo by @spoon_duke on Instagram

Originally an Ice Cream Bus, The Parlour‘s brick and mortar shop in downtown Durham is iconic. They make all of their flavors, baked goods and most of their toppings from scratch and their many vegan options ensure everyone can enjoy dessert at The Parlour.

What to Order: Chocolate ice cream. Vegan or regular, this is some of the best chocolate you’ll ever taste.

Location: 117 Market St, Durham, NC 27701 (7 minute drive from East Campus)

15. When you’re Sunday brunching: Foster’s Market

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Photo courtesy of @munchnmags on Instagram

Foster’s is a lively shop-slash-restaurant with a southern vibe. It’s always bustling at lunch time and on weekends, but the food is worth the hunt for an open table.

What to Order: If you want eggs, go with the Chef’s omelet. Stomach set on something sweet? The Cinnamon Vanilla French Toast cannot be beat.

Location: 2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, NC 27707 (11 minute drive from West Campus; next to Guglhupf)

16. When you want live music: Blue Note Grill

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Photo courtesy of Jean K. on

Serving tasty barbecue and ribs, Blue Note’s real claim to fame is their atmosphere: enjoy live blues and bluegrass music and drink specials six days a week.

What to Order: Try their Not-Cho-Cheese Chipotle Black Bean Nachos or a 1/2 rack of ribs. The full menu has something for everyone.

Location: 709 Washington St, Durham, NC 27701 (a 6 minute drive from East Campus)

17. When you’re feeling like exploring enemy territory: Mediterranean Deli

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Photo courtesy of @sarahfit

Yes, there are more reasons to go to Franklin St than Halloween. While it’s nearly impossible to exhaust Durham’s food scene, you’d be sorry to miss some of Chapel Hill’s best eats. So leave your pride and bring your appetite: Med Deli has some of the best Greek food outside of Gussy’s Food Truck. Don’t worry, all of the Tarheels will be too busy enjoying their food to notice that you’ve infiltrated one of the best casual spots in Chapel Hill.

What to Order: Lamb and Beef Gyro. This is as Greek as it gets.

Location: 410 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 (27 minute drive from East Campus)

When you finally tire of those never ending West Union lines, be sure to add these restaurants to your bucket list. Duke Spoon has your back with a recommendation for any occasion.