After spending several months in the beautiful city of Durham, North Carolina, I would consider myself extremely qualified to share my expertise on a subject I have studied in great detail: food. When I was completing my undergraduate education in New Hampshire, there were limited options to feed a growing young man. And by limited I mean two sandwich shops, one pizza place, a Chinese restaurant, and a small café, in addition to a few on-campus dining options. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered how much culinary diversity Durham has to offer.
A preliminary Google search had my mouth watering when I saw that Durham was ranked in the top 10 of Southern Living’s “The South’s Tastiest Towns.” But rather than take the critics’ word for it, I decided to investigate on my own behalf, for the betterment of society, of course. So if you are a current or prospective student of the MMS program or Duke in general, print out this incredibly insightful and important guide to food in our beloved Durham, and tape it to your wall for future consultation. Most importantly, prepare your stomachs for a barrage of flavors from all across Durham.
There are several main areas of restaurant concentration, and I have categorized two of them below by geographic location:
This collection of restaurants has something for everyone. It is somewhat of a food oasis, conveniently located near several student apartment complexes and just minutes from campus. Here is a short rundown of a few of my favorites.
Chipotle: Quite possibly the best chain restaurant of the 21st century. Chipotle is known for consistent quality across locations, and the Durham Chipotle is no exception. They offer fast service to accommodate the hoards of hungry students craving burritos, bowls, and salads, outdoor seating for the warm weather, and all the chips and guacamole that your heart desires. This Chipotle is not especially unique but a staple of Duke life nonetheless.
Noodles & Co.: A few stores down from Chipotle, Noodles has a pretty self-explanatory menu—various types of noodles and pasta. A bit on the pricey side, but fresh made and high quality, the Alfredo MontAmore is my personal favorite.
Firehouse Subs: This is a sandwich shop with some really good options. I think it’s like a much better version of Subway. Also for the record, I call “subs” hoagies, which is apparently very localized to Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey, but in case there is any confusion, a hoagie/sub/grinder is a sandwich on a long roll. Glad to help.
Other notable options in the shopping center include Enzo’s Pizza (Cinna-zo’s are the best dessert in Durham), MediTerra (Mediterranean food, usually involving pitas and hummus), T.G.I. Fridays (endless appetizers, good vibes!), and SaladWorks (I’m assuming lots of vegetables, but have never been inside so I can’t say for certain).
Located at the intersection of a few major highways, Hillsborough is a fast food mecca. Just 5 minutes northwest of campus, the strip of “restaurants” allows for all the delicious (albeit greasy) food you can imagine, from the comfort of your own motor vehicle.
Cook Out: I had never heard of Cook Out before I came to Duke. Apparently it is a staple of the South, and I immediately found out why. Simply stated, Cook Out is the best fast food around, as long as you have little to no regard for your health. The prices are laughably cheap for the amount of food you get, and Cook Out is the perfect spot for late night comfort food after a night out on the town.
Zaxby’s: This spot has delicious fried chicken fingers, chicken sandwiches, chicken wings, and more chicken. It has much higher quality food than fast food spots like KFC. Zaxby’s is one of my favorite spots in Durham.
Krispy Kreme: Tremendous chain of donut stores, this just opened on February 3rd, so I’ll be visiting multiple times in the near future to study the vibes and the food in order to decide whether I want to add it into my rotation of eateries.
Other notables: McDonald’s (Golden Arches, no description necessary), Bojangles (great Sunday breakfast food—chicken egg and cheese on a biscuit), Wendy’s (hate the commercials, love the Frosties) and Waffle House (another staple of the South, great breakfast food anytime for a great price).