Before arriving in Durham I’m pretty sure my first Google Maps search was “Best food in Durham.” I am a passionate foodie, a four-year Yelp Elite member, and lover of all things boba.

One of the first recommendations I received upon arriving was The Parlour, known for its incredible ice cream (and long weekend lines—beware!). The Parlour is definitely the most popular ice cream spot around. While it’s excellent, I had no idea that the area has so much more to offer in the dessert realm. So here are my three favorite places for dessert in Durham from my time in the MMS program.

I’ll start off with one of the very first places I visited when I arrived: the German (yes, German!) Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten. Immediately upon entering you come across the beautiful patio, decked out with string lights, quirky ornaments, and gorgeous flowery. Guglhupf does it all. It’s a full-service bakery, a cafe during the day, and a beer restaurant in the evening. While I’ve yet to try the savory items, I came in for some pastries and coffee and wasn’t disappointed. The cheese danish was flaky, and while it wasn’t the best I’ve ever eaten it had great flavor and balance. The Vietnamese iced coffee was just as great; they’ve got the coffee to condensed milk ratio down on lock. I also love and appreciate the decaf and dairy-free options for picky stomachs like mine. I highly recommend the seasonal pumpkin danish! Ultimate verdict: quality pastries, tasty coffee, impressive atmosphere.

Moving further west across the food globe, Loaf is a quaint bakery located downtown with simple yet elegant French pastries. The owner herself is French, and as I’m no expert, I asked her for recommendations and decided on the raisin cream pastry. I understand that many have mixed feelings on raisins (will admit that I’m a personal fan), but trust me when I say this is a sublime pastry. It had the perfect amount of flake, the cream was irresistible and yes, the raisins perfectly complimented the existing flavors. Other than pastries, they bake fresh in-house bread that looked delectable, but as I came at the end of the day they weren’t as fresh and available. Be warned there isn’t seating inside, but I highly recommend taking a pastry to go and explore what the rest of downtown has to offer. Pro tip: come in the morning for prime bread!

raisin cream pastry; dessert in Durham

In the tradition of saving the best for last, Maple View Farm is the cherry on top. Located amongst the quaint hills right outside of Durham, this dairy farm feels as if it’s from another era. This farm makes its ice cream from scratch and you can taste the difference. It even produces its own milk, chocolate milk, and fresh butter! Every flavor I tried was better than the last, and the combination specials highlight the best flavor combinations of ice cream and toppings. More than ice cream, the overall experience highlights the best parts of my first two terms at Fuqua. Eating ice cream while watching the sunset with my newfound friends represents the best parts of the MMS program. My top flavor combinations: coffee and double chocolate, and vanilla and rum raisin.

It was an incredible experience at Fuqua, and while I was challenged in the classroom, Durham offered me a place to unwind and enjoy with the amazing people I met.

Ariel and four classmates on the steps; dessert in Durham
Maple View Farm