Call them hidden gems, local joints, off-the-beaten path, or what you will. In the spirit of sharing, we’ve been digging deep to find the places none of your friends are talking about – but should be. We love these restaurants and think you need to try them. Here’s some of the best hidden gem restaurants in Durham.

Guanajuato Restaurant of Durham

Photo: @luttermaneats

I also don’t want to give up this hidden gem. This is some of the best mexican food we have ever had and it’s as authentic as it comes. They do have an English menu, just ask the cashier for it. Get the enchiladas rojas.

Address: 2103 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

La Cacerola

La Cacerola is an authentic Latin American restaurant on Guess Rd featuring mainly Honduran food. Most of the menu is $8 and under, with the exception of 2 seafood dishes around $10. Some of the friendliest staff around, too!

Address: 2016 Guess Rd, Durham, NC 27705

Sister Liu’s Kitchen

Serving up homestyle Chinese food and handmade dumplings, you’ll find this spot tucked away behind Namu off 15-501. The dumplings and “Chinese burgers” are amazingly delicious. It’s tailored to taking dumplings to eat at home but there are a few seats available to dine in. Get them frozen to take home or grab some fresh ones to eat there.

Address: 5504 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd, Durham, NC 27707

Sho Nuff Seafood

Durham’s best kept seafood secret. Sho Nuff is a mobile food truck that sets up Saturday and Sundays from 2pm until they run out of food. It’s a little pricey, but, hey, it’s amazing seafood and it’s worth it. Try a little bit of everything, crab legs, shrimp, lobster, sausage, potatoes, corn. We would definitely suggest preordering your food through their website otherwise you may have a long wait. (Link is in title)

Address: 619 Stallings Rd, Durham, NC 27703

French Corner Bakery

One of the best kept secrets in Durham, you’ll find this gem right off I-85. French Corner Bakery offers everything from freshly baked artisan breads to macaroons to quiches. The man behind the bread is Benjamin Messaoui, a French Master Baker, bread expert and patissier. You can even take bread-making classes here!

Address: 2005 N Pointe Dr suite b, Durham, NC 27705

Roy’s Kountry Kitchen

Looking for some down home country cooking? You’re in the right place at Roy’s Kountry Kitchen. Another hidden gem off Fayetteville Street. The price is very reasonable for the good food and portion. Go for the oxtails and smothered pork chops.

Address: 2514 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC 27707

Halgo European Deli & Groceries 

Halgo is a polish deli that specializes in Polish sausage and pierogi with an assortment of meats, cheeses, breads and cookies. The owners are so sweet and willing to help. Grab some sandwiches for lunch or some sausage, kielbasa, and horseradish to go.

Address: 4520 S Alston Ave, Durham, NC 27713

Johnson Family Barbecue 

Photo: Johnson Family Barbecue

Johnson Family Barbecue is a hole in the wall that serves hickory smoked BBQ, brisket, ribs, fried chicken and all the fixings. They smoke all their meat over hickory wood for up to 10 hours. Get a BBQ Sandwich, 1 Side and Drink for just $7.95 or Chopped BBQ Pork or Chicken Plate with 2 sides and hushpuppies for $9.95

Address: 5021 Wake Forest Hwy, Durham, NC 27703

Tacos Nacos

Photo: Tacos Nacos

If you’re questioning if you’re in the right place then you probably made it to Tacos Nacos. Tucked away in back of a little convenience type store you’ll find what’s probably some of the best Mexican food in Durham. Tacos are $2, the rest of the menu is mostly $10. Try the Cubana Torta. You won’t be sorry.

Address: 3411 University Dr, Durham, NC 27707

V’s Kitchen

Photo: @monyaslens

You know when you can taste love as an ingredient? Yep, that’s what you get at V’s Kitchen. Really good Southern cooking. Entree prices hover around $8 with two sides and cornbread and a roll.

Address: 2945 S Miami Blvd, Durham, NC 27703

Mediterranean Grill and Grocery

Photo: @big_mike_nc

Our go-to spot for healthy food at a reasonable price. A restaurant and market combo, they offer authentic mediterranean food and Middle Eastern goods. Gyros will run you $6.50 and the platters hover around $10 with basmati rice, pita bread, and a choice of two side items.

Address: 5114 Revere Rd, Durham, NC 27713

El Chapin

The atmosphere is very casual being half restaurant and half store. Don’t expect anything fancy; just delicious Guatemalan food. Most of the main dishes average around 10 bucks. Here’s their menu.

Address: 4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd Suite #38, Durham, NC 27707

Big C Waffles

Big C Waffles

WE LOVE THIS PLACE. You’ve probably heard of this place, but we wanted to include it because it’s a little off the beaten path. The chicken is perfectly seasoned and the waffles are melt in your mouth. Get a whole waffle and 3 pieces of chicken for $10. Choose between flavors like donut, blueberry, red velvet, bacon egg and cheese, or combine two flavors. Do yourself a favor and say yes to the kool-aid. There’s something magic about it.

The owner is ridiculously nice. You can even text them to place an order ahead of time.

Pro Tip: Use your Shop Durham card to get 10% off your chicken and waffle combo.

Address: 9201, 2110 Allendown Dr, Durham, NC 27713

Shanghai

Shanghai’s lunch special can’t be beat. Really, their prices in general are great but you can get a huge plate of sesame chicken, rice, and an eggroll or soup for $5.50. They also give you complimentary hot tea, which is such a treat on cold days.

Address: 3433 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27705

La Superior

Photo: jivemutha

This place is a gem in Northern Durham and literally located inside of a Latino supermarket. When you walk in, it smells like freshly baked bread. And yep, there’s a salsa bar. Everything is $10 and under. There’s a variety of pastries, homemade tortillas. and chips so grab something to go.

Address: 3325 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

Nzingas Breakfast Cafe

This spot is truly a hidden gem. It’s affordable southern comfort food. You’ll find most of Nzinga’s menu is under $10. The must try is the chicken and waffle combo and it’s just $7.99.

Address: 826 Fayetteville Street #110, Durham, NC 27701

Zweli’s

Zweli’s is the only Zimbabwean restaurant in the country and it’s simply delicious. There are plenty of vegan options and the oxtails and chicken wings are a must try. The price for the fresh, healthy options is amazing. You can get a quarter chicken and two sides for $10.99. The oxtail special with two sides is perfect for sharing and only $14.99. Find out more about Zweli’s here.

Address: 4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd #26, Durham, NC 27707

Pro Tip: Use your Shop Durham card to get a free samosa with the purchase of an entree.

Any more hidden gems we should include? Drop us a line here.


Join our mailing list to get the inside scoop on the
best things to do in Durham and a guide to your weekend events


Have you downloaded our app yet?
It’s free on the App Store and Google Play!
Get local guides, events, explore things to do, and discover our “Shop Durham” rewards.