The Bull City Comes into its Own
An uncanny grit runs through the city of Durham, North Carolina–one that bears the expression of its industrious history in a raw and honest light; from its days as an agrarian center, with grist mills dotting the Eno River, to the Bull City’s railway genesis and its subsequent tobacco and textile boom. Durham doesn’t shy away from its historic struggles (it became a noted point of resistance during the civil rights movement), nor does it try to cover the blemishes of bygone industries. Rather, it persists with the same entrepreneurial spirit that first built the city. Today, a renaissance is afoot, filling old tobacco warehouses and textile buildings with nationally-recognized restaurants, tech companies, artisan shops, contemporary hotels, and makers cut from every cloth.
Head downtown to Loaf for your first order of the day. Husband and wife Ron and Jaimee Graff first sold their breads and pastries at the Durham Farmers Market before opening a brick and mortar. Grab the famed, flaky pain au chocolate. If you prefer to linger, head to Cocoa Cinnamon on Geer Street to soak in the local color while sipping a single-origin coffee.
A sunny afternoon in Durham begs for a pint of Biere de Garde at Ponysaurus Brewing Co. Springtime means guests can order brats, burgers, and dogs (handmade at the Cookery) along with prepared sides to host their own personal cookout on a reserved grill in the Ponysaurus beer garden.
At Piedmont Restaurant, chef John May digs into seasonal cuisine, pulling inspiration from his previous outpost at Vivian Howard’s Chef and the Farmer for a beautiful, vegetable-centric meal. Catch an after-dinner cocktail at Alley Twenty Six, the lively lounge where Shannon Healy and staff mix up some of the most thoughtful cocktails in the city. And, if a late night craving hits, Dashi’s buzzing second-story izakaya is open late with bar snacks, ramen, and an extensive sake list.
If you’re not careful, you could lose hours inside Parker and Otis, the sprawling gift shop, cafe, and artisan grocery. From cookbooks to scented candles, local eggs, and chic party supplies, this retail wonderland is an aesthete’s dream. In the historic Brightleaf Square, Indio curates handmade goods featuring jewelry, home decor, pottery, and apothecary supplies, and also hosts workshops with local makers.
The Durham Hotel is a boutique experience that taps into Durham’s past and present. Housed inside the midcentury landmark Home Savings Bank, the fifty three-room hotel harnesses midcentury design for a retro-modern feel that extends from the black-and-white tiles in the entranceway to the colorful geometric carpeting at every turn. The Durham leans on local partners to make your stay city-specific, from Counter Culture coffee delivered to your room and Escazu chocolates on your pillow at night. For guests and visitors, the rooftop is the place to get a birds-eye view of the city in a sophisticated lounge setting. Order a cocktail and snacks from the raw bar curated by Chef Andrea Reusing, who also runs the dynamite restaurant on the ground floor.
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