Best Breakfast Restaurants in Durham, NC
Discover five restaurants catering to breakfast tastes in Durham, and one new potential star.
For several years now, Durham, N.C., has been the kind of scene real foodies dream of – chefs opening new restaurants with excitement and vigor, and the successful chefs continuing to push the boundaries and open more. “The whole farm-to-form concept is so ingrained in the firmament here that it’s a foregone conclusion,” says Sam Poley of the Durham CVB. “Instead of listing an occasional farm on the menu next to an item, most restaurants just have a chalkboard enumerating all the different farms they source from, it’s just so much a part of the culture here.”
In too many places, the chef crowd hasn’t quite made it to breakfast yet – though lunch and dinner are booming. Fortunately in Durham, that’s not the case. Bakeries particularly had a big following, places like Loaf, Scratch and 9th Street Bakery. Here are a few places to grab a great breakfast you won’t forget.
The owners started out (with Sam Poley as it happens) running one of Durham’s first real food trucks, and now provide amazing, chef-driven biscuits and doughnuts, made fresh and using creative, original combinations of flavors. Think Chocolate Cake with Poblano Chiles Sorghum Icing and Bacon or Apple Pop Tart with Cinnamon Icing. On the biscuit side, there’s Fried Egg & Rabbit Stew, Eggplant Parmesan, or Ham Bone & Potato Soup, beyond the usual egg or bacon. Open 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., with new flavors listed on social media daily. (They’re now franchising, so encourage someone in your city to get on it!) “They make an apple fritter that will change your life,” Foley says.
This downtown bakery started its days as a doughnut bike – or trike, as the case may be, that’s now grown to take over the old Magnolia Grill location. “They have just insane, great flavors,” Foley says with delight. Chefs Lindsay Moriarty and Rob Gillespie also offer up great coffee drinks, salads, sandwiches and more. All made fresh daily, doughnut flavors may change. Open at 7 a.m.
A true sit-down establishment helmed by chef/owner Phoebe Lawless, formerly at Magnolia Grill (the first of Durham’s true independents, which closed not too long ago). “The food is exceptional,” Foley says. “You have to have the fried bologna sandwich, which is locally made bologna on Lawless’s handmade bread; it’s a whole new world.” Seasonal ingredients, locally sourced, really marvelous food. Don’t forget to take pie home either. Open for breakfast at 7:30 a.m.
Foster’s has been around for 20 years or more, run by owner Sarah Foster. Walk in, check out the great merchandise, read the menu board and don’t be afraid of cake for breakfast here, because it’s delicious. Everything is made from scratch – no surprise – and breakfasts are big and plentiful. Fabulous omelets; “farm plates” heaped with eggs, bacon or ham, fruit, biscuits and potatoes; breakfast burritos; and bowls of grits, all waiting to be enjoyed. Look for weekend brunch specials as well. Opens at 7:30 for the breakfast crowd.
This restaurant and gift shop reminds you of what a certain big chain really wishes it were – complete with a really spectacular candy selection, with all the throwback sweets you can imagine (they have a knack for sourcing candies). You'll find plenty of North Carolina delicacies for sale, as well as housewares and more. The breakfast menu offers sandwiches for now or big platters you can order and take into the office – ham biscuits, assorted pastries, smoked salmon and bagels. Delivery available. Open 7:30 a.m.
The whole farm-to-form concept is so ingrained in the firmament here that it’s a foregone conclusion. Instead of listing an occasional farm on the menu next to an item, most restaurants just have a chalkboard enumerating all the different farms they source from, it’s just so much a part of the culture here.