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My top 5 places to eat in Durham

There are a few things all university students do during their years of tertiary education. Pull all-nighters, struggle to keep succulents alive, and take aesthetically pleasing Instagrammable photos of your uni experiences. 

As a Durham uni student, there are a few essential experiences, such as walking through the cathedral, running up cardiac hill and eating your way around all the fabulous cafes and restaurants the city has to offer. One of the best things about Durham, at least in my opinion, is there are so many amazing places to grab a bite to eat (or a soothing cup of hot chocolate), so today I’d like to share some of my favourite spots (both cafes and restaurants) with you so you can start thinking about where you’re going to take those study breaks or social media photos.


Without a doubt, Cafedral is my favourite place to eat in Durham. Cafedral is a small, cosy cafe just down the road from the Cathedral and is the perfect spot for lunch, a scone and some tea, or a slice of mouthwatering cake. It’s my number one spot to go with my best friend when we’re looking for something sweet. Not only do they have delicious paninis, sandwiches, scones, and daily specials, but their cakes are actually to die for (not that you should be dying for cake… but it’s that good!) – the slices are huge, it’s super delicious, and they just put a smile on your face. 

Vennels Cafe 

To continue the cafe trend, Vennels is probably my next favourite. It’s another cosy spot tucked down a small vennel, hence it’s names (the little alleyways in Durham are known as vennels) probably a 30-second walk from Cafedral! I haven’t eaten lots from Vennels, but what I love about it so much is it’s a fantastic place to study. Vennels has a dedicated space where students can come, order some coffee and study somewhere that’s not your bedroom desk or the library. Plus, I would highly recommend the carrot cake. I think cake is what you really need to get through hours of studying. 


This was one of the first restaurants I went to in Durham, and it has firmly stayed in my top five since. I know getting takeaway pizza is a student favourite, but sometimes it’s nice to go out for dinner, and Zen is a great choice. It’s a family-owned Thai restaurant just outside the city centre (less than a five-minute walk) and has got such a peaceful vibe. There is a gorgeous blossom tree in the middle of the restaurant (my favourite feature), and it’s a fantastic spot for some light tapas you can share with friends or a proper meal.

Treats Tearoom 

Yes, I know it’s another cafe, but all Durham students who’ve been to Treats will know why it’s on this list. I’ve been to Treats a few times this term already, and every time I go, it feels like I’ve fallen into one of those cafes you see in movies or read about in books. It’s about a minute away from the Market Place and is a great spot to go no matter what food you feel like. Oh yes, they’ve got great cake (and hot chocolate), but they also have a full menu of other foods to eat. My favourite memory in Treats was having a Creative Writing social there one weekend. It honestly felt like we could have been in a scene from a cute book – quite fitting considering what we were talking about! 

Zaps Burrito Bar 

Last but not least, I couldn’t complete this list without Zaps! Just by Elvet Riverside, this burrito bar has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. Imagine Subway meets Mexican food in a funky little restaurant where you can either eat in or grab a takeaway. Zaps is my go-to stop if I’ve had a really long day and really don’t feel like cooking or if I need some comfort food after a stressful week. Their burritos are so filling and so tasty (they have more than just burritos – I just love them so much they’re all I eat). What makes this place even better is they have excellent prices and a 10% student discount – and who doesn’t love a student discount?! 

Too many food options to mention

So that’s my top five spots to eat in Durham, but I could easily have listed another 10, there are so many places to eat from chain restaurants to independent cafes all over the city. I should probably give an honorary mention to Flat White cafe and kitchen. It’s a student favourite, and I think I would get the opposite of brownie points if I left it off this list. There are lots of great places to eat in Durham, both cute cafes that are perfect for a pick-me-up or study session and restaurants for when cooking isn’t on the cards, or you want to treat yourself. Plus, what’s truly amazing is everything in Durham is super close. It’s easy to walk just about anywhere in the city. So if you’re between lectures and don’t want to walk back to college, or your house, then I guarantee you’ll be close enough to an incredible food spot. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post as much as I enjoyed writing (and researching for) it. The only problem is it’s made me hungry, so I might head to one of those cafes for a slice of cake now…

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Tia van Loggerenberg

Hey everyone! I’m Tia van Loggerenberg. I’m a second-year international student doing Education Studies single honours in John Snow College. I’m the founder and president of the Disney Society, secretary for the creative writing society and chocolate enthusiast. I also run a lifestyle blog called Tall Blonde Tales, where I include stories and advice about university, so if you’re interested, you can check that out too! Today, I’m sharing some of my favourite places to eat in Durham - I hope you enjoy it! 

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