#FoodGuide: Best of Durham Cafés

BEST SCONES: 9 Altars

With its tranquil riverside location, just beneath Durham’s cathedral, 9 Altars entices you in with an amazing display of cakes and other sweet treats, as well as a large selection of light lunch options. The food is good value and they offer a number of incredible deals at various points of the day. Their scenic outdoor terrace, nestled upon the riverbank, makes this café an extremely popular lunch destination, especially in the warmer months. With its cosy environment—which makes it the ideal lunch spot for two, larger groups may have to look elsewhere during peak times.

19A Silver Street, DH1 3RB

BEST HOT CHOCOLATE SELECTION: Café Continental

Café Continental appears to be a more stereotypical ‘caf’. However, their extensive menu, including breakfast (available until noon), lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, is anything but bog-standard as it includes homemade soup, paninis, crêpes, as well as daily specials. Moreover, there are several dishes suitable for those with vegetarian, gluten or dairy-free diets, including buckwheat pancakes. For the sweet lovers, Café Continental offers drool-worthy homemade cakes and variations on hot chocolate you wouldn’t even believe possible. Warning: This is not a café for the indecisive; the drinks menu alone will leave you dazed.

87 Elvet Bridge, DH1 3AG

BEST CAFÉ FOR A SOLO VISIT: Chapters

Situated on Elvet Bridge, Chapters is a well-presented tearoom, popular amongst locals, tourists and students. They provide a substantial breakfast menu until noon and serve from their lunchtime menu for the rest of the day. The lunchtime menu offers both hot and cold choices, including handmade burgers and hand-cut chips with all ingredients sourced locally and everything freshly made-to-order. Although their cake choice is slightly more limited compared to other cafés, this by no means diminishes its quality (I recommend the red velvet!). On a side note, Chapter’s wide front windows and central location make it perfect for people watching…

16 Elvet Bridge, DH1 3AA

BEST BRUNCH: Flat White/Flat White Kitchen

Although I’d hate to express favouritism, I (along with the rest of Durham…) am particularly fond of the Flat White establishments. The kitchen has a prime location on Saddler Street whereas the café is tucked away opposite Chapters, just up from the infamous Klute (but don’t let that put you off!) If you’re looking for quality coffee and cake, the café will cater for your needs whereas the Kitchen ( which opens 9am-5pm) extends its offerings to both hot and cold dishes from mainly locally sourced ingredients. Alongside its vibrant atmosphere and interior, Flat White Kitchen boasts one of the most creative menus in Durham, with several variations of baked eggs, a ham hock hash and avocado and feta on toast, alongside more traditional options. It could definitely be argued that Flat White is home to Durham’s finest cups of coffee (and latte art…) and best brownie; upon necessary research I discovered that a combination of the two works very well indeed!

Café: 21A Elvet Bridge, DH1 3AA

Kitchen: 40 Saddler Street, DH1 3NU

DURHAM’S HIDDEN GEM: Claypath Delicatessen

Tucked away at the top of Claypath, Claypath Delicatessen provides a wide range of produce sourced from Spain, Italy, Greece, France and the UK, which are available for eat-in or takeaway. Despite its comparatively restricted breakfast and lunch options, whatever lacks in quantity is made up in quality. Furthermore, its Mediterranean environment and pick n’ mix deli lunch enable the creation of unique flavour combinations, including an extremely memorable breakfast of French toast with cardamom, mascarpone, cinnamon, honey and banana… (phwoar). Exotic ingredients aside, the deli ensures that when possible, food is sourced locally; especially for their assortment of cheese, chutneys, bread, oils and desserts.

57 Claypath, DH1 1QS

BEST FOR VEGETARIANS: Jumping Bean Café

This cosy café has a ‘second living room’ feel to it with rugs, armchairs and board game tabletops. Jumping Bean offers a range of sandwiches, soups, salads and sweet treats, all vegetarian, with a large number of them being also vegan and gluten-free. Their £4.95 soup and sandwich deal is an absolute bargain with the soup served in charming mini saucepans. Furthermore, their tiny working kitchen is visible to enable customers to watch their food being lovingly made-to-order. Read our review here!

Neville St, DH1 4EY

FRIENDLIEST STAFF: Saddlers

Beloved by locals as well as students, Saddlers provides all our firm favourites including hearty breakfasts, indulgent sweet treats, and filling lunches. Its prime location on Saddler Street and local reputation ensure it never lacks customers. In addition to this, the staff members are exceptionally engaging, attentive and not to mention, they also accompany hot drinks with Lotus Biscoff biscuits (so I’m won over!)

36 Saddler Street, DH1 3NU

BEST SELECTION OF TEA: Leonard’s Coffee House

Hidden away down one of Durham’s cobbled streets, Leonard’s Coffee House offers a fresh and friendly atmosphere, as well as a good getaway from the bustling city centre. In addition to traditional lunch options, other offerings include baked sweet potato, exotic Panini fillings and salads. If you’re just in need of a warming drink and cake (aren’t we all..?), Leonard boasts an extremely wide range of teas and coffees as well as treats! Peanut butter lovers will be particularly tempted by their peanut butter blondies and brownies…

1 Back Silver St, DH1 3RA

LARGEST PORTIONS: Treats

Located just off the market square, Treats is ideally located for hungry shoppers. Their breakfast and lunch menu is fairly traditional with a style of comforting, home-cooked dishes. In Treats, size really is everything. Their cakes and sweet ‘treats’ are served generously—with slabs rather than slices of cake, ensuring that you don’t leave unsatisfied or hungry.

27–28 Silver St, DH1 3

BEST VIEW: Velvet Elvis

Velvet Elvis may be more commonly recognised as a popular vintage clothes shop on Framwelgate Bridge, however, if you venture upstairs, you will find yourself in the relaxed and quirky environment of Velvet Elvis’ coffee shop. Throughout the day, Velvet Elvis serves fresh, homemade food including an array of innovative breakfast and light lunch options and an irresistible £3 coffee and cake deal. When dining here, sit at either table 1 or 3 for an amazing cathedral, castle and river view. Note: The café also regularly host free movie nights on Thursday at 7.30pm.

2 Framwelgate Bridge, DH1 4SJ

COSIEST CAFÉ: Vennels

Tucked away down one of Durham’s ancient vennels (a narrow alley), Vennels Café is a cosy and quaint tearoom. They provide comforting hot lunches including jacket potatoes and steak and ale pie, as well as a small but substantial range of scones, cake, pies and tray bakes. Its wooden surfaces, fireplaces and exposed brick, resembling Hogsmeade, make it the perfect place to retreat to during the festive season (ideally with a Butter Beer…) while its seated courtyard caters wonderfully for the warmer months.

71 Saddler St, DH1 3NP

Other cafés in Durham City Centre:

Be Tempted: 51 Saddler Street, DH1 3NU

Café on the Green: Palace Green, DH1 3RL

Café Sisters: 32 Silver Street, DH1 3RD

Caffeine Brothers: 76 North Road, DH1 4SQ

Dark Matter: 57 Crossgate, DH1 4PR

Tealicious: 88 Elvet Bridge, DH1 3AG

Leave a Reply