Posted by: duketower | October 22, 2009

Downtown Durham Restaurants Near Duke Tower Hotel

In a previous blog, we talked about many of the excellent restaurants in the Brightleaf Square district, which is walking distance or a short drive from Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums. Our free shuttle will also take you there and pick you up at any time you like.

Going in a slightly different direction from Duke Tower towards downtown Durham, many fine restaurants have sprung up in the past few years as part of downtown Durham’s renaissance. Durham is known as a destination for fine restaurants, with many Triangle residences traveling from Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill and beyond to enjoy Durham’s unique culinary offerings. Certainly these five new restaurants listed below have added to that reputation.

These restaurants are all within a 15-minute walk of Duke Tower or are a short drive from our hotel. Our shuttle driver can also take you there and pick you up.

PiedmontOne restaurant that could be considered very easy walking distance from Duke Tower  (0.6 miles) is Piedmont, at 401 Foster Street. Piedmont’s food is inspired by Italian & French cuisine and locally, seasonally available ingredients.  Piedmont has received excellent reviews in the couple of years it has been open. Here’s one:

Piedmont is, without question, my favorite restaurant for a nice quiet meal in Durham. A casually beautiful decor, not too large or noisy, excellent service, and wonderful food mark the dining experience. The menu is Italian with French influences and an emphasis on local/seasonal ingredients. The gnocchi with chanterelles and pancetta is my husband’s all-time favorite. I have enjoyed the spicy candied cashews, tomato soup with basil creme fraiche, and mussels with chorizo.  Early reservations have been easy to get so far. There is ample parking across Foster Street.  Compared to other restarants of similar quality, it is a bargain. My husband and I once enjoyed four courses (no wine) for under $80–and no, we didn’t order the cheapest things on the menu.

They are open for lunch and dinner six days a week, closed on Tuesdays. Phone: 919-683-1213. From Duke Tower, turn right on Trinity Avenue, then right again on Foster Street. Here is a map.

RevolutionMoving into downtown Durham proper, another popular restaurant is Revolution, 107 West Main Street, phone 919-596-9999. Revolution won “Best New Restaurant in Durham 2009” in a recent competition.

Here is some information about their Executive Chef, Jim Anile.  Anile’s career has been with four-star and five-star luxury hotels and resorts, including the Melrose Hotel and Crescent Club, both in Dallas, and the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, California. He was Executive Chef at the prestigious five-star Ahwahnee Hotel in California’s Yosemite National Park. On the international scene, Chef Anile lent his culinary talents to restaurants and hotels in Asia as well as London’s Lanesborough Hotel. His use of Asian preparation techniques is but one of the international influences subtly manifested in Chef Anile’s delivery of modern Italian cuisine. Chef Anile has been featured in such publications as; Bon Appétit Magazine, Southern Living, Texas Monthly, Coastal Living, Our State and Cottage Living.

Revolution is open for dinner six nights a week, closed Sundays. Here is a map from Duke Tower to Revolution, which is about 1 mile away, or about 4 minutes by driving.

ToastAnother new popular destination in downtown Durham is Toast, a “paninoteca”, or authentic Italian sandwich shop, much like those found in the cities and urban areas of Italy, at 345 West Main Street.

Toast is inspired by the Italian tradition of simple cooking using seasonal local food with the shortest distance from the garden to the table. Toast uses produce from local farmers, artisanal bread made just blocks away, and when possible, house-cured meats and local cheeses. What meats and cheeses we can’t make or procure locally, they  import from Italy.

Toast has received excellent reviews. Here’s a typical one:

I think Toast’s menu shows how tasty simplicity can be. I absolutely love the crostini – a perfect lunch is three different crostini (actually you get two of each type you order, so six total) with a little side of mixed greens salad. My favorite is the goat cheese, honey, and black pepper crostini – delicious combination. They have a number of vegetarian options, which my partner and I appreciate, and the price is definitely right.‎

Toast is open on Monday-Friday 11am-8pm and on Saturday 11am-3pm, closed Sunday. Phone: (919) 683-2183. Here is a walking map from Duke Tower to Toast, which is less than one mile away, or about a 15 minute walk.

Rue ClerAnother restaurant with a French accent is Rue Cler, a Parisian-style restaurant, bakery and café in downtown Durham, located at 401 E Chapel Hill Street. Phone: (919) 682-8844.

Since October of 2006, Rue Cler has served the downtown Durham with a focus is on bringing the freshest of southeastern ingredients to guests, prepared simply in the style of a Parisian neighborhood restaurant.

Rue Cler’s food is inspired by French tradition and seasonal, local produce.  The wines all made by vignerons who love food, and who craft their biodynamic wine to harmonize with it, while at the same time imparting the unique taste of their particular terroir to the meal. Their prix fixe dinner is an incredible deal and showcases the freshest ingredients. They also have bistro and brasserie-style classic dishes available in the a la carte portion of the menu.  Lunch and brunch services feature French-styled sandwiches, crêpes, salads and more.

Like the others, Rue Cler has received ver favorable reviews in their three years since opening. Here’s a typical one:

My husband and I ate at Rue Cler last night and truly enjoyed the experience. My coq au vin, priced very reasonably, fell right off the bone. He ordered the short ribs, which were very tender and paired with a potato side that had such a delicious and unique flavor. The chocolate terrine was rich, complex, and not overbearingly sweet. Their wine is also fairly priced. Service was prompt and our waiter was knowledgeable and unobtrusive. We appreciated the urban, minimalist ambiance.‎

Their restaurant hours are Saturday and Sunday 11:00am – 2pm, Monday through Friday 11:30am – 2pm,
Tuesday through Saturday 5:30pm – until…

Rue Cler is less than one mile and only a short drive or walk from Duke Tower. Here is a map.

Dos PerrosClose to Rue Cler is Dos Perros, an upscale Mexican restaurant located at 200 N. Mangum Street, phone 919-956-2750.

The hours at Dos Perros are Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m,  Monday – Saturday 5:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m, closed Sundays.

Since opening in August, 2009, Dos Perros has become known for their regional Mexican cuisine (not your regular tacos and tortillas!)  and had several wine tastings. Reviews have been favorable; here is a typical one:

We ate here tonight for the first time and had a great experience. The decor is subtle and classy (especially the ladies room!), the staff attentive but not pushy. The food was unusual–we had the vegetarian mole and the shrimp, both of which were sufficiently spicy and very tasty. We ‘splurged’ and had the churros with Mexican chocolate sauce for dessert, which were crispy and warm, tender on the inside, and more than sufficient for two people. The acoustics are good–there was a nice crowd but no trouble hearing someone across the table. Great old tin ceiling too!‎

Dos Perros  is less than one mile and only a short drive or walk from Duke Tower. Here is a map.

We hope our Duke Tower guests will venture out beyond the typical pizza and burgers restaurants and enjoy the fine dining opportunities available in downtown Durham at these interesting, innovative and affordable restaurants. Expending a little extra energy to go a beyond the ordinary will be well rewarded.



  1. […] reasons, will venture over to the Carolina Theatre to check out what is playing. There are many good restaurants in the downtown area, so it is easy to make a “dinner and a movie” date when you are at Duke Tower. We are […]

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