• Photo with permission by Justin Valas

Our 2011 diet resolution? Consume as many calories as possible in the Bull City.

The New York Times recently listed Durham among the top 41 Places to Go in 2011. Sandwiched between Kurdistan and Kosovo, and listed among some of the world’s most exotic, surreal landscapes and wild cosmopolitan cities, Durham stands her ground at #35. (And one of only four domestic locations.) She’s found her cool, all right, exuding from the increasingly famous and vibrant food scene. The story praises restaurants Scratch Bakery, Revolution, Rue Cler and Parker and Otis, as well as Durham’s own Counter Culture Coffee.

Where do you go for quintessential Durham eats? One of my favorites: Joe’s Diner. It’s the only place where I can get a 1/2-lb. hot dog wrapped in pastrami, with a side of animated conversation from owner Joe Bushfan or any neighborhood customer. I like that it’s off the beaten “foodie” path, too.

Indy‘s food editor Amber Nimocks says, “My favorite places in Durham are Rue Cler and Scratch, because the food is so well made, fresh and affordable and the atmospheres are comfortable but elegant.”

We asked a few Durham food bloggers where they go. Check out their top haunts below, and share your favorite Bull City meals in the comments section.

“By far my favorite spot in Durham is Six Plates Wine Bar. Matty [Matthew Beason] is one of the best restaurant owners around; they really practice what they preach when it comes to supporting local business and farmers. The menu is inventive, always changing and never half-assed. Their wine selection is affordable and extensive, and the staff is always eager to share their knowledge and help customers really learn about wine. I always feel at home when I walk through the door. A few other places I frequent are Toast, the Bulkogi truck and Dos Perros.” – Matt Lardie, greeneatsblog.com

“Fed [The Federal], of course. Its affordable, diverse menu, extensive beer list and casual vibe get my vote every time. Where else can you get coq au vin one night and a burger and fries the next?” – Chris Reid, carpedurham.com

Watts Grocery is my favorite Durham restaurant because it’s the epitome of everything that makes Durham food and drink awesome. Chef Amy [Tornquist] locally sources as much food as possible, which contributes greatly in flavor to her Southern-inspired, New American cuisine. The menu experiments with fun combinations, and the cocktail and dessert offerings are always inventive, not to mention delicious. Yet the atmosphere is bright, cozy, relaxed, and a little eclectic; it’s fantastic food and drink without pretense.” – Becca Gomez Farrell, thegourmez.com

“Had a hard time just coming up with a single favorite restaurant. My ultimate treat and to-die-for restaurant: Vin Rouge. They have the best French onion soup on the planet. Honestly, anything Matt Kelly puts out, you know it’s going to be good. It is also my go-to place for oysters. Out to dinner and fun with friends: Dos Perros. Consistently good food, great atmosphere and Charlie [Deal] has done a wonderful job stocking up on good beer for us Durham beer nerds. Simply Thai, my utmost favorite family-run restaurant. And the Farmhand Foods truck. For God’s sake, the sausage with pimento cheese on a pretzel roll is to die for!” – Johanna Kramer, durhamfoodie

“I swoon when I think about Vin Rouge. From their ‘sweetbreads of the day’ that is on their standard menu to their daily specials. One special that sticks out to me in particular is the ‘”au pied de cochon’: local pork trotter beer-braised (in local beer of course) and stuffed with black truffle. I get hot flashes just thinking about that dish.” – Christie Vasquez Hadden, myrestaurantguru.com