11 Hours on Ninth & Broad (and Near Duke University)

(By Hannah Horowitz)

After a long night downtown, Ninth Street offers a wholesome haven on a Saturday morning. 

You’ll find students lining up outside of Happy + Hale for detox smoothies, Durham families waiting for a table at Elmo’s, and weekend grocery shoppers hustling in and out of Harris Teeter. 

But a truly perfect day on Ninth Street begins at Monuts. 

The maple sriracha potatoes and homemade sausage and spicy peach jam biscuit sandwich are good enough to justify the inevitable line out the door and around the corner. If savory options aren’t what you’re after, Monuts can always lure you in with homemade donuts and coffee cake. 

Following a too-hearty breakfast, I head down Ninth and over to Broad to the East Campus loop to burn off some calories—mostly to make room for my next meal. On a Saturday morning, the shady loop is Durham’s social destination to catch up on the week’s chaos while getting in some steps. 

A couple of sweaty laps later, I walk back to Ninth to the Regulator Bookshop. As a kid, my grandparents took me to the Regulator in an effort to make an avid reader of me. Its old-school-bookshop charm won me over. A few doors down is Triangle Coffee House, a serene spot to start my new book. Another longtime resident of Ninth Street, Triangle Coffee House is just latest name of the local café. The menu is huge, featuring everything from a simple espresso to the Bull City Turtle to a Lavender Bloom. Don’t worry, the friendly baristas are always happy to impart their wisdom. 

Several chapters into my book, my stomach reminds me that it’s lunchtime, which means it’s time for Banh’s Cuisine (bring cash—no cards here). In the winter, I might order beef pho or hot and sour soup, but on a warmer afternoon, I’m all in for spring rolls and stir fry. 

No ideal day lolling around Duke would be complete without lemurs, so off to the Duke Lemur Center we go. Durham is home to the largest population of these creatures outside of Madagascar—the city’s most underrated feature, if you ask me. Not only does the tour teach about the nine species of endangered little creatures that live at the Lemur Center, but you even get to see them leaping through the trees! 

Having gotten my lemur fix, I’m off to shop at Bull City Fair Trade. As the name suggests, it’s a fair-trade shop, but its reach extends far beyond Durham, selling everything from Pakistani handwoven bags to wooden carvings from Africa. The goal is to alleviate poverty by ensuring fair prices for products while teaching customers about the cultures they come from. 

Finally: dinner. Zenfish, a poke bar started by a Duke alumna, calls my name. I order a Kindness Pokerito filled with tuna, salmon, mango, and veggies mixed with a spicy house sauce. On a lighter day, I would go for the Grateful Bowl—tuna, onions, seaweed, and avocado—with zoodles as a base, but this has not been a lighter day. 

As I head back home, I savor the familiarity of Ninth Street. The sidewalks don’t look much different than they did when I was a little girl. A new name on a sign here, some bright new paint there, but fresh skyscrapers don’t juxtapose with worn buildings as they do downtown. In the midst of Durham’s evolution, it’s comforting to know that we have Ninth Street to escape to.

Landmark: Duke Chapel

Where to Get a Cup of Coffee: Joe Van Gogh

Where to Visit with Friends: Cocoa Cinnamon

Where to Walk Your Dog: Duke Gardens (before 10 a.m.)

Where to Spend the Night: The King’s Daughters Inn


Sarah P. Duke Gardens

420 Anderson Street, 919-684-3698, gardens.duke.edu 

Duke Gardens is one of the few places in Durham that actually feel immune to angst. Maybe it’s the families picnicking with toddlers, or the lovers trying to find a discreet make-out spot, or the weird public art displays, or the puppies trying to discern the nature of the koi in the pond, but we always feel better for having spent a few minutes or hours here. 

Note: We’ve highlighted our pick for the best of each category below. 


Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken

703 Ninth Street, Suite A, 919-908-1597, alpacachicken.com

Everyone goes to Alpaca for the chicken, but you can make a meal out of the sides, too: corn, green beans, tostones, rice, black beans, fries. Just douse it all in that magical yellow sauce. 

Banh’s Cuisine

750 Ninth Street, 919-286-5073 

If it’s Wednesday or Saturday, you’re in for a treat. On those days, Banh’s stops pretending it’s a Chinese restaurant for demure palettes and instead serves delectable Vietnamese fare like fried tofu drenched in black bean sauce and cao lau with a hearty scoop of crispy fried pork. Cash only. 

Blue Corn Cafe

716 Ninth Street, 919-286-9600, bluecorncafedurham.com

One of the first Latin American restaurants on Ninth Street, Blue Corn covers all the bases, from Mexican to Cuban, chips and guac to empanadas. 

Burger Bach

737 Ninth Street, 919-973-4416, theburgerbach.com

If you’re a white-collar worker in Durham, chances are your coworkers have suggested going to lunch at Burger Bach on a Friday. That means if you’re not a white-collar worker in Durham and you’re thinking about going to lunch on a Friday, don’t go to Burger Bach (unless, of course, you enjoy waiting-list purgatory). 

Cosmic Cantina

1920 Perry Street, 919-286-1875, cosmiccantina.com

Many claim that Cosmic Cantina is the perfect drunk fare, but that overlooks just how thoroughly enjoyable the steak nachos are sober. Cosmic also has the most sharpie graffiti per square inch of any establishment in Durham. 

DeeLuxe Chicken

1116 Broad Street, 919-294-8128, deeluxechicken.com

It’s in vogue for chefs to move into fast-casual these days, and Scott Howell is no different. Deeluxe Chicken is a counter-service fried chicken joint that also offers crisp seafood baskets of oysters, shrimp, and catfish. The Velveeta mac ’n’ cheese is already making a name for itself. 

Early Bird Donuts

2816 Erwin Road, #101, 984-888-0417, facebook.com/ebdonuts

Early Bird strikes a balance between experimenting with creative new flavors and evoking nostalgia for the donuts of childhood. Our advice? Go full “childhood memories” and order a gigantic apple fritter. 

Elmo’s Diner

776 Ninth Street, 919-416-3823, elmosdiner.com

Popular fare includes literally anything on the enormous breakfast menu, as well as late-night ice cream. 

Happy + Hale

703 Ninth Street, Suite B, 984-439-1790, happyandhale.com

Vibrant salads and smoothies are the face of the restaurant, but the steak chimichurri bowl and avocado toast might be the real winners. 

Heavenly Buffaloes

1807 West Markham Avenue, 919-237-2358, heavenlybuffaloes.com

Heavenly Buffaloes’ vegan wings, not just for vegetarians, are legendary. (And yes, the chicken wings are great, too!) And if you’re truly inclined to try the Burnie Zass-hoff wings, well, caveat emptor, friends. 

International Delights

740 Ninth Street, 919-286-2884

Any place that invests in neon signs advertising both “SUBS” and “GYROS” is a place we want to be. (Get the gyros.)


737 Ninth Street, #210, 919-286-3555, jujudurham.com

It’s like PF Chang’s, but even more pan-Asian in its insistence that “Asian tapas” are a thing. Juju is a good place to go on a first date with someone you don’t know if you like yet, but it’s also a great place to go for a lunch business meeting. Either way, order the Hawaiian Ahi Poke Bowl. 

Lime and Lemon Indian Grill & Bar

811 Ninth Street, 919-748-3456, limenlemonnc.com

Americans conflate these things, but there’s a world of difference between the foods of northern and southern India. Naan? North. Spicy veggie curries? South. That’s where Lime and Lemon’s menu focuses, though you can also order northern-inspired dishes. 


2618 Hillsborough Road, 919-286-3500, ilovelocopops.com

Although you can purchase Locopops at any respectable location around Durham, the brick-and-mortar shop is well worth a visit (it’s only open during the summer). It’s homely and clean and makes the frozen Mexican pops feel like a treat. 

Local 22 Kitchen and Bar

2200 West Main Street, 919-286-9755, local22durham.com

Local 22 was the hip place to eat before “hip places to eat” became the norm in Durham. The fidelity to and finesse with Southern classics is worth admiring. 

Mad Hatter’s Cafe, Bakeshop, and Catering

1802 West Main Street, 919-286-1987, madhatterbakeshop.com

Avoid the Sunday church crowd and come in for a late afternoon scone and a cup of tea. Or avoid Sundays altogether and order the eggs Florentine some other day of the week. 


1002 Ninth Street, 919-286-2642, monutsdonuts.com

With its seemingly irresistible gravitational pull, Monuts will become your default brunch spot, even if you could do without the six-foot-tall grinning bunny. The cake donuts are amazing, the breakfast sandwiches and rotating seasonal menus are imaginative and delectable, the bagels are insanely good, and most of the time, you don’t even mind the line out the door or the mad scramble for seats at the bar. 

NaanStop Indian Cuisine

2812 Erwin Road, #103, 919-891-3488, naanstopduke.com

Authentic northern Indian cuisine, a lunch buffet, and a clever name? What’s not to love?


2812 Erwin Road, 919-383-4747, noshfood.com

The menu ranges from Portobello burgers to beef and blue cheese pizza to blueberry cobbler milkshakes. 

The Palace International

1104 Broad Street, 919-416-4922, thepalaceinternational.com

Until Goorsha opened, The Palace International was the only place to get great African food in this corner of Durham. Today, it still holds its own. The wide-ranging menu flaunts Nairobian beef, West African jollof rice, and curries that are popular throughout both eastern and southern Africa. 


2200 West Main Street, 919-286-9712, parizadedurham.com

Make a reservation at Parizade while your ’rents are in town. The Mediterranean-inspired menu features a wide selection of fancy fish and French wines.  

Snow Factory

760 Ninth Street, 919-294-4111, snowfactorystl.com

Here, you’ll find perfectly Instagrammable Thai-rolled ice cream. 

Tamale Factory and Tequila Bar

2816 Erwin Road, 919-353-5277, tamalefactorync.com

Tamale Factory is one of the few places in Durham that serves vegetarian tamales worth eating: There’s a spicy wild mushroom tamale, a Swiss chard and raisin tamale, and—our favorites—a corn masa baked in a tomato spice with toasted pumpkin seeds and queso fresco. 

Vin Rouge

2010 Hillsborough Road, 919-416-0466, vinrougerestaurant.com

This is a restaurant dedicated to opulence, from its cerise-painted walls to a seasonal Christmas tree so tall it brushes against the ceiling, and the menu is an extension of that philosophy: sauteed calves’ liver, oysters served with gruyere cheese, tartiflette, not to mention creme brulee. Come here for a special occasion. Wear loose pants.


810 Ninth Street, 919-937-9966, zenfishpokebar.com

Duke grad Janet Lee returned to Durham in 2017 to open ZenFish, which uses tuna caught on the Carolina coast and sources most of its veggies from local farms—including the zoodles, a unique base option for a poke bar. 


Cocoa Cinnamon

2627 Hillsborough Road, cocoacinnamon.com

Popular with students and professionals alike, Cocoa’s second location always maintains a cool, calm, collected atmosphere. Plus, you can feel good about the Lava Salt Latte you’re drinking—everything is ethically and sustainably sourced.

Dain’s Place 

754 Ninth Street Street, 919-416-8800, facebook.com/dainsplacedurham

There’s not much in the way of cell service at Dain’s, or throughout most of Ninth Street. (The locals blame Duke.) But that makes trivia night there all the more honest. Besides that, there’s a nice line-up of beers and the best bar food in the neighborhood. 

 Joe Van Gogh

1104 Broad Street, 919-286-4800, joevangogh.com

All JVGs have excellent coffee and espresso. The Broad Street location has a fleet of baristas known for good cheer and excellent pours. 

The Northern Spy

2812 Erwin Road, #104, 919-321-0203, northernspync.com

Inhabiting the former Black Twig Cider House, The Northern Spy is Stem Ciders’ first cider-house venture outside Colorado. Serving more than just fresh-pressed cider, The Northern Spy’s menu includes a wide selection of beer, wine, and cocktails alongside scratch-made American food. The bottle shop next door has a ton of chilled beverages for you to take home, as well. 

The Tavern

1900 West Markham Avenue, 919-286-7665, thetaverndurham.com

A biker with a beard akin to Mr. Twit’s, a leather vest outfitted with more patches than a Girl Scout’s sash, and an “I <3 Mom” tattoo sang Shania Twain’s “(Man) I Feel Like a Woman” with great aplomb on karaoke night, and, reader, that is why we love The Tavern.


Barnes Supply Company

774 Ninth Street, 919-286-2750, barnessupplydurham.com

Barnes caters to three kinds of people: people with dogs, people with gardens, and people with dogs and gardens. If you’re in any of those groups and you’re not here at least once a week, you (or your dog and/or your garden) are missing out. 

Books Do Furnish a Room 

1809 West Markham Avenue, 919-286-1076, booksdofurnisharoom.com

Once you’ve finished licking your fingers clean of Heavenly Buffaloes’ wings, venture to the trailer behind it for the oddest assortment of used books in Durham. 

High Strung Violins & Guitars

1805 West Markham Avenue, 919-286-3801, highstrungdurham.com

High Strung, which offers rentals and lessons, is known for its “instrument petting zoos”—events where folks can play instruments on display.  

Hunky Dory

718 Ninth Street, 919-286-1916, hunkydorydurham.com

Whoever decided to open a combination head shop and record shop deserves a MacArthur genius grant. Whoever decided to add a small, hop-forward taproom to all of this should marry us. 

The Regulator Bookshop 

720 Ninth Street, 919-286-2700, regulatorbookshop.com

Not long ago, the Regulator changed ownership and rearranged its floorplan, but it’s still the best place in Durham for a reading or to find the latest releases. 

Sanders Florist

1100 Broad Street, 919-286-1288, sandersflorist.com

Housed in what looks like a storefront plucked from a Dutch village, the homey, six-decade-old flower shop is a Durham staple.


Bull City Escape

711 Iredell Street, 919-627-8386, bullcityescape.com

Some people think it’s “fun” to pretend to be locked up. 

Craven Allen Gallery & House of Frames

1106½ Broad Street, 919-286-4837, cravenallengallery.com

From the outside, Craven Allen looks like a modest storefront for framing professionals, but it employs some of the biggest painting and photography enthusiasts and experts in the Triangle and exhibits an exciting rotation of visual art throughout the year. 

Duke East Campus Track 

Bounded by Broad Street, Main Street, Buchanan Boulevard, and Markham Avenue

All the best gossip comes from friends speed-walking around the East Campus track. Also, this is one of the best locales to ogle cute babies and pet eager dogs.  

Duke Lemur Center 

3705 Erwin Road, 919-401-7240, lemur.duke.edu

Duke Forest is home to the largest population of lemurs outside of Madagascar. The Duke Lemur Center offers year-round tours, giving the public the opportunity to visit the more than two hundred endangered little guys it houses. 

The Green Room

1108 Broad Street, 919-286-2359, facebook.com/thegreenroomdurham

The Green Room feels like a scene: the phalanx of kelly-green pool tables standing at attention, the neon loops of beer logos like electric twilights, and a well-worn mustiness that you choose to confuse for edginess. On busier nights, you may have to settle for shuffleboard and darts as you wait for a table to open up, or simply amble about with a beer in hand. But the ambiance is so good, you’ll never feel as if you’re missing a thing. The Green Room calls out to you: enter, stage left.

Horse & Buggy Press (and Friends)

1116 Broad Street, #101, 919-949-4847, horseandbuggypress.com

Over twenty years old, Horse & Buggy Press is a North Carolina establishment, celebrated at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh and archived by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Duke University. The Broad Street storefront gives you a glimpse into its wide repertoire.

Monkey Bottom Collaborative

609 Trent Drive, 336-675-9608, facebook.com/monkeybottomcollaborative

Though there are many fine shows at Monkey Bottom, whose aesthetic veers in the direction of “church basement where your high school theater troupe performed,” the best are the revolving improv and live band/readings/local celebrity shows that Mettlesome puts forward. 

Ninth Street Dance 

1920 Perry Street, 919-286-6011, ninthstreetdance.com

The dance curriculum here is comprehensive—ranging from ballet to belly dance, lindy hop to break dancing—and it’s well worth signing up for one of a seasonal class, whether you’re a dance enthusiast or just curious. 

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