A Chef’s Guide To Durham
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A Chef’s Guide To Durham

Shaun Hurrell shares his favourite food hotspots

With its fairytale-like castle and grand cathedral, Durham is one of the UK’s most historic cities – so much so that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. But it’s also renowned for its culinary offering: within the walls of this pretty riverside city you’ll find an array of great restaurants, from fine dining to cosy pubs and low-key cafes. Planning a weekend there? Allow local chef Shaun Hurrell to guide you on a tour of the best restaurants in Durham.

A Chef’s Guide To Durham

Shaun Hurrell

Shaun Hurrell

Although he was born in Yorkshire, Shaun spent most of his formative years in California – where he first fell in love with Mexican food. He returned to the UK in 2005, going on to work at prestigious kitchens alongside big-name chefs like Marcus Wareing and James Knappett. In 2015, he moved back to the northeast of England to be with his partner Victoria, and set up a monthly pop-up inspired by his love of Mexican cuisine. 

In 2020, he fulfilled his dream of opening his own restaurant, Barrio Comida in Durham – but the arrival of the pandemic delayed things for a while. He picked up where he left off in 2021, and recently opened a new venture alongside it: La Mesa, co-located within his flagship restaurant. Barrio Comida is a taqueria serving tacos, cocktails and mezcals, while La Mesa offers an intimate tasting menu-style experience. 

Best Restaurants In Durham: Shaun’s Pick

Fifty Six Restaurant

A great Sichuan restaurant on North Road which does all the classics well – make sure to ask for the Sichuan menu when sitting down. Try the ‘Wind and Sand’ lamb ribs, and the mouthwatering chicken and mapo tofu.

56 North Rd, Durham DH1 4SF


A lovely burger joint on Elvet Bridge with a large outside seating area perfect for a sunny day.

96 Elvet Bridge, Durham DH1 3AG, tangodurham.co.uk

Flat White Kitchen

A very popular brunch restaurant located on Saddler Street, there’s normally a queue to get in but it’s worth the wait. Pancake stacks, baked eggs, amazing coffee and plenty of cakes all made in house.

40 Saddler St, Durham DH1 3NU, flatwhitekitchen.com

La Mesa

La Mesa


An incredibly affordable tasting menu spot from Ruari MacKay. Ruari cooks playful takes on classics and changes the menu every six weeks. Book early as it’s very popular.

Reform Pl, North Rd, Durham DH1 4RZ, coarse.restaurant

The Victoria Inn

A proper pub. No music, roaring fires, a great whisky selection and great pints. My favourite pub not just in Durham but anywhere.

86 Hallgarth St, Durham DH1 3AS, victoriainn-durhamcity.co.uk

Raby Hunt

James Close’s two Michelin-starred temple just a short drive from Durham is well worth the journey. Only the best produce hits his menu with amazing dessert creations by his wife Maria.

Summerhouse, Darlington DL2 3UD, rabyhuntrestaurant.co.uk

The Head of Steam

Hidden away in a little courtyard, this pubs is great for the beer aficionados or as a pre drink to dinner at coarse, as they neighbour each other.

3 North Rd, Durham DH1 4RZ, theheadofsteam.co.uk

The Rib Room at Ramside Hall

Located within the Ramside Estate, The Rib Room is a perfect spot for a steakhouse dinner.

Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham DH1 1TD, ramsidehallhotel.co.uk