What to Eat, Drink, and Do in Durham, North Carolina
North Carolina’s “it” city is a hotbed of boutique hotels and nouveau comfort food. Chef Andrea Reusing and her musician husband, Mac McCaughan, reveal their favorite local spots.
Andrea Reusing is the James Beard Award–winning chef of Lantern, in nearby Chapel Hill. Mac McCaughan is the cofounder of the beloved indie label Merge Records, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Together, they have a hand in the new Durham Hotel (doubles from $279), a 53-room property set in the former Home Savings building downtown. She runs the restaurant and rooftop bar; he created the soundtrack for all of the public spaces.
Like the couple themselves, the property is obsessively committed to its North Carolina roots: local farms provide the ingredients, Raleigh Denim custom-makes the blankets, and Durham-based Burt’s Bees supplies some bath amenities. Here’s where Reusing and McCaughan like to eat, drink, shop, and more.
Andrea: “Don’t miss Rose’s Meat Market & Sweet Shop, owned by a husband and wife, a whole-animal butcher and a pastry chef, respectively. She makes these amazing sea-salt caramels and elegant cream puffs. I’m also a fan of Scratch for its amazing pies and, for lunch, the rice bowl with fried egg and kimchi.”
Mac: “A downtown lunchtime favorite is Saltbox Seafood Joint (entrées $9–$17). I just see what kind of fish Ricky has fried up. He also makes these spicy potatoes that are crispy and chewy all at once. And the radicchio salad at Pizzeria Toro (entrées $13–$18) is unstoppable, as is their simplest pizza—the anchovy pie with tomato sauce and no cheese.”
Andrea: “The owners of Vert & Vogue have their own line of tailored men’s and women’s dress shirts, plus a lot of interesting designers from the South. They recently opened a women’s store, Vert & Vogue Femme. And Indio, in Brightleaf Square, is a cool shop that offers hands-on workshops like bookbinding and block printing.”
Andrea: “The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University puts on consistently mind-blowing shows. An exhibition that explores contemporary art in the American South is up until January. I also love the CAM Raleigh. Right now, you’ll find large-scale abstract paintings by Sarah Cain on display. Nearby, the Lump represents artists from North Carolina and elsewhere.”
Downtown Durham is having a hotel boomlet: The 21c Museum Hotel (doubles from $199)—known for its contemporary art and innovative commissions—has launched its fourth location a few blocks away from the Durham Hotel. It, like its neighbor, is a game changer for the area, which until now only had a Marriott from the 1980s. Coming in 2016: an outpost of Graduate (doubles from $210). Just steps away from the American Tobacco historic district, it will have a coffee shop, outdoor pool, and works by local artists.