A Guide to Durham’s Cafes: 5 Cafes to start off with

Written by Natalie Lam

Durham boasts a proud collection of colleges, riverside walks, hills, but most of all, cafes!! As a student, a staple activity is to visit the cafes and to sample which coffee or tea selection is the best. Here is a small starter pack on cafes you might want to start off and visit in Durham, whether you’re a student, staff or visitor!

  • Riverview Kitchen. 20-21 Silver Street, DH1 3RB

You can’t have come to Durham without having been to Riverview. In fact, my housemate’s sister marked Riverview as a must-visit landmark at Durham. True, the food may not be as good as you’d expect for the price you pay, but the views for sure make up for anything else that you’re missing out! This is for sure a picturesque and quaint cafe to relax by and go duck spotting. 8/10

  • Flat white. 40 Saddler Street, DH1 3NU

This is the ever-so-popular cafe in Durham that surely everyone must have been at least once to! It has been commented and asked whether this cafe is overrated or not, but seeing as the queues outside it never subside (even at 10am), Flat White must surely make this list of cafes in Durham to visit. Slightly insider or fan knowledge is that there are actually two Flat Whites in Durham!! If you’re ever put off by the long queues (which is always), there is the alternative of going to the smaller Flat White by Elvet Bridge. I’m personally a big fan of this smaller cafe (though there also aren’t many seats sadly) and although they mainly do drinks & cakes (no big plates), it’s a nice change from the crowds and queues at Saddler Street’s Flat White. A solid 9/10 and a good visit if you want to take an aesthetically pleasing photo with many plotted plants with a cute atmosphere. My personal all-time favourite is the London Fog, which I’ve actually never been able to find anywhere in England but here in Durham! (The drink originates from Canada)

  • Vennels. 71 Saddler Street, DH1 3NP

I had visited this cafe earlier during last term and was sadly a bit disappointed by it on this first time (think I had a bit of a stale sandwich). However, the opportunity struck again and I was asked to revisit this cafe a few weeks ago. In this short span of time my views have changed and I’d say it’s partially redeemed itself. It’s a hidden but charming cafe located at the end of a narrow passageway with 2 floors of seating and an outdoor section. I had a bit of a dilemma choosing between the chocolate and lemon cake and have done my research and ended up trying both, and would definitely recommend the chocolate cake without question. I’d add to this and suggest visiting on a sunny day and sit near the windows as it can get a bit dim in the inner section. A decent 6/10 (but this could be contested).

  • Mr Bojangles. 9 Saddler Street, DH1 3NP

A relatively unknown and new cafe, and personally, I’m surprised that this made the cut as well! But it was an interesting surprise and actually a lovely experience. Located at the corner of Elvet Bridge and Saddler Street, where you are sure to have passed by (but perhaps never noticed because of its slightly odd deco), Mr B does bagels & waffles I can’t deny! (Hey that rhymed!) I only had the chance to try the bagels, but they were really good ­– the girls on the table next to me had hot chocolates/ milkshakes which looked frothy with a generous piping of whipped cream, and has been on my list to try again when I next visit! 8/10 ­­­– a new cafe, worth a try?

  • The Pancake Café. 11 Crossgate, DH1 4PS

What do you know, here we are at the end of our list, with the only cafe that’s not on Saddler Street! This is my personal favourite and I’d wholeheartedly give it a whooping 12/10. The lady who owns the cafe is absolutely the sweetest person ever and has actually helped sort out various housing fiascos from slug problems to damp and mould issues! Talk about versatility!! The only thing that you’d have to reconsider before going to this cafe is the steep Crossgate hill you’d have to hike up to get there – I’d still attest that it is for sure worth the time and the intense 3-5 minute leg workout (and the houses along the road are very aesthetically pleasing as well). Tucked away where visitors don’t usually visit and with a lovely selection of both sweet and savoury pancakes and drinks (apparently boasting the best milkshakes in Durham as well), you must give this cafe a visit sometime!

It ultimately depends what kind of experience you’re looking for when you’re going to a cafe. At the end of the day, I do feel that I can be a harsh critic at times especially when it comes to food – try out these cafes for yourselves and leave a comment on how you found them. Until next time!!

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