The 5 Best Brunch Spots in Durham

We believe brunch is the best meal of the day. After all it is acceptable to have almost anything and less than half the price of going out for dinner! As students of Durham, we are lucky enough to have the streets scattered with some delightful places to choose from. Trust us, we have tried a fair few in our years here! Below is our review for the Top 5, but you can check out our Instagram @ontuesdayswebrunch for more:

  1. Flat White ££/£££
  2. Leonard’s £
  3. Whitechurch £££
  4. Riverview Kitchen ££
  5. Bill’s ££
*Click the link below each picture in this blog post to go directly to the relevant post on instagram!*

1. Flat White (££/£££)

For any Durham student, Flat White is a rite of passage.  It is the classic brunch spot and a favourite amongst students and visitors alike.  The avocado and poached eggs, made with orange yolked Arlington White eggs, with feta, fresh chilli and coriander really is the epitome of “brunch” and their infamous pancakes are thick and fluffy with a good dose of seasonal toppings. The French toast is a delicious alternative with toppings also reflecting the time of year (the strawberry brioche French toast is our favourite)!

Flat White

@ontuesdayswebrunch: Avocado toast with poached eggs, Banana & strawberry pancakes and Beef shin hash

The ‘lighter’ breakfast options and treats displayed in the glass cabinet at the entrance are definitely worth a try too.

A flat white at Flat White is the ultimate start to the morning with a silky espresso blended oh so smoothly with steamed milk.  They also have a range of dairy free milk alternatives including soya, oat and almond. Their fresh teas are delightful and they don’t skimp on the ingredients which are served in clear glass mugs with hot water to give a vibrant and refreshing drink.

The slightly hipster location is cosy yet relaxed with open brick walls and wooden beams, complete with quirky basement bathroom and creaky wooden floors.  It has a lovely chilled vibe and there are always fresh flowers adorning the rustic wood tables. The waiters are always friendly without being too overbearing.

Flat White 2

@ontuesdayswebrunch: Rustic interior of Flat White decorated with gorgeous, fresh tulips

Top tip: choose your main and then get a half stack of pancakes to share (trust us, you’ll be struggling to eat half of one but won’t be able to stop!)


2. Leonard’s Coffee House (£)

Tucked away in the backstreets of Durham is the very cosy Leonard’s Coffee House.  With the smell of freshly baked goodies greeting you when you open the door and a beautiful array of treats (including gluten free) lining the counters, you’re sure to want to stay for more than one cup of coffee.

The blueberry, almond and yoghurt pancakes live up to Flat White standards and you won’t be disappointed by the generous slab of the cinnamon French toast drowned in syrup. Their take on the classic poached eggs and avocado is served on soft sourdough with a moreish chilli jam. They also serve a mouth-watering veggie breakfast with poached eggs, avocado, thick slices of halloumi (yes!!), sweet potato, baked beans, sweet chilli jam and a couple of slices of rustic toast.  The scrambled eggs on toast are smoothly made with at least 3 (if not 4) eggs and is filling on its own or with a side of perfectly cooked bacon.


@ontuesdaywebrunch: Avocado and poached eggs on toast with added bacon

The coffee is very strong – we’re talking caffeine jitters on the way to lectures – but is well rounded with lots of dairy free alternatives including coconut milk and an almost ridiculously over the top hot chocolate, suitably called “Death by Chocolate”.  This comes with all the toppings you could imagine as well as an array of chocolate treats on the side!

It is a small café but don’t let this put you off.  Unlike the slight bustle of Flat White, Leonard’s is a quiet, off-the-main-grid, little place with lots of green plants dotted around giving it a more open feel. You certainly get more than you pay for too!

Top tip: get in early for some fresh out the oven scones and get one of the many treats to take away for a post (or mid) lecture pick-me-up.


3. Whitechurch (£££)

The sister to Flat White, Whitechurch, certainly had a lot to live up to but definitely hits the mark. Conveniently located right opposite Billy B and with a similar rustic hipster feel to Flat White (think lots of plants, untreated wood and quirky cushions) this place is always a hub of student activity.

A great coffee-stop between lectures, they serve a medium roast coffee with oat milk and almond milk alternatives.  There are a small number of treats temptingly displayed near the till – you wouldn’t want them to be any bigger as they are very rich. They are the perfect combination with a bitter coffee. Or if you’re really feeling the horrors of dissertation, dull lectures and a wasted degree, they serve a wide variety of alcohol (it’s 5 o’clock somewhere right) and are open ‘til late every night (though not quite as late as Billy B).

While they do serve Flat White’s classic poached eggs and avocado on toast with feta and fresh chilli, they also do their own ‘warmer’ alternative with thick slabs of halloumi, grilled tomatoes and the most incrediblered pepper ketchup, all on a crusty slice of sourdough.  Although they don’t do pancakes (?!?!?) they do serve waffles which almost match-up!  Beautifully served with “macerated” berries or the highly recommended bacon and maple syrup.


@ontuesdaywebrunch: Avocado, eggs & halloumi on toast and waffle with macerated berries & ice cream

As they are open all day, they also serve lunch and dinner.  Whilst the dinner is delicious and the dishes are ‘classic with a twist,’ the brunch is still their best menu.  Although this place is constantly busy with the comings and goings of students, it is still a relatively calming environment to stop and have a coffee while writing up your notes, or catching up with friends between lectures.

Top tip:ask for extra red pepper ketchup – it really is that delicious!


4. Riverview Kitchen (££)

As the name implies, Riverview Kitchen is situated right beside the river, with floor to ceiling windows running around the outer side of the establishment offering beautiful views of the river framed by fairy lights, indoor plants and orchids.  Clearly a lot of thought went in to the decoration of this newer arrival to Durham and although not as much thought always goes into the service it is a truly lovely location.

Whilst the avocado and poached eggs are below average, the pancakes certainly lift our review of this place.  With a choice of blueberry, banoffee or bacon, they are thick and perfect for sharing (or not!) although a little bit more maple syrup wouldn’t go amiss. The veggie or full English breakfast is slightly better than the classic brunch of avocado and poached eggs but let down by only serving ¼ of an avocado, ½ a tomato and a very thin slice of halloumi.


@ontuesdayswebrunch: Blueberry pancakes with yoghurt and maple syrup

Pancakes aside, you don’t necessarily get what you pay for with the brunch, but their treats, in particular the brownies, are to die for, and they don’t skimp on size either!  The coffee is nice with coconut, almond and soy milk alternatives, but their extensive tea selection really raises the bar.

Lovely location, ok food, great pancakes, average service and there’s always a bit of a hassle when it comes to pay (minimum £6 to pay by card and you have to go up to the front to pay, where you are always in the way between the queue for the toilet and the queue waiting for tables) but nevertheless a good brunch spot.

Top tip: go early to get a spot by the window avoiding the queues up the stairs and the slightly stressed staff when it gets busy.


5. Bill’s Restaurant (££)

Chain restaurant alert! Yes ok this is Durham, the home of the independent coffee shop, but hear us out on this one because the Bill’s Breakfast is not something to be missed. Taking the classic poached eggs to another level is the vegetarian breakfast, which not only serves the poached eggs with smashed avocado but also with tomato hummus! The best of both worlds and boy is it good.  Topped with sweet chilli sauce and fresh basil this dish is a welcome twist. The garden breakfast and the garden plate top your avo and eggs with pea shoots, halloumi and mixed seeds with some sweet charred red peppers.


@ontuesdayswebrunch: Fruit pancakes and veggie breakfast with tomato houmous, sweet chilli and basil

The pancakes may not *quite* be up to the Durham standard thickness but they are made with buttermilk giving them a light and fluffy texture with traditional toppings.  They also do a nice variety of fresh teas and smoothies, although they don’t quite have the wow factor of the Flat White concoctions. The coffee is also fairly standard but enjoyable nonetheless.

Just one door down from Flat White, it’s difficult to miss this place and the standard Bill’s decoration fits in nicely with the slightly off kilter vibe of many of the Durham independent spots.  The service came with a smile although the whole experience was slightly more formal than the relaxed and pleasant service next door.

Top tip: Instead of the smashed avocado on toast, pay the extra £2 for the vegetarian or garden breakfast.


For pictures of all the above brunches, reviews and more follow @ontuesdayswebrunch on instagram.

Know any good brunch places? Tell @ontuesdayswebrunchand we’ll go!

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