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North Carolina Gay Guide

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Durham NC Guide to Gay Bars and Restaurants - Durham Gay Pride 2014
North Carolina Gay Guide

The Regulator Bookshop, which has a good-size GLBT section, is a fixture along one of Durham's most popular thoroughfares for hip dining, 9th Street.

photo by Andrew Collins

Durham Gay Bars

The Bar (711 Rigsbee Ave., 919-956-2929) is in downtown Durham's Warehouse District. This is a space that's held an LGBT bar for more than two decades. The owners formerly operated Club Steel Blue in this space, after moving it here in 2010 from a space about 5 miles southeast of the city center. The Bar is women-owned and draws a mixed crowd, about 75/25 female/male. This private club (the usual North Carolina rules apply, meaning guests from outside the area must buy a basic membership for $10) is brings in a fun mix of all ages and styles. The owners have completely revamped the space, which has darts and karaoke some evenings and dancing to a DJ on weekends.

Also, right in the heart of downtown Durham, the hip and bohemian Pinhook Bar has has live music, edgy art installations, old-school arcade games, and a definite following among Durham gays and lesbians. Sirens Lounge and the popular live-music club Casbah also draw plenty of gays and lesbians and are very supportive of the community.

Many GLBT residents of Durham head to Raleigh for nightlife, as there are a few popular gay bars there.

Durham Gay Pride 2014 - North Carolina Pride 2014

In late September, Durham plays hosts to many of the key events (including a festival and parade) that make up North Carolina Gay Pride. The date of NC Pride this year is September 27, 2014.

Durham Restaurants

Bustling 9th Street, near Duke’s campus, has several excellent eateries. Along here you’ll also find Blue Corn Cafe, a simple, homey dining room with great Latin American food like spinach-and-cheese empanadas, and plantain-encrusted mahimahi. It's right by The Regulator Bookshop, a respected and gay-friendly independent bookstore, and also close to student-favored coffeehouse and cafe, Bean Traders. In the same neighborhood are funky and inviting Elmo's Diner and sophisticated but casual Vin Rouge French Bistro, which has a lovely patio (perfect for brunch on a warm day).

The dining highlight of the 9th Street neighborhood has long been Magnolia Grill is a few blocks north and ranks among the South’s shining culinary stars. Scoring a table here can take a little effort, but the food is sensational. A short drive away is another of the city's culinary gems, Watts Grocery, a hip neighborhood bistro inside a former vintage grocery store and serving creative, contemporary fare with a decided Southern influence. Pickled beets with beet custard, walnut praline, and goat cheese; and beer-brined roasted local poussin with Cajun potatoes and seasoned mushrooms and onions are standouts.

On Duke campus, the Nasher Museum of Art Cafe is a terrific spot for lunch or brunch. The kitchen sources locally and comes up with some wonderfully inventive fare, such as a sweet-and-salty panini with prosciutto, gruyere, Fuji apple, Dijon apricot jam, and rustic house bread.

In the historic Brightleaf Square complex, try El Rodeo for filling if fairly predictable Mexican fare, and Amelia Cafe bakery and pastry shop. Across the street, Fishmongers Restaurant and Oyster Bar is a down-home seafood joint with fresh food and plain Jane but cheerful decor. You can pick up blackened, steamed, fried, or broiled fish of many kinds, or try the specialty, Frogmore stew (with shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn boiled in beer and Old Bay seasoning).

Downtown notables include the dapper coffeehouse and cocktail bar Beyu Caffe, which has live music many evenings, and reliably good breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare. The food is eclectic, with salads, pizzas, Thai curries, and soups on tap, with plenty of veggie selections, too. And the stellar Italian-sandwich shop, Toast at Five Points, which serves delicious panini (try the one with spicy tuna, olivada, fennel, and lemon). For dinner downtown, Revolution is a sexy, upscale space that's known for serving some of the most creative and deftly prepared cuisine in the city - the menu is globally inspired but often regionally sourced, and there's a raw bar. It's also a fun place to hobnob and sip cocktails.

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