DURHAM, N.C. — While it won’t be confused with a certain New York locale, the Central Park neighborhood in downtown has surfaced as an offbeat, community-minded place to hang and have a bite. These spots have led the way.
Durham Farmers’ Market When the market moved from a parking lot to a covered pavilion on Foster Street in 2007, it attracted newcomers to the once-blighted area. With the block closed to vehicles during peak months, the area hums like a street fair — food trucks included. 501 Foster St., www
.durhamfarmersmarket.com, Saturday mornings year-round, Wednesday afternoons seasonally
Fullsteam Brewery The casual “plow-to-pint” operation was founded in 2009 by Sean Wilson, who led the charge to lift the state’s alcohol cap, allowing for craft beer sales. Fullsteam focuses on local ingredients, which means you might find sweet potatoes, paw paws, or basil added to the mash. Folks come for the tasty brews ($4-$5 a pint) and stay for the positive vibes. 726 Rigsbee Ave., 919-682-2337, www.full
Piedmont A trailblazer in 2006, the stylish restaurant shares owners with nearby Coon Rock Farm, which in turns supplies the eatery with some of its produce and protein, and gets much of the rest from other local farms. Seasonally inspired dishes include Captain John Pope’s lamb crepinette with sweet potato blini, summer squash, okra, and tomatoes ($23). 401 Foster St., 919-683-1213, www.pied
Geer Street Garden Owner Andy Magowan transformed a dilapidated brick building and onetime gas station into a hopping dining and drinking spot. Customers gravitate to the bar area, set in the former service bay, and the expansive patio, where extra-long picnic tables invite conversation with neighbors. Favorites include the Reuben sandwich ($9) and fried chicken plate ($12).
644 Foster St., 919-688-2900, www.geerstreetgarden.com
King’s Sandwich Shop After a spruce-up and rebirth in 2010, the red-and-white takeout burger joint across from the original Durham Bulls ballpark looks much like it did when it opened in 1942. The menu is a “Happy Days” flashback with modern touches, like a spicy black bean burger ($4.99). Leave room for a hand-mixed milkshake ($3.75). 701 Foster St., 919-682-0071, www.kingssand
DaisyCakes The cheery sweet and savory cafe, which opened late last year, is run by pastry chef Tanya Catolos and her husband, Konrad, a chef whose resumé includes launching Todd English’s Olives in New York. Standouts include Pop’t Art ($1.95), a pastry filled with such delectables as blueberry, goat cheese, and basil; and the roasted turkey sandwich with avocado, bacon, and onion jam ($7.95). “Sugar,” the Airstream trailer that initially drove DaisyCakes’ success, still makes occasional appearances. 401 Foster St., 919-389-4307, www.eatdaisycakes.com
Diane Daniel can be reached at