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Best Family Friendly Restaurants In Durham You and the Kids Will Love

Forget mealtime battles and grumpy kids! There are plenty of family friendly restaurants in Durham that make dining out a total joy. Whether you’re in the mood for classic pub grub, adventurous flavours, or a special occasion spot, we’ve got you covered.

There are so many great activities for kids in Durham that after a long day out your going to need somehwere to eat. We’ve rounded up the best family-friendly places in town – think delicious kids’ menus, fun play areas, and staff who genuinely love the chaos kids bring. Get ready to say goodbye to boring meals and hello to happy faces!

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Where to Eat with Kids in Durham

Detailed Guide to the Best Family Restaurants in Durham

1. Fat Hippo Durham

Fat Hippo Durham

We were immediately struck by the relaxed, friendly vibe of Fat Hippo Durham. It’s the kind of place where kids feel totally welcome, and the buzzing atmosphere adds to the sense of fun. The staff make an effort to engage with even the youngest diners, which helps put little ones at ease. The dedicated kids’ menu is fun and creative, offering smaller portions of classic burgers along with healthy options like chicken skewers and salads. They’ve even got activity sheets and crayons to keep little hands busy while waiting for the food! And let’s not forget the milkshakes – they’re epic, with flavours that will make both kids and adults drool.

For the grown-ups, the burger selection is impressive. There are signature options with creative toppings, along with the classic build-your-own experience. We loved the generous portions, the perfectly cooked patties, and the variety of sauces to choose from. Service was attentive without being overbearing, and our orders arrived quickly despite the restaurant being busy. For a family meal that’s relaxed, delicious, and won’t break the bank, Fat Hippo Durham ticks all the boxes. Fat Hippo is top of many visitors’ lists for where to eat with kids in Durham.

  • Best for: Gourmet burgers and loaded fries
  • Dish to order: Build-your-own-burger or the ‘PB+J’ burger (if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • Address: 76 Saddler Street, Durham DH1 3NP
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: £££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://fathippo.co.uk/locations/durham/

2. The Boat Club

The Boat Club

If you’re looking for a family meal with a touch of something special, The Boat Club is a fantastic option. Its historic building and stunning location right on the River Wear immediately set it apart, offering a unique dining experience for both kids and adults. The inside is stylish yet comfortable, creating a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere that suits families who want just a little more than standard pub fare. We found the staff friendly and attentive, which is always a bonus when you have little ones with you.

The kids’ menu is a cut above your average offerings, with smaller portions of classic steak and fish dishes, and even a proper kids’ Sunday roast. We loved that they have a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and thoughtful presentation, even for younger diners. While the price tag is a little higher, the atmosphere, quality of the food, and those gorgeous riverside views make it worth it for a memorable meal out with the family. For older kids, their selection of mocktails adds a touch of fun.

  • Best for: Special occasion family meals
  • Dish to order: Kids’ Sunday roast
  • Address: Elvet Bridge, Durham, DH1 3AF
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Price: ££££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://www.the-boat-club.com/

3. Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay brings a big burst of sunshine to Durham, offering a vibrant, laid-back escape that’s fun for the whole crew. If your kids get bored with standard pub grub or fussy chain restaurants, the Caribbean-inspired menu will be a welcome change. They offer plenty of milder options for kids alongside jerk chicken and fiery curries for adults who like a kick. Get ready for generous portions and a dedicated kids’ menu filled with tasty choices. The staff are super friendly and seem to genuinely enjoy the bustling atmosphere, which can get a little loud at times – but that adds to the place’s lively energy.

The 2-4-1 cocktails are a major draw for grown-ups, and their creative mocktails mean the little ones won’t feel left out of the fun. For families who want something different, delicious, and a guaranteed good time, Turtle Bay has much to offer. Their bottomless brunch could be a hit with older kids and teens, and it’s always worth checking if they have any special family-focused events during school holidays. Just be prepared to book ahead if you’re visiting during peak hours, as it gets very popular! With a fantastic selection for grown-ups and children alike, this is one of the most popular family friendly restaurants in Durham.

  • Best for: Caribbean food and fun vibes
  • Dish to order: Curry goat (for the adults) or the mini Reggae Rum BBQ chicken from the kids’ menu
  • Address: The Riverwalk, 1 Framwellgate Bridge, Durham, DH1 4SL
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://turtlebay.co.uk/restaurants/durham

4. La Spaghettata

La Spaghettata

La Spaghettata is a Durham institution, serving up classic Italian comfort food in a warm and welcoming space that’s perfect for family gatherings. The atmosphere is relaxed and bustling, and you can immediately sense it’s a place where locals and students alike have been returning for years. You won’t find fancy twists here; instead, expect generous portions of familiar favourites like spaghetti bolognese and pizzas, all made with fresh ingredients and that unmistakable home-cooked feel. The staff are friendly and accommodating, and they clearly have a soft spot for kids – ours were delighted by the crayons and paper tablecloths!

If you’re looking for a solid Italian meal that won’t disappoint the little ones (or break the bank), La Spaghettata is a reliable choice. It’s a place where memories are made, with the kind of timeless charm that suits families celebrating together. While the menu might not be the most adventurous, its focus on simple, well-executed dishes is perfect for picky eaters and those seeking a comforting meal out. It’s particularly good for larger groups, but be sure to book ahead at weekends as tables fill up fast!

  • Best for: Classic Italian comfort food
  • Dish to order: Pizza for sharing
  • Address: 66 Saddler Street, Durham DH1 3NU
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://www.fabiosdurham.com/la-spaghettata

5. Zen

Zen

The stylish interior creates an atmosphere that feels special yet unpretentious, ideal for family celebrations or simply a change from the usual chain restaurants. The menu is a feast for the senses, showcasing a wide variety of Thai favourites. We found staff happy to offer guidance and recommendations based on our preferences, helping us navigate both well-known dishes like Pad Thai and lesser-known regional specialties. While the price tag is a little steeper than your average takeaway, the quality of ingredients, authentic flavours, and elegant environment justify the cost, especially for a memorable meal out with the family.

The portions are generous, perfect for sharing and sampling a range of dishes. Zen also offers lunch and early evening special menus, a great option for families looking to experience their cuisine at a lower price point. If you’re searching for a taste of Thailand in the heart of Durham, Zen delivers a consistently excellent experience. As it’s a popular spot, booking ahead is always recommended, particularly for larger groups and at the weekend.

  • Best for: Upscale Thai dining experience
  • Dish to order: Pad Thai or one of the Panang curries
  • Address: 39 Court Lane, Durham DH1 3JS
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Price: £££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://www.zendurham.co.uk/

6. TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays brings a slice of American energy to Durham, perfect for when you’re craving a lively, fun, and satisfying meal out with the whole family. The atmosphere here is always buzzing – expect memorabilia-clad walls, friendly staff who keep the party spirit going, and the cheerful sounds of laughter and conversation. The classic American menu offers a satisfying selection for everyone’s tastes, from juicy burgers and steaks to pasta dishes, loaded fajitas, and a dedicated kids’ menu filled with crowd-pleasers. They’re well-equipped for younger diners, offering high chairs, crayons, and an understanding approach to the inevitable mess!

While TGI Fridays might not be the first choice for a quiet, intimate meal, it’s an absolute winner for families seeking a reliable spot for celebrations or just a break from cooking with a guaranteed dose of fun. Portion sizes are generous, and their cocktails and playful mocktails add to the celebratory feel. Just be aware that it fills up quickly, particularly at weekends, so booking ahead is a wise move! For a guaranteed crowd-pleaser with a side of upbeat American vibes, TGI Fridays delivers.

7. Flat White Kitchen

Flat White Kitchen

Flat White Kitchen brings a stylish and airy space to Durham, with its exposed brickwork, trendy lighting, and abundance of plants. It’s a popular spot, particularly for brunch, so if you hate crowds, it may not be the most relaxing family choice. However, it does cater to families with a kid’s menu offering smaller versions of their well-presented dishes. They also offer highchairs and baby changing facilities.

The menu focuses on fresh, high-quality ingredients, with healthy options alongside indulgent treats. Their portions lean toward the smaller side, so it feels like a good spot if you want something tasty but relatively light, perfect if you’re planning a big meal later. For a quick lunch with the kids or a relaxed brunch where you feel a little fancy, Flat White Kitchen hits the mark. Keep in mind; it’s on the pricier side for the amount of food you get. However, you’re paying for that trendy ambiance and the quality of the ingredients.

  • Best for: Stylish brunch and coffee
  • Dish to order: Avocado and poached eggs on toast (smaller version available on the kids’ menu)
  • Address: 40 Saddler Street, Durham, DH1 3NU
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Price: ££££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://flatwhitekitchen.com/

8. Bistro Italiano

Bistro Italiano

Bistro Italiano offers a little slice of Italy in the heart of Durham, a cozy spot where the aroma of garlic bread and homemade pasta fills the air. Its unpretentious charm and small dining space create a relaxed atmosphere that feels like visiting your favourite neighborhood trattoria. The menu focuses on classic Italian dishes – think rich tomato sauces, creamy carbonara, and freshly baked pizzas – executed with care. The friendly staff go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome, including little ones who may not yet have mastered the art of sitting still through a meal.

If you’re looking for a warm, family-owned Italian spot where you can tuck into a satisfying meal without breaking the bank, then Bistro Italiano fits the bill. It’s a great choice for unfussy eaters seeking crowd-pleasing dishes, and its intimate space has a way of making family dinners feel extra special. Just be sure to book ahead, particularly at the weekend, as tables get snapped up quickly. if you want hearty Italian food at good prices, this is one of the best kid friendly restaurants in Durham City centre.

  • Best for: Classic Italian, cozy atmosphere
  • Dish to order: Spaghetti bolognese
  • Address: 12 Framwellgate Bridge, Durham DH1 4SJ
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: http://bistro-italiano.co.uk/

9. Pizza Punks

Pizza Punks

Pizza Punks brings a blast of rebellious energy to Durham’s dining scene. It’s a place where loud music, exposed brickwork, and neon signs set the scene for a seriously fun and laid-back dining experience. Their concept is simple: one price gets you unlimited toppings on your sourdough pizza. Want to pile mac and cheese and BBQ sauce on top? Go for it! They have a great selection of craft beers and playful cocktails for the adults, adding to the party atmosphere.

While Pizza Punks might not be the top choice if you’re after an intimate meal or have very young kids sensitive to noise, it’s a hit for families with teens or tweens who’ll love the lively atmosphere and creative freedom. The sourdough pizza base is chewy and delicious, and the endless topping combinations mean even the pickiest eater can find something to love. Service can be a bit hit or miss when it’s busy, but the staff’s friendly attitude makes up for it. Remember, it’s not about “gourmet” food; it’s about bold flavours, unlimited combinations, and having a good time while enjoying your meal. If you are looking for somewhere to each with kids in Durham that caters for teenagers, but won’t break the bank, Pizza Punks is a fine choice.

  • Best for: Unlimited pizza and a lively atmosphere
  • Dish to order: Build-your-own with as many crazy toppings as you dare!
  • Address: 76 Silver Street, Durham, DH1 3RD
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://pizzapunks.co.uk/pizza-punks-durham/

10. Rio Brazilian Steakhouse

Rio Brazilian Steakhouse

Rio Brazilian Steakhouse brings a taste of South American carnival to Durham. The “rodizio” experience revolves around servers continuously carving various cuts of meat at your table until you beg them to stop! This all-you-can-eat meat extravaganza includes a self-serve salad bar with a great selection of sides to go alongside the feast. Staff are friendly and enthusiastic, heightening the sense of fun.

This is a great choice for families with adventurous eaters or those celebrating a special occasion. Kids will love the spectacle of the service and the opportunity to try different flavours and textures. However, Rio Brazilian Steakhouse is undoubtedly expensive, so it’s better for older kids and families ready for a memorable, indulgent experience rather than a casual weekday dinner. Be sure to book ahead, particularly for larger groups, as it’s a popular spot, and come hungry! For older children with big appetites, this is one of the most family friendly restaurants in Durham!

  • Best for: Meat lovers, unique dining experience
  • Dish to order: Picanha (their signature rump steak)
  • Address: Inside the Walkergate, Durham Shopping Centre, Durham, DH1 1SQ
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: £££££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://www.rio-steakhouse.co.uk/durham

11. Turkish Kitchen Meze and Grill

Turkish Kitchen Meze and Grill

Turkish Kitchen welcomes you with warmth and vibrant energy, transporting you to the bustling streets of Istanbul. The atmosphere crackles with lively chatter and the aromas of grilled meats – perfect for family gatherings or when you’re craving a relaxed, boisterous meal. Their menu showcases all the classic Turkish favourites, alongside generous sharing platters that let you sample an array of flavours. Expect succulent grilled meats, creamy dips, fresh salads, and an abundance of warm pitta bread perfect for scooping up every last morsel.

Families will appreciate the welcoming staff, who seem happy to accommodate children, and the flexible dining style. Sharing plates offer the freedom for picky eaters to find something they’ll enjoy, and the lively atmosphere makes it feel less formal than some other establishments. Turkish Kitchen stands out for its fantastic value, especially when sharing a large platter between several people. Keep in mind; it gets incredibly busy, so booking a table is a must – especially for larger groups and during peak times as it is one of the most popular children friendly restaurants in Durham.

  • Best for: Turkish favourites, sharing platters, lively atmosphere
  • Dish to order: Mixed grill platter
  • Address: 70 North Rd, Durham DH1 4SQ
  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://turkishkitchendurham.co.uk/

12. Tia’s

Tia’s

Tia’s bursts with lively energy and vibrant colours, bringing a little fiesta right to the heart of Durham. The mismatched furniture, bright textiles, and cheerful murals create a whimsical backdrop for your meal, putting smiles on everyone’s faces. The friendly staff do their best to make families feel welcome, which makes a world of difference when dining out with kids. The menu blends Mexican favourites with Mediterranean influences, delivering a great selection of crowd-pleasing dishes: think cheesy quesadillas, sizzling fajitas, and overflowing bowls of nachos loaded with all the good stuff!

Tia’s is a fantastic option for casual family dining when you’re seeking a fun, high-energy atmosphere and tasty food without breaking the bank. Their cocktails add a touch of fun for the adults, and the mocktails are a special treat for younger diners. Just be aware; this place gets packed and can be quite noisy, so it might not be the best pick if you have very young children or prefer a quieter meal. Reservations are a must, especially during peak times – tables go quickly!

  • Best for: Mexican food in a lively setting
  • Dish to order: Sharing nachos and a selection of fajitas
  • Address: 84 Claypath, Durham DH1 1RG
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://tiasmexican.co.uk/

13. Treats Tea Room

Treats Tea Room

Treats Tea Room offers a charming escape from the hustle and bustle of Durham, stepping into a world of mismatched china and floral tablecloths. Its cosy interior creates a sense of old-fashioned whimsy, making it a great choice for a relaxing catch-up with friends or a special treat for children who’ll love the novelty. The extensive tea selection and tempting array of homemade cakes are the main draw here. We found the friendly staff happy to recommend their favourites, catering to various taste preferences. If you are looking where to eat with kids in Durham that offers a change of pace from the usual, Treats Tea Room is a great choice.

While Treats Tea Room’s popularity means it can feel cramped at times, particularly during prime afternoon tea hours, it’s definitely a fun spot for a sweet treat and a change of pace. It’s particularly lovely for multigenerational family outings, where everyone will find something to enjoy. Keep in mind; prices lean toward the higher side, especially for a full afternoon tea experience. However, the quality of the treats and overall ambiance justify the occasional indulgence. Just be sure to book ahead – tables fill up quickly!

  • Best for: Afternoon tea and vintage vibes
  • Dish to order: Scones with jam and clotted cream
  • Address: 25 Silver St, Durham DH1 3RD
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: £££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://treatstearoom.co.uk/

14. Whitechurch

Whitechurch

Whitechurch brings a touch of sophistication to family dining in Durham. With its exposed brick walls, sleek light fixtures, and trendy tableware, it strikes a perfect balance between a cozy pub atmosphere and modern bistro. The menu champions seasonal British ingredients, with dishes showcasing classic flavours in a refined way. We were impressed by the friendly staff, who went out of their way to accommodate our children, offering suggestions for smaller portions and adjusting dishes where they could.

Whitechurch is a fantastic choice for families seeking elevated cuisine without the stuffiness of fine dining. Its popular Sunday lunches are a highlight, attracting a lively crowd and offering a reliable spot for a traditional roast with all the trimmings. The ample bar area is a bonus for adults wanting to unwind with a selection of craft beers or well-crafted cocktails while the little ones enjoy their meal. While the price tag might fall on the higher side for regular visits, Whitechurch offers a refined dining experience for a special occasion or a delicious lunch and drinks during your day out in Durham. As it’s a popular spot, booking ahead is essential for securing a table.

  • Best for: Upscale pub food with local ingredients
  • Dish to order: Sunday roast with a side of cauliflower cheese
  • Address: 2 Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3HL
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: £££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://whitechurchdurham.com/

15. Bells Fish and Chips

Bells Fish and Chips

Bells Fish and Chips is a Durham institution, serving up classic British fish and chips for generations. Its no-nonsense approach is precisely what makes it so appealing, offering a slice of simple, comforting tradition in the heart of the city. You won’t find anything fancy or modern here – the dining space is small and functional, with a few basic tables and chairs ideal for a quick meal, but most customers opt for takeaway service. Expect generous portions of perfectly golden cod, alongside chunky chips and all the essential condiments like mushy peas, curry sauce, and tangy vinegar. The service is swift and friendly, making it hassle-free when you have hungry kids in tow.

For casual family dining steeped in nostalgia, Bells delivers on value and a classic taste experience. It’s a great place to grab a takeaway and enjoy a picnic by the river or take a break from sightseeing during your visit to Durham. Be prepared to queue, especially during peak times – it’s a testament to the place’s well-earned popularity. The prices may be slightly higher than some other chippies, but for that classic seaside fish-and-chip experience generations of families have enjoyed, Bells remains a solid and reliable choice.

  • Best for: Classic fish and chips with generous portions
  • Dish to order: Cod and chips
  • Address: 27 Market Pl, Durham DH1 3NE
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://www.bellsfishshop.co.uk/

16. Antico (Nevilles Cross)

Antico (Nevilles Cross)

Antico (Nevilles Cross) brings a slice of Italy to a bustling corner of Durham. Tucked away in a shopping complex, it offers a warm and welcoming space away from the city center crowds. While its location lacks the charm of historic Durham, it’s incredibly convenient for families running errands or visiting nearby attractions. The lively atmosphere makes it feel more like a bustling trattoria than a restaurant in a shopping complex, perfect for unwinding after a busy day with the kids. The staff were genuinely friendly and accommodating, readily providing highchairs and adapting dishes for smaller appetites.

The menu showcases familiar Italian favourites, ranging from classic pizzas with a bubbly, chewy crust to fresh pasta dishes and comforting main courses. The portions are generous, ideal for sharing or for satisfying a hungry family, while the prices are reasonable compared to city-center restaurants. Antico (Nevilles Cross) delivers reliable, satisfying Italian food in a relaxed environment, making it a great value choice when seeking a break from exploring the city. Just be aware that during peak times, the service can be slower, so be patient when it’s busy, and consider booking a table in advance, especially for larger groups and on weekends.

  • Best for: Casual Italian dining, family-friendly atmosphere
  • Dish to order: Create your own pizza or a classic pasta dish
  • Address: Dragonville Retail Park, Durham DH1 2YA
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Price: ££
  • For table reservations, please visit: https://anticodurham.co.uk/

17. The Library Durham

The Library Durham

 The Library Durham offers a lively and modern take on the classic pub experience. With its exposed brick, trendy lighting, and buzzing atmosphere, it has a cool, urban feel while retaining a friendly, welcoming vibe. They offer an extensive menu covering all your pub food favourites, alongside an ample selection of craft beers and cocktails. We found the staff friendly but service could be a bit hit-or-miss when it got very busy.

For families seeking a more laid-back, vibrant dining experience, The Library Durham fits the bill. It’s probably not the top choice for an intimate meal or if you have younger children sensitive to noise, as it can get quite loud – especially when there’s live music. But for teens, groups of friends, or a fun family meal out where the lively atmosphere is part of the appeal, it delivers. It’s a popular spot, so booking ahead is a wise idea. While the prices fall on the higher side for traditional pub grub, the spacious setting and ample bar options make it a worthy spot to gather, relax, and enjoy a casual meal and drinks in Durham.

FAQ

Are there many family friendly restaurants in Durham?

Durham is quite small city and whilst all restaurants are family friendly logistically not all work. Our top picks are Ask (not on our main list), Rio and Whitechurch as all have plenty of space and good options for childrens food.

Where are the best places to eat in Durham for families?

Top picks include Zen which is a great option for tasty Thai cuisine in an upscale but approachable setting. Flat White Kitchen is known for family-friendly brunch and a buzzing atmosphere. Pizza Punks which offers a lively atmosphere and unlimited pizza toppings.

What food is Durham UK known for?

Durham doesn’t have a single, iconic dish. However, being a university town with an international population, it benefits from a diverse culinary scene. You’ll find everything from classic British pubs to exciting Southeast Asian flavours within walking distance.

Where can I eat with my baby in Durham?

Most cafés and restaurants in Durham welcome babies with open arms but you’ll likely need a high-chair or space for a pram and if that’s the case we recommend Rio and WhiteChurch. Ask in the Gala is another great spot with a pram or baby that didn’t make our main list.