#5 Mateo Tapas, Durham, NC
Because community-anchored dining is making a comeback
Throughout Southern cities, there's a migration back downtown. Forward-thinking restaurateurs, shop owners, and developers are snapping up once-defunct properties and fueling revitalization. In Durham, where residents are fiercely loyal to local enterprise, Mateo Tapas sits at the heart of that revival. Consider Matt Kelly's Spanish-inspired joint a cantina where, day or night, meetings occur, friends reunite, and the Triangle's food lovers explore his genius blending of the South and Spain. Walking distance from the Performing Arts Center, the baseball stadium, and the American Tobacco Historic District, Mateo doesn't lack for foot traffic. But it's not just location that's driving the clubhouse effect—Matt's food is mind-blowingly good.