Lunch Date Ideas In The Downtowns Of Durham

Simple icon of two tall buildings. Downtowns of Durham

Looking to spend quality time with your bestie? Plan a friend date in one of Durham Region’s downtowns!

From fresh sandwiches to combo plates and tasty tacos, we’ve curated a list of restaurants with delicious lunch options, and paired them with something fun to do. From hikes and hot yoga, to thrifting and bowling, grab your best friend and head out for a local adventure.

Salads and Maker Markets

Overhead shot of a healthy salad from the Toasted Walnut.
The Toasted Walnut, Bowmanville

Downtown Bowmanville offers loads of lunch options to choose from. From takeout to restaurants with dedicated lunch menus, you can enjoy salads, sharables, pastas, sushi, wings and even beef patties or jerk chicken.

If meeting friends to catch-up, we suggest The Toasted Walnut. You can enjoy delicious salads, daily soup specials, paninis, wraps, or even afternoon tea for two. After your meal, li enjoy a hot beverage and pair it with one of their spectacular desserts. In a rush? No worries. They also offer a takeout menu!

Once you’ve fuelled up, head over to Markets to explore locally made goods. From hilarious fridge magnets to saucy coffee mugs, there are so many great finds for you to discover. Explore their events calendar for paint nights and pop ups.

Tacos and Waterfront Walk

A plate of three tacos at Chuuk.
Chúuk Restaurant, Pickering

If stopping by Pickering Nautical Village for lunch, you’ll find freshly made tacos, soups, salads, pasta, sandwiches and wood oven pizzas. If a girls’ day or group lunch is the vibe, check out Chúuk!

Chúuk offers a taste of modern Mexican fare and pairs it with stylish decor—plus an amazing beer and cocktail menu.

After lunch, stroll through Pickering Nautical Village along the beautiful Waterfront Trail. This four-season destination provides a stunning backdrop to catch up with friends and get your steps in after indulging in Chúuk’s delicious tacos.

Hot Yoga and Rainbow Bowls

A row of rainbow salad bowls from Vitality Juice Co.
Vitality Juice Co., Brooklin

If you’re looking for adventure, try hot yoga at Modo Yoga in Brooklin! They offer a variety of class types and formats—from beginner to advanced. Pre-book a yoga session with friends before grabbing a local bite to eat.

From quick bites to sit down meals, downtown Brooklin has endless lunch options to choose from. After a yoga session, these Rainbow Bowls from Vitality Juice Co. are the perfect fresh meal. Chock full of vegetables with a house made dressing, it pairs perfectly with one of their amazing juices.

Breakfast and Hiking

Snowy trail in the Orono Crown Lands.
Orono Crown Lands, Clarington | Photo: lexii._loo

Friends don’t let friends hike alone. For a beautiful outdoor adventure, head over to the Orono Crown Lands to go for a walk—featuring 15 kilometres of well-marked and maintained nature trails. Many of their trails are easy-walking, and there are no admission or parking fees. It’s a great way to spend the day with friends while exploring, and connecting with, nature.

After you’ve worked up an appetite on the trails, it’s time to have lunch—and what better place than in a quaint country café. Try breakfast for lunch or brunch at the Orono Country Café. They’re famous for breakfast, but they also have amazing lunch options too.

Savory Treats and Shopping

Close up of a small pizza in a pouch at the Shortiss Cafe.
The Shortiss Café Bar, Beaverton

From wings and pizza, to nachos and even picnic lunches to go, downtown Beaverton is brimming with delicious lunch options. For catching up with a friend—or even a date—stop by The Shortiss Café Bar to enjoy one of their savoury stuffed croissants or freshly made soups. Or hey, skip lunch and pair your coffee with a plate full of sweet treats.

After you’ve enjoyed lunch (or maybe ten cookies), stroll over to Shirley’s Country Clutter to shop unique gifts, home decor and apparel. This hidden gem features an amazing assortment of special finds like mugs, candles and clothing.

Facials and Tuna Poke Bowls

Poke bowl from the Jester's Court with a beer from Town Brewery.
Jester’s Court, Port Perry

A visit to quaint Downtown Port Perry is an amazing way to spend the day with friends. Book spa appointments at Honey Salon Spa or Botanical Beauty Bar—full-service spas where you can indulge in pedicures, manicures, and of course, facials, before heading for lunch!

There’s no shortage of delicious food options in Port Perry. For an out-of-this-world lunch spot, check out Jester’s Court and experience their amazing salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers and wings. Bonus—Jester’s Court is known for being haunted, so while you’re there, keep an eye out for one of their friendly ghosts.

Schnitzel and the Trans Canada Trail

Old European style storefront at Saunters Inn in Pickering Village.
Saunters Inn, Ajax | Photo: le__graveur

From pizza to sushi, wings to pub fare, a visit to Pickering Village is sure to satisfy your tastebuds. When exploring historical Pickering Village, stop by Saunters Inn Restaurant for some authentic German-Hungarian cuisine. From home-cooked Schnitzel to their popular German beers on tap, there are so many delicious things to try. Order two different plates and share, because sharing with friends is caring.

After you’ve had a nice lunch, check out the Trans Canada Trail! At the foot of Pickering Village, you can visit the Duffins Creek Trail parking lot, and then from there, explore the trail, going north as it snakes along West Duffins Creek.

Museum Tour and Pub Food

Crispy chicken wings with a second plate of chicken wings covered in sauce.
Pub Twelve, Cannington

If you and your friends are looking to immerse yourselves in local history, book a tour of the Cannington Historical Museum. Featuring five restored heritage buildings⁠—from a log cabin to a railway station and caboose—there’s a lot to see and explore.

After your tour, stop by Pub 12 in Cannington to try some of their delicious pub fare. You can kick back and enjoy their friendly and relaxing environment— and even catch a game on the big screen! Check out their weekly specials to plan your visit, especially if you like wings.

If you’re looking for a sweet treat after lunch, you can pop by the nearby Social Grounds Café for a freshly baked treat or coffee.

Lunch and Apple Adventures

Toasted chicken sandwich with fries.
The Old Newcastle House Taps & Grill, Newcastle | Photo: durhamfoodblog

If you’re craving fish and chips, roti, burgers, a salad, or even breakfast for lunch, Downtown Newcastle is your destination! If you’re looking for a sit-down lunch or dinner with a group, check out The Old Newcastle House Taps & Grill. They have an extensive menu to choose from featuring lots of daily specials. Thanks to their spacious seating, The Old Newcastle House Taps & Grill is a great spot for meeting friends in one of their cosy booths.

After you’ve caught up over lunch, head over to Algoma Orchards. With fresh cider, apples and baked goods to choose from, you’ll find plenty of meal inspiration at Algoma’s gourmet market. Love apples? Check out the Durham Region Apple Adventure guide for other apple-related stops across Durham Region.

Sandwiches and Arcade Games

Sandwich with a can of soda water and a retro TV in the background.
Lloyd’s Lunchbox, Whitby

Sink into fresh Italian sandwiches, garlic truffle fries, Indian food like vegetable pakoras, or even brunch for lunch when visiting downtown Whitby. A great lunch date spot to try is Lloyd’s Lunchbox, a quaint twist on a classic diner that opened in 2023. Enjoy homemade sauces, sandwiches and soups at one of their beautiful tables, or take it to go, but don’t forget to pickup one of their housemade preserves before you leave.

After you’ve enjoyed a great sandwich, stop by 8-Bit Beans Café, a full-service café, arcade and bar that caters to nostalgia lovers. Try your hand at pinball or challenge your friend to a gaming contest in one of their gaming console booths.

Ban Ban Chicken and Bowling

Overhead shot of fried chicken from Ban Ban Chicken.
Ban Ban Chicken, Ajax

From kebabs to burgers, tacos to breakfast, and even pitas to roti, there are so many food options in downtown Ajax. If you’re heading out for a meal with friends, try the famous Ban Ban Korean Fried Chicken. Ban ban means half and half in Korean, and is often used to describe chicken that is served half original and half sauced. If you’re looking for fresh fried chicken made just for you, stop by Ban Ban to see what the hype is about.

For a fun night out, try a few games of bowling at Ajax Bowling Centre! Reserve a bowling lane for great music and family fun.

Dinner and a Movie

Overhead shot of a bowl of a vegan soup with tofu and wraps.
Fig Kitchen and Market, Uxbridge

From soups and salads to burgers, pizza and pub fare, there are amazing restaurants to stop in for a bite at with friends in downtown Uxbridge. If you’re looking for healthy options, or a large selection of plant-based and vegan menu items, check out Fig Kitchen & Market. With options like truffle parm fries, beyond meat burgers, harvest bowls and crispy cauliflower, there’s something for every craving.

Pair your lunch or dinner with a movie at The Roxy Theatre, a restored movie house from the 1950s. Catch a weekend matinee or evening showtime featuring blockbuster hits, and drool-worthy snacks and treats.

Coffee and Trail Walk

Close up of a mug that says, "Coffee me", with baked goods in the background.
River Street Café, Sunderland

Enjoy freshly made lunch specials, daily soups, sandwiches and even pizza in one of downtown Sunderland’s quaint restaurants. A great spot for grabbing a bite at lunch is the River Street Café in the heart of downtown. With fresh coffee, baked goods and lunch specials, this beautiful café is a wonderful place to catch up with friends. Check out their Facebook page for daily specials.

After you’ve had lunch, explore the Beaver River Wetland Conservation Area’s 34 kilometres of fully accessible, smooth and winter-groomed trails—suitable for all levels of walkers and hikers.

Asian Fusion and Art Galleries

Overhead shot of a bowl of street momos.
Street Momo, Oshawa

There are so many amazing places to eat with friends in Oshawa, that Oshawa Tourism developed the Oshawa Culinary Compass to help you navigate your food journey. You may have some difficulties choosing a place to eat, but if you narrow it down to downtown Oshawa, there are some fantastic places to try like Street Momo—an Asian fusion restaurant featuring the authentic taste of Kathmandu momo and other Indian foods. Stop by for lunch and enjoy some delicious dishes like chicken tikka masala, butter chicken and garlic naan.

After a delicious lunch, stop by the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG), a public art gallery with an extensive collection of Canadian contemporary and modern art. With different exhibitions on throughout the year, you can time your visit to align with “RMG Fridays” at the RMG, which feature live music performances and interactive experiences.

Honourable mention: There is a massive gourmet food court opening in winter 2024, where you can try all the things in downtown Oshawa. The Market at 70 King will be a culinary destination housing many different vendors. Follow @MarketAt70King on Instagram for updates!


We’d love to hear from you on your favourite Durham Region adventure. Tag @DurhamTourism in your social posts so we can follow along.

Durham Region has lots to explore and discover. Check out the 2023 Durham Region Discovery Guide for travel inspiration!