Play Hard

7 new cafés and restaurants in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham

A new fine dining restaurant in Durham, late-night Mexican tacos, a sun trap of a Newcastle beer garden, stylish beachside boltholes, and a sexy new brunch spot.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 13.06.2023


2 Newlands Road, High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne 

We’ve been excited about this one for a while.

The little sister to Sandyford’s Aiden’s Kitchen (which serves up the best shakshuka we’ve ever tasted, FYI), promises to be Gosforth’s coolest new coffee, brunch and lunch spot.

Open from Wednesday to Sunday, Little Aidan’s promises some fresh twists on Aidan’s breakfast and brunch staples – think pancakes and full Englishs, all their famous egg iterations (Mexicana is our fave), and newbies like masala toasties and strawberry French toast.

All washed down with Baristocracy coffee, tea, smoothies or mocktails.



29 Silver Street, Durham, DH1 3RD

Chic, fine dining restaurant Faru is swanky in everything but its ego.

Diners are actively encouraged to relax as they enjoy the flavour-led tasting menu on offer here, created using only the freshest, most seasonal produce.

Better yet, the Faru team recognise that every great meal can be improved with great wine – which is why they’re slowly cultivating their wine cellar underneath the restaurant, building up a stellar collection of true classics along with low intervention wines for us to enjoy.

Reservations are now available until September, with parties of up to six people accommodated for a tasting menu dining experience that usually lasts between two to three hours.



High Bridge Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1EN  

When the sun’s shining as hot as it has been lately, there’s only one thing you want to do – find yourself a beer garden and stay there until it’s dark.

Luckily, the FRATE team must’ve known we were in for a heatwave and opened their brand new suntrap of a shipping container courtyard just in time to accommodate all our wishes at once.

Open until 2am every day of the week, FRATE is an open-air celebration of the best in independent food, drinks, music and art here in Newcastle.

A day-to-night celebration venue, at FRATE you’ll find live sports on the big screen, live DJs keeping the decks hot, a sun-drenched cocktail menu, and BBQ/mezze-style alfresco dining from some of the most delicious street vendors in the North East.



17 Holmeside, Sunderland SR1 3JE

Sweet and savoury fiends can unite at Sunderland’s newest burger joint.

Specialising (as the name suggests) in smash burgers – loosely packed ground beef patties, seasoned with their own special blend – Ati’s Home of Smash is all about bringing the fun back into food, with their trademark burger creations like the Route SRI, the Whey Aye burger and the Beast from the North East, as well as plenty of other classics like fried chicken burgers and loaded fries.

Better still, their dessert offering is as adventurous as their mains. Think waffles loaded with Kinder Bueno and Ferrero Rocher, cookie dough mixed with Nutella and Lotus Biscoff, milkshakes made with everything from Terry’s Chocolate Orange to Skittles, Jammie Dodger doughnuts, cheesecakes, brownies and sundaes.

See you there?



40 Front Street, Tynemouth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE30 4DZ

This family-run business is bringing to Tynemouth what we never knew this coastal community needed: an exceptional Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant.

Replicating the true flavours of the Mediterranean by using only traditional cooking methods and ingredients, whatever dish you choose at Iztuzu promises to be bursting with colour and flavour – from grilled meats, rice, pasta, kebabs, seafood, mezze and vegetable dishes to their Turkish pastry and desserts.

And their authenticity extends to the ambience created in this stylish restaurant, too – although you don’t need to be dining to enjoy it. Iztuzu’s bar is open from 12pm, if you just fancy popping in for a drink.



Pier Point, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PL

Coast only opened last month, but this stylish café-bar is already making waves in its seaside community.

Open seven days a week, Coast offers a high-end bar experience to enjoy at reasonable prices, with a range of draught beers, lagers, wines and cocktails to sip and savour, as well as coffee, cake and (bottomless) brunch deals.

Sit out on their terrace when the sun shines and soak up those sensational sea views out to Roker pier. Better still, head down from 6pm every weekend and enjoy live music with your serves, with DJs spinning until late.



48–52 Sandhill, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3JF

If you live your life forever paying homage to the three Mexican T’s – tortas, tacos and tequila – then have we got news for you.

Indie street food vendors Cantina have been a firm favourite at local markets for a while now thanks to their incredible vegan tacos.

And now they’re set to establish their very first permanent taqueria – taking over the side saloon at Quayside bar ZEROX to introduce a new concept to the Toon: late night social eating.

Serving food from 5pm until midnight – and open as a sit-down late bar until 3am, with DJs spinning world grooves, psych, funk, disco and dub – this plant-based eatery promises only the best vibes.

Opening 16th June.

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