Play Hard

12 new coffee shops, restaurants and bars in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham

We discover everything from a candy-coloured craft beer pub and heritage-inspired cocktail spots to a hidden wellness retreat and a stylish new play-café, where the parents are looked after as well as the kids…

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 06.09.2023


190 Heaton Road, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 5HP

Opening its doors for the first time today, House Bar Heaton is the sister pub of Newcastle’s Town Mouse (one of our favourite hidden bars in the city), and boasts delicious beer and wine, candy-coloured interiors and relaxed, dog-friendly vibes.

Better still, the pub will be home to new gathering Heaton Wine Club, where folk can drop by and enjoy the resident natural wine tastings on offer here.

Monday – Friday: 5pm – 10pm

Saturday – Sunday: 12pm – 11pm



Roker Park Bandstand, Sunderland SR6 9PL

Just a few hundred yards from Roker Beach, cosy new bolthole Ruhe is Roker Park’s first permanent coffee shop, and offers an oasis of calm amidst the bustle of this lively Sunderland suburb.

Nordic, boho vibes (with a playlist to match) make sitting inside Ruhe a balm to the soul, especially once that first sip of coffee hits. Dogs are welcome and children can be entertained in the designated ‘Kids Corner’, so you can sit back and enjoy any of the healthy brunch and lunch dishes on offer.

Or, if you’re in a hurry, Ruhe also serve takeout from their hatch all day, every day.

Monday – Sunday: 8am – 5pm



30-32 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6AE

Grey Street’s ‘newest escape from the chaos’, Café Mercy is the light, airy and bright sister venue of the award-winning Mother Mercy.

A cocktail and spritz café inspired by Ibiza/Miami vibes, expect tropical serves, charcuterie and coffee.

It certainly impressed Laura, our editor, when she visited. 

Tuesday – Thursday: 2pm – 11pm

Friday: 2pm – midnight

Saturday: 12pm – midnight

Sunday: 12pm – 11pm



North Road, Durham DH1 4NQ

Whatever you fancy, new Durham opening The Cartologist has probably got you covered.

A quirky coffee shop, restaurant and bar hybrid – which serves up pretty epic Sunday roasts alongside craft beer, cocktails, locally-roasted coffee and homemade ice cream – you can catch everything from live sport to live music here.

Sunday – Thursday: 9am – 11pm

Friday – Saturday: 9am – 12pm



Secret garden, North Shields NE30

Black’s Garden is a hidden walled garden and bespoke retreat channelling urban glamping by the coast.

Created to share a passion for movement, nutrition, getting outdoors and local arts and culture with women in need of rest, adventure and an escape from their daily routine, it’s hard to think that such a tranquil space surrounded by trees and birdsong is just a stone’s throw from Tynemouth and the bustling Fish Quay, but therein lies the beauty of Black’s Garden.

Keep your eyes peeled for the series of themed mini-retreats for women coming up in the next year here.



Neville Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5DG

Newcastle’s old ticket office has been given a new lease of life now it’s been transformed into the city’s newest cocktail bar.

Packed to the rafters with classic, railway-inspired décor – including a 1920s patterned terrazzo floor and a huge railway station-style clock – Tickets is the perfect blend of old and new and is as charismatic a destination for date night as it is for a catch up with the gang.

HLN Hint: you’ve got to try the Toon Iced Tea cocktail here; Brown Ale, vodka, gin and Cointreau. Delicious, if a little lethal.

Sunday – Friday: 4pm – 1am

Saturday: 12pm – 1am



Gosforth Central Park, Moor Road North, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1AA

Ok, so we know this isn’t exactly a ‘new opening’, but Urban Park Market is definitely a new arrival (launching at the end of September) that we know you’ll want to know about.

The last Saturday of the month will see a heavenly host of street food vendors, arts and crafts stalls, fashion boutiques, creators, makers and bakers descend upon Gosforth Central Park for an Indian summer market with all the trimmings. 

Saturday 30th September: 10am – 3pm



70 Whitley Road, Whitley Bay, Newcastle upon Tyne NE26 2NE

Micro-bakery The Sustenance Society started life in owner Ben’s front room during lockdown, but developed such a cult following that he’s now been able to transform a disused building near the Metro station into something pretty spectacular.

Ben’s team is made up of people with learning disabilities, as the business is as committed to providing opportunities to everyone within its local community as it is to baking up a storm in the kitchen.

Expect delicious breads and pastries that’ll set you up for whatever you’ve got planned every Friday and Saturday.

Friday – Saturday: From 8am



6 – 10 Bowsden Terrace, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1RX

A traditional café serving breakfast and lunch in South Gosforth, you can expect only your ultimate classics on the menu at Cafeteria.

Think bacon and egg sandwiches, croissants, chip butties and pie and mash. Nothing flowery or over-the-top, but basics done to perfection.

Oh, did we forget to mention they also serve pretty bangin’ Bloody Marys, fresh house juices and Guinness? Our bad.

Monday – Saturday: 8.30am – 4pm

Sunday: 9.30am – 4pm 



High Street Gosforth, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 4AG

Family-run play-café Hopscotch has been designed with both children and parents in mind.

A stylish environment where grown-ups can reconnect with friends and meet like-minded families whilst kids can happily play within structures that have been safely designed to stimulate their imagination and encourage exploration, Hopscotch really offers families the best of both worlds.

And the food isn’t half bad, either. Locally sourced and nutritious, you can your little ones can stay fuelled up with healthy, tasty dishes, (including cake!).

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm

Friday: 9am – 8pm

Saturday: 9am – 7pm

Sunday: 10am – 5pm




5 Harbour View, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0NL  

Sunderland’s new seafront bar and grill hasn’t quite opened its doors yet, but we figured you guys would want to know all about it ready for its grand opening on Friday 15th September.

These Things Happen promises to be a stylish new drinking and dining destination along the seafront that merges industrial accents with heritage-inspired features in its décor and offering views across the marina from its bar.

Open from brunch through lunch until evening meals, with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients, we’re pretty sure it’s going to be one of our new go-to date night haunts.

(From 15th September) Monday – Sunday: 9am – midnight


North Bank Café

38 Nile Street, North Shields, Newcastle upon Tyne NE29 0BB

If you like a healthy dose of community spirit with your cuppa, then we’d suggest popping into North Shields’ newest coffee joint, North Bank Café.

The name of their game is conjuring up affordable, homemade bait and brews – with all profits going towards supporting local charity, Live Well With Cancer.

North Bank Café are also proud to display and sell artwork created by talented local artists, with a percentage of each sale going back into the charity, too. So, you can brighten up your home, meet your mates for a catch up and fuel up with a good, hearty meal, all for a great cause.

Monday – Friday: 9.30am – 2.30pm



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