Durham has quite a number of Italian and Indian style restaurants as well as some Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Spanish and a few Anglo-European style places.
My favourite restaurant is probably Central Thai (which has a similar logo to Central Perk from Friends) in the Gates complex. An excellent place with my favourite soup in the world tom kha koong – spicey prawn and coconut. Ideal for couples or large groups with set menus and al a carte.
The best Italian is Capriccios on Saddler St, which has good reasonably priced pizza, pasta and meat dishes and fresh fish specials every day. Much better than studenty La Spaghettata (‘Spags’) across the road.
The best curry houses are The Capital and The Spice Lounge which are run by the same company with the former being better suited to larger groups and the latter being more of a date restaurant. The new Alishaan restaurant on the North Road roundabout is also very good. Shaheens on the Bailey is a bit studenty.
For tapas El Coto on Hallgarth St opposite The Victoria is much better than the chain La Tasca on Saddler St.
For Mexican go for the good food and good atmosphere of the cheap and cheerful Tia’s on Claypath rather than the expensive chain restaurant Chiquitos in the Clayport development.
For Anglo-European type food there’s Oldfields, Hide and the Cellar Door, all of which do good steaks etc
There’s plenty of decent-ish chain restaurants too, Ask, Pizza Express, Nandos etc although I’m not a big fan of Cafe Rouge!