Celebrate the start of the Halloween season in Durham with creepy cocktails, shocking shakes and “bloody” bakes at restaurants, bakeries and bars across the city
By Brooke Spach and Hannah Lee
900 Park Offices Dr., Ste. 230
Halloween spirit seizes a brand new boo-tique bakery
Longtime Buzzy Bakes customers know the drill. Once the calendar hits October, owner Carrie Haub is not holding back. The self-proclaimed Halloween fanatic has been going all out for the holiday since she opened the mobile cupcakery seven years ago. But this year she has a storefront at Boxyard RTP with more room for her equally cute and creepy decorations. The second-story dessert shop, which opened in May, is transformed with skeletons and witches and a new menu board dressed in spider webs. Don’t expect the same traditional menu this month. Carrie’s got layered Oreo cupcake sundaes topped with meringue ghosts, a whole display of decorative iced butter cookies – think haunted houses, witches and Frankenstein – and, of course, lots of fall flavors, from a spiced apple waffle to pumpkin whoopies. Don’t miss her Halloween cookie decorating class on Thursday, Oct. 21, and another one for parents and their teenagers on Sunday, Oct. 24.
530 Foster St., Ste. 1
Eclectic and experimental food stalls concoct tricks and treats
Afters Dessert Bar
This sweet spot was one of DFH’s inaugural vendors when it opened in May 2020. Founder and chef Stephen Kennedy takes his fine-dining experience to another level this Halloween with a gourmet graveyard complete with chocolate ganache tombstones and pumpkins atop crushed-cookie dirt. Nothing says Halloween like a spooky sugary scene, right?
The hall’s centerpiece kicks off its first in-person Halloween season in Durham with the perfect spooky drink – the “Poison Apple” – crafted with bourbon, apple cider, cranberry and cinnamon-infused grenadine – with the last two ingredients creating its poison-like color. P.S. It may or may not feature a special visual effect that “You have to see for yourself!” DFH founder Adair Mueller says.
117 W. Parrish St.
Dipped ice cream shop scoops up chilling character cones
The new Durham soft-serve staple opened its doors earlier this year. With 24 dip flavors and innumerable topping options, co-owners Audrey Simons and Nathan Simons bring a fully customizable dip cone experience. This October, the couple is celebrating for two reasons: “I love Halloween, and it’s also my birthday,” Audrey says. That means they’ve got more than enough spooky flavors (costumes included!) to keep you on your toes – the Count Dipula, Frankencone and Dip O’ Lantern, to name a few. Audrey promises more cone costumes to come, including Jigsaw and Regan MacNeil, since “it’s always so hard deciding on one look for Halloween.”
4711 Hope Valley Rd.
Suburban bakeshop offers seasonal cupcakes through October
Smallcakes has more than 200 locations across the country, three of which are in North Carolina, and its location in Woodcroft Shopping Center offers an elevated cupcake selection with touches of local flair. Its creations have appeared on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and ranked on USA TODAY’s list of the top 10 cupcakes in the country. So be on the lookout for Smallcakes’ weekly specials (including plenty of pumpkin flavors to go around): pumpkin ale, pumpkin cannoli, pumpkin cheesecake and caramel apple pie.
105 S. Mangum St., Ste. 1
Make this funky basement bar your local haunt this Halloween
Part of Annexe’s charm is that it’s not quite exposed to passersbys. The 1,300-square-foot underground bar, directly adjacent to Bar Virgile, opened just one day before pandemic shutdowns. It’s femme and fun with artsy abstract wallpaper and pink Champagne on tap. So while not purportedly paranormal, don’t be surprised if the hidden spot takes advantage of its basement vibes to get extra witchy this Halloween. Co-owners and Nellie Vail and Daniel Sartain are concocting a “Sangre de Brujas” – witches blood – for the bar’s inaugural Halloween costume contest (winner takes home a $200 cash prize!).