Located on Claypath in Durham city centre, Tia’s is a Mexican themed restaurant with a separate vegan menu available. As well as being considerate to those who are meat, dairy, and egg-free, there is also a gluten-free menu on offer. Rather than paying lip service to the idea of catering for dietary requirements, we were pleased to see that even the specialist dishes were included in their Happy Hour, which runs between 5 and 7pm each evening.
We have featured Tia’s on the website in the days before our veganism – which you can read about here – but felt it was time for a revisit. Places to eat in Durham ‘after hours’ for those who are vegan appear limited to chain restaurants such as Zizzi and Pizza Express, but a short walk outside the cobbled centre to this quirky little restaurant will really change what you think about how independent eateries can accommodate those who shun meat.
We stated we were vegan on arrival and were given the special menu. We were also helpfully told that many of the cocktails could be adapted with dairy-free cream, which I thought was a dangerous thing to know on a child-free Saturday night. We started the evening off by ordering a pitcher of Strawberry Daquiri, which arrived with a bowl of chips and salsa for us to tuck into.
Having felt Tia’s Rose (£6.95) – our shared starter – was greasy last time round, I’m happy to report it was far better on this occasion. The spicy batter was crisp and the ‘peppa’ jam accompaniment worked as a nice contrast. There was a fight over who was going to get the last petal, although I graciously allowed the OH to take it as I’d monopolised on the appetisers while slugging my cocktail.
Sombreros were offered by staff and it seemed churlish to refuse. I suspect the alcohol was having a ‘loosening’ effect on our mood, which is certainly not a bad thing on a dreary Saturday night and after a stressful week.
Main course for me was the Enchilada (£10.50), a large tortilla filled with vegan cheese and spinach. It was reminiscent of Panzerotti Tradizionali and was very filling. Tia’s use Cheezly’s Mozzarella, which is a great melter and has a mild and creamy texture.
Gavin ordered Vegetable Fajitas (£10.25), which arrived with guacamole and salsa. He felt there needed to be another element to the mix of vegetables to make it feel less like something was missing, like tofu or a meat substitute.
There were attempts to coerce us into dessert and, while Strudel with dairy-free ice cream was tempting, I decided to save room for more cocktails elsewhere in the city centre. It was good to here that there was more than one option too, with the ice cream forming a basis to other puds on offer in the restaurant like a Banoffee dessert.
Despite Gavin’s slight disappointment with his main we felt the experience was an enjoyable one, and not just because of the Daiquiri. Tia’s has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, as well as offers a strong menu for those who are vegan. He’ll have to order the Chimichanga next time we visit! If you’re in Durham or fancy trying out some good vegan grub, it is definitely worth popping in to this quirky independent.
Thanks for reading,