As Christmas nears and plans with friends and family are seemingly endless, it can be easy to visit the same venues for something to eat and drink. 

While there's nothing wrong with the 'old reliable' that consistently delivers time and time again, here are five restaurants that are considered 'hidden gems' in the region by TripAdvisor.

Whether their food is exceptional, their accommodation is exquisite, or their staff are the friendliest people, we have pieced six of the best 'hidden gems' in the area for you to visit.

Here is the list: 

The Green Tree

41 Tudhoe Village Tudhoe, Spennymoor, DL16 6LE

Rating: 4.5/5 (413 ratings)

The Northern Echo: The Green TreeThe Green Tree (Image: TRIPADVISOR)

The Green Tree Country Pub & Restaurant is a traditional English country Inn situated in picturesque Tudhoe Village, the gateway to the beautiful Wear Valley district and is still only three miles from Durham City. Come into our cosy oak beamed Bar and warm yourself against our open fire. It's just the perfect spot to start your visit to The Green Tree, whether you've had a hard day at work, been sightseeing or you've just completed one of our many popular walks.

Rating it five stars, one diner said: "Restaurant has a great menu with something for everyone. Loved my chicken and ham pot pie and the chips were fantastic! The staff were friendly and helpful."

The Comedian

117 Front Street, Bishop Auckland, DL13 4LW

Rating: 5/5 (110 ratings)

The Northern Echo: The ComedianThe Comedian (Image: TRIPADVISOR)

Rated within the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, it has consistently managed to deliver five-star rating reviews among customers. 

Offering an extensive menu, The Comedian also caters for Vegetarian , Vegan, and Gluten Free Options.

One diner who rated it highly said: "We were advised via TripAdvisor to try the Comedian. An unassuming pub on a main road. I'd had a bad day with the weather and travelling, so when we arrived for our meal in the evening it was like stepping back in to my grandmas parlour, with horse brasses, various tea pots, vases and sofas visible as you enter
We were greeted by Davy, the proprietor, who is 84, given our drinks and shown to our table. Do not judge a book by its cover. The meal was excellent."

The Joiners Arms

13 South View, Hunwick, Bishop Auckland, DL15 0JW

Rating: 4.5/5 (170 ratings)

The Northern Echo: The Joiners ArmsThe Joiners Arms (Image: TRIPADVISOR)

As a family-run pub since 1971, this location is perfect for any occasion - and TripAdvisor has handed it a deserved four and a half out of five stars,

One diner who visited has shown that hidden gems can still become 'must visits' after saying: "First visit this evening and it will not be our last! Service was fantastic from the moment we walked in the door. Food was really good, especially (but not only) the fish and chips which were absolutely amazing. We will be back very soon for sure. Well done everyone and compliments to the chef - definitely on our go-to list now."

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Black Horse Beamish

Red Row, Beamish, Stanley, DH9 0RW

Rating: 3.5/5 (1500 ratings)

The Northern Echo: Black Horse BeamishBlack Horse Beamish (Image: TRIPADVISOR)

Perched high looking across the Beamish conservation valley lies Red Row Estate - a glorious 37-acre sprawl with lavender field and woodland, riddled with wildlife and farmyard antiques, and home to the Black Horse Beamish, The Orchard Marquee, Red Row Retreat, Row Row Suites and Huckleberry Cottage. Beautifully restored this 300-year-old pub retains all of its charm and atmosphere, welcoming you with its open fires, flagstone flooring, and a clever mix of eclectic furniture.

One diner wrote: "Went here for Sunday lunch today. Only booked a few hours in advance online. Neither of us have been before and were so impressed by the location - absolutely beautiful."

Ye Old Elm Tree

Crossgate, Durham, DH1 4PS

Rating: 4.5/5 (150 ratings)

A traditional British pub, the food it offers is extensive and also offers Vegetarian options.

It may be perched right in the centre of Durham, but with so many pubs in the city centre, it's tough to pick out a 'hidden gem'.

This visitor has proved that it's both dog friendly and perfect for winter, by saying: "We popped in here with our dog for a quick drink but in reality didn’t want to leave in a hurry due to the warm atmosphere, blazing fire and great beer.