Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is not only one of the most beautiful little towns in the nation, but it also has a vibrant gourmet culture, as seen by well-known restaurants, pubs, and fast eats. Some of the chefs on this list have won or been nominated for numerous Beard awards, and the Chapel Hill restaurant industry caters to every palette, budget, and appetite.
Chapel Hill restaurants provide everything from conventional breakfast to down-home Southern soul food, as well as Turkish and Indian cuisine. Being a UNC alumni, I may be prejudiced towards my alma mater, but I also spent four years there getting the dirt on the greatest places to eat, which I am now pleased to share with you. Except if you’re a Duke fan (just kidding maybe).
Continue reading for my list of the best 19 eateries to consider on your next visit to Chapel Hill, divided into breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, with a late-night honorable mention.
Not in the mood to dine out tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver right to your door from the greatest restaurants in town.
Are you planning a trip to North Carolina? See our other guides:
- 11 Best Things To Do In Chapel Hill!
- 9 Best Asheville NC Restaurants
- 10 Best North Carolina Dishes
- 10 Best Restaurants In Raleigh NC
- 10 Must-Try Greensboro Restaurants
- 10 Must-Try Restaurants In Cary NC
- 8 Must-Try Outer Banks NC Restaurants
- 8 Must-Try Boone NC Restaurants
- 13 Best Restaurants in Lexington
- 7 Must-Try West Jefferson NC Restaurants
- 7 Best Fayetteville NC Restaurants & 9 Fun Things To Do In Fayetteville NC
- 9 Best Things To Do In Blowing Rock NC
- 1 Chapel Hill’s Top 19 Restaurants
- 1.1 Breakfast Brunch Chapel Hill Restaurants
- 1.2 Chapel Hill’s Top Lunch & Supper Spots:
- 1.2.1 Basil and lime
- 1.2.2 Talullas
- 1.2.3 The summit of the hill (ToPo)
- 1.2.4 Deli Mediterranean (Med Deli)
- 1.2.5 Suttons Pharmacy
- 1.2.6 Burger Shack Als
- 1.2.7 III Italian Pizzeria (IP3)
- 1.2.8 Lantern
- 1.2.9 Curryblossom Café Vimalas
- 1.2.10 Merritts Restaurant
- 1.2.11 Tigre del Tigre
- 1.2.12 The Palio
- 1.2.13 Mama Dipping
- 1.2.14 Carrburritos
- 1.3 Top Late-Night Restaurants in Chapel Hill, NC:
- 1.4 Which of these Chapel Hill, NC restaurants do you want to try the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
Chapel Hill’s Top 19 Restaurants
Breakfast Brunch Chapel Hill Restaurants
Sunrise Biscuit Company
E Franklin St. (919) 933-13241305 E Franklin St.
If you’re searching for a Chapel Hill restaurant for breakfast, Sunrise is the place to go. I don’t set the rules, but I’m willing to follow them.
Sunrise is a laidback, drive-through-only institution that serves breakfast and lunch everyday. They are well known for its chicken biscuit, but they also have a variety of other choices on the menu.
The proprietor, who won Food and Wine’s Best Biscuit in the US title, stands by his grandmother’s original recipe as the key to their success.
If you don’t eat meat, a biscuit combination comes with hash browns and handmade sweet tea, and there are a few (not many) vegetarian alternatives.
The biscuits are enormous, and the menu is notoriously inexpensive, with most biscuits priced at $5 and all combos priced under $8.
Market on Weaver Street
E Weaver St., (919) 929-0010101 E Weaver St.
Weaver Street Market is a nice spot to go if you’re in a group or looking for a little more variety. It’s a community-owned food co-op that buys fresh vegetables and ingredients from local farmers every day, as well as freshly baked pastries and other treats.
Hot meal bars are also available for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and are structured similarly to Whole Foods; you serve yourself and pay by weight at the cash register.
The pastries are really delicious, and the coffee is excellent.
Weaver Street Market is officially located in Carrboro, the town next to Chapel Hill, but both towns are so tiny that you will undoubtedly go back and forth many times during your stay.
Try this Chapel Hill eatery regardless of your location.
The Cellar of the Roots
M.L.K. Jr Blvd. (919) 967-3663750 M.L.K. Jr Blvd.
Searching for restaurants in Chapel Hill that offer breakfast till 2 p.m.? Please, yes!
Everything at Root Cellar (previously Fosters Market) is wonderful and fresh. If you can’t make it in for a sit-down breakfast, check out their bakery goods to go.
I personally like the large pieces of individually wrapped coffee cake, but they also offer paleo, gluten-free, and other options.
If you have time to sit a spell, as we say in the South, they provide full, fulfilling, and largely wholesome sweet and salty cuisine (with some unhealthy, but absolutely worth-it, options thrown in for good measure.)
Get a cup of coffee and enjoy free refills in their toasty stoneware cups while relaxing on their very plush sofas and armchairs.
S Elliott Road. (919) 967-7110261 S Elliott Rd.
Breadmens is not a high-brow restaurant, but it is quite popular with the student community and a veritable madhouse on weekends.
Here is the place to go for quintessentially American, no-nonsense breakfast dishes like pancakes, waffles, corned beef hash, and so on on your choice of bread. Their omelets are really delicious and easily customisable!
Chapel Hill’s Top Lunch & Supper Spots:
Basil and lime
+1-919-967-5055200 W Franklin St.
Lime and Basil is a Vietnamese restaurant in the Triangle. Their pho is amazing, and they provide a variety of vegetarian and vegan choices, including soy beef.
If you’re looking for anything other than pho, try the lemongrass shrimp with vermicelli or the BBQ chicken meal.
Despite its modest size, there is seldom a wait for meals, and the portions are fairly ample. Try this Chapel Hill eatery for a taste of the Far East in the American East.
919-933-1177456 West Franklin St.
Talullas mixes vibrant, stylish design with very delectable Turkish cuisine.
Nothing goes wrong with eggplant, but you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten their patlcan oturtmas: layers of eggplant, tomato sauce, and feta cheese cooked in their stone oven, comparable to an eggplant parmesan in Italian cuisine.
Some non-eggplant favorites are gve, sautéed seasonal vegetables baked in a tomato-based herb and wine sauce with your choice of meat, or their extensive selection of shish-kabobs.
For dessert, try their spin on traditional Middle Eastern knefe or stla, a baked rice pudding. Many people like their baklava, but we prefer Med Delis (more on it below!).
The summit of the hill (ToPo)
100 E Franklin St #300 (919) 929-8676
distillery. Top of the Hill, or Topo to locals, is a Chapel Hill restaurant and brewery.
Check out their blueberry beer in the early summer, complete with a blueberry or two floating on top! We would choose their beverages and bar fare over their cuisine (since there are so many restaurants in Chapel Hill! ), but Topo is a must-visit for a true Tar Heel experience.
To enter, use the elevator on the side of the building to the top level, and on a fine day, eat outdoors on the terrace for stunning views of Franklin Street.
Deli Mediterranean (Med Deli)
919-967-2666410 West Franklin St.
Mediterranean Deli (Med Deli to locals!) is a must-visit restaurant located a little farther out on the western side of Franklin Street.
With freshly baked pitas (kosher, gluten-free, and whole wheat varieties) and a mouth-watering array of selections, there’s always something new to taste.
Med Deli is definitely no-frills, and you order by going down the line and pointing at the various menu items you want on your platter. The pides (flatbreads) are delicious, but bear in mind that they take some time to bake since they are baked to order.
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Don’t miss the unlimited pickles and tzatziki bar. Pickled beets and radishes are popular, and don’t leave without trying a piece (or many) of baklava. You may even compare it to Talullas!
There is an adjacent grocery store that is definitely worth a visit for a variety of other Middle Eastern treats.
Nevertheless, Med Deli is usually quite busy, so you may have to wait for sitting or receive your meal to-go. After you’re done dining, just place your dishes and utensils in the bins before leaving.
E Franklin St. (919) 942-5161159 E Franklin St.
Check to Suttons in Chapel Hill for a nostalgic taste of the past. It’s like stepping back in time to the 1950s, replete with sundries, hand-crafted milkshakes, and vintage sodas and sweets. It is also a Chapel Hill tradition to have an independent pharmacy, one of the last of its sort.
The sandwiches and burgers are delicious, and you’re certain to see a few basketball stars at any given moment.
Burger Shack Als
If you’re looking for a burger and fries, go no farther than Als Burger Shack. Als chili burger was rated the finest burger in the United States by TripAdvisor, but everything on their menu has received wonderful reviews.
They use local North Carolina farmers for their cattle and dairy, and they offer a great variety of NC beers to enjoy. With its bacon and onion jam, roasted garlic mayo, and blue cheese toppings, the Mookie is also a crowd-pleaser.
III Italian Pizzeria (IP3)
W Franklin St. (919) 968-4671508 W Franklin St.
IP3 offers it all: boiling hot, melt-in-your-mouth Neapolitan-style pizza, ice-cold, cheap pitchers of beer, sports on TV, and an unbeatable inviting and lively environment.
Angelo and Vincenzo Marrone, Napoli natives, own IP3, a charming pair of brothers who have made anybody who walks through their doors feel like family since 1980.
IP3 is the greatest spot to watch whatever major game is on TV, particularly if it’s the World Cup, while eating the aforementioned amazing pizza.
They offer other menu options, like handmade manicotti, but their pizza is the star.
If you intend to visit, attempt to do it during a UNC basketball game; it will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience. The brothers are avid fans, and it tends to become crowded on game nights, with community-style seating (i.e., take the first seat you see) and plenty of Italian-style yelling and demonstrations of sports enthusiasm.
If you’re searching for a sports bar in Chapel Hill, go no further than IP3.
+1-919-969-8846423 W Franklin St.
Lantern offers Asian fusion cuisine, with all ingredients acquired locally from North Carolina farmers. Andrea Reusing, their head chef, is a James Beard award winner for Best Chef, Southeast, and Lantern alumni have garnered acclaim all around the United States for their inventive contributions to American cuisine.
Lantern is ideal for a romantic date night, with a glowy, warm ambiance and a menu that specifies which dishes are local.
Their menu varies often (possibly more frequently than seasonally), therefore they suggest contacting ahead to guarantee that item on their website is available that evening.
They also have a cool program for kids called Kitchen Patrol, which educates them about the significance of eating locally and motivates them to become chefs themselves. Lantern is a fine dining establishment in Chapel Hill.
Curryblossom Café Vimalas
919-929-3833431 West Franklin Street #415
Vimalas is a Chapel Hill restaurant that is noted for its commitment to community and sustainability from farm to fork.
The café is named after Chef Vimala, a culinary extraordinaire who is also involved in a number of significant social justice initiatives. She began by preparing meals for the neighborhood as part of her dedication to advocacy for global peace and a livable wage. Her dishes, however, were so successful that she decided to create a café. Even today, she maintains a Food for Everyone fund for people who cannot pay the cost of their meal; if you are able, please consider contributing a gift after dining here.
You can’t go wrong when it comes to ordering. As an appetizer, try the samosas or the mixed veggie pakoras, but keep in mind that the dinner quantities are massive, and you will most likely have leftovers.
The Malabar shrimp (in a coconut tamarind sauce) is delicious, as are their curries, dosas, and tandoor selections.
Get additional naan (the Peshwari naan is great if you want something nutty and somewhat sweet), and the hibiscus tea is a must.
S Columbia St., (919) 942-48971009 S Columbia St.
The BLT at Merritts is renowned, and many believe it to be the greatest in the country.
According to the narrative, People Magazine was on a mission to identify the ultimate sandwich many years ago, and Merritts was one of its champions.
You must try the BLT here at least once, since it has won several prizes in addition to Peoplesaccolades. Consider adding pimento cheese to make it a genuine North Carolina dish.
If BLTs aren’t your thing, there are a number of different sandwiches to sample, all of which are prepared on artisan bread. I love egg salad and have heard great things about their burgers, fried bologna, and other options. This is without a doubt one of the greatest restaurants in Chapel Hill.
Tigre del Tigre
(919) 904-7326746 MLK Jr Blvd.
Have you ever tried Latin-Asian fusion food? I hadn’t either, but this business handles it quite well.
I suggest going for lunch since it has fairly inexpensive lunch menu pricing, but the tequila-sake combo bar in the evenings is also great to check out.
If you’re still not sure what Latin-Asian fusion looks like, consider beef bulgogi tacos, pad Thai al pastor (a fan favorite), or General Tso’s chicken empanadas. In this Chapel Hill restaurant, two cultures collide to create one unforgettable dining experience.
918-25451505 E Franklin St.
Il Palio, said to be the greatest Italian restaurant in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill region for new tourists), is not a cheap dining experience, but it is one to remember.
The blend of foreign meats and cheeses with locally obtained greens is both fresh and traditional, and the restaurant mostly serves Tuscan food.
Il Palio, located inside the also-fancy Siena Hotel, is a AAA Four Star restaurant that has won a slew of honors throughout the years. The excellent wood-grilled octopus appetizer is a must-try, and the carbonara is a personal favorite.
W Rosemary St. (919) 942-5837408 W Rosemary St.
Mama Dips is unquestionably Chapel Hill’s greatest example of Southern soul cuisine.
Mama Dip has been a Chapel Hill staple since 1976, and the restaurant is now operated by her children and grandkids.
It’s a nice and friendly family-style restaurant where you can fill up on fried chicken, barbecue, and catfish gumbo.
The service is kind and welcoming, and this is one of those places that makes you feel at ease.
The chicken and dumplings, as well as the country soups and stews, are all fantastic, and I promise you’ll leave Mama Dips well satisfied. The side dishes (from collards to black-eyed peas, cornbread, and baked apples) are also delicious.
(919) 933-8226711 West Rosemary Street #2315
The chipotle salsa is so popular in this town that you can purchase it by the jar! They also make an excellent horchata (or a margarita, if thats the direction your day is taking you.)
Everything here is incredibly fresh and delicious, and the amounts are huge.
You can’t go wrong with one of their massive burritos if you order some queso or guacamole to go with it.
This is the spot to go in Chapel Hill if you want to try Mexican cuisine.
Top Late-Night Restaurants in Chapel Hill, NC:
Linda’s Bar and Grille
E Franklin St. (919) 933-6663203 E Franklin St.
Last but not least, his much-loved Lindas, a legendary Chapel Hill eatery.
Be aware, though, that Lindas deserves its own category and fills it with down-home charm and comfort cuisine you’ll desire for years.
If you come during the day, they offer a complete menu of great American pub grub, but Lindas is best appreciated at night as a late-night snack sort of hangout. Nothing beats their cheese fries or loaded tots (though I’ve always preferred the cheese fries), particularly when accompanied with a few beers or specialty drinks. The Paloma is a fan favorite.
Lindas is a very unique establishment where everyone knows your name, and its dingy bar vibe just adds to its attractiveness.