The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may be the heartbeat of the town, but Chapel Hill is more than textbooks and tournaments. It’s a quintessential Southern college town with the vibrant culture of a city many times its size. In recent years, it’s emerged as a culinary hot spot with multiple award-winning restaurants and bars—worthy of their own weekend in Chapel Hill itinerary.
Chapel Hill Itinerary | Day 1
Start your morning on historic Franklin Street, Chapel Hill’s bustling thoroughfare, with a perfectly pulled espresso alongside a local pastry at Perennial. Looking for something heartier? Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen answers the call with drive-thru buttermilk biscuits stuffed with everything from jam to country ham.
For lunch, grab a burger, fries, and shake at Sutton’s Drug Store, a Chapel Hill fixture since 1923, or head down the road to Al’s Burger Shack. Both will satisfy those nostalgic college-fare cravings. Shift to something more sophisticated for the late afternoon with an old-fashioned at The Crunkelton, named by Garden & Gun magazine as one of the “Best Bourbon Bars in the South.”
While dinner options abound, the handmade pasta at Osteria Georgi is a must. Chef Dan Jackson, a previous winner of Chopped and participant in Beat Bobby Flay, focuses on locally sourced ingredients and vibrant flavors that pay homage to Italian cuisine and culture. Tesoro, in neighboring Carrboro, is also celebrated for its pasta. The intimate, 18-seat restaurant warrants a visit for seasonal Italian-, French-, and Croatian-influenced plates that change frequently, incorporating local ingredients.
Chapel Hill Itinerary | Day 2
Cozy up for a leisurely breakfast at North Carolina’s oldest continually operating restaurant, Carolina Coffee Shop, for Belgian waffles or eggs benedict. But be sure to save room for a mid-day meal at Mama Dip’s Kitchen, where Southern staples include fried chicken, greens, cobbler, and sweet tea. Consider Coco Bistro & Bar for a lighter lunchtime option where everything on the plant-based menu is loaded with fresh flavor.
For Pan-Asian cuisine recognized by Gourmet Magazine and Food & Wine, among others, reserve a table at Lantern. Small and large plates encourage guests to sample creative dishes, like pea-shoot and scallion dumplings, and BBQ ribs, all prepared with North Carolina ingredients. Or check out Elements Restaurant where Asian and European influences come together for a unique, haute dining experience.
The highly anticipated Bombolo also opened its doors this year. From small plates to desserts, siblings and owners chef Garret Fleming and Eleanor Lacy have created a bold menu that blends Old World traditions with New World flavors for bites that taste familiar yet adventurous.
End the weekend with a martini and midcentury atmosphere at the AC Lounge, and toast to your time in Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill native Dan Jackson, the executive chef at Osteria Georgi, celebrates Father’s Day with a few thoughts on fatherhood and a special menu.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Amber Chase