Exploring Chapel Hill’s Culinary Treasures 

By: TLP's Partners

Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, Chapel Hill boasts a vibrant food scene that celebrates both tradition and innovation. From cozy bistros to upscale eateries, the town offers a diverse array of culinary delights, showcasing locally sourced ingredients and international flavors. Explore Chapel Hill’s dining landscape for a taste of Southern hospitality with a twist. 

Pizzeria Mercato 

Pizzeria Mercato offers a dynamic dining experience centered on seasonal offerings sourced from the nearby Carrboro Farmers Market. Founded by Gabe Barker in 2016, this playful eatery blends Italian tradition with locally sourced ingredients, boasting a menu brimming with bright salads, handmade pastas, and wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas alongside a curated selection of wines and craft beers, promising unforgettable culinary adventures in a casual, convivial atmosphere. 

Al’s Burger Shack  

Als Burger Shack Option
Image courtesy of Al’s Burger Shack

Al’s Burger Shack offers a quintessentially Southern dining experience, crafting  fresh-to-order burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. With 100 percent fresh ground chuck and house made specialty toppings, alongside crispy fries, locally sourced frozen custard shakes, and ice-cold drinks, Al’s promises a mouthwatering feast whether enjoyed on the lively patio or brought to you through their catering services. Order their acclaimed Bobo Chili Cheeseburger, crowned best burger in America by Trip Advisor, combining a blend of American cheese, mustard, house-made chili, onions, and slaw. 

Blue’s on Franklin 

This family-owned gem boasts three generations of Tar Heel pride, with a love story that intertwines with basketball glory. Offering a taste of Southern heaven, they’ve scoured North Carolina for culinary inspiration, serving up dishes from Murphy to Manteo, all while providing the perfect spot to catch the Heels, groove to music, and soak in the lively atmosphere since opening their doors on Franklin Street in 2020. Don’t miss their signature house favorite: hickory smoked, hand-pulled pork shoulder barbecue, a true taste of tradition and love for all things Carolina. 

Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery
Image courtesy of SP Murray

Top of the Hill Brewery 

Top of the Hill Brewery, affectionately known as TOPO, has been a staple in Chapel Hill’s brewing scene since 1996, crafting over 75 varieties of beer, including their flagship Kenan Lager and seasonal favorites like Bell Tower Blueberry Wheat. With a commitment to using locally sourced ingredients and malt from UNC alumni-led Thomas Fawcett & Sons, TOPO offers a true North Carolina experience where visitors can enjoy acclaimed beers brewed on-site and pair them with locally inspired dishes against the backdrop of an outdoor deck with beautiful views of downtown Chapel Hill. 

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen 

Since 1978, Sunrise has been a cherished institution in Louisburg, North Carolina, dishing out hearty, homemade biscuits steeped in family tradition, including a recipe passed down through generations. With drive-thru convenience at their award-winning Chapel Hill location and a welcoming atmosphere in Louisburg, Sunrise wins repeat customers with their biscuits and an array of Southern favorites, from juicy burgers to refreshing sweet tea. 

Spicy 9 

Since 2014, Spicy 9 has evolved into a valued culinary destination where patrons gather to enjoy a wide array of dishes from across Asia, including poke bowls, noodles, and a large lineup of sushi. With a commitment to innovation and quality, Spicy 9 offers a modern dining experience, inviting guests to explore the limitless possibilities of Asian fusion cuisine enhanced by specials like BOGO specialty rolls and cocktails designed to accompany a favorite entree like their pineapple fried rice. 

Market and Moss 

Market and Moss in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo by Nina Merklina Photography
Image courtesy of Nina Merklina Photography

Market and Moss offers a warm, organic European ambiance alongside seasonal, contemporary American cuisine, like their asparagus and crab velouté, a jumbo lump crab salad crafted by executive chef Saca Monk. Utilizing locally sourced ingredients from farmers, fishers, and purveyors, combined with innovative techniques, Market and Moss invites patrons to not just dine but to refresh, connect, and experience the joy of community through memorable culinary experiences. 


Bombolo, inspired by the beloved Italian comedic actor Bombolo, offers a unique culinary adventure crafted by siblings Garret Fleming, executive chef, and Eleanor Lacy, pastry chef. Named the 2023 North Carolina Restaurant of the Year by Eater, Bombolo celebrates the fusion of familiar and innovative dishes, inviting guests to explore a weekly changing menu that defies categorization while enjoying a diverse wine selection and expertly crafted cocktails. 

Coco Bistro & Bar 

Coco offers a warm embrace of inclusivity and sustainability, serving up a menu that celebrates both familiar comforts and inventive plant-based creations sourced locally whenever possible. From refreshing beverages to delectable desserts, Coco’s commitment to kindness extends to every aspect of the dining experience, inviting guests to treat themselves to dishes like tagliatelle pasta alfredo while nurturing a sense of community and care for the planet. 

Scallops from Hawthorne & Wood in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo by Ryan Monroe Media
Image courtesy of Ryan Monroe Media

Hawthorne & Wood 

At Hawthorne & Wood, dining transcends borders as chef Brandon Sharp crafts a menu that blend his cultural influences into unique dishes like seared wild striped bass sunflower seed mojo and Morehead City flounder with coconut lemongrass broth. With a focus on clarity, precision, and grace, Hawthorne & Wood embodies chef Sharp’s decades-long journey through world-class kitchens, culminating in a restaurant where guests are prioritized, craft is honored, and the pursuit of perfection is everlasting.  


Bluebird embodies the essence of a classic French bistro, offering a blend of Gallic-style cuisine, wines, and cocktails in a timeless setting reminiscent of Paris, nestled in Chapel Hill’s Meadowmont Village. With its charming covered patio, elegant decor, and professionally run kitchen, Bluebird strikes a perfect balance of ambiance, service, and value, bringing a taste of French culinary excellence with dishes like croque madame to crème brûlée to the Chapel Hill area. 

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