Throughout the whirlwind of graduation, packing up my apartment, and saying goodbyes, I’ve struggled to figure out exactly what words could even come close to conveying how much I will miss Chapel Hill. My conclusion is that I can’t, yet. I think I need to give myself a little more time to process before I can write without bursting into tears. For now, here’s my list of can’t-miss favorite places to eat in Chapel Hill! It’s been four years in the making, so without further ado:
If I had to name the one restaurant I’ve frequented the most throughout my college career, it has to be Tru Deli + Wine. The cute little sandwich shop (tucked away on Henderson St.) turns into a bar at night and has a beautiful upstairs patio.
You can’t go wrong with Tru, and it’s my number one recommendation for everything from taking your family, date, or professor (personal experience with all three) to girls’ night or writing a paper outside when the weather’s nice.
My go-to sandwich combination is exactly $5 – you order on iPads and they charge by the ingredient, so if you’re smart about your toppings your meal can be very cheap (yes, even with avocado!). Or, you can be like my friend who gets every kind of meat on his sandwich and pays double the cost of mine… whatever floats your boat 🙂
Spicy 9 is a close second for my most-frequented Chapel Hill restaurant! Inside it’s really clean and bright, sushi is always BOGO, and they have great lunch deals (and an extensive non-sushi menu for people who don’t like sushi). It’s another go-to for family, birthday celebrations, lunch with professors, etc.
GET THE THAI TEA!! If you’ve never had it, Thai tea is kind of like the bubble tea without the bubbles and with a slightly sweeter, more complex flavor.
Also – the full bar with plenty of TVs makes Spicy 9 an underrated place to watch a Carolina game. If you aren’t into waiting hours for a table at other more well-known game day locales, *cough Brewery cough* might as well enjoy some great sushi while you’re watching.
Another Mediterranean restaurant opened on Franklin Street last year and it was short-lived – nobody can compete with Med Deli! I eat at the offshoot location on campus more often than the actual restaurant because it’s a little ways down Franklin, but the full menu is vast. There’s also a Mediterranean market to check out next door. I loved picking up bag of their pitas to make lunches on my own.
(I credit Med Deli for moving Mediterranean food waaay up in the rankings of my favorite cuisines, by the way!)
I’ve never been to a place where the burgers are more consistently fantastic than Buns. I honestly can’t even bring myself to eat fast-food burgers anymore. Even burgers at nice steakhouses can be hit or miss, but the patties and toppings (do not skip the caramelized onions!) at Buns are done perfectly every time. I’m not usually big on red meat… but when I do crave it, it better be Buns! I love getting a fried egg or avocado as an extra topping, and usually go for their chipotle mayo or pesto mayo for the sauce.
Maple View Farm Ice Cream
I’m putting Maple View on here over the cult-favorite YoPo (Yogurt Pump) because I think it’s more of a hidden gem. It’s not actually in Chapel Hill, but the proximity makes it worth the drive if you’re visiting! Maple View Farms makes their own ice cream from the milk on their farm, and these rocking chairs out front are the perfect place to people watch or enjoy a sunset. Every time the weather takes a turn for the better and I smell the first signs of spring, you bet I’m cajoling my friends to come to Maple View with me!
Merritt’s Store and Grill
Merritt’s is synonymous with one thing in Chapel Hill: BLTs. On a nice weekend, the line is out the door of this (tiny) place. I did recently find out that there are more tables behind the store, surrounded by bamboo and away from the road! They’ve also recently changed the layout of the interior so there’s more seating inside now. Smart move.
Getting Merritt’s after church with friends is a quintessential Chapel Hill experience to me. Don’t forget to add pimento cheese or avocado to your sandwich, because #treatyourself:
As much as I love trying new restaurants, I absolutely cannot wait to go back and eat at all my favorite places as an alum! It’s definitely going to be weird, but my heart will be so happy.