Home to arguably the greatest rivalry in collegiate athletics, Chapel Hill and Durham are also the epicenter of something else we should be talking about: a vibrant, up-and-coming food scene that is not for the faint of heart.
From good ol’ Southern comfort food to burgers to staple drunk eats, these towns have got something for everyone. Whether you’re pulling for UNC or Duke, I think we can all agree that the food in these college towns is something special.
1. Burger at Al’s Burger Shack
Go on a nice day, sit outside, and don’t forget about the sweet potato fries. Don’t ask questions, just go.
2. Kebabs at Mediterranean Deli
The glass window case here could bring an indecisive person to tears. That being said, everything at Med Deli is fresh and delicious, so don’t get too worked up when you’re choosing what to get. Inhale. Exhale.
3. Pizzette at 411 West
Take a break from your go-to delivery pizza and treat yourself to something a little bit fancier and way tastier.
4. Hotdog at Sup Dogs
Because sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is drink excessive amounts of alcohol, work up an appetite storming around Franklin Street, and fill up on fried food at the end of the night. Your body probably won’t thank you, but it’s okay because #college.
5. Hamburger at Sutton’s Drug Store
This is the place where famous people go to in Chapel Hill, get their picture taken, and have it hung up on the walls for everyone to see. The nicest service in town and some damn good comfort food is what you’re sure to find here.
6. Fro-yo at Yogurt Pump
Commonly referred to as YoPo, this is where students line up out the door and around the corner for the best frozen yogurt on campus. Patience is absolutely necessary, but it’s worth the wait.
7. Neopolitan Pizza at Italian Pizzeria III
Well it was Saturday night, I know the feeling was right, I didn’t know we’d get so faaarrrr #SpiceGirls #AnotherPictureOfFood #BabySpice A photo posted by francesca crutchfield (@crunarf) on Sep 5, 2015 at 7:15pm PDT
Head over to IP3 for the next big sporting game that you want to watch surrounded by enormous pizza pies, pitchers of beer, your friends, and excessive yelling.
8. Custom Burger from Buns
Let your creativity run wild and build your own burger. If you think your burger creation is trophy worthy, enter it in their burger contest for a chance to get it added to their Signature Burger menu. That’s going to look nice on your résumé.
9. Sandwich from Root Cellar Cafe
With seasonal, local and creative ingredients, this sandwich is going to be a lot better than the one that you’re packing for lunch tomorrow.
10. BLT from Merritt’s
You haven’t fully experienced the food in Chapel Hill until you’ve had this BLT. Your next hangover doesn’t stand a chance.
11. Sweet Potato Tots from Linda’s
Grab some friends, pile up in a wooden booth and do not leave until you’ve eaten your weight in sweet potato tots.
12. Margarita from Los Pos
Getting through long weeks is made easier knowing that you’re going to treat yourself to a trip to Los Pos. You earned every last slurp of that margarita.
13. Sandwich from Tru
Quite possibly the prettiest outdoor eating situation in Chapel Hill, Tru is the place for a glass of wine and a customized sandwich of your dreams.
14. Eggs at Elmo’s Diner
It’s technically in the town next to Chapel Hill, Carrboro, but it’s worth the extra five minute drive for a weekend brunch. You might have to wait a bit for a table, but Elmo’s does brunch right every time.
15. Chicken Cheddar Biscuit from Time-Out
A photo posted by Molly (@mollshoff) on Mar 6, 2015 at 5:52pm PST
Time-Out was on Man vs. Food for a reason. A meal here is a Chapel Hill rite of passage, and you don’t want to miss out on this homemade southern comfort food. Plus, it’s always open so you have no excuse.
16. A Burger and a Beer from Bull City Burger and Brewery
Stop in during Exotic Meat Month to try everything from python to ostrich burgers. If you’re a die-hard fan (or extremely economic) you can get a tattoo of their logo in return for 26% off BCBB food for life.
17. Tacos from Nanataco
A photo posted by Amanda ‘AK’ Kong (@mandakong) on Aug 13, 2015 at 6:42pm PDT
This is Mexican food done right with some of the best guacamole in Durham, nachos, margaritas, and, of course, tacos.
18. Donuts from Monuts
Consistently ranked one of the best donut shops in America, Monuts features a constantly shifting, seasonal menu of donuts, sandwiches, soups and salads. Each visit is different, which means it’s completely justifiable to go three times a week, right?
19. Dessert from Guglhupf
Bakery, patisserie, and café all in one, Guglhupf is everything. Whether you’re there for brunch, afternoon snack, or dinner, be sure to get dessert.
20. Pizza from Pompieri Pizza
21. Pastries from Rose’s Meat Market & Sweet Shop
When you mix meats and sweets, skepticism prevails (at least for me), but the lengthy list of cookies, cream puffs, ice cream sandwiches, and so on will keep you coming back.
22. Chicken and Waffles from Dame’s
A photo posted by Spoon University: Duke (@spoonuniversity_duke) on Feb 1, 2015 at 11:46am PST
As a born and raised Wisconsinite, the idea of fried chicken with waffles rather confused me. But it’s a match made in heaven, and there’s no better matchmaker than Dame’s.
23. Pie or Sandwich from Scratch
Featured on USA Today, Scratch is known for its creative, seasonal pies like NC Mountain cherry, Sandhill Peach and Blueberry with Cornmeal Crumb and Chocolate chess. Pair your pie with some brunch or a trip to the nearby farmer’s market.
24. Fancy Food from Watt’s Grocery
A photo posted by claire & linley ? (@ctandlb) on Aug 3, 2014 at 12:42pm PDT
Watt’s is the go-to spot when someone else (hint: parents) are paying. Or you can hold out for Triangle Restaurant Week.
25. Coffee from Cocoa Cinnamon
A photo posted by Cocoa Cinnamon (@cocoacinnamon) on Sep 10, 2015 at 9:03am PDT
It’s got Buzzfeed’s stamp of approval, so what else do you need? Plus, if you’re not a coffee fanatic, the tea and hot chocolate are phenomenal too.
26. Ice Cream from The Parlour
Featured on CNN and Eater, The Parlour started out as a mobile ice cream bus before opening a shop in downtown Durham. With seasonal flavors like Sweet Potato Pie and Peach joining the regulars Vietnamese Coffee and Vegan Chocolate, there’s never a bad option.
27. The Special from Geer Street Garden
The menu may be short, but it packs a ton of flavor. Make a reservation and sit at the outdoor patio – the atmosphere cannot be beat.
28. Toast from Toast
A photo posted by @toastdurham on Aug 3, 2015 at 8:15am PDT
29. Linner from Foster’s Market
A photo posted by @fostersmarket on May 22, 2015 at 12:18pm PDT
Part country store, part cafe, order literally anything. It’ll be phenomenal.
30. Brunch from Parker and Otis
Eclectic and delicious, it’s the perfect place to shop and grab weekend brunch.
31. Wings from Heavenly Buffaloes
Though it’s not much more than an order window and some picnic benches, Heavenly Buffaloes has the best wings in Durham. Get the “Bernie Zass-off” if you’re feeling brave.