The UNC v. Duke rivalry runs deep for all of us, especially after the recent event… (GTHC!!!) However, this somewhat tense relationship doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the town of Chapel Hill for one very important offering—food.

As a native North Carolinian and a devoted pursuer of good eats, I have been brought to Chapel Hill several times by my search for new dining spots. Admittedly, it is difficult to walk down Franklin Street surrounded by that unfortunate shade of blue and Tar Heel-themed everything. However, if you can get past the discomfort of being in enemy territory, Chapel Hill’s restaurant gems will make the trip worth it. Students or visitors of any allegiance can appreciate the town for its diverse array of delicious places, some of which I have had the opportunity to try and can highly recommend.

Carolina Coffee Shop

Heralded as North Carolina’s Oldest Restaurant, Carolina Coffee Shop offers a wide selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee options in addition to serving as a bar at night. It prizes itself on being a Chapel Hill staple, retaining much of its classic décor and atmosphere since opening in 1922.

However, the food is anything but outdated. I went with two of my friends earlier in the semester for brunch and was delighted by the menu. My build-your-own omelet was fantastic, and if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, branch out and try the Signature Cornflake French Toast!

The Purple Bowl

I was inspired to visit The Purple Bowl by a relative lack, in my opinion, of good acai bowl places in Durham. Sure, we have Red Mango and Happy and Hale, but they have limited menu options in terms of bowls; I saw room for improvement, so I followed the recommendation of a friend and decided to explore this new possibility.

I am so glad I ventured out, because The Purple Bowl gives those Durham spots a run for their money. From the fresh, modern aesthetic to the superfood-studded menu, this place makes you feel like a trendy health superstar. Its main focuses are acai bowls and artisan toasts, and it has executed them both perfectly. My build-your-own (sensing a trend?) acai bowl was topped with a mouth-watering blend of strawberry, banana, coconut, almond butter, and chocolate chips—classic and delicious. Their other toppings included everything from peanut butter to goji berries to bee pollen, satisfying the traditional and the adventurous eater alike.

Spicy 9

While Spicy 9 is the one spot on the list I haven’t had the opportunity to try, the constant line out the door and glowing reports from my friends are great indicators of its popularity. Its sushi and sashimi combos give you a great bang for your buck, and, if you’re not a sushi person, they have many regular Asian entrees as well. The expansive menu, good prices, and late hours (open until 11pm) make this an ideal spot for Asian-food-loving college students everywhere.

411 West Italian Café

Coming in at the top of the list as far as price goes, 411 West is a great place for a special occasion with friends or a nice dinner when your parents come to town. It’s amazing and authentic Italian food is sure to impress, and can be enjoyed either in the warm, traditional atmosphere of the indoor area or the bright, fresh feel of the glass-roofed patio. From healthy salads to classic pizettes to indulgent desserts, the 411 West dining experience leaves little to be desired. My personal favorite combination is the kale salad and vegetarian basil pesto pasta. Truly delicious!

#SpoonTip: Pizza Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 4-6pm where all dine-in pizzas are half-priced!

Med Deli

Much like the acai bowl dilemma, it is unfortunately difficult to find good Mediterranean food on or near Duke’s campus. I was disappointed to learn this after coming here, since Mediterranean cuisine supports a variety of delicious and healthy vegetarian options which I am always seeking out. One evening, while visiting a friend at Chapel Hill *gasp*, she helped me satisfy the craving I had developed for a warm, fresh pita and Greek salad with a trip to the Med Deli.

Overall, the experience was fantastic. I will warn you though, the atmosphere is a bit overwhelming at first. It is a sizable place that's always bustling, and you are immediately faced by a giant case of side items upon entering the expansive seating area . However, I encourage you to take a deep breath, peruse the many menu options, and enjoy. There is something there for everyone, vegetarians and meat-lovers alike, the service is speedy, and the food is authentic and delicious. After the meal, definitely check out the next-door Mediterranean market to grab some unique, international items! 


For a little something sweet to help round out your adventure, Sugarland, as the name implies, has almost every treat your heart could desire. From creamy gelatos to decadent cupcakes to assorted pastries, people with any dessert taste will enjoy this sugary spot. The atmosphere is bright and cheerful, providing the perfect location chat with a friend, family member, or s.o. while bonding over your shared love for the finer things in life (dessert). I can highly recommend the mint stracciatella gelato or the peanut butter blast cupcake!

If you really fall in love with Sugarland, contact them to make your next birthday, wedding, or special occasion cake! Their award-winning cakes are true works of art and have been recognized by big names like the Food Network, Martha Stewart, Southern Living, and more! 

#Spoon tip: Visit on Tuesday to enjoy a dine-in cupcakes for 1/2 the price!

Thus, after reviewing the dining scene, I've realized that even that other blue school down the road has its redeeming qualities. After venturing out to try one or all of these great eateries, you too might think twice next time about bashing Chapel Hill so hard. (Just the food, of course; the basketball team is still up for grabs.)