Chapel Hill's Franklin Street truly embodies the Carolina spirit. On any weekend night, you can expect to see about half of UNC-Chapel Hill's student population hanging out in restaurants, bars, or in one of the many Tar Heel souvenir shops. To stay on Franklin Street for an extended period of time, a restaurant has to be crazy good.  To make things a little easier for the newest Tar Heels, I've rounded up a list of the best Franklin Street finds. Here's a First-Years Guide to Franklin Street Food: 

For a good ol' hamburger:

Sutton's Drug Store

Sutton's has been a Franklin Street staple since 1923. You can get burgers, breakfast, old-fashioned sodas, and you might even spot a Carolina basketball player! 

Al's Burger Shack

If you head a little further down Franklin, you'll reach Al's Burger Shack. You'll know you've made it when you see a line out the door. Trust me--it's well worth the wait.  Al's focuses on bringing in fresh, sustainable ingredients. All of the meat comes from North Carolina pasture-raised cattle. Also, their fries are insanely good. 


Buns is the best place to go if you want to customize your burger. They have a crazy long list of toppings and their fries are great. Also, if you aren't feeling bread, you can get any of their burgers or sandwich toppings on a Caesar sala

If you're trying to be healthy:

The Purple Bowl

The Purple Bowl is a new addition to Franklin Street. They serve fresh acai bowls, avocado toast and coffee. It's basically a health-nut's dream.

Mediterranean Deli

Mediterranean Deli, or Med Deli for short, serves delicious Mediterranean food.  They offer an extensive array of vegetarian dishes made fresh every  day. The also have a small location in Lenoir Dining Hall, so you can get your fix when you're on campus.


Kipos serves up fresh Greek food with new specials every day.  They serve whole grilled fish, tasty spreads and some crazy delicious vegetarian dishes. Also, if you're there in the evening you'll hear live music, and you'll get to enjoy a belly dancing show! 

When it's Family Weekend:

The Top of the Hill

TOPO is another Franklin Street staple.  It's on the rooftop of a building on the corner of Franklin and Columbia, so when you're up there you can see all of Franklin Street. The food is delicious, but the view is what really makes it special. 


Across the street from TOPO is Spanky's, a Chapel Hill favorite since 1977.  It's a great place to watch basketball games or grab a great meal. Window stretch around the restaurant, so you can people watch while you enjoy your dinner. 

Crook's Corner

If you're looking for gourmet Southern food, Crook's Corner is the place to go. Classics like shrimp and grits, barbecue, and hush puppies are served in this little restaurant on Franklin Street. 

For Late Night:


Three words: Chicken. Cheddar. Biscuit. Time-Out is the ultimate late night restaurant on Franklin because it's open 24/7. You'll definitely find students here at all times of day. 

Sup Dogs

When you really need some tots at 1 a.m., Sup Dogs is the place to go. You can also order their famous hotdogs, burgers and chicken strips, and you will not be disappointed. Make sure you double your dog!


Lotsa is a new addition to Franklin Street, and it's been packed since it opened. You customize your pizza and then it's stone fired and ready to eat in 150 seconds. Super delicious and open until 3 a.m. on the weekends! 

A First-Years Guide to Franklin Street Food seems extensive, but it's really just highlighting some of the awesome finds on Franklin Street. All Carolina First-Years should make it a point to get out and explore the awesome places around Chapel Hill for these next four years. Want more info on the Chapel Hill food scene? Check out this article on where to eat in Chapel Hill depending on which friend is visiting.