The best of Chapel Hill’s dining scene

Known for its athletic excellence, the University of North Carolina is referred to academically as the Ivy League Public School. However, what may be less well known to those who aren’t locals, are the excellent restaurant options near the campus. Franklin Street is on display a lot when Carolina basketball beats a Duke or wins a national championship, but have you ever wondered what the best restaurants on this street are so you’re ready for your next visit? Well, we’re here to help.

With basketball season officially back in November and football now happening, we wanted to take a moment and discuss some of the best restaurants in Chapel Hill so you can all plan your game day trips accordingly. Here are three of my personal favorites, but if you’re a local, feel free to tell us your favorites in the comments below! Let’s get started.

time out

chick. cheddar; biscuit.

Did you get your attention now? Good, I thought so. Time Out opened in 1978 as a 24/7 restaurant serving some of the best food near campus. They serve NC-style grill, Southern comfort food, burgers, chicken, and last but not least: chicken cheddar biscuits.

For those of you who haven’t had a Time Out Cheddar Chicken Biscuits experience, let me describe it: Imagine you’ve made a million dollars while watching your favorite team win the National Championship…and also someone give you a message ahead. That’s how good chicken cheddar biscuits are, and if I’m being totally honest, I’m making myself hungry just talking about it. Also, fun fact: I suggested it to my wife near the old well, and to celebrate, we got two chicken cheddar biscuits. If that isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is. I go on, on to my next favorite restaurant.


If you are looking for good food, good drinks and an excellent game day experience, Top of the Hill might be the place for you. Referred to as TOPO for short, this establishment appears in basically every photo of fans storming Franklin Street. The restaurant’s balcony overlooks Franklin, which offers a great view of downtown Chapel Hill.

Aside from the views, TOPO has a solid menu, with two of my personal favorites being Low Country Pork Chop and French Quarter Jambalaya. They also have several sandwiches, bowls, and desserts to choose from, so there is a great deal of variety for everyone. As far as alcohol goes, they have their own beer and spirits that they make at home. In fact, They even made their own whiskey In celebration of UNC’s Final Four win over Duke, which will be available for pick-up November 1st. They are unable to charge their souls, but if you have a way to get to Chapel Hill, don’t forget to take some home with you!

Merit Grill & Store

My last choice for the top three restaurants in Chapel Hill is a place not on Franklin Street, but it deserves a lot of recognition. Merritt’s is a restaurant that sells burgers and sandwiches, with the most popular menu item being BLT. While that doesn’t sound very exciting, this is no ordinary BLT: If you’ve ever fantasized about having a sandwich piled high with bacon, Merritt has you covered.

Merritt’s Single BLT features two layers of bacon, lettuce, and tomato, all on a toasted sourdough bread, or a bread of your choice. Not enough bacon for you? Then you might want to check out their Double BLT, which features an extra topping of bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes. Still not enough? How about the triple BLT, which adds a fourth layer of bacon, lettuce, and tomato. If all of that sounds intimidating, you can still get a “baby BLT” that has one layer of delicious goodness, but let’s be honest: the more bacon the better, right?

For those who live out of town, fair warning: The Merritt closes at 5pm on Saturdays, and 4pm during the week, so this is definitely a lunchtime try. It’s also worth noting that if you’re in town for an afternoon soccer match, there are no TVs, so keep that in mind when making plans.

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Chapel Hill has a plethora of restaurants and bars, but these three are my favorite when I’m on campus. Linda, Sutton’s, and Spicy 9 are also great options if none of the above sounds like something you’re interested in. Chapel Hill has something for everyone on Franklin Street alone, but if you leave the campus, you’ll find more great options.

I hope this list has helped some of you plan your next trips to see Carolina football and/or basketball in action. If you live here, what are your favorite restaurants in Chapel Hill? Let us know in the comments below.

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