18 Best Restaurants in Chapel Hill, NC

This article was written by local contributor Jude Perez & edited by the Travel Lens team.

Best Restaurants in Chapel Hill, NC
KAD Photo / shutterstock.co

From classic Southern comfort food to international flavors, the food in Chapel Hill never ceases to amaze me.

In this article, I'll be sharing my favorite restaurants and hidden gems that define the unique flavors of our vibrant community.

So, whether you're a lifelong resident or just visiting, let me guide you through the best restaurants in Chapel Hill, North Carolina!

Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar

As a longtime resident of Chapel Hill, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting dining experiences.

Recently, I had the pleasure of discovering Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar, which turned out to be one of the best Indian restaurants in the area.

The Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar offers an extensive menu that caters to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, with a wide variety of dishes to choose from.

I was particularly impressed by the quality of the food, which was not only delicious but also beautifully presented.

As a fan of Indian cuisine, I found their dishes to be authentic and full of flavor.

One of the standout features of this restaurant is their drinks menu.

They have an amazing bar and offer unique, special drinks like the Pan Shot.

As someone who enjoys trying new beverages, this added a special touch to my dining experience.

Another aspect that sets Lime & Lemon apart is the consistency of their excellent service.

I have visited this restaurant multiple times with different friends and family, and each time, the service has been nothing short of superb.

Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar - Chapel Hill · 100 Meadowmont Village Cir #101, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, United States
★★★★★ · Indian restaurant

Vegan Flava Cafe

Just the other day, I visited Vegan Flava Cafe, and I must say, their brunch menu is absolutely amazing.

I couldn't resist the temptation, so I went all out and ordered the Pancakes, crab cakes, kale salad, beans, and cheese grits.

Trust me when I say that everything was full of flavor and simply delicious!

I also ordered the chickpea tuna wrap, which was so good that I instantly regretted not getting a second one.

Although I've heard some people find some of their dishes a bit bland, I can assure you that every dish I tried was full of taste and well-prepared.

In particular, their cheesy grits and mock fish cake were perfect.

As someone who has been to plenty of vegan restaurants, I can assure you that it's a must-try.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so, as I've seen many other happy customers enjoying their meals there too.

Vegan Flava Cafe · 306 W Franklin St G, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States
★★★★★ · Vegan restaurant

Sutton's Drug Store

The other day, I decided to grab breakfast at Sutton's Drug Store, a long-running joint in our town known for its shakes, burgers, deli sandwiches, and vintage sodas.

It was quite crowded, and I could sense the local charm the moment I walked in.

Being a Durham native, I can say that this place is definitely a staple in our community.

Since it was morning, they were only serving breakfast, but I had heard their chicken salad sandwiches were good too.

I opted for a classic breakfast plate which was inexpensive and tasted decent.

As I sat there, I couldn't help but notice the walls adorned with UNC memorabilia, making it a must-visit spot for any UNC fan.

Even though I'm not a big fan, the atmosphere was enjoyable.

Sutton’s Drug Store · 159 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Hamburger restaurant

The Casual Pint of Chapel Hill

I stumbled upon The Casual Pint of Chapel Hill one day while exploring the neighborhood, and it quickly became one of my favorite spots to grab a drink and catch up with friends.

Their draft selection is impressive and varied – there's always something new and interesting to try.

The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with a mix of tables and more comfortable sofa-type seating upstairs.

When the weather is nice, I love sitting out on their patio, soaking up the sun and enjoying the pleasant ambiance.

They also offer a cooler filled with an excellent selection of beers to go, which comes in handy when I want to try something new at home.

Though I haven't had the chance to try their food yet, I've seen some mouth-watering dishes being served to other patrons, like the brat on a pretzel roll with sauerkraut and mustard.

It’s definitely on my to-try list for my next visit.

The giant pretzel and cheese also seem to be a popular choice among fellow guests.

The Casual Pint of Chapel Hill · 201 S Elliott Rd Suite 51, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Merritt's Grill

Just the other day, I decided to stop by Merritt's Grill for lunch, and I must say – I was not disappointed.

Their legendary BLTs have always been the talk of the town, so I opted for the Single BLT.

It was absolutely scrumptious!

The juicy red tomatoes, thick-sliced bacon, and fresh, crispy lettuce were a perfect combination, and the sourdough bread was just the cherry on top.

I arrived there around 3 pm, and to my surprise, there were only two people ahead of me in line – so I didn't have to wait long for my food to be prepared.

I've heard that their Merritt Burger and pulled pork sandwiches are also quite popular, so I might give those a try next time I visit.

Merritt’s Grill · 1009 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Grill


I absolutely love visiting Bluebird in Chapel Hill!

I can confidently say that it's one of my favorite restaurants around.

The food is always delicious, the ambiance is fantastic, and the service is top-notch.

Bluebird definitely takes pride in the little details, which makes the overall experience truly memorable.

A must-try is their complimentary bread and butter, which is the perfect way to start any meal.

I also recommend trying their cheese plate, which comes with an array of textures and flavors guaranteed to please your tastebuds.

If you're a seafood lover like me, the seared shrimp is a fantastic choice.

The shrimp is cooked to perfection, and the delicate sauce adds just the right amount of summery flavor.

For the main course, you can't go wrong with their trout dish, which is both refreshing and light, accompanied by a divine butter sauce and fresh vegetables.

During my many visits to Bluebird, I've had the pleasure of trying both their dinner and brunch options.

One of my all-time favorite brunch items is the Breton Morning Bun - it's flaky, chewy, and the epitome of a perfect pastry.

You can tell that it's made fresh in-house, which makes it all the more satisfying.

Additionally, Bluebird offers a strong wine selection, as well as a variety of sodas for those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages.

I've tried several dishes during my dinner visits, including their oysters, beet salad, chilled blue crab, trout, flounder, and brown butter almond cake.

Bluebird · 601 Meadowmont Village Cir, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, United States
★★★★★ · French restaurant

Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken

I cannot recommend Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken enough!

I've been there a couple of times, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite lunch spots.

The fried yuca, fried plantains, rice, beans, and chicken are all simply delicious.

My family loves it too, and we've even visited twice in a short span because we couldn't get enough of their mouthwatering dishes.

The restaurant itself is spotless and very clean.

Additionally, it's handicap accessible, offering both indoor and outdoor seating options.

Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken · 237 S Elliott Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Peruvian restaurant


One of my favorite spots in town has to be Rougarou.

It's this cool little Louisiana-themed bar and restaurant where I can always count on a good time.

I've been there on a few occasions, and I love the vibe of the place.

It's got this authentic Louisiana feel to it, and they even have live music during the week, which I'm a huge fan of.

I've tried their takeout before, and while some of the dishes were hit or miss, I can't help but rave about their Fried Pork Rinds.

They were crispy, crunchy, and full of Cajun flavors.

The fried oysters could definitely use more seasoning, but the Pork Rinds alone is enough reason for me to keep coming back.

I've heard great things about their soft shell crab and beer selection, and I'm also looking forward to enjoying a live jazz performance during my visit.

Rougarou (Imbibe) · 108 Henderson St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Cajun restaurant

Hawthorne & Wood

Whenever I'm in the mood for a night out with my spouse or friends, Hawthorne & Wood is always at the top of my list of places to visit.

This sophisticated eatery, located in Chapel Hill, offers a perfect blend of local and global provisions, and the cocktail and wine selection is simply superb!

You can check them out on their website here.

The atmosphere at Hawthorne & Wood is cozy and intimate, which makes it perfect for romantic date nights or catching up with old friends.

One of the things I love about this place is their ever-changing menu which keeps me coming back to try new and exciting dishes.

On my most recent visit, I had the chance to try their amazing tar tar – it was simply out of this world!

Not only is the food phenomenal, but the service is also top-notch.

On a previous visit to celebrate a special occasion, our waiter Fitz was incredibly warm and attentive, making excellent recommendations that made the night even more memorable.

The cherry on top was a complimentary chocolate mousse and cherry dessert that they treated us to, which really impressed me and left a lasting impression.

And don't worry about parking, as it's conveniently located right next to a parking garage which makes it easily accessible even for those unfamiliar with the area.

Hawthorne & Wood · 3140 Environ Way, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Kipos Greek Taverna

I recently celebrated my birthday at Kipos Greek Taverna, and I'm so glad I chose this place for my special day.

The elegant and festive dining room transported me straight to Greece, and the upscale Greek cuisine was simply divine.

The service was exceptional, thanks to Drew and Jackson, who promptly addressed a minor issue with my meal and exceeded my expectations in their response.

I highly recommend making a reservation before your visit, as the restaurant is quite popular and usually full.

My friends and I shared the pita with four different dips and the zucchini fries, both of which were excellent.

The tzatziki dip, in particular, was one of the best I've ever had, with a perfect balance of dill and refreshing cucumber.

For entrees, we tried trout with beans and veggie rice, both of which were delicious and satisfying.

Dessert was the cherry on top of our dining experience, with the cheesecake and olive oil chocolate mousse leaving us wanting more.

So much so that we ordered an extra cheesecake to satisfy our cravings!

The ambiance of Kipos Greek Taverna is perfect for a date night, complete with live Greek music that makes you feel like you're on a European vacation.

Kipos Greek Taverna · 1800 E Franklin St #16, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Greek restaurant

Al's Burger Shack

One of my favorite places to grab a delicious meal is Al's Burger Shack.

The cozy counter-serve spot has a patio where you can enjoy their amazing burger creations and unique hot dogs, plus mouth-watering milkshakes.

I decided to try their sweet potato, black bean, and oat patty, and it was absolutely delicious.

My partner ordered the classic burger and claimed it was the best he has ever had.

One thing I can't forget to mention is their perfectly crispy and well-seasoned sweet potato fries, which were enough for both of us to share.

I can't wait to go back to Al's Burger Shack for another great dining experience.

Al’s Burger Shack · 516 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Mediterranean Deli

Whenever I'm in the mood for some delicious Mediterranean food, I can't help but visit Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering.

This mom-and-pop deli offers a huge variety of prepared Mediterranean foods, including kosher options, and their baked goods are simply divine.

I always find something new to try, and I've never been disappointed with my choices.

One of the things I love about this place is how affordable it is.

The portions are generous, and I often find myself taking leftovers home for later.

I can't get enough of their chicken tagine, and their date pistachio dessert is a must-try.

It's no wonder the place is always bustling with people, and they even offer both indoor and outdoor seating.

Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering · 410 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States
★★★★★ · Mediterranean restaurant

Italian Pizzeria III

Oh, how I love Italian Pizzeria III!

I've been a regular patron of this family-run, counter-serve pizza shop for years, and they never disappoint.

From the hand-tossed pies to the other Italian dishes they offer, every bite is a little taste of heaven.

And if you're a sports fan, they've got you covered, too, with TVs playing the latest games.

You can check out their website here.

One of my favorite things about Italian Pizzeria III is their Philly Steak – I dare say it's the best in North Carolina.

And their pizza?

Absolutely superb and always scrumptious.

I've been coming here since I was a kid, and it's always been a family favorite, especially after Sunday church service at First Baptist.

The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, with a touch of Carolina pride.

Italian Pizzeria III · 508 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant

The Purple Bowl

One of my favorite places to grab a quick and healthy breakfast in Chapel Hill is The Purple Bowl.

I've been there quite a few times, and I'm always impressed by their delicious acai bowls and variety of toppings.

The avocado toast is another favorite of mine - it's simple yet so satisfying!

The atmosphere is modern and relaxed, with large windows overlooking the street adding a lively vibe.

It's conveniently located near a bike shop, making parking easy to find.

The taste and quality of the acai bowls make it worth it in the end.

The Purple Bowl · 306B W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Bin 54 Steak & Cellar

Last year, I proposed to my fiancée and took her to Bin 54 Steak & Cellar to celebrate.

From the moment we walked in, we were greeted with exceptional service.

Our waitress, Shae, was incredibly kind and made our evening feel even more special.

The food was divine.

We indulged in mac and cheese with a delicious crust, mouth-watering bacon, perfectly cooked steaks, and delectable desserts.

The house cocktails and expansive wine list only added to the memorable evening.

Bin 54 Steak & Cellar · 1201-M Raleigh Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, United States
★★★★★ · Steak house

The Northside District

I couldn't believe that I didn't know about The Northside District earlier!

As a native of the area, I was genuinely surprised when I stumbled upon this hidden gem after moving back to town.

The atmosphere here is so warm and welcoming, which is quite refreshing.

The bartenders at The Northside District are not only nice, but they also create some of the most delicious drinks I've ever had.

Plus, the prices are pretty reasonable.

When it comes to food, I can't get enough of the wu-tang slider, and the chipotle maple wings are simply amazing.

As a fan of unique cocktails, I must say that their homemade simple syrups add a special touch to the drinks, making them truly memorable.

I had the opportunity to visit this cozy spot after the opening night of "Omar" at Carolina Performing Arts, and I couldn't have made a better choice.

The Northside District has become more than just a place for me to hang out – it's the perfect mix of a trendy local joint and a comfortable, inviting space that has won my heart.

The Northside District · 403 W Rosemary St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States
★★★★★ · Gastropub

Elements Restaurant

I absolutely adore Elements Restaurant for its high-end Asian fusion cuisine.

The diverse menu, featuring farm-to-table fare and a large wine list, makes every visit feel like a brand-new experience.

I've been dining here with my significant other for almost four years now, and we've had the pleasure of trying many different dishes on the menu.

One recent visit stands out as one of the best experiences we've had at Elements.

We ordered the egg drop soup, Tuna Tacos (which were incredibly delicious), Duck Breast, miso glazed salmon, and, for dessert, the fried Chinese donuts.

The food was impeccable - cooked to perfection and bursting with flavor.

The ambiance at Elements is perfect for a date night or any kind of celebration.

We were also particularly impressed by the dessert selection, including the Elements Chocolate Pie and Coconut Cake.

Elements Restaurant · 2110 Environ Way, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, United States
★★★★★ · Asian fusion restaurant

Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill

As someone who lives nearby, I've been to Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill quite a few times, and I must say, this place has never disappointed me.

The cozy, lodge-like atmosphere is perfect for an evening out with friends or family, and the extensive wine list is a sight to behold, with the glass-walled wine closet taking center stage in the restaurant.

My favorite dishes include the savory and tender steaks, as well as the fresh creamed spinach.

If you have a sweet tooth, don't miss out on their carrot cake – it's rich and packed with pecans and fresh carrots, topped with a light, creamy frosting and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

A single slice is large enough to share with your dining companions!

The service at Stoney River is also exceptional.

Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill · 201 S Estes Dr Space 100-A, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
★★★★★ · Steak house

Final Thoughts

Chapel Hill offers a diverse and mouth-watering array of restaurants that I've enjoyed throughout my time living here.

From the flavorful Indian cuisine at Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar to the unbeatable atmosphere and taste of Al's Burger Shack, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

The various options available, including vegan eateries, Mediterranean delis, and Asian street food, make each meal out in Chapel Hill a unique experience.

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