Downtown Chapel Hill

Downtown Blog

Chapel Hill: Southern Food Destination

Restaurant review site Zagat ranked Chapel Hill as one of 16 under the radar Southern food destinations. With over 95 restaurants and bars (of which more than 75% are locally and independently owned) downtown Chapel Hill is one of the finest food towns in the country.

From a quick lunch to a world class dinner at one of our multiple James Beard Award winning restaurants, to a late night snack, downtown has exactly what you’re looking for.

Here’s a breakdown of why Zagat named Chapel Hill a destination to visit on your next southern road trip.


Chapel Hill has the Best Chefs in the Southeast

James Beard finalist chef Bill Smith, serves southern classics at Crook’s Corner. The New York Times called Crook’s Corner a “sacred ground for Southern foodies.” The restaurant has delicious food lovingly prepared and served in a casual setting.


Best Chef: Southeast 2011 Andrea Reusing created one of Chapel Hill’s favorite restaurants, Lantern. Lantern serves unique food that’s a mixture of Asian flavors and North Carolina ingredients. The restaurant has received several awards such as one of “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” by Gourmet Magazine.


The Best Bars 

The Crunkleton, ranked in Southern Living’s Best 100 Bars, serves classic cocktails with a modern twist in an authentic, timeless setting. The Crunkleton offers over 500 distilled spirits, many mixed with the same techniques and ingredients as when they were first popularized.


Traditional Drug Store Dining

Our State Magazine raved about Sutton’s Drug Store’s Carolina memorabilia, friendly service and delicious food. Located in the heart of Franklin Street, Sutton’s is now designated “A Town Heritage Site”, showing off the Tar Heel spirit and serving renowned milkshakes.


One of a Kind Soul-food

Opened in 1976, Mama Dip’s restaurant is now one of Chapel Hill’s most beloved dining destinations. Mama Dip’s delicious country cooking has been praised by some of the most famous chefs. Stop in any day of the week for breakfast, lunch or dinner.


Chapel Hill has many other great restaurants and bars, giving you a reason to always come downtown. 

Where to Park: Free 2 hour on-street parking every Saturday in July makes it even easier to enjoy a Staycation in the downtown area! Additional public parking options

By Liz Mainous

Liz Allen Mainous