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Visiting Raleigh-Durham, Chapel Hill area

Hello. I'm a Boston chowhounder and I'm going to be making a trip to NC in the fall, specifically the Raleigh-Durham & Chapel Hill areas. I was wondering if people could give me some suggestions on popular places that are good & not too expensive that people like to go to eat prior to college football games and/or places that are popular w/ locals/students in the area. My friend and I are going to take her son to visit UNC Chapel Hill as well as around the area as a whole & we want to experience some great places that locals & students like to go.

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  1. If you're going to take a tour of the University then I assume you will be interacting with students on your tour? If thats the case, then I'd suggest asking them what the most popular student places are, since thats a very different question than where you can find the best chow. If you're after good chow, start with a search and you'll find lots of suggestions.

    1. If you're around the NCSU area, I highly suggest Sushi Tsune for sushi. Fraziers (though not sushi) is a pretty good place too but is on the expensive side. If you're around the UNC-CH area, I recommend Don Jose Tienda Mexicana for tacos and other Mexican foods. There are many good places to eat around that campus actually (especially on Franklin Street), so you should have a much easier time finding good places to eat. If UNC offered an EE degree, I'd go there for the food. But alas, they don't.

      My personal favorites are listed among my post here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/616803. If you stumble upon a good place to eat while you're visiting, please post about it! Thanks!

      edit: Lime and Basil makes a very good beef pho for a restaurant!

      1. I should mention, my friends son does like different types of cuisine. We want to have some ideas of places that serve good food at reasonable costs prior to our trip. We will of course ask the students where popular places around campus are, but we also want to research beforehand so we at least have some idea as to what is around, which places are good and don't break the bank.

        1. For the "real student" experience when touring UNC, all walking distance or a short bus ride from campus:

          Cheap eats: Cosmic Cantina (also in Durham if your tour Duke), Locopops (again, also in Durham), Pepper's Pizza, Yogurt Pump

          Nicer (by student standards): Top of the Hill, Spanky's, 411 West

          You should also check out the dining options on campus. At UNC there are several fast food options, but it's worth paying cash to check out the all-you-can-eat dining hall offerings. It's surprisingly good for mass produced food from steam trays.

          1. Did you read the article in Bon Apetit last fall?


            That's a good place to start. In Chapel Hill you should really try to have lunch at Sandwhich. For authentic local barbecue (pig) Allen & Sons is great. In Durham there are numerous great places, many mentioned in the article. The Federal is a bar that has excellent food at good prices. Toast in downtown Durham is wonderful. There are also many authentic, cheap, and delicious taquerias. Taqeria La Vaquita now has a sit down resatuarant at 3409 Hillsborough Rd near the Kroger in Durham. Los Comales just north of I85 on Roxboro Rd. in Durham is also good. Have a great time in "America's Foodiest Small town"

            1 Reply
            1. re: PeterB

              In Chapel Hill, here are your best bets:

              Burgers--Buns (best taste), Sutton's (best college experience)
              Pizza--Italian Pizzeria III (authentic NY style), Brixx (chain but good California-style)
              Italian--411, Panzanella
              Square Meals--Elmo's Diner, Breadman's
              Mexican--Carrburritos (burritos, obviously), La Fiesta Grill (about 10 miles west of campus)
              More upscale dining--La Residence, Crook's Corner (southern cuisine), Acme Food and Beverage
              Bars--He's Not Here, Top of the Hill, Spanky's

            2. It really depends on what kind of "student experience" you want to have. my friends and I are pretty into trying out new foods and looking for those "hidden gems". If you want the nice, regular UNC student experience, most places on franklin st are fine, with baba ghanouj, and chipotle/cosmic's being favorites of mine. Buns is pretty good. in my general opinion, I do like Don Jose, eating at Weaver St. Market is pretty great. I've seen lots of students go there to just sit outside, eat some nice food and do hw. Lime & Basil is a regular for me and some of my friends, 'cause I do miss my vietnamese food sometimes, and their pho/grilled meats (I recommend eating grilled stuffs with vermicelli over rice) are pretty tasty. Noodle & Company, I've heard from some friends of mine, have really great macaroni & cheese. If you want good southern food, Mama Dip's is decent, awesome sweet tea, and I've heard Allen & Sons and Crook's Corner are good as well, but I haven't been about to try.

              In my opinion, I also think Chill Bubble Tea's yogurt is a lot better than yopump's. Their yogurt the unconventional tart yogurt as opposed to yopump's, which I feel is a little too sweet and hence, boring.

              1. In Chapel Hill, def. have lunch at Sandwhich - some of the best sandwiches you'll ever have. Have a popsicle at Locopops - they have really interesting flavors. These two are the ones I'd say you really really ought to try. Very close by in Carrboro, Panzanella makes great pizza and has many other options in a nice space for reasonable prices.

                1. Some good suggestions, although I disagree with some of my fellow chowhounders. I think the best sandwich is the Manhatten at Neal's Deli in Carrboro. I think the best pizza is Mio's Pizza Villa at University Mall for Italian-style thin crust pizza (order fresh pie, not premade slices). Some additional suggestions I haven't seen yet. Mint is a darn fine Indian restaurant that's not too expensive. Weaver Street Market in Carrboro is a great place to hang out and people watch. You can grab a good cup of coffee and yummy pastry for breakfast, or sushi, salad, hot foods bar for lunch or dinner, or some beer from their extensive selection from the cooler.

                  And don't miss strolling through Southern Season-- good way to work off your pizza from Mio's.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: bbqme

                    Oh yeah - A Southern Season was just named one of the top 25 independent stores in the USA (among other accolades).....

                    1. re: cackalackie

                      and is in the middle of their annual sale!

                  2. This is great everyone! Keep em coming!