The 10 Best Restaurants In Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Whether you’re looking for a truly gourmet dinner out, a fun night on the town, or just some low-key, delicious food, Chapel Hill has something for you. It’s a small city, but a number of the chefs in the area have been recognized both regionally and nationally. Here’s our guide to eating well in Chapel Hill.
Lantern is an award-winning restaurant serving Asian fusion, and they do it all with ingredients bought locally from farms and fisheries around North Carolina. The chef and owner has also received a lot of recognition for her work but the recognition doesn’t only extend to the quality of the food – she has also been celebrated as one of the best environmentally conscious chefs.
Elements bills themselves as a restaurant serving contemporary new American cuisine. The head chef is Vietnamese, which shows through on many of their varied menu items, but they also offer a range of French and local flavors. Their menu changes weekly to take advantage of whatever local ingredients are in season.
If you want authentic Tuscan cuisine in Chapel Hill, Il Palio is the place to go. They take the essential tastes of Italy — imported cheese, prosciutto, and truffles, for example — and combine them with the freshest local ingredients to make for an unforgettable culinary experience. Their wine list is also mostly Italian, and the servers will all be able to recommend the perfect wine to complement your meal choice. Il Palio is located in the Siena Hotel, one of the top choices to stay in Chapel Hill, and as such is a perfect venue for a romantic dinner or a classy night out.
Talullas’ menu offers all of your Turkish favorites and more, and it’s all served in a colorful and relaxing atmosphere that will sweep you away to the country where they get all of their inspiration. For a tasty appetizer, try one of their pides, a Turkish pizza-like creation that’s great for sharing. If you’re having difficulty choosing from their main dishes, go for one with eggplant, a favorite Turkish ingredient. Don’t forget their classic baklava for dessert.
Top of the Hill, or ‘Topo’ as the locals lovingly call it, is a restaurant, brewery, distillery, and Chapel Hill classic all in one. The entrance involves taking an elevator up to the top of the building, where you can choose from indoor and outdoor dining, available throughout the year thanks to North Carolina’s warm climate. The food is Southern with a twist and the chef likes to use local ingredients. Try one of their flatbreads (think pizza, with different toppings) or sandwiches.
The two head chefs of ONE Restaurant bring over two decades combined of experience working in fine restaurants all over the world to Chapel Hill. At ONE, fine dining meets accessibility and ease. Their dishes offer fascinating combinations of ingredients, always served elegantly, as the works of art that they are. They are also very proud to offer an impressive wine list that pairs impeccably with their menu, and for something really exciting, try one of their signature cocktails. You won’t soon forget the meal you have here, and it’ll send you back for another one before too long.
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Scallops Kataifi | Courtesy of Kipos Greek Taverna
Locals agree that Vimala’s Curryblosson Cafe is the best Indian food in Chapel Hill, but even so, it offers so much more than that. If you’re passionate about social justice or the environment, this is the perfect place to dine. The owner and chef, an immigrant from India, originally started sharing her cooking through donation-based community meals, which eventually grew into the cafe. They still keep a ‘Food for All’ fund so that if diners can’t afford their meal, they can still eat there. Enjoy a delicious meal and leave a few extra bucks so that someone else can enjoy the same thing.
Inhabitants of the Triangle area have come to trust the man behind Kipos, Giorgios Bakatsias, who has opened up restaurant after memorable restaurant, always to great fanfare. Kipos, which means garden in Greek, is the latest in a string of great successes, and this one is the closest he’s come yet to replicating his childhood in Greece for his Southern patrons. You’ll immediately love the decor which puts you in mind of a Greek market with its bright colors and well-lit, spacious rooms. Take your time with the menu and sample a few appetizers. There’s also the occasional performance from a musician or belly dancer.
Fiesta Grill is a small place with a long and extensive menu, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the options. The meat in particular is cooked and flavored excellently and the portions are generous.
Rooted firmly in North Carolina but offering a glimpse at big-city dining, Elaine’s serves Southern flavors and is committed to buying local, seasonal ingredients. If you are looking for a deal, try the prix fixe menu, a 3-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.