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Hello from Chapel Hill, North Carolina! I just got back from a quick one-day trip to Chapel Hill and was so surprised by the personality of this little town. The food was delicious, the people were friendly, and the weather was just perfect.
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I was visiting Chapel Hill for this year’s TerraVita Food & Drink Festival – the premier culinary event in the Southeast that spreads the gospel of sustainable food and drink while promoting award-winning chefs, authors, educators, producers, and farmers. Here’s my quick one-day itinerary to Chapel Hill on 7 Things To Do in Chapel Hill and Orange County, NC with where to go for breakfast, coffee, lunch, and fun activities!
BREAKFAST AT MERRITT’S GRILL
Start your day at Merritt’s Grill, a local sandwich shop that’s known for its iconic BLTs since 1992 in downtown Chapel Hill. Pick from a single BLT, double BLT, or triple BLT with your choice of bread. The BLT was one of the best BLTs I’ve ever had.
What to order: any of the BLTs with a bottle of Cheerwine (local cherry soda)
1009 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC, merrittsblt.com
COFFEE AT OPEN EYE COFFEE
For a local cup of coffee, go to Open Eye Coffee in Carrboro. Open Eye Coffee roasts their own beans in the coffee roasting room located in the back of the coffee shop – go ahead and take a peek! Take home a bag of Carrboro Coffee Roasters beans.
101 S Greensboro St, Carrboro, NC, openeyecafe.com
LUNCH AT AL’S BURGER SHACK
The local go-to burger spot in Chapel Hill is Al’s Burger Shack that serves burgers, dogs, and shakes from local ingredients. The Bobo’s chili cheeseburger was voted the #1 burger in America by TripAdvisor! The beef is all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free from North Carolina’s pasture-raised cattle.
What to order: Bobo’s chili cheeseburger with rosemary fries and a chocolate milkshake
516 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC, alsburgershack.com
VISIT CHAPEL HILL CREAMERY
Touring Chapel Hill Creamery was definitely the highlight of my visit to Chapel Hill! Chapel Hill Creamery is a small dairy farmstead in Central North Carolina that produces their own award-winning fresh and aged cheese. The Jersey cows are grass-fed and live on the 37-acre farm. We got to play with their 14 newly born calves that were just adorable!
You can buy Chapel Hill Creamery cheeses at the grocery stores in Chapel Hill. I love their Carolina moon that’s very similar to Camembert!
615 Chapel Hill Creamery Rd, Chapel Hill, NC, chapelhillcreamery.com
ICE CREAM AT MAPLE VIEW ICE CREAM
You can’t miss the homemade ice cream from Maple View Ice Cream. The farm fresh milk and ice cream comes from their own Holstein cows that are hormone and antibiotic free at the Maple View Farm. I got 4 scoops of the Carolina Crunch (pictured above)!
What to order: Carolina crunch – vanilla base with caramel, butter finger, heath bar, and caramel bits.
6900 Rocky Ridge Rd, Hillsborough, NC, mapleviewfarm.com
AFTERNOON TEA AT THE CAROLINA INN
We stayed at the darling Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill that’s on the grounds of The University of North Carolina (this is a college town!). The Southern Colonial style of the historic inn was gorgeous! The Carolina Inn was built in 1924 by alumnus John Sprunt Hill and generously donated to The University of North Carolina in 1935.
I loved having afternoon tea on the front patio – how cute it this pink flamingo teapot?!
211 Pittsboro St, Chapel Hill, NC, carolinainn.com
TERRAVITA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
For this trip to Chapel Hill, I actually flew in for the 9th annual TerraVita Food & Drink Festival! TerraVita is one of the country’s leading events focused on sustainable food and drink offering exceptional dinners, tasting events, after parties and chef demos as well as the Sustainable Classroom – educational sessions featuring renowned chefs, authors, and national media. I attended the Hill Fire event – traditionally a meat-centric dinner but this year’s dinner showcased vegetables over spits and grills with live music!
Jason Alley of Pasture and Comfort in Richmond, VA grilling charred broccoli over the fire served with fish sauce vinaigrette and peanut-chili relish.
Chef Kevin Callaghan of Acme Food & Beverage Co. in Carrboro, NC served bbq grilled delicata squash “ribs,” with spiced cider reduction, arugula pesto, charred cauliflower with smoked Chapel Hill Creamery farmer’s cheese. This was my favorite dish of the night – the bbq grilled squash ribs were delicious!
Caroline Morrison of The Fiction Kitchen in Raleigh, NC served these griddled sweet potato biscuit with smokey bbq mushrooms and grilled apple and radish relish.
Greg McPhee of The Anchorage in Greenville, SC served grilled root vegetables with horseradish butter, radish green puree, seaweed, and charred onion powder.
Josh DeCarolis of Mothers & Sons in Durham, NC served grilled escarole bruschetta with buffalo milk stacchino and anchovy di cetera.
Lydia Clopton of Love, Lydia Bakery and PinPoint in Wilmington, NC made a moonglow pear upside down cake with honey creme fraiche.
Ian Boden of The Shack in Staunton, VA served grilled trumpet mushrooms, hominy and black garlic soubise, scallion, and benne.
Brittanny Anderson of Metzger Bar & Butchery and Brenner Pass in Richmond, VA served grilled winter squash, farro matafan, lardo, and pepita gemolata.
Clark Barlowe of Heirloom in Charlotte, NC served rabbit with foraged black trumpet mushroom and legume stew.
Matthew Register of Southern Smoke BBQ in Garland, NC served an eggplant caponata.
For dessert, Florence Melin of Sucre & Sel in Cary, NC made a lemon verbena mousse verrine, strawberry cardamon, and anise coulis.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN CHAPEL HILL
The Baxter Bar & Arcade – have a beer and play a video game!
The Crunkleton – private club in Chapel Hill that serves classics cocktail with a modern twist. Choose from 500+ spirits!
Carolina Brewery – enjoy a beer at the oldest craft brewery in town, actually the oldest in the Triangle (which is Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area).