Whether or not you attended the esteemed University, Chapel Hill is a lovely town to visit—the weather is beautiful, the town and campus are charming, and the people are kind. Additionally, the food scenes in Chapel Hill and adjacent cities of Carrboro, Durham, and Raleigh are experiencing a renaissance. If you like Southern cooking and farm-to-table fare, a visit to The Triangle should be on your list.
I moved around a lot as a child, so my alma mater, Chapel Hill, feels like home, given I’ve never spent too long in any one place. I headed down south to Raleigh, North Carolina, for a wedding, with my Aussie boyfriend in tow. I was eager to introduce him to my sorority sisters, and to show him around Chapel Hill.
Bitch Tip: For my recommendations on Raleigh brunch, I’d suggest Beasley’s Chicken & Honey (read the review), The Royal (read the review), Poole’s and Person Street Pharmacy. Get my full guide to Raleigh, here.
On Sunday after the wedding festivities concluded, we drove from Raleigh to Chapel Hill and I had that familiar tingle of excitement once I saw the signs for Chapel Hill on highway I-40.
We’d decided to take off Monday and enjoy Sunday with a day of brunch and an overnight at the Carolina Inn, which was my go-to spot for special events like sorority formals, dinners with visiting parents, or anniversaries with boyfriends in college. The hotel recently changed ownership—it’s now owned by Destination Hotels—and was also renovated. It maintains that cozy, Southern charm of a fancy living room—it’s a great destination for bridal and baby showers and special events.
We checked into the hotel before brunch and a day of nostalgia for me as I dragged my beau around all the oh-so-familiar campus spots. Our room was cozy and luxurious, and provided all the amenities we expect from being regular travelers: comfy bedding, a glorious bath tub, nice toiletries, solid technology, and great bath robes. While my boyfriend is particular about the technology and the number of outlets, for me it’s all about the bathroom—how’s the tub? Are the robes comfy? Do I want to steal the soap?
The rooms are decorated with photos of notable alumni, from musicians to artists to scientists, and I was simultaneously so excited, proud, and even a little bit homesick.
We began with brunch at the recently renovated restaurant, Crossroads at the Carolina Inn. The brunch is an adjusted buffet—you’re seated and a waiter takes your drink orders, as well as brings a fresh basket of bread, fruit, and smoothies to the table.
The fruit plate, fruit smoothies, and bread basket were a nice touch—starting the meal on a high note with Southern cornbread muffins with soft butter, and strawberry-banana smoothies. The fruit was also fresh—and a mix of sliced cantaloupe, pineapple, and berries.
The brunch cocktails were the classic variety—this is a college town after all. The Bloody Mary was perfectly smooth and spicy—just what the doctor ordered.
The buffet was a pretty classic variety. There was an omelet and waffle station, and a table with cheeses, cured meats, and berries, and a buffet of classic, heated breakfast dishes, like scrambled eggs, potatoes, and Eggs Benedicts. We’d recommend you go for the omelet station, the cheese station, and the Southern specialties.
There were some nice Southern touches, like pimiento cheese sandwiches and a caramel bread pudding. We particularly enjoyed our omelets, the cheese plate, and the pastries—as a Bitch is wont to do.
Bitch Tip: My top restaurant recommendations in Chapel Hill are the Crook’s Corner, the Lantern, and Acme. If you’re looking for a drink, head to Top of the Hill and Pantana Bob’s, but I wouldn’t eat the food.
After brunch, we spent the day strolling through campus, enjoying a cocktail at TOPO, and heading to Carrboro for dinner at Acme. A lovely day back home concluded with my very favorite treat: the Carolina Inn’s signature chocolate chip pecan cookies; moist, buttery, and decadent, and available to all guests.
The Bitches say: B+ for brunch—the cocktails, environment and service are great, but the buffet needs some work. That said, the Inn gets five stars—it’s a Chapel Hill institution, and a must-visit on any visit to this idyllic college town.
The Carolina Inn
211 Pittsboro Street
Chapel Hill, North Carolina