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11 Best Restaurants on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC

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As I strolled down the charming cobblestone streets of Chapel Hill, my nose was tantalized by the mouthwatering aromas of local cuisine. 

Nestled in the heart of this college town is the bustling Franklin Street, a foodie’s paradise with an endless array of eateries. Whether you’re a UNC student, a visitor to the area, or a local looking for a new dining spot, Franklin Street has something for everyone.

As a foodie and lover of all things delicious, I couldn’t resist the temptation to explore the culinary offerings of Franklin Street restaurants. 

This street has quickly become one of my favorite food destinations, with various restaurants ranging from cozy cafes to upscale dining experiences.

11 Must-Try Restaurants on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill

From traditional Southern cuisine to international flavors, the restaurants on Franklin Street showcase the diverse range of flavors that make Chapel Hill a culinary hotspot. 

Whether you’re in the mood for a juicy burger, fresh seafood, or a vegan feast, there’s a restaurant on Franklin Street that has you covered.

In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my personal favorite restaurants on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. 

I’ve scoured the street to bring you the best of the best, so get ready to indulge in some serious foodie heaven. 

So, let’s get started on this delicious journey through the best restaurants on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Visiting Chapel Hill? Check out our other guides:

My Top Three Picks of the Best Restaurants On Franklin Street In Chapel Hill

Restaurant Top PickOur Rating
Pho HappinessPho Saigon5/5
411 West Italian CafeLasagna5/5
LanternCrispy Catfish4.5/5

The 11 Best Restaurants on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill

Carolina Brewery

460 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199421800

Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill is a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike. This charming and inviting restaurant is located in the heart of downtown and is known for its mouthwatering Southern-inspired cuisine and an impressive selection of craft beer.

From the moment you step inside, you’ll be welcomed by the warm and friendly staff, and the inviting atmosphere will make you feel right at home. 

The decor is rustic and cozy, with exposed brick walls and vintage beer memorabilia creating a welcoming ambiance.

But it’s the food and drinks that truly make Carolina Brewery stand out. The menu features many delicious dishes, from classic comfort food like mac and cheese and fried chicken to flavorful BBQs and burgers. 

And, of course, you can’t forget about the beer. Carolina Brewery has an impressive selection of craft brews, ranging from crisp and refreshing lagers to rich and complex stouts.

We tried the seasonal flight and the year-round, and I have to say that the seasonal was much better overall. 

Carolina Brewery: Burger

For food, I had the Carolina on my Mind burger, which was cooked to perfection and incredibly juicy. The crunchy sweet potato fries were delicious.

The coleslaw wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t drowning in mayonnaise, which is always a win in my book.

My friend ordered the Cheerwine Chicken, which was quickly devoured, while the other ordered the Carolina Cuban, which was a solid dish.

I’d recommend checking out this place if you haven’t already. Franklin is a famous street, especially regarding food, and this place ranks among the best pub meals I’ve had.

Carolina Brewery is the perfect destination whether you’re looking to enjoy a meal with friends or family or just want to stop in for a drink and a bite to eat. 

With its inviting atmosphere, delicious food, and exceptional beer, it’s no wonder why this Franklin Street restaurant is a local favorite.

Que Chula Craft Tacos & Tequila Bar

140 W. Franklin St. #110, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199038000

Que Chula Craft Tacos & Tequila Bar is a terrific Franklin Street restaurant! You are greeted warmly by their friendly staff and immediately notice the vivid interior decor. It was a lot of fun.

This location was incredible! This restaurant’s decor is beautiful. The colors are vibrant, and the artwork accurately depicts Mexican culture.

The restaurant appears really clean and provides a great place to sit inside, at the bar, or outside.

Que Chula Craft Tacos & Tequila Bar: Chile Relleno

During the wait for your meal, they serve complimentary chips and salsa. I got the chile relleno, which was arguably one of the best I’ve ever had and was served beautifully.

My friend ordered the Que Chula Asada tacos and beans, as well as a beautiful cantarito that transported me to Tequila, Mexico!

I enjoyed the tacos and drinks on their terrace. They produce the tastiest margaritas, and the beer on tap is reasonably priced and diversified.

Their service is superb, and the food is fresh and inventive, not your typical boring Mexican fare.

The cuisine on the menu with photographs was helpful, but it was tough to choose because they all looked and sounded delicious—the food also appeared to be as artistically prepared as the restaurant itself!

I highly recommend this restaurant, which is located right on Franklin Street!

Pho Happiness

508A W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199428201

Located in the heart of Chapel Hill, Pho Happiness is a Vietnamese restaurant known for its delicious and authentic cuisine. 

The restaurant’s name is a nod to its most famous dish, the traditional pho noodle soup that is made with a hearty beef broth, fragrant spices, and tender slices of beef.

As soon as you step inside Pho Happiness, you’ll be struck by the warm and inviting atmosphere. 

The decor is simple and elegant, with wooden accents and Vietnamese artwork creating a cozy and intimate ambiance. 

The menu features authentic Vietnamese dishes, including crispy spring rolls, savory banh mi sandwiches, and fragrant curry dishes.

But what sets Pho Happiness apart is its commitment to using fresh and authentic ingredients to create its dishes. 

Pho Happiness: Pho Saigon

I started with the classic appetizer of fresh summer rolls packed with crispy veggies and a flavorful dipping sauce. 

For my main course, I opted for the Pho Saigon, a traditional beef noodle soup with steak, flank steak, fatty flank, vegetables, fragrant herbs, and a hearty beef broth. 

The soup was perfectly balanced, with just the right amount of spices and a generous serving of noodles.

Of course, no meal at Pho Happiness would be complete without tasting their delicious Bubble Tea. I opted for the Passion Fruit version, which was the perfect ending to my meal!

If you’re a fan of Vietnamese cuisine or just want to try something new and exciting, I highly recommend visiting the Pho Happiness restaurant on Franklin in Chapel Hill. 

With its inviting atmosphere, delicious food, and commitment to authenticity, it’s the perfect destination for any foodie looking to indulge in a soulful and comforting meal.

411 West Italian Cafe

411 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27515, United States // +19199672782

411 West is one of Chapel Hill’s (not so) hidden gems. It is easily accessible from Franklin Street and has a parking lot nearby.

It’s a popular site in Chapel Hill and for a good cause. Because of the enormous portions, it provides excellent value for the level of quality you receive. This restaurant exemplifies what a restaurant should be!

To begin, I ordered Stella’s salad, while my friend ordered Caesar salad. Both were delicious and served in healthy portions.

We both ordered the lasagna, which was a pretty large portion, but it was so excellent that I stuffed myself and nearly finished it.

To satisfy our chocolate desire, we ordered the Chess pie for dessert, and it was a delicious handcrafted delight with cookies and cream ice cream and a brownie.

411 West Italian Cafe: Lasagna

The attention to detail, however, is what truly distinguishes the meals at 411 West. Each dish is meticulously created, resulting in a beautifully balanced flavor profile that is both rich and nuanced.

And the atmosphere of 411 West Italian Café just enhances the experience. The stylish, sophisticated ambiance of the restaurant is the ideal setting for a dinner that is both comforting and refined.

You’ll enjoy a wonderful experience whether you’re dining with friends, family, or that special someone.

Overall, if you’re searching for a truly great bianco pizza in Chapel Hill, 411 West Italian Cafe is a must-try.

It stands out in a crowded sector due to its high-quality ingredients, exceptional craftsmanship, and excellent service.

So why not treat yourself to a night out and indulge in their amazing dishes? You won’t be disappointed!


456 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199331177

Talullas opened in 2004 and is a well-known local restaurant specializing in traditional Turkish fare. 

If you are a foodie seeking casual places to eat to try foreign cuisine, consider visiting this place. This excellent restaurant offers artistically prepared cuisine and a diverse selection of Turkish favorites.

It also features a lively environment with themed décor, catering services, and exceptional customer service.

Talulla’s: Eggplant

You can’t go wrong with anything that has eggplant in it, but their patlıcan oturtması is one dish you have to try. It has layers of eggplant, tomato sauce, and feta cheese baked in a stone oven, much like an eggplant Parmesan in Italian cuisine.

Other non-eggplant favorites include güveç, sautéed seasonal veggies cooked in a tomato-based herb and wine sauce with your choice of meat, and their extensive selection of shish-kabobs.

For dessert, try their twist on traditional Middle Eastern künefe or sütlaç, a baked rice pudding. Many people enjoy their baklava, but I prefer Mediterranean Deli’s.

Overall, my experience at Talulla’s was nothing short of amazing. The unique blend of Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine, the cozy and intimate atmosphere, and the exceptional service all contributed to an unforgettable dining experience. 

I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a delicious and unique Franklin Street dining experience in Chapel Hill.

Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering

410 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199672666

Mediterranean Deli in Chapel Hill is a popular restaurant serving fresh and delicious Mediterranean cuisine. 

Located in the heart of Franklin Street, the restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere with colorful decor and a cozy seating area.

With daily baked pitas (kosher, gluten-free, and whole wheat varieties) and a mouth-watering array of options, there’s always something new to try.

The restaurant also offers a range of vegetarian and gluten-free options, making it an excellent choice for diners with dietary restrictions. 

It’s decidedly no-frills at the Med Deli, so you place your order by pointing at the menu items you want on your platter.

Mediterranean Deli, Bakery, and Catering: Lamb Kebab

I started with the Mediterranean Sampler Platter, which included hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, and falafel

The hummus was creamy and flavorful, the baba ghanoush had a smoky undertone, and the tabbouleh burst with fresh herbs. 

The falafel was crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and paired perfectly with the accompanying tahini sauce.

For my main course, I ordered the Chicken Shawarma, which was marinated with olive oil, cardamom, garlic, and Lebanese spices and served with onions and tahini sauce on a pita. 

The flavors were bold and perfectly balanced without being too heavy.

My friend ordered the lamb kebab, which came with seasoned rice, a side salad, and a generous portion of tender, grilled lamb. The dish was beautifully presented and tasted as good as it looked.

To top off the meal, we ordered a piece of baklava to share. The pastry was flaky and not too sweet, with just enough honey and nut filling.

However, Med Deli is usually extremely busy, so you may have to wait to sit or receive your meal to go. After eating, simply place your plates and utensils in the bins before leaving.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the Mediterranean Deli. The food was excellent and fresh, the amounts were large, and the prices were reasonable.

The staff was pleasant and knowledgeable about the cuisine, and the ambiance was warm and welcoming.

If you’re a fan of Mediterranean cuisine or just looking for a tasty and healthy meal, I highly recommend checking out the Mediterranean Deli in Chapel Hill.

Al’s Burger Shack

516 W. Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199047659

Al’s Burger Shack in Chapel Hill is a local favorite for those seeking a delicious, no-frills burger experience. 

The small, unassuming restaurant on Franklin Street is always bustling with hungry patrons eager to sink their teeth into one of their mouth-watering burgers. 

Known for using locally-sourced ingredients and cooking everything to order, Al’s Burger Shack takes pride in crafting some of the best burgers in the area. 

It boasts a relaxed setting, fast service, reasonable prices, and dishes prepared from the highest quality ingredients.

Try tasty things like savory sides, juicy hamburgers, refreshing milkshakes, and options for special diets.

Al's Burger Shack: Classic Burger

When we sat at a picnic table, the staff promptly handed us a portable propane heater, which was quite handy on a cold night!

They have many delicious burger options, including the classic burger with tomato, lettuce, and onion. The restaurant also offers turkey burgers, fried chicken, sweet potato, black bean, and oat patties.

I ordered the sweet potato patty, which was amazing, and the sweet potato fries, which were perfectly crispy and salted, so the fries weren’t overly sweet.

The large fries are a massive amount of fries, more than enough for two people to share! My friend had the classic burger, which he stated was the best burger he’d ever had.

Overall, Al’s Burger Shack lived up to the hype. The burgers were some of the best I’ve ever had, and the casual, no-frills atmosphere only added to the restaurant’s charm.

The staff was friendly and efficient, and the food was reasonably priced. If you’re on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and looking for a delicious burger, look no further than Al’s Burger Shack.


423 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199698846

Lantern is a modern Asian restaurant in Chapel Hill that blends traditional flavors with locally-sourced ingredients. 

The restaurant is known for its elegant decor and expertly prepared dishes, featuring bold and nuanced flavors that satisfy any foodie’s palate. 

Andrea Reusing, their head chef, is a James Beard award winner for Best Chef Southeast, and Lantern alums have garnered acclaim all around the United States for their inventive contributions to American cuisine.

Lantern is ideal for a romantic date night, with a glowy, cozy ambiance and a menu specifying local dishes.

Their menu changes often (perhaps even more often than seasonally), so they recommend calling ahead to ensure that something on their website will be available that evening.

Lantern: Spring Rolls

We began with the spring rolls, which were exquisite. These arrived with a delicious sauce. For my entree, I had the crispy catfish, which was flavorful and tasty.

We shared the chocolate cake with coffee ice cream for dessert, and I wished I could have it all to myself. The chocolate cake was soft and gooey on the interior, similar to a souffle.

All that was a little pricey, but it was well worth it!

Overall, I was blown away by the food quality at Lantern. Every dish was expertly prepared and beautifully presented, and the flavors were bold and nuanced. 

The service was also top-notch, with our waiter providing helpful recommendations and ensuring that our dining experience was enjoyable from start to finish. 

If you want a high-end Asian dining experience in Chapel Hill, I highly recommend visiting Lantern. You won’t be disappointed!

Vegan Flava Cafe

306 W. Franklin St. G, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199601832

Vegan Flava Cafe is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking out delicious and innovative vegan cuisine in Chapel Hill. Located in the city’s heart, this cozy cafe on Franklin Street is known for its creative plant-based dishes and welcoming atmosphere. 

The menu is packed with flavorful dishes inspired by various cuisines worldwide, including classic breakfast fare, hearty sandwiches, and flavorful entrees. 

From the moment you step through the door, you’ll be greeted with the tantalizing aroma of spices and fresh herbs, and you’ll know that you’re in for a treat. 

Vegan Flava Cafe: Kale Salad

I had the meal with mock fish cakes, kale salad, black beans, and cheddar grits. I topped my black beans with walnut meat and ordered a side of chips. This was incredible.

The texture of the mock fish cakes with sauce was excellent. It was neither too soft nor too hard, and it retained its shape. 

I enjoyed the flavor without the saltiness of traditional bay seasoning. I would strongly suggest them to anyone.

The Kale Salad is a raw kale salad with all of the “flava” added on top. This was delicious; I’d eat it plain or with pumpkin seeds, nuts, and cranberries for a varied flavor. Yet I have no issues with keeping it as is.

The black beans with walnut topping, salsa, and chips were delicious. There was no extremely salty flavor that you may encounter when ordering black beans. Wonderfully seasoned and bursting with salsa flavor. It was fantastic!

And I was really thrilled with how wonderfully the cheese grits worked with the mock fish cakes. I absolutely loved it.

Overall, my visit to Vegan Flava Cafe was nothing short of amazing. The food was creative, flavorful, and satisfying, and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. 

If you’re a vegan or simply looking to try some delicious plant-based cuisine, I highly recommend checking out this gem of a restaurant. You won’t be disappointed!

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

431 W. Franklin St. Ste 415, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19199293833

Vimala’s is a Chapel Hill restaurant that is noted for its commitment to community and sustainability from “farm to fork.”

Locals believe that Vimala’s Curryblosson Café serves the best Indian food in Chapel Hill, but it also provides much more. If you care about social justice or ecology, this is the place to eat.

The cafe is named after Chef Vimala, a culinary extraordinaire who is also involved in many significant social justice initiatives.

She originally started cooking meals for the community, with a commitment to advocacy for world peace and a living wage. Her dishes, however, were so successful that she decided to create a cafe.

Even today, she maintains a “Food for All” fund for people who cannot afford the cost of their meals; if you are able, consider contributing a donation after eating here.

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe: Samosas

Regarding food, you can’t go wrong with anything. As an appetizer, try some samosas or mixed veggie pakoras, but remember that the dinner quantities are massive, and you will most likely have leftovers.

The Malabar shrimp in a coconut tamarind sauce is fantastic, as are their curries, dosas, and tandoor selections.

Make sure to order plenty of naan. If you’re looking for something nutty and slightly sweet, try the Peshwari naan; their hibiscus tea is also a must!

Overall, I highly recommend Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe to anyone looking for delicious and authentic Indian cuisine in Chapel Hill. 

The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the service is friendly and attentive, and the food is simply outstanding. I can’t wait to come back and try more of the menu.

Roots Natural Kitchen

133 W. Franklin St. Suite A-115, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, United States // +19843225600

Roots Natural Kitchen in Chapel Hill is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves healthy and delicious cuisine. 

This cozy and inviting restaurant is known for its menu of flavorful and nutrient-packed plant-based dishes, as well as its commitment to sustainability and using locally-sourced ingredients.

As soon as you step through the doors of Roots Natural Kitchen, you’ll be struck by the warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

Besides the food, the staff is also so lovely and generous. The interior is just so cool. Complementary colors of blue and orange greet you as you walk in, with contemporary light fixtures hanging over the seats. 

The decor is rustic and charming, with natural wood accents and greenery creating a cozy and inviting ambiance. 

The menu features various plant-based options, from hearty salads and grain bowls to wraps and sandwiches.

But what really sets Roots Natural Kitchen apart is its commitment to sustainability and using locally-sourced ingredients. 

The restaurant works with local farmers and suppliers to source the freshest and most flavorful ingredients possible, and all of their dishes are free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.

Roots Natural Kitchen: Roasted Corn

They have signature bowls, but I built my own. You choose your base of greens/rice/mix of both and add up to five toppings.

My choices were roasted broccoli, pickled onions, roasted corn, cucumber, and roasted sweet potatoes.

You can choose any amount of whichever sauces you want; my personal favorites were light Caesar and light lemon tahini.

Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or just looking for a healthy and delicious meal, Roots Natural Kitchen has something for everyone.

Their dishes are flavorful, filling, and packed with nutrients, making them the perfect choice for anyone who wants to feel good about what they’re eating.

So if you’re in the mood for a delicious and healthy meal in a cozy and inviting atmosphere, be sure to check out Roots Natural Kitchen on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. 

With its commitment to sustainability and locally-sourced ingredients, it’s a destination that you can feel good about supporting.


Does Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe offer any cooking classes?

Yes, Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe offers cooking classes where participants can learn how to cook authentic Indian cuisine.

What is the most popular dish at Carolina Brewery?

The most popular dish at Carolina Brewery is their beer-battered fish and chips, which pairs perfectly with one of their house-brewed beers.

Does Franklin Street have any fine dining options?

Yes, Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery and 411 West are upscale restaurants offering fine dining experiences. They are great options for special occasions or romantic evenings.

What is the best time to visit Franklin Street’s restaurants?

Franklin Street’s restaurants are busiest during meal times, particularly on weekends. If you want to avoid crowds, it’s best to visit during non-peak hours or make a reservation.


In conclusion, restaurants on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill are a true haven for foodies. With a wide variety of cuisine options, ranging from traditional southern dishes to international flavors, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your palate. 

Whether you’re looking for a casual brunch spot, a lively Mexican fiesta, or a sophisticated French dinner, Franklin Street has got you covered.

What sets Franklin Street dining apart from other dining destinations is each restaurant’s welcoming and friendly atmosphere. 

The staff at these eateries make you feel like family, and the charm of each establishment adds to the overall dining experience.

The diversity of flavors and styles is impressive, and you can find something for every budget, from quick bites to splurge-worthy fine dining experiences. 

The street has become a culinary hub, attracting foodies from around the region and beyond.

Franklin Street is a must-visit destination if you’re a lover of good food. Come indulge in some of the best food that Chapel Hill has to offer and experience the warmth and hospitality of this vibrant community.

Which one of these restaurants on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!

Visiting North Carolina? Check out our other guides:

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Tom Wood

Sunday 11th of June 2023

Coming up from Hampton VA.,every so often, the and I will work our way up Franklin St.!

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