If the idea of spending 3 hours on a hot and muggy evening watching the Chelsea-Wrexham soccer match in Kenan Stadium sounds awesome to you, imagine how much better it would be to do so on a completely full stomach!

Ok, yes, perhaps mid-July is not the ideal time for the match, but what’s done is done. Just accept that you are going to sweat – like, a lot – and enjoy yourself. We’re all counting on you.

If you are new here, this is a civics blog and we mostly cover politics and housing and transportation topics in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. What do we know about food? Let’s just say one does not become a civics nerd without spending a lot of time – perhaps alone, perhaps while crying – eating.


We had an idea to do a post about where to eat downtown and we asked some friends what they like. That’s it. Responses that began “I really wanted to like this place, but…” were discarded. We picked spots that are reasonably walkable to the shuttle pick up on Franklin Street (remember, you are going to sweat regardless – walking a few blocks won’t hurt you and, if anything, will make you treasure the shuttle bus air conditioning all the more).

We mostly focused on locally-owned places open around 5pm on Wednesdays, plus a few late night options.

What’s good to eat before the game?

In no particular order, we recommend:

Linda’s – Check your pretension at the door. The menu has an entire section for “drunchies.”

What to eat? Tots are listed as a side but they’re really the main attraction. Get ’em loaded! If you must eat non-tots, try the Cuban sliders.

IP IIIThis no-frills pizzeria is your best chance of seeing Chapel Hill royalty. Just keep in mind that grown men asking for selfies with 20 year old basketball stars is kind of weird.

What to eat? Might I suggest…pizza? They have a thousand options. Subs and other Italian dishes as well.

Al’s Burger Shack – Al’s is so good it will probably be bought and ruined by private equity in a few years. Get it while it’s still run by locals.

What to eat? The Classic and a side of perfect crinkle fries. You probably deserve a hot dog, too!

Beer Study – This is a college town. We study important things.

What to eat? Beer. If you’re hungry, get a really filling beer.

Med Deli – Nobody calls it by its full name, Mediterranean Deli. Super consistent, delicious, healthy, and authentic Middle Eastern fare.

What to eat? The menu can be overwhelming for first timers. Here’s a hot take: get something basic like a gyro platter, then jazz it up with a half dozen (free!) dipping sauces from the condiment bar. Za’atar + whipped garlic + olive oil will make you a better person.

Cosmic Cantina – a darling of the undergrad set, stretch your dollars at this tiny and tasty Mexican joint.

What to eat? People love the tofu burrito, the old school burrito, and the veggie quesadilla.

Top of the Hill – The best views in Chapel Hill.

What to eat? Come for the views. Stay for the jalapeño-cheddar hushpuppies.

Heavenly Buffaloes – Wings, the way God intended.

What to eat? Keep it less messy with their signature Heavenly Buffalo dry rub.

Lantern – Nothing says soccer pregaming like an elegant Asian-tinged meal at Chapel Hill’s coolest and best restaurant.

What to eat? You can’t go wrong with the salt and pepper shrimp or steamed North Carolina fish and one-to-seven Junebugs to drink.

What about after the game?

Summer weeknights are pretty quiet in Chapel Hill. From the list above, Cosmic Cantina, Linda’s, and Heavenly Buffaloes are open late.

Or venture to the Northside District for refined bar bites in a cozy setting.


In the last municipal election cycle, we helped increase turnout by over 20 percent. We're all volunteers who care deeply about Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we're working to make Chapel Hill and Carrboro more vibrant, accessible, fun, and sustainable.  Please consider a small donation to help us keep our digital lights on, host events, and hire students to do data deep-dives.