Best Restaurants

Out of all the restaurants in a city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer carefully vetted selections to let you explore Chapel Hill dining on your own. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Chapel Hill Best Restaurants list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss.

10 411 West Italian Cafe
Housed in a charming brick home, the kitchen at 411 West serves up interesting, flavorful Italian fare, with a tempting array of pastas and pizzas highlighting the menu. Try the hazelnut pesto angel hair pasta or wood-grilled shrimp on polenta. If you come for Sunday brunch, you'll be torn between European-inspired dishes such as quiches, beignets, and margherita frittatas. (919-967-2782)

9 Lantern
Beautiful paper lanterns adorn this trendy dining room, where patrons ooh and ah over the innovative Asian-inspired cuisine and sip exotic cocktails and chilled sake at the bar. Pleasing first courses, such as Thai chicken salad with chilies, lime, roasted peanuts, red onions and crispy rice stick noodles, are difficult to resist. Then, dinner showcases bountiful eats such as fried whole North Carolina flounder with garlic, chiles, tamarind, fresh lime leaf, carrot salad and jasmine rice. Strong wine list. Late night menu served til midnight Friday and Saturday. (919-969-8846)

8 Crook's Corner
A little piece of Charleston in Chapel Hill is a good way to describe Crook's. It offers New South cuisine, but the feature dish is none other than the ever-popular Lowcountry shrimp and grits. You can expect upscale dining in a sophisticated yet casual and bustling atmosphere. Do try and eat outside if the weather permits, as Crook's terrace (a serene escape from the sometimes noisy interior) offers a beautiful garden, fountain and several wooden animal sculptures made by local artist Clyde Jones. (919-929-7643)

7 Carolina Crossroads
Located in the prestigious Carolina Inn, this award-dining room combines the luxury of days gone by with an appealing modern menu. The soft yellow interior, accented with dainty blue and white fabrics, offers an elegant atmosphere, and there's also a scenic outdoor patio. The appetizing fare varies by season but might include apple barbecued frog legs or oven-roasted snapper with shrimp jambalaya. Linger after dinner to enjoy the signature CrossRoads coffee, blended with Baileys, amaretto, crème de cacao and Kahlua, and indulge in a decadent treat such as the chocolate praline napoleon with flaky chocolate puff pastry. (919-918-2777)

6 Fearrington House Country Inn and Restaurant
Located on a former dairy farm outside Chapel Hill, Fearrington Village is a quaint town with about 1500 residents, several unique shops, and this award-winning inn and restaurant. The elegant, classically Southern décor is charming and comfortable, and service is friendly and professional, making this a perfect setting for a special occasion or celebration. Unique nouvelle American cuisine is expertly prepared, and might include smoked quail with wilted spinach, venison with flageolots beans, or yellow tail with basil tagliatelle. An extensive wine list and wonderful desserts round out the menu. (919-542-2121)

5 Elaine's on Franklin
Textured medium blue walls and a mustard yellow vaulted ceiling with skylights accent this whimsical dining room. The seasonally inspired menu features dishes such as grilled Broken Arrow Ranch venison with Sunset Farm's corn pudding, sautéed spinach and blackberry sauce. Delightfully-conceived desserts — for example, orange-buttermilk panna cotta with chilled eastern peach-Moscato d'Asti sauce — add to this pleasurable dining experience. Award-winning wine list. (919-960-2770)

4 Il Palio Ristorante
In the European-style Hotel Siena, this lovely restaurant features Mediterranean and northern Italian cuisine. The elegant decor, consisting of hand-carved credenzas, Venetian prints, and a mural of Siena's skyline, offers the perfect ambience for an enchanting experience. The menu features fresh pastas, plus entrees like veal osso buco with baby artichokes, lamb chops with baked squash, and snapper and Carolina crab with tomato confit. The extensive wine list is a Wine Spectator award winner. Don't miss dessert, which might be tiramisu, lemon semifreddo with blackberry sauce, or hazelnut chocolate cake. 5-course pasta tasting menu $45, $65 with wines; chef's 5-course tasting menu $50, $70 with wines. (919-918-2545)

3 La Residence Restaurant and Bar
Since 1976, La Residence has been a favorite among locals for casually elegant decor and an innovative menu. Divine selections range from French to Moroccan, so it's no surprise that this restaurant has won countless accolades from such publications as "Bon Appetit" and "The New York Times." It's also ideal for either a romantic encounter or an important business dinner. During warmer months, dine on the garden terrace amid seasonal flowers and lush greenery. (919-967-2506)

2 B. Christopher's
Streamlined décor — red booths and contemporary art prints — give this crème-colored dining room sensual appeal. The true draw though, is the signature steak. Choose from twin filets, spicy seared rib-eye, and bone-in strip, and if you wish, add green peppercorn sauce, wild mushroom demi glace, horseradish cream or béarnaise sauce. For a break from beef, order the tasty goat cheese-stuffed portobella mushroom, creole shrimp pasta or blackened grouper. And, of course, wine enhances the flavors of the meal. (919-932-1918)

1 Bin 54
If you're looking to celebrate a special occasion or make a good impression, do your party the honor of an evening at Bin 54. Exquisite steaks, retro cocktails and a wine cellar of 1400 bottles make entertaining a breeze. Luscious bites such caramelized sea scallops and a walnut endive salad topped with grapes, blue cheese and apple vinaigrette commence the meal, and the kitchen serves several grilled fish should anyone desire an alternative to beef. An updated version of the classic steakhouse, the interior features a glistening hardwood bar, sleek black leather chairs and rich, earthy hues. (919-969-1155)


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1
411 West Italian Cafe 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Smoking
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: CHAPEL HILL
COST: $$
2
Lantern 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, Ethnic
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge
COST: $$
3
Crook's Corner 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Continental, Local Specialty, New American, Southern
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge
Neighborhood: CHAPEL HILL
COST: $$
4
Carolina Crossroads 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge
Neighborhood: Chapel Hill
COST: $$
5
Fearrington House Country Inn and Restaurant 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Continental, New American, Southern
COST: $$
6
Elaine's on Franklin 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, New American
Neighborhood: CHAPEL HILL
COST: $$
7
Il Palio Ristorante 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, French, Italian, Mediterranean
Neighborhood: CHAPEL HILL
COST: $$
8
La Residence Restaurant and Bar 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Eclectic, New American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Chapel Hill
COST: $$
9
B. Christopher's 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Steakhouse
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Live Music, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Chapel Hill
COST: $$
10
Bin 54 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Steakhouse
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Parties / Private Rooms, Wine Cellar
Neighborhood: CHAPEL HILL
COST: $$$
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