Sun's out, buns out: a review on Chapel Hill burgers


Because all burgers are certainly not created equal — some are thick and juicy, others are smoky and crispy. Some are topped with bacon cheese fries, others with guacamole and jalapenos.

Which menu has the most variety? Where’s the best bang for your buck? I sampled a different restaurant’s burger for every meal I ate this weekend, and I’m hoping to answer all of your burning burger-related questions. Know that this list isn’t necessarily a ranking — I love burgers and Chapel Hill restaurants too much to pretend like I can choose between them.

Al’s Burger Shack

Atmosphere: The shack’s decor is a blend of retro and modern. Its walls are lined with witty posters, stickers with the logos of other local businesses and a brightly colored menu board. Their meat is “NC pasture raised” without antibiotics or hormones. The big wooden picnic tables outside let you enjoy your burger with a breath of fresh air.

What I got: I ordered the Classic. The burger was sizable, thick and juicy, grilled medium so that only a touch of pink remained in the middle — and the Al sauce was a savory touch. Price rating: $$ The buddy bite size costs $4.85, while the regular size costs $7.85. Any burger can be doubled for $13.75.

Anything else: The Paco Burger, topped with guacamole, tomato, jalapenos and Habanero jack, was also life-changing. And for all you veggie-lovers, there is a vegetarian burger made with sweet potato, black beans and oats.


Atmosphere: Buns has a wide variety of burger combinations (unlike their seating options). Its menu lays out ten signature creations, plus the option to build your own burger.

What I got: I ordered a beef patty on a white roll with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo and grilled onions. Given that the bun was a bit soggy from being wrapped in tin foil, I found myself questioning the establishment’s name. But I definitely polished the burger off without coming up for air too many times.

Price rating: $ The single patty burger costs $5.75, a double stack costs $7.75 and a triple stack costs $9.50.

Anything else: The Brunch Burger, topped with fried egg and bacon, is a unique favorite.

Sup Dogs

Atmosphere: Even if you have trouble digesting the bacon cheesy fries, you will end up at Sup Dogs at some point in your college career (most likely at 2 a.m.). Sup Dogs has quite a few interesting burger options, always offered with the famously tangy Sup Sauce.

What I got: Sup Burger Combo with Cheese. The Sup Burger is another typical restaurant burger, but I’d come here for the cheesy tots and atmosphere, probably not to quench a burger craving.

Price rating: $ All burgers cost $7.99 and are served with an order of fries.

Anything else: The World Class Bacon Cheese Fries Burger is another one of my favorites. Warning: do not eat anything else throughout the day if you want any chance of finishing it.

Sutton’s Drug Store

Atmosphere: Sutton’s is a Chapel Hill classic, steeped in local history. Its walls are lined with Carolina jerseys, memorabilia and photos of smiling customers sitting in its booths.

What I got: I ordered a single patty burger, which was crispier and thinner than the other burgers. It tasted like a backyard barbecue burger, which fits the overall atmosphere of the restaurant. And the bun was noticeably sweet.

Price rating: $ The single patty burger costs $6.09 and the double burger costs $7.59.

Anything else: If you’re craving something sweet to go along with your burger, the strawberry ice cream float for $3.69 is sure to hit the spot.

Thanks for reading.

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