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Chapel Hill eateries debut various seasonal dishes

Photo: Chapel Hill eateries debut various seasonal dishes (Maggie Cagney)
Local cupcake store Sugarland displays some of their fall cupcakes UNC exercise science student and Sugarland employee, Carley Brown displays some fall cupcakes (from left to right): Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Oktoberfest, and Sweet Potato Praline

As the leaves begin to change color, so do the menus at some of Chapel Hill’s most famous restaurants and coffee shops.

Local chefs are whipping up seasonal dishes, using various spices, fruits and vegetables characteristic of the season.

And Chapel Hill restaurant and cafe owners and chefs said fall dishes are in high demand


Sugarland, named the “Best Bakery,” by Chapel Hill Magazine readers, features fall flavors in the bakery’s gelato, speciality drinks and cupcakes.

“For me, the flavors of fall are all about the spice palette,” said executive chef and co-owner Katrina Ryan in an email.

Seasonal treats like sweet potato cupcakes and pumpkin pie lattes have devoted fans, she said.

Crook’s Corner

Chef Bill Smith said he changes Crook’s Corner’s menu almost every day.

“The menu is governed by price, so it can change everyday,” he said. “If something is too expensive, I just get rid of it.”

Smith integrates various fall dishes, from fried oysters to homemade sweet potato swirl ice cream.

Customers ask each year about the restaurant’s Persimmon pudding, made with the native seasonal fruit , Smith said.

The restaurant received an award from the James Beard Foundation in 2011 as an American Classic and was called “sacred ground for Southern foodies” by the New York Times.

Il Palio

The Siena Hotel’s restaurant offers a full Thanksgiving menu and popular fall foods.

“We change the dishes when we see something inspiring,” said Executive Chef Adam Rose

Seasonal dishes range from a fall caprese salad to apple pie with cinnamon ice cream, which use classic fall spices, Rose said.

Many customers ask that a few of the seasonal dishes stay year-round.

“I get calls all year round for the butternut squash, but we usually run it from mid-September through early March,” he said.

The restaurant has been consistently awarded Four Diamonds by AAA.

Caffe Driade

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Featured on the Food Network’s show “$40 a Day” hosted by Rachael Ray, this Chapel Hill coffee shop offers speciality drinks and pastries for the fall.

Employee Daniel McDonald said the apple cider and hot chocolate are their most popular seasonal drinks during the fall and winter.

The coffee shop also sells seasonal treats from Durham bakery Guglhupf, the most popular being their pumpkin muffin.

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