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The Daily Tar Heel

King of the Hill: Top of Lenoir

Sophomore Cody Staples grabs a cookie from Lenoir Dining Hall.
Sophomore Cody Staples grabs a cookie from Lenoir Dining Hall.

As I ride upwards on the escalator, a fragrant wind blows past me, smelling of wood-fired pizza and freshly baked desserts. With a swipe of my OneCard, I have gained admission into UNC’s premier dining hall, the Top of Lenoir.

When I reach the top, food surrounds me at every angle.

A salad bar beckons me, promising health and nutrition while a pitcher of pineapple water promises exotic refreshment.

Step after step, more buffets are revealed, expanding the list of tastes to explore.

I maneuver through the maze of all-you-can-eat foods and find a table in the highly sought-after sun room with a view of the Pit.

Located on North Campus, Lenoir serves a diverse array of students from first-year and beyond.

Named after General William Lenoir, the first chairperson of the Board of Trustees of UNC, Lenoir Dining Hall opened in January 1940. Since then, generations of UNC students have enjoyed all three meals, as well as the occasional midday snack, within its hallowed walls. 

Knowing that it is the most important meal of the day, Lenoir does breakfast right. A tired soul is reawakened and students’ brains are stimulated as classical music emits from the speakers.

While Rams Head Dining Hall has omelets, Lenoir’s omelet bar comes with a side of efficiency. After you place your order, you are free to walk around at your leisure.

In a rush to your 9:30 a.m.? No worries. Grab a bagel and slather some good ole’ creamy peanut butter on it. No, I am not talking about the burnt mound of natural peanut paste that Rams offers. I am talking the good stuff.

When the lunchtime rush comes, the sandwich station is always my go-to spot. Unlike its southern counterpart, Lenoir offers weekly specialty breads. When pretzel buns are the chosen one, I have been seen eating two sandwiches.

Additionally, the salad bar is profoundly better at Lenoir, serving chicken that does not resemble cubed chunks of rubber.

It may be the northerner in me, but while eating a meal at Lenoir, I recommend a cold glass of soda water. Rams took away this refreshing beverage last semester, and the staff still has not responded to my eight-page handwritten napkin about it.

A popular new addition to Lenoir’s lunch and dinner menu, the burrito bar combines the ease of Chipotle with the appeal of on-campus dining. After piling on mounds of guacamole, you can be sure you got your money’s worth.

About every month, a Chapel Hill restaurant “takes over” Top of Lenoir or an event takes place, such as Late Night at Lenoir. An actual Franklin Street restaurant comes to feed us for free. I always fill up Tupperware on these nights because these pop-up events never fail to satisfy. 

After you have finished your entree, swing by the dessert section. With cookies, brownies, and two more ice cream flavors than Rams, Lenoir is the dessert hotspot.

It may close early on weekends, but the best things in life are worth waiting for.


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