The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, March 1, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

First-Years' Guide to Franklin

Food Review Trolly Stop.jpg
Staff Writer Laura Brummett tries Trolly Stop's new veggie burger.

When you’re sick of meal swipes and run out of the stolen snacks from FallFest, The Daily Tar Heel has you covered for navigating the wealth of restaurants on Franklin Street. From parent friendly to game day ready, be prepared to get an on-campus job to subsidize your newest eating habits. 

The Go-Tos 

Al’s Burger Shack

For TripAdvisor’s best burger in America, look no further than Al’s. The burger that won Al’s the title is the Bobo Chili Cheeseburger, topped with coleslaw, onion, yellow mustard and American cheese, but the Paco burger, topped with guacamole, and the vegetarian-friendly sweet potato burger are also deserving of awards. Be sure to order a side of sea salt rosemary fries, and if you go at peak lunch or dinner hours, prepare to line up outside.

Italian Pizzeria III 

Family owned and locally loved, Italian Pizzeria III has been on Franklin Street for almost 40 years and offers homemade dough and sauce on round, thin crust Neapolitan and square, thick crust Sicilian pizzas. The classic large cheese pie is perfect for splitting with roommates or for keeping all the leftovers for yourself. 

Mediterranean Deli

For savory Mediterranean dishes from spinach chickpea salad to eggplant squash stew and entrees like lamb shawerma and chicken gyros, Med Deli is a must for fresh, affordable, delicious food. They have a location in the Bottom of Lenoir, but it’s worth the walk to the Franklin Street storefront for the larger deli case selection and the chance to shop at its market. Save room for pistachio baklava for dessert. 

When Your Parents Are In Town

411 West

House-made pastas, crisp salads and a variety of seafood, chicken and steak dishes make 411 West the perfect spot to take your parents for light, seasonal and locally sourced Italian dishes. Save room for dessert, like their tiramisu and a cappuccino if you really want to splurge. 


Traditional Greek cuisine and artful plating in a chic setting will definitely impress your parents. One of the state’s top restauranteurs, Giorgios Bakatsias, is Kipos’ “Thought Architect,” and designed everything from the mood lighting to the textiles to complete your dining experience. Come back with friends to enjoy modestly priced appetizers, such as melitzanosalata, roasted eggplants with peppers and walnuts, on the patio. 

Caffeine Fix 

Carolina Coffee Shop

Newly renovated and with an updated menu, Carolina Coffee Shop is perfect for a coffee to-go, sipping while studying or a full brunch with friends. The lattes are served in bowl-sized mugs if you’re dining in and are often adorned with Instagram-worthy latte art. Food recommendations include the Signature Cornflake French Toast and the brie and bacon omelette. 

Perennial Cafe

A newer addition to Franklin Street, Perennial Cafe is worth the short walk from campus for the natural light, board games and smooth, bold coffees. Seating is limited, but the upstairs offers a nice study nook. Order the Macchiato for the adorable, traditional Italian size, which is 2 ounces plus an ounce of steamed milk, or a mint latte for a sweet new favorite. 

Game Time

Sup Dogs

Hot dogs and burgers, cheesy tots and plenty of TVs to watch Carolina play make Sup Dogs the perfect gameday destination. Double your dog for $1 more and definitely ask for extra Sup Dog Sauce, a sweet and tangy side that goes well on almost everything they serve. 

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Top of the Hill

For big games like UNC versus Duke and national championships, TOPO has the atmosphere and food for a great night. People watching students rush Franklin Street from the rooftop terrace is otherworldly, and TOPO boasts a brewery on-site that you can check out during commercial breaks. Try the flatbreads for lunch or chorizo burger and beer-battered fries for dinner. 

Late Night Bites

Cosmic Cantina

Possibly the most popular late-night option on Franklin, you can walk out of Cosmic Cantina with a burrito, chips and salsa for less than $4 until 4 a.m. They also offer queso, quesadillas and horchata, a sweet drink made with milk and cinnamon. 

Linda’s Bar & Grill

Tried and true, Linda’s fully-loaded tots taste even better after dark. Lucky for you, they’re open until 2 a.m. every night of the week. Ask for them without bacon for a vegetarian option or venture onto creamy mac-and-cheese topped with Frosted Flakes or their buttery roasted brussels sprouts. They also serve a mean burger on their full menu, which is available until midnight.