Congratulations to the 2019 Carolina's Finest winners. The annual Carolina's Finest awards are hosted by The Daily Tar Heel and voted for by UNC students and DTH readers.
Want to suggest a category for next year, or want to see your business win a Carolina's Finest award in 2020? Contact email@example.com for more information.
Best Accessories & Best Place to Buy Gifts: Light Years
121 E. Franklin St. | lightyearsjewelry.com
According to our voters, Light Years features the best accessories and the best selection of gifts that Chapel Hill has to offer. Plus, Light Years has been on Franklin Street since 1985 – it’s a Chapel Hill staple. With trendy options, bold statements and affordable prices, the jewelry and accessory store has everything that you could need and more. Light Years appeals to all ages by selling a wide range of jewelry: anything from simple hoops to elegant dangles.
Best Dessert: The Yogurt Pump
106 W. Franklin St. | yogurtpump.com
The Yogurt Pump has been serving up frozen yogurt and topping combinations to Chapel Hill locals and visitors alike since 1982. The staff at YoPo doesn’t look at this frozen treat just as dessert, but as an art form. This Franklin Street classic always takes care to offer dairy-free, gluten-free, no sugar added and low-fat options, as well as huge variety of toppings, so everyone in your party will find something to order. Want to know what flavors are swirling? Head to yogurtpump.com.
Best Place to Live Off Campus: Carolina Square
133 W. Franklin St. | livecarolinasquare.com
What’s better than a luxurious swimming pool, a high-end fitness center, an outdoor park and a skydeck that overlooks Franklin Street? Absolutely nothing, according to our voters. Good news – Carolina Square offers it all and then some. The relatively new apartment complex is known for its stunning atmosphere, superior spaces and indulgent details. Carolina Square is surrounded by many of UNC’s finest businesses, too. If you are looking to live off campus, our voters say you should give Carolina Square a try.
Learn more about Carolina Square and living in downtown Chapel Hill.
Best Place to Buy Carolina Swag, Best Women’s Clothing & Best Men’s Clothing: Chapel Hill Sportswear
119 E. Franklin St. | chapelhillsportswear.com
When you attend the best university, it’s necessary to rep your school with some head to toe swag. The UNC community says you should head to Chapel Hill Sportswear to acquire all of the Carolina Blue you could ever imagine ... and then some! Since 1989, Chapel Hill Sportswear has been dressing UNC fans. When shopping, you are guaranteed to find whatever you are looking for as the store offers a variety of apparel for all ages.
Best Pizza: Italian Pizzeria III
508 W. Franklin St. | italianpizzeria3.com
With what seems like a thousand different options for pizza on Franklin Street, finding the best out of all of them can be challenging. Look no further, because the people have spoken. According to our voters, IP3 is the spot to satisfy your pizza cravings in Chapel Hill. Offering a variety of fresh-dough specialty pies, the restaurant will have your pizza taste buds going wild. The Marrone brothers have been serving up authentic Italian pizza in Chapel Hill since 1980. Have an event coming up? IP3 caters and what’s better than an event with delicious pizza?
Best Male Athlete: Luke Maye
Luuuuuuke! Although Maye is best known for sending the Tar Heels to the Final Four in 2017, he is beloved for his hard work and leadership. The senior from Huntersville, North Carolina has earned his title as Best Male Athlete after four years of dedication to UNC basketball.
Best Female Athlete: Paris Kea
Consistently making All-ACC and racking in awards and accolades, Paris Kea takes the prize for Best Female Athlete. The redshirt senior holds the record for second-most average points per game at UNC.
Best bathrooms on campus: The Student Union
There is nothing worse than being stuck on campus without a nearby, reliable bathroom. Good thing the Union is located right in the center of campus. Head down to the basement for the best bathrooms on campus.
Best Place to Watch a Game: The Dean E. Smith Center
It’s game day, but do you know where you are watching? According to the UNC community, there’s no better place to watch any basketball game than in the Dean Dome itself. Best of luck to you when the ticket lottery rolls around.
Best Intramural/Club Sport: Women’s Rugby
With great success both during the regular season and in the postseason, the women’s rugby team has won the title of best intramural or club sport at UNC. An abundance of teamwork and camaraderie has made the team one of the premier women’s rugby programs in the South.
Best Place to Work Out: Student Recreation Center
208 South Road | campusrec.unc.edu
Looking to get in shape? Head over to the Student Recreation Center. There you can find a large weight room, an upstairs cardio room, two multipurpose studios and an abundance of group exercise classes. Get on your best #grind in the SRC.
Best Consignment: Rumors
106 N. Graham St. | shopatrumors.com
Are you hoping to expand your wardrobe on a college student budget? Not only does Rumors offer the perfect vintage chic style, but the consignment store also fits most student budgets. Whether you’re looking for concert attire, party costumes or even formal wear, Rumors has you covered.
Best Professor: Matt Andrews
Matt Andrews, a department lecturer and advisor in the Department of History, is not only the best professor but he also teaches the two best classes, according to UNC students. Go ahead, add History of Olympics and Baseball and American History to your shopping cart with Andrews as your instructor.
Best UNC tradition: Rushing Franklin Street
It’s hard to think about rushing Franklin Street without getting chills, because the experience is THAT great. Nothing is finer than the feeling of beating Duke and rushing the streets. You will certainly be out of breath and your feet will probably hurt, but don’t worry – you won’t even notice.
Best Major/Minor Combo: Political science and ... literally anything
To be a political science major is to be a double major and/or minor. Is it even possible to study poli-sci on its own? Either way, political science and literally anything make for the best major/minor combo.
Best campus event: Any basketball game
Basketball school? Dean Dome? Yep, that’s right. UNC is known for its outstanding basketball tradition. Not only is the Dean Dome hype on game day, but all of Chapel Hill is filled with excitement. Whether you’re watching the game at a bar, at home, at a frat or even at the library, the atmosphere is lively. Eventually, you won’t be able to listen to Jump Around without dancing.
Best Place to Study: Davis Library
Let’s face it – we’re all here to study. We try to convince ourselves that we can study at home, but when that one snack turns into five and that 30-minute nap turns into three hours, you know it’s time to switch up your study spot. UNC students say the place to go is Davis Library. In addition to eight floors of study space, there are lounges, group study rooms and individual cubicles.
Best Date Spot: TRU Deli and Wine Bar
114 Henderson St. | trudeli.com
Take our advice – if you’re trying to impress a special someone, take them to TRU. Not only is TRU affordable, it’s also delicious. With the bright string lights, the lounge chairs, the outdoor seating and the bar, the atmosphere emits the perfect date night vibes.
Best “Most Chapel Hill” Hangout & Best Bar Overall: He’s Not Here
112 1/2 W. Franklin St. | hesnotherenc.com
Everyone knows where to head on a sunny day in Chapel Hill. The place where the Blue Cups never run dry is the perfect Chapel Hill hangout and the best bar overall. With a casual and comfortable atmosphere, this famous bar is a must see.
Best Place to Get Engaged: The Old Well
UNC is the Old Well. So, why not get down on one knee at the ultimate Chapel Hill monument? The UNC community says there is no other place to pop the question.
Best Brunch: Elmo’s Diner
200 N. Greensboro St. | elmosdiner.com
Brunchin’? Hop on over to a longtime favorite, located right in nearby Carrboro. Elmo’s not only provides a cute diner scene, but according to the UNC community, it also has the best brunch around.
Best Lunch Bargain: Hibachi & Company
155 E. Franklin St. | hibachicompany.com
It’s been around for a year now, but the hype for Hibachi & Company hasn’t died down just yet. If you’re headed downtown on your lunch break, our voters say you’ll get the best bang for your buck here.
Best Meal After Midnight: Cosmic Cantina
128 E. Franklin St.
When that midnight hunger strikes and you’re on the hunt for some grub, head down Franklin Street for some delicious Cosmic. It’s a cheap and deliciously unhealthy option for those midnight snack cravings. Open until 3 a.m., it’s a go-to after a night out.
Best Vegetarian/Vegan Meal: Mediterranean Deli
410 W. Franklin St. | mediterraneandeli.com
Worried about heading to a restaurant that doesn’t meet your dietary restrictions? No worries! At Med Deli you can find delicious food for both vegetarians and vegans. Med Deli is fresh, local and full of variety.
Best Place to Celebrate an Anniversary, Best Spot for a Private Event, Best Place to Take Your Parents, Best Patio: Top of the Hill
100 E. Franklin St. | thetopofthehill.com
Where better to celebrate in Chapel Hill than Top of the Hill? Our voters say TOPO, with its great views and crowd-pleasing menu, is the best in not one but four categories.
Best Coffee Shop: Carolina Coffee Shop
138 E. Franklin St. | carolinacoffeeshop.com
Great vibes, even better coffee. Carolina Coffee Shop is a Chapel Hill classic. Looking for a place to study or just hang with friends? Carolina Coffee Shop is the place for you.
Best Burger: Al’s Burger Shack
516 W. Franklin St. | alsburgershack.com
Is anyone surprised that Al’s Burger Bar has taken the lead… again? Al’s has continuously been voted the No. 1 burger in Chapel Hill, and their burgers and fries never disappoint.
Best Mexican food: Monterrey
1722 Fordham Blvd. | 104 Highway 54 | monterreychapelhill.com
No matter where you are in Orange County, you’re never too far from Monterrey. Whether you’re after margaritas or tacos, our voters say it’s the best place to go.
Best Asian food: Spicy 9
140 W. Franklin St. | spicy9chapelhill.com
Nothing beats buy-one-get-one sushi at Spicy 9. Whether it’s date night, a birthday party or a UNC game day, Spicy 9 has the atmosphere to meet all needs for every occasion. There are plenty of options for people who don’t like sushi, too.
Best Drink Specials: Might As Well
206 W. Franklin St. | mightaswellbarandgrill.com
Thursday nights on Franklin Street, there’s only one place to be: Might as Well for $1 well drinks. More of a beer drinker? Come in Wednesday for $5 mugs. Looking to step things up a notch? Monday is the night for you, featuring $3 margaritas and $5 mojitos.
Best Sandwich: Merritt’s Grill
1009 S. Columbia St. | merrittsstoreandgrill.com
The sun is out and it’s lunch time on a Friday. Where are you heading? Trust us when we say you should make your way to Merritt’s, a Chapel Hill classic. The outdoor atmosphere is perfect and the BLT well deserves the title of best sandwich.
Best Movie Theater: The Varsity
123 E. Franklin St. | varsityonfranklin.com
At only $4 a ticket, our voters say the historic movie theater on Franklin Street has earned the title of best movie theater. The Varsity is a great budget-friendly date spot, too.
Best Live Music Venue: Cat’s Cradle
300 E. Main St. | catscradle.com
All the best college tours stop in Chapel Hill, which means all the best artists perform at Cat’s Cradle, only a few blocks away in Carrboro.
Best Performing Arts Space: Memorial Hall
When performing on campus, there’s one venue that stands out among the rest. Whether you’re seeing a student performance or a visiting artist, check out Memorial Hall, our voters’ favorite performing arts space and home to Carolina Performing Arts.
Best Cocktails: The Crunkleton
320 W. Franklin St. | thecrunkleton.com
Looking to change up your cocktail game? The Crunkleton is the place to go. One of Chapel Hill’s most sophisticated bars, it offers a wide range of liquors and an exclusive list of signature cocktails, perfect for happy hour, a date night or a nightcap.
Best Brewery: Carolina Brewery
460 W. Franklin St. | carolinabrewery.com
Carolina Brewery’s wide range of thirst-quenching beers sealed the deal to win best brewery this year. There is something on tap for every beer lover.
Best Bathroom on Franklin Street: MidiCi
100 E. Franklin St. | mymidici.com
It is hard to come by privacy in a Franklin Street bathroom, but MidiCi has it covered. Their stalls close all the way, and MidiCi’s are easily the largest bathrooms downtown.
Place most likely to get towed: Literally anywhere and everywhere
No feeling is worse than running into a store on Franklin Street for two minutes, walking back to your car and realizing it is already gone. Seems like you are most likely to get towed literally anywhere and everywhere in this town. Take our advice, you’re better off leaving your car at home.
Best Place to Get Your Haircut: Arrow
133 W. Franklin St. | guaranteedshorterhair.com
Look good, feel good. Both can happen at Arrow on Franklin Street. With affordable prices and professional services, Arrow earned best place to get a haircut. Not to mention, they offer complimentary beer.
Best Mechanic: Chapel Hill Tire
502 W. Franklin St. | chapelhilltire.com
Broken vehicle? Let Chapel Hill Tire help! As an award-winning full-service auto repair shop, Chapel Hill Tire is ready at your service. The best mechanic in the area focuses on honesty, transparency and real prices, making everyone’s life a little easier.