When visiting a new city, we make a point of visiting local-favorite restaurants for a feel for what it’s like to live there. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on a Sunday, we grabbed a table with friends at the oldest continually running restaurant in the state: Carolina Coffee Shop.
What started in 1922 as a student post office eventually became Carolina Coffee Shop. Since then, the restaurant has become a staple in Chapel Hill. It is quaint and inviting, with clean white paint, relaxing outdoor seating, and wall art that reflects nearly a century of city history. Pulling the heavy wooden door open, I was surprised how busy the tiny place is, but without feeling crowded or overwhelming. Interior tables are spaced out so customers can hear personal conversations without feeling the need to yell. Carolina Coffee Shop prides itself on embracing its roots AND adding bits of modern flair to both its menu and its restaurant design.
After being seated, our group ordered coffee and a few mimosas before looking over the brunch menu. I love the biscuits and gravy. House-made sausage gravy is layered over flaky butter biscuits, and comes with two eggs. The biscuit is light and fluffy — a perfect base to soak up savory, thick gravy.
Smashed avocado is a healthful, hearty plate of buttered toast topped with a smashed organic avocado, coarse salt, and toasted peppercorns, alongside a bright arugula salad with crunchy vegetables and a slice of lemon. For an additional (and well worth it) few bucks, you can add bacon crumbles or eggs. If you’re looking to kickstart your weekend with fresh veggies, this is the dish for you.
Eggs Benedict is a toasted English muffin layered with crisp prosciutto, soft poached eggs, creamy homemade hollandaise, and your choice of either crunchy hash browns or warm blue corn grits. What makes this age-old favorite special is the exquisitely fresh prosciutto. Produced by North Carolina butcher company Lady Edison, it is buttery, thinly sliced, and practically melts in your mouth.
If you’re seeking brunch with hometown feel, Carolina Coffee Shop is more than worth a stop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.