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The best pre-game meals in Chapel Hill

Here are our three favorite ideas for a quick bite to eat before screaming your lungs out at the next UNC game.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed some of the best restaurants that Chapel Hill has to offer. There are a lot of great options on Franklin Street and beyond, but what if you want a quick bite to eat before the next Carolina football or basketball game? That gets a little bit tricky, so we are here to help provide some ideas of some great places to grab lunch/dinner at before you cheer on the Tar Heels.

For those that read our last post, you may notice that one particular location made our list once again. There’s a very specific reason for that, which we will get into now.


Let’s see if I can do this without going on a full-on rant about chicken cheddar biscuits again.

Time-out is one of the best restaurants in Chapel Hill, but it is also one of the most accessible places as well. Located right on Franklin Street, Time-out has good-quality food for cheap, and you can get it quickly if you are in a hurry. All of their options are already made when you walk in the door, so you just have to tell them what you would like, they’ll load up a styrofoam container for you, and you are all set to eat your fill before screaming your lungs out at the next game.

A good recommendation if you are especially hungry is the Man vs. Food special, which comes with a chicken cheddar biscuit, mac & cheese, and a medium beverage. This is my personal go-to when I am starving, and you will understand why once you get to Chapel Hill and check it out!


One of the more unique food options on UNC’s campus is Sutton’s, which is a pharmacy located on Franklin Street. When you walk in the door, you will see loads of UNC memorabilia plastered everywhere, as well as signed UNC jerseys hanging from the ceiling. It’s a great place to go if you are coming from out of town and want to see some cool stuff, but they also have really good food as well.

On Sutton’s menu you will find breakfast options such as eggs, pancakes, bacon, and breakfast sandwiches. For lunch and dinner they also have a variety of sandwich options, hot dogs, burgers, pitas, wraps, and salads. In need of some dessert? They also have ice cream and milkshakes, as well as some candy options if you want a less messy but still tasty treat. Sutton’s has been a hot spot for UNC fans since 1923, and it’s definitely worth a try the next time you are in town.

Cook Out

One bizarre fact that I found out when I moved to the Research Triangle almost ten years ago is that Chapel Hill doesn’t like doing drive-thrus. That made me quickly come to the realization that getting a Cook Out likely wouldn’t happen, but as of this year they finally opened a location. This walk-in version of the popular North Carolina restaurant features all of the burgers and goodies that you love, and yes, you get it all really cheap. For those that have never been before, I recommend getting a Cook Out tray, which includes a sandwich, two sides, and a drink. Have you ever had a burger and a corn dog in the same meal? It sounds a little odd, but trust me, it is amazing.

Cook Out is also well-known for their shakes, and I’ll be honest: their menu is overwhelming. If you have an idea for a shake, there’s a non-zero chance that they have it on their menu, and they also have seasonal shakes that they rotate throughout the year. My two favorites are the peach cobbler shake and pretty much any of the cheesecake shakes. This is an excellent pre-game meal, but be warned: I have never been to a Cook Out restaurant that wasn’t super busy, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time if you plan to go.

That about covers it! There are a number of other great options for pre-game meals, and if you have a favorite you would like to share let us know in the comments below!

Happy eating, and Go Heels!