A Hokie's Guide to Enjoying the Sights and Sounds of Chapel Hill
by Conor Gough, 11/4/04

As November approaches and the leaves turn orange and maroon, one thing is clear, the ACC football conference race is in full swing. Of the many games that will play a deciding role in which teams are offered bowl bids and which teams are only offered second helpings of a holiday dinner, one is the matchup between the Hokies and the North Carolina Tar Heels on November 6th in Chapel Hill.

The expectation is that many Virginia Tech fans will make the cross-state journey into North Carolina to cheer on the Hokies in this pivotal game. This article is intended to provide some insight on how Tech fans can best enjoy their time in Chapel Hill. As a Virginia Tech alumnus and current third-year UNC medical student, I have had the privilege of experiencing two of the best college town atmospheres in Blacksburg and Chapel Hill, and I am certain that Hokie fans will feel right at home enjoying all the festivities that Franklin Street has to offer.

After residing in Chapel Hill for several years, I have come to know that on Franklin Street (the equivalent of Main Street in Blacksburg, only much larger) there are always three things present: 1) gorgeous co-eds wearing baby blue; 2) ubiquitous tobacco use; and 3) a wide variety of great restaurants and bars.

Below is a discussion of ten of my favorite places for eating and socializing, all of which are located within a half-mile radius of one another and are well within walking distance of Kenan Stadium.

Letís start with Heís Not Here, a favorite among undergrads and alumni, located at the end of the alley between I Love NY Pizza and Caribou Coffee. This bar is famous for its "Blue Cups", holding 33 ounces of beer and ranging in cost from four dollars for Bud, Miller and Yuengling to $6.50 for Guiness. With its beautiful outdoor patio, there is lots of room to socialize, listen to live music if weather permits, and possibly even catch a glimpse of Michael Jordan, since it is one of his favorite spots. In case any of you are wondering, the name of this establishment comes from the fact that both owners were getting divorces at the time of the barís advent and their wives were calling around trying to find them; thus, when answering the phone, the response was always "heís not here."

Moving on to Top of the Hill, an excellent place to savor fine American cuisine or drink local beers from the restaurantís own microbrewery. With its outdoor patio that overlooks Franklin Street, customers can savor brews such as Kenan Summer Lager or Chuck Stoneís Black and Tan while enjoying a beautiful view of downtown Chapel Hill. If beer is not your thing, they serve a wide variety of mixed drinks, including Appletinis (sour apple mix and vodka) and Raz Tea (a combo of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, chambord, Sprite and sour mix). Reservations are available as the wait is usually 15 to 20 minutes for walk-ins. For dining options, the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is a popular choice, though I recommend my personal favorite, French Quarter Jambalaya. A dish of "shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage tossed with risotto, onions, peppers tomatoes and roasted okra". Entrees range from $10 to $20.

Our next stop is Kurama, a unique sushi-style restaurant, featuring a conveyer belt which rotates all sushi dishes by patrons in a continuous manner. This allows customers to view and chose their food immediately eliminating almost all waiting time. All of the food is freshly prepared right in front of you and delicious noodle soups and appetizers are available on request. There are many vegetarian options available such as Edamame (steamed salted soy beans) and vegetable egg rolls. Donít forget to try the Sake to warm the soul on a cold November night. Prices for individual sushi dishes range from $1 to $5.

Shifting gears, we go on to one of the best sports bars in all of Chapel Hill; complete with 24 TVs for a full Saturday of football watching, Woodyís boasts a menu that any tailgater is sure to enjoy. Their selection includes such southern favorites as the Shrimp Po Boy sandwich, Pulled BBQ platter, Burgers, Fried Chicken and its famous wings, which comes in orders of 12, 24 and 48. Their drink specials include "cheap pints" of beer for $2.50 and there is no cover charge. Entrees range from $7 to $11.

For Hokie fans who prefer a more laid back atmosphere, there is Lucyís located on Henderson Street, which connects to Franklin. Whether you want to enjoy music from one of the local bands or DJs that play at Lucyís on Fridays and Saturdays or just enjoy the cool November air with a drink on either the upper or lower patio, Lucyís is quite a favorite among the student crowd. There is a $2.00 cover charge with ladies receiving free admission on Fridays. As a recent Tech graduate (Class of 2002), I would definitely recommend that undergrad Hokies and recent Tech alumni, who are making the trip, be sure to stop in and check this place out.

The Library is also a favorite among the student crowd for its live music and somewhat spacious atmosphere. While I do not frequent this establishment, I know that it is a favorite among some of my medical school friends, who are UNC alumni. As I see it, if you can spend six years in a town and still go to the same bar and have a good time, it must be an excellent place.

Hokies in search of a good sandwich need go no further than McAlisterís, which specializes in sandwiches, salads and "spuds", offering plenty of options for a delicious lunchtime meal. They are known for turning two ordinary baked potatoes into a "Texas-Sized Spud". These spuds are flavored with your choice of bacon, pot roast, grilled chicken, beef and cheddar cheese. If potatoes arenít your thing, their sandwiches are absolutely great. My personal favorite is the Godfather, a steak sandwich topped with marinara sauce and provolone. Sandwiches range from $5 to $7.

Tech fans craving Mexican food might want to drop by Banditos, located in the heart of Franklin Street. You canít go wrong at Banditos whether decide to dine on their "Texanís Fajita", containing chicken, steak and shrimp, or their scrumptious quesadillas. Hungry fans can take the "El Gigante" challenge and attempt to devour an eight pound burrito. The cost of El Gigante is $15.95, the free t-shirt and full feeling that you will have after finishing it is priceless. Other entrees range from $6 to $8.

Mediterranean food lovers can head over to Aladdinís for lamb, beef or chicken gyros served with hummus, fatoosh salad, cucumber yogurt sauce and pita bread. A preferred spot among Chapel Hill vegetarians, Aladdinís also offers classic Greek favorites such as grilled vegetable panini, falafel and tabouli salad. Entrees are fairly priced and Baklava is always available for those who still have room after their meal.

Bringing our journey down Franklin Street to a close, we end with Time Out, located in University Square on Franklin Street, which prides itself on being open 24 hours a day and always serving breakfast. So for all Hokie fans in need of something to nibble on at 4:00 a.m., after a night of drinking, Time Out offers fried chicken, biscuits, cracker-jack shrimp and other southern favorites.

In addition to my advice on where to eat, drink and be merry, I will end this column with my opinion on the game. UNC is coming off its biggest win in school history and now has a legitimate chance for a bowl bid. Tech, on the other hand, also came away this past week with a huge win in the form of a stunning comeback against a good Georgia Tech team in Atlanta. The team showed a lot of heart being able to come from behind and overcame a lot of adversity (including several instances of horrible offensive play calling by Bryan Stinespring). This contest is guaranteed to have significant effects on both teamís postseason chances as well as the ACC race. I look forward to seeing a lot of orange and maroon in Kenan Stadium this weekend.

Writers give predictions, as a medical student, I will give a prognosis:

Prognosis: Virginia Tech 38, North Carolina 20


          

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