Best Places to Live

Chapel Hill, NC

Population: 61,712
Photo: Elaine's on Franklin

Chapel Hill is one of the best food cities in America. Chapel Hill's culinary scene combines the staples of great Southern cuisine, the intricacy of Asian fusion and the simplicity of a sandwich. Residents strongly support local restaurants in Chapel Hill, where foodies don't just have favorite chefs but favorite farmers. A bounty of local farms – more than 100 within a 50-mile radius of Chapel Hill – supply restaurants with fresh ingredients from pork shanks and short ribs to lamb and cheese.

Chefs like Bill Smith at Crook's Corner; Andrea Reusing, owner of Lantern; and Bret Jennings of Elaine's on Franklin, transform these raw ingredients into culinary works of art. Neal is credited with refining modern Southern cooking with dishes like red beans and fettuccine, catfish amandine and grilled hanger steak. Reusing, named one of the “15 Green Chefs” on Grist's international list, fuses Asian flavors with Southern traditions, coming up with tea-smoked chicken, tandoori-style farm lamb and red-cooked pork shank. Jennings gathers ingredients from about 20 local farms to prepare contemporary American dishes like cast-iron chicken breast, smoked pork tenderloin and trout.

Mama Dip's offers a true taste of traditional country cooking with items like chicken fried steak, gravy smothered pork chops and chitlins. 

C'est si Bon! cooking school teaches hands-on Old World culinary techniques to both kids and adults, while Pinnacle Culinary Arts Institute prepares future chefs for careers in food making.


Check out the other lists Chapel Hill made:

Top 10 College Towns, 2010

Top 10 Cities with the Best Music Scenes Outside Nashville, NYC and LA

Top 10 Soccer Cities