Gluten Free Chapel Hill, North Carolina
This will be a two-part post featuring some amazing food opportunities awaiting you in North Carolina.
We start in Chapel Hill (center of state) and end in Asheville (west side of state overlooking Blue Ridge Mountains).
These two towns have really taken gluten free by storm! All restaurants had GF items indicated on the menu. We did not ask any detailed questions (this was my daughter’s desire). She was diagnosed as celiac in the second grade and is now a college senior. It has been difficult for her over the years. Initially she was asymptomatic and cheated on the diet in younger years, without symptoms it is tough to believe you can’t eat normal food. She has followed the GF diet carefully for the past 3 years and now has a reaction when “glutened”. She ate successfully at all of the restaurants shown in these posts without any ill effect. I think these restaurants take gluten free seriously but you may want to ask questions if you decide to visit.
The Carolina Inn
The Carolina Inn is a great place to stay in Chapel Hill when visiting UNC. It is a favorite for alums and locals alike and it’s steeped in history.
It was gifted to the university at some point and revenues from the Inn support the UNC library now. Throughout the Inn you can learn about its’ history from old photos and artifacts that line the walls.
We happened to be there during the ACC basketball games and met several friendly alums in the original bar at the Inn that was built once Prohibition was lifted.
The bar was filled with rabid UNC fans! (including my daughter)
We ate dinner in their restaurant the first night. The dinner was good to be sure—we had a Southern staple of shrimp and grits that was awesome—but be forewarned the portions are small for the pricing.
It was just the right amount of food for me though.
Hillsborough Gluten Free Dining
There is a great little guidebook you will want to have (maybe even before your visit) from Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau. Not only is this a great website for planning but you can request literature and they will send you the latest 63 page guide that includes maps of all the surrounding areas. I wish we had the guidebook in the car from day one, it would have saved us from visiting Hillsborough on a Sunday morning when EVERYTHING was closed—- except the most important place was open…..Antonia’s!
Hillsborough is about a 15 minute drive from Chapel Hill and it was a political and cultural center during the Revolutionary War. Their Visitors Center is in the Alexander Dickson House which was the last headquarters of the confederacy. Signs and historical markers line Churton Street, the main street of historic downtown Hillsborough.
Antonia’s was a gem of a find for us.
It was comfortable and friendly and the food… spectacular.
This Corned Beef Hash with Fried Eggs was exceptional.
Our other dish was an omelet with housemade mozzarella, fresh tomato, spinach, and mushrooms.
If you go on a Sunday, time it so that you can stop in at the Visitors Center which opens at noon.
I loved this little Republic of Tea presentation along with the creamer and tea kettle. Antonia’s is full of little touches that enhance your experience.
Chapel Hill Gluten Free Dining
Our second dinner in town was impressive in that for $20 we were able to sample a variety of offerings from the Mediterranean Deli.
This place is notable for becoming Gluten Free Certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group which means they visited the kitchen and inspected the operation to ensure that best practices are used.
The place is huge and it was packed!
It was easy to order and find a table. We were drawn there for the gluten free pita bread. They also have packaged versions available to go and their pita is sold in local grocers as well.
We ordered a Fatayer which is a traditional Lebanese pastry often stuffed with spinach, meat and/or cheese. This version was served flat like a pizza. The crust was crunchy and very good.
The toppings include lamb, onions, parsley, Middle Eastern spices, mozzarella and feta.
Our other plate was a Beef Tenderloin Kebob which comes with gluten free pita and a choice of two sides from their enormous display case of salads and vegetables.
We chose sides of Sautéed Cauliflower and Cabbage Spinach Salad–both very good.
We met up with friends for a 12-mile bike ride on country roads in Carrboro but I failed to take pictures. Aside from busier traffic it felt like a cross between Lopez Island in the San Juans in Washington State and the outskirts of the Dallas Ft Worth area (yes that is an odd combination but I have spent lots of time in both places and this had elements of both). It was a sunny day and our friend hosted a lunch at her home serving us a lovely salad from a Kathy Casey cookbook! She also drove us all around the area showing us where grad students typically live and some of the many grand homes that surround the campus.
Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub
There are lots of fun bars in town like Top of the Hill and Spanky’s…..they seemed to be where students and alums liked to hang out but my 22 year old just couldn’t see herself hangin’ there with her mom so we skipped them both. It was spring break for UNC so the whole town seemed very quiet.
Our third night was at Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub….a little early celebration for St Paddy’s Day for us. The lighting was dim but yet again we had some GF options. This is their Balsamic Chicken with spinach, roasted red peppers, and feta.
On our last day we joined our friend for lunch at Sandwich.
Their Bacon, Apple, Mushrooms Sandwich was really good—I wish I had ordered a whole instead of the half sandwich with bean soup.
Portions are on the small side but the flavor was really good.
Our last dinner was at Buns. Their shakes were awesome, hamburgers were good and they have regular and sweet potato fries. Fries are thick cut.
It is always a treat to find a burger joint where you can eat everything gluten free. Kitchen staff overheard us talking about gluten free when we ordered and he asked if we were celiac so I think knowing that is helpful for them to really avoid any cross contamination.
Overall we had great dining experiences prepared by people who seem to really understand gluten free!!