I went on an unexpected adventure this weekend – my friend Kristen invited me to go to a Christmas parade with her, but when I got to her apartment she told me that her roommate had extra tickets to a food tour in Chapel Hill. Extra free tickets. Did I want to go? Absolutely! It may have been a cold and rainy, but nothing gets in the way of free entertainment for this girl.
The tour was run by Triangle Food Tours, which also runs tours in Durham, Cary and Raleigh (I’ve heard GREAT things about the Durham tour). Our group had about 10 people and we met up at The Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill.
I knew it was going to be a great tour when we reached our first destination: Mint. A contemporary Indian restaurant. It was love at first bite.
We were served a small plate of chicken tikka masala, garlic naan and a chicken sausage. The host also took us back into the kitchen to see the clay oven used to cook most of the food, which I thought was pretty cool.
Next we walked about 15 minutes into neighboring Carrboro and stopped at the Carrboro Beverage Company to sample 3 stout beers. Stouts are one of my favorite types of beer, so I was pretty excited. The Breakfast Stout was the best of the 3, but they all were dark, coffee-like and delicious.
The third stop was Glasshalffull. This restaurant was the group favorite by far. The atmosphere was cozy yet sophisticated, and the food was delightful. The chef presented the dish to us, which was salmon with raspberries and a cauliflower puree. The flavor combination worked perfectly, and it was paired with a delicious white wine.
We continued our journey in Carrboro and headed over to Panzanella, a community-owned Italian eatery. We were served a heaping plate of calamari with salsa verde that was so good, I was tempted to eat it by the spoonful and skip the calamari. I refrained for the sake of the group 🙂
Next up: Miel Bon Bons in Carr Mill Mall. They had several trays of samples for us, from colorful macaroons to mini cupcakes to hand-crafted chocolates. Everything was really good – please, like I’d have anything bad to say about chocolate.
At this point, we were pretty full. But not painfully full, which was good because we still had 2 more stops! We trekked back to Chapel Hill to Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe. This place has a really interesting history: Vimala made Indian food in her home and would share with people who would otherwise go hungry. Word spread about her delicious food, and the community got together to raise enough money to purchase a space for Vimala to open a restaurant. What a great story!
On the menu: a samosa with 2 dipping sauces (1 was cilantro-based and the other was spicy but I can’t remember what was in it). We also drank refreshing hibiscus tea.
Last but certainly not least was Sandwhich. We tried the avocado sandwich with a shot of carrot ginger soup. The sandwich was so-ho-ho good! And the rest of the menu looks incredible – they have a sandwich with roasted butternut squash that looked scrumptious.
The tour lasted about 3 1/2 hours and we were stuffed by the end. It was a really fun way to spend a weekend afternoon, and the tickets are pretty affordable – if you aren’t lucky like me and get a free one! This is a great idea to keep in mind for when family and friends come to visit.
2 random things I was thinking about during the tour:
- I really like the “gourmet” setting on my camera. It makes good food look even better.
- I have a newfound appreciation for food bloggers. I found it annoying to take a picture of everything I ate and give food bloggers major props for their effort.
What are some other great restaurants in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area that are worth checking out?