Great Cuisine in Chapel Hill’s Popular Mixed-Use Developments

ORANGE SLICES

By Laurie Paolicelli

Lew Hendricks of Old East Tavern and Poplar Cafe in East 54

East fifty-four and Meadowmont are mixed-use developments near Glen Lennox in Chapel Hill that blend residential, commercial, and cultural uses into one space. In doing so, these communities give residents and travelers a way to seamlessly integrate their work, home, and social lives to promote balance. East 54, also known as Environ Way, includes a trio of contemporary buildings that rise over the northern edge of UNC Finley Golf Course, connected by smooth brick and gleaming skywalks. Within their walls, the condominiums at East 54 offer a community. In addition to a beautiful and convenient locale, residents enjoy amenities galore, including community events, a fitness center, and a saltwater rooftop pool.

Meadowmont attracts people from all occupations and all parts of the country. But if one thing unites the folks who live here, it is an appreciation for the community’s self-contained quality. There is a lot to be said for not having to get into the car to grab a coffee, shop for groceries, get a haircut, or take a yoga class; for many residents, that freedom amounts to an incalculable lifestyle boost.

COVID events have brought an awareness of how special, and how fragile community and neighbors really are. Mixed-use developments have seen a steady resurgence since the 1990s, and these modern versions are providing a myriad of benefits—for residents, employers, and employees alike.

And then there are the restaurants.

Hawthorne and Wood

Hawthorne & Wood

“This is an amazing restaurant with service, presentation and food equal to that of a top restaurant in NYC or San Francisco. The flavor combinations were unmatched. The ambience and service were flawless. We shared a value-priced bottle of Spanish red — its delivery outmatched its price. 3 of us had the scallop’s dish which was amazing. 1 had the steak, cooked perfectly. 1 had a kid’s dish and was super excited. 1 had the flounder and found it excellent (coming from a seafood town so that says even more). Desert was equally amazing.”

 

Elements

Elements

“My family visited this cozy, delightful little restaurant for my husband’s birthday. We were all quite hungry, so we ordered appetizers, the breadbasket, and the spring roll appetizer. The breadbasket even had sweet bread, which tasted like an elegant little donut. We all got something different and shared, and I have to say the prawns were my favorite, with their delicate walnut honey sauce. Portions were generous and service was particularly good. Do not forget dessert. Again, the four we tried were all amazing, my favorite being the homemade sorbet trio.”

Old East Tavern

Old East Tavern

Old East Tavern moved into the former space left by Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. They also added, Bottle Rev Chapel Hill, the local location of the Raleigh-based bottle shop. In addition, the shop and taproom rebranded to become Old East Tavern which serves delicious food with an English-like pub and large private rooms for special occasions. Most recently, they added Poplar Café in the space adjoining the restaurant.

“KUDOS to the food! I had some amazing ribs…although an appetizer, it was perfect as an entree for me. Husband loved his Cubano sandwich and both of us enjoyed the mixed berry tart for dessert. It’s not too sweet and the crust is super light and soft.”

Coco

Coco

“Love the decor in this place, it’s so clean and chic looking! I got a small, iced maple brown sugar latte w oat milk and it was on the sweeter side, which I did not mind. It was good!! There is plenty of indoor seating as well as a few outdoor tables, and the atmosphere was very relaxing to be in. Will definitely be back to try their bagels and other drinks!”

Brenz Pizza Co.

Brenz Pizza Co.

“We fell in love with the artichoke sauce pizza. It is a very tasty creamy ranch dressing with artichoke, garlic, and white pepper. The Spinach Artichoke pizza it comes on is impressive. Olive oil (no red sauce), cheese, chicken, artichoke hearts, artichoke sauce, roasted red peppers, spinach, then topped with shaved Parmesan after the bake.”

Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar

Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar

Lime & Lemon Indian Grill is in Meadowmont in the former location occupied by ONE.

“I wanted a night out with some good spicy Indian food. It was great! The staff was truly kind and considerate. My husband was in a cast and crutches and the staff could not have been more helpful. We had Knockout Chicken and Vegetable Samosas that were terrific. The chicken was spicy and tender with peppers that were crunchy and delicious. It was so good we asked for a second order to take home. I had Lamb Vindaloo and Joe had Karaikudi Chicken Korma both were spicy and rich but not overwhelming and both delicious.”

Bin 54 Steak & Cellar

Bin 54 Steak & Cellar

“We came here to celebrate an accomplishment and it was a great celebration dinner. We (a party of 6) and had a lot of things. For appetizer we had the tuna tartare, calamari, and a cheeseboard. All were delicious and all the cheeses on the board were amazing. The calamari had a little bit of a kick to it, but it was delicious. Most of us had the ribeye with horseradish. Omg. YUM. Delicious! The shareables were onion rings, fries, spinach, and duck fat potatoes. All were amazing but their fries are so good! Finally, we ended with banana pudding, chocolate cake, and creme Brulé.”

Jujube

Jujube

“Since COVID, we have gotten takeout a couple of times and the food is always fresh, well packaged, and delicious as always. They do curbside pickup and will place the food in your trunk or back seat so there is no contact. I always get the soy (vegetarian) banh mi (it is so good I will miss it if I try anything else), my husband gets the chicken banh mi, and occasionally we get the salad rolls, which come with a delicious peanut sauce. I already cannot wait to get takeout again!”

In a pandemic world, restaurants have proven these past two years that they are not just places to get food, but also vital community spaces that provide connection. And neighborhoods that blend residential, commercial, cultural, and institutional uses into one space have helped residents to seamlessly integrate their work, home, and social lives during these times.

We hope to see you there.

*Reviews taken from public sites, including: TripAdvisor, Yelp, and emails to the Visitors Bureau.


Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.

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