Sutton’s Drug Store (suttonsdrugstore.com, 159 E. Franklin St., 919-942-5161) — and yes, it is a drugstore — is a Tar Heel tradition. Basketball jerseys hang on the walls and in the front window (including, of course, Michael Jordan’s No. 23), alongside hundreds of photos of Suttons diners — a tradition that started in 1983, although Suttons itself opened in 1923. On game days, expect to wait in line for the store’s burgers ($6.09 for a single burger with potato chips), egg salad sandwiches ($4.99) or chocolate milkshakes ($3.99). Fans of vintage sodas can indulge in hard-to-find varieties such as buckleberry or sarsaparilla ($1.89). Stay alert for days with hot-dog specials, when two franks and fries cost only $3.89. Yes, the burgers are simple and the soup all comes straight from Campbells, but you certainly know what you’re getting here: Southern hospitality and a reliable lunch counter. On your way out, pick up a box of Chapel Hill Toffee ($6.95 for a five-ounce package).
Even though Lantern Restaurant (lanternrestaurant.com, 423 W. Franklin St., 919-969-8846) has an Asian fusion menu, it’s one with a North Carolina pedigree, because chef-owner Andrea Reusing emphasizes its farm-to-table, locally sourced and seasonal menu, which might include pork or vegetable dumpling appetizers (appetizers from $7 to $14) or chaat, an Indian savory snack with roasted carrots, lentils and cauliflower, served with mint chutney ($12). For entrees (ranging from $25 to $32), try the Vietnamese-style whole fish or the pork chops with papaya sauce. Don’t be put off by the building’s squat brick exterior. This small space has a cozy bar in the back serving wine and cocktails such as the Dark and Stormy (ginger ale and rum) and the Fin in Vierno, a version of a hot toddy, both for $10. The hot chocolate cake ($10) is always on the menu, but a newer popular dessert is a pistachio panna cotta with blood-orange caramel and pistachio brittle for $10. All menu items are subject to availability and the season, but you can leaf through Reusing’s cookbook, “Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes,” for an expanded sense of the restaurant’s possibilities.
Bruno is a writer based in the District. Find her on Twitter: @brunodebbie.
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