Initials of past patrons and various other carvings cover the tables like birthmarks. Every scratch builds on the last, revealing the pale underbelly of the wood. The walls are covered in aluminum and plastic signs. Some – glowing – shout, “Yuengling,” “Sierra Nevada” and less popular beers I don’t recognize.
The first time I went to Linda’s Bar & Grill, I didn’t order food. I was there to work on an essay for creative writing, so, naturally, I ordered a beer. Actually, a beer blend, “Black and Tan,” Guinness floated over pale ale.
Since that first time at Linda’s, I’ve been many times, and each time for something different.
There were friends’ 21st birthdays, casual dinners and Carolina basketball games. There was the time I saw an old professor eating at the tables outside.
But the best part about Linda’s is the drunchies: drunk munchies. And you don’t have to be drunk to enjoy them.
They serve classic cheese fries: crinkle cut potatoes topped with cheddar and jack cheese, crispy bacon and scallions. You can get them with a side of peppercorn and parmesan ranch, making them even more addictive.
You can also get fried brussels sprouts (if you think you don’t like brussels sprouts, try these) with a side of Sriracha aioli.
And there are all the other snacks you could possibly want at 2am. Chicken fingers, spinach dip, wings, hot dogs, etc. But I almost always order the loaded sweet potato tots. They’re the cheese fries’ older cousin, and they’re amazing. But I always get them without the bacon because (and I should have mentioned this earlier) I’ve been a vegetarian for about five years.
The tots themselves aren’t anything particularly special. Sure, they’re better than the frozen ones (soft and pillowy on the inside and nicely crusted on the outside), but what sets these tots apart from others is Linda’s itself.
Linda’s is a bar that isn’t just a bar. And the food isn’t just drunk food. It’s Roma salads, salmon cakes, avocado sandwiches and pulled pot roast. It’s people dedicated to local produce and meat and beer.
So, if you haven’t been to Linda’s, it’s worth checking out. And don’t be intimidated by all the grad students congregated outside. They won’t bite.
LINDA’S BAR & GRILL: 203 East Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514, (919) 933-6663, www.lindas-bar.com . Open Mon – Fri: 11:30am – 2am, Sat – Sun: 4pm-2am. $. Beer, wine and spirits. Credit cards accepted. DOWNBAR hours vary.