There’s a time and a place for fancy, expensive burgers, but when you’re looking for the opposite, there’s nowhere better than Al’s. Their classic cheeseburger is a thick patty cooked medium, topped with cheddar, and served on a squishy potato bun for under $9. You can choose from options like the Kenny J with bacon, BBQ sauce, and pimento cheese, or one of the two meatless burgers, a sweet potato and black bean patty and a caramelized roasted cauliflower one, that really hold their own. There are three locations within a 10-minute drive from the UNC campus, and they’re all pretty small, with just a handful of tables and patios, so expect people to hover (or just ask if they can squeeze onto one end of your table) if you linger.
Alex Caterson/The Splinter Group