Take a Day and Explore Sights, Sips and Shopping

Smoked Pork shank with potlicker rice grits
Drive Time

From Holly Springs: 40 minutes

From Fuquay-Varina: 50 minutes

Delicious restaurants, interesting bars, lively downtown: phrases that could just as easily be descriptors for the town of Chapel-Hill as for its next-door neighbor Carrboro. Whereas Chapel-Hill life is largely shaped by UNC-Chapel Hill, Carrboro has developed a unique vibe that’s more artist than academia.

Hit these highlights on your next day trip.


CrossTies Barbecue

Enjoy lunch or dinner inside a vintage train car at crossties barbecue restaurant.

Executive chef and owner Drew Moore has cooked in kitchens in Manhattan and Boston, and now champions a food and beverage revival in small-town Carrboro. His eateries pay homage to the town’s history while showcasing inventive, globally-inspired menus.

Crystal chandeliers and wood panneling evoke vintage vibes inside the renovated train car.

CrossTies Barbecue may be the most unique of his four establishments, housed in the old Carrboro Railways Station with seating in two renovated train cars. The cars overlook operational railroad tracks; lucky diners may experience the train rumbling by during their meal. In between the vintage train cars sits the restaurant’s bar, with soaring ceilings and a full wall of glass windows. The bright, modernity of this central terminal contrasts beautifully with the cozy dimness of the train cars.

Pork belly pastrami with red cabbage sauerkraut and pumpernickel crackers

Moore also brings a contrast of old and new into his menu of inventive Southern favorites. Don’t expect only standard North Carolina-style barbeque — though you will find plenty of slow-smoked options, all cooked in-house — there is plenty more to be had, such as Texas-style brisket, smoked portobello mushrooms and even smoked tofu.

Try the pork belly pastrami with red cabbage sauerkraut and pumpernickel crackers, a CrossTies reinvention of the reuben sandwich. Or the impressively presented pork shank served on a bed of potlicker rice grits. Potlicker is the the braising liquid left after cooking collard greens. That flavorful stock is then used to cook rice ground to resemble grits.
For an Encore: Sister restaurant Venable Rotisserie Bistro or nearby Tandem.


Carrboro Farmers’ Market

Goods sold at the carrboro farmers’ market must be produced within 50 miles.

The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is a true showcase of local farms and artisans, as any goods offered must be produced within 50 miles. The market requires that an owner of each business be present each week, giving customers the chance to meet, mingle and get to know the producers. Pasture-raised meats, farm fresh eggs and produce, cheese, bread and hand crafted items are all available.

Recent renovations added a fenced-in playground and on-site restrooms. Open year-round on Saturdays, and Wednesdays during the spring and summer.

Cat’s Cradle

A favorite local venue, the Cat’s Cradle has brought live music to Carrboro for more than 40 years, and helped to shape the town into a music-centric destination. Past performers include bands as diverse as Nirvana, John Mayer, Joan Baez and Iggy Pop. With a capacity of 750, shows at the Cat’s Cradle offer an intimate setting and a chance to catch many up-and-coming artists.


WomanCraft Gifts

Pittsboro artist Janie Galloway specializes in painted stroke work on glass and wood. She is one of several local artists who sell their art at WomanCraft Gifts in Carrboro.

Conveniently situated off Main Street is this one-stop shop for gifts, jewelry, art, greeting cards, decor items and countless more. Everything is made by hand by a female artisan from the local area.

“We are a true co-op,” says Janie Galloway, painter of decorative glassware and wood. “The members run the store.”

WomanCraft has 26 members who display their handcrafted wares, each artisan also works weekly shifts in the shop and helps handle the business tasks, like ordering supplies, organizing the displays and reviewing new members.

“Carborro has always been a community of artists and students,” says Douglas Odom, standing next to her display of longleaf pine baskets, which can take as long as 12 hours to complete.

Formed in the 1970s, WomanCraft moved to its current location in Carrboro about 5 years ago. Karen Graves, creator of the popular Chapel Hill Toffee was an original member.

With a wide range of styles and disciplines, it’s the perfect place to see local art, pick up a unique gift and meet the women creating the art.

Womancraft member Douglas Odom creates coiled baskets using Longleaf pine needles.

P.S. Yummy small-batch coffee shop and roastery, Gray Squirrel Coffee Company, is next door.

La Boutique Lane

Sandra Deschamps, owner, La Boutique Lane

Another great shopping destination is Carr Mill Mall, which has several boutiques, cafés and offices under one roof. One of the prettiest is La Boutique Lane, an upscale home decor and gift boutique. Paintings by the owner, Sandra Deschamps, are one of the most popular offerings. Customers also come for DesChamps’ well-trained eye for finding home accessories and furnishings that are fresh and colorful. Other locally made gifts and jewelry are also on display.

For an encore: Sofia’s Boutique, also in Carr Mill Mall.



To experience the free-spirited side of Carrboro, stop into Krave Kava Bar & Tea Lounge, the only one of its kind in the area.

Kava, a beverage made of ground roots, is traditionally served in coconut shells.

Krave serves kava, a little-known beverage made from pulverized roots that grow in tropical islands like Fiji and Hawaii. In these Polynesian islands, drinking kava with friends and visitors is a special honor, says owner Elizabeth Gardner (no, not that Elizabeth Gardner). Krave’s bathroom is decorated with pictures of celebrities and dignitaries, like George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II, drinking kava.

Kava will impart a sense of relaxation and lift the mood of it’s drinkers, Gardner says, and can be consumed as an alternative to alcohol with a lot lower risk of overconsumption or hangover.

Take heed, this is not a beverage one drinks for the taste, which is similar to … well, dirt. Gardner and Josh Pardue, the bar’s operations manager, have created their own blended “cocktails” to make the drink more palatable. Their specialty creation, the Krush, uses pineapple juice as a base.

The feel-good effects of kava, and the other herbal teas on sale at Krave, have amassed a following of loyal regulars. Friendly staff are happy to educate newcomers on the offerings and their effects.

Elizabeth Gardner, owner, Krave Kava Bar

Vecino Brewing

For a more traditional N.C. experience, head over to Vecino Brewing Co., which offers lager, stout, ale and of course, IPA, brewed on-site. Sit outside and try the creative farm-to-bar food menu’s Cup O’ Bacon or Beef and Mac Sandwich with braised short ribs and macaroni and cheese.

For An Encore: Steel String Brewery or the Speakeasy at Tyler’s Taproom

Map it Out:

CrossTies Barbecue
201 East Main St., Carrboro
(919) 918-3923

Carrboro Farmers’ Market
301 W Main St., Carrboro
(919) 280-3326

Cat’s Cradle
300 E Main St., Carrboro
(919) 967-9053

WomanCraft Gifts
360 E. Main St., Carrboro
(919) 929-3300

La Boutique Lane
200 N Greensboro St, Carrboro
(919) 518-9318
@LaBoutiqueLane on Facebook

Krave Kava Bar & Tea Lounge
105 W. Main St, Carrboro
(919) 408-9596

Vecino Brewing Company
300 E Main St., Carrboro
(919) 537-9591

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