More than a month ago, I asked fans throughout the ACC to come at me with some of their favorite places to eat, both around their favorite school and across the league.
The response, needless to say, was overwhelming.
I'd be here all day if I included every suggestion, but they were all looked at. For the most part, I tried to piece together seven options for every town in the league --- plus Greensboro (ACC basketball tournament).
Some ground rules on this.
* No large chains if at all possible. A place with one or two locations, or one centralized in a single city, is OK. A multi-state conglomerate, not so much.
* "Best eats" doesn't necessarily mean "finest food." There are some excellent restaurants on this list. Heck, a couple even require reservations. But a fan on a road trip isn't always going to want an exquisite culinary experience. Often, a high-value hole-in-the-wall with great food provides an even better experience.
* My experiences count. At least one nominee got squelched because of a lousy experience on a road trip. Quite a few made it because of personal experience, and they'll be noted accordingly.
* This isn't an all-encompassing list. There are other good places to get a meal in all of these towns. These just happen to be the ones I knew about already or had readers nominate. Have a better suggestion? Leave it in the comments and it'll get a look when this guide is revisited in another year.
BOSTON COLLEGE (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Anna's Taqueria (six locations, including 1412 Beacon Street, Brookline, 617-739-7300)
So after saying no chains if possible, the first restaurant listed is a local chain. But who's going to argue with $3.99 burritos that are popular among BC fans?
CitySide Bar and Grill (1960 Beacon Street, Brighton, 617-566-1002)
Received multiple recommendations. From the looks of things, a sports bar with an extensive menu not far from campus. Since it's in Boston, chances are you better enjoy watching the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots.
Eagles Deli (1918 Beacon Street, Brighton, 617-731-3232)
Burgers and sandwiches typically run between $6 and $9. But there's a Challenge Burger --- five pounds of burger, 20 pieces of bacon, 20 pieces of American cheese and five pounds of fries. Oh, and a soda and a pickle to wash it down with. Price: $55.
Golden Temple (1651 Beacon Street, Brookline, 617-277-9722)
A big-time D1scourse personal recommendation on this Chinese restaurant just a couple miles down the road from Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum. Arguably the best Chinese food I've ever had. The General Tso's Chicken is excellent, but there's really no way to go wrong --- and that includes the extensive appetizer menus as well.
Johnny's Luncheonette (30 Langley Road, Newton Centre, 617-527-3223)
Definitely a pregame choice --- it closes at 9 p.m. each day --- Johnny's serves breakfast all day.
Moogy's (154 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton, 617-254-8114)
Feeling like a cheesesteak? This is the place near BC to choose. Medium-sized subs fall in the $6-$8 range.
Presto Pizzeria (1936 Beacon Street, Brighton, 617-232-4545)
Good pizza relatively cheap. That isn't easy to find in a big city. Seems to edge nearby Pino's as the pizza of choice around BC.
CLEMSON (Clemson, S.C.)
Columbo's Pizza (203 Pendleton Road #1, Clemson, 864-654-1103)
It couldn't pass the eyeball test any better (check out that link), and it has large pizzas available for barely $10. That's a nice combination.
Esso Club (129 Old Greenville Highway #1, Clemson, 864-654-5120)
Just on the edge of campus --- a short walk from Littlejohn Coliseum --- the 77-year-old institution offers pizza, sandwiches, entrees ... well, just about everything.
Mac's Diner (404 Pendleton Road, Clemson, 864-654-2845)
A Clemson classic, Mac's opened in 1956 and remains a favorite to college students and locals.
Pixie & Bill's (1058 Tiger Boulevard, Clemson, 864-654-1210)
Home to lots of prime rib, steak and seafood and one of Clemson's finer dining establishments.
Seasons By The Lake (230 Madren Center Drive, Clemson, 864-656-7444)
If you can afford to stay in Clemson for a football weekend, you can probably afford to spring for one of the town's pricier culinary options --- this one as part of an on-campus Conference Center and Inn.
TD's of Clemson (339 College Avenue, Clemson, 864-654-3656)
A notable special: A quarter-pound burger with lettuce, tomato, spicy mustard and mayo, served with fries and either a draft beer or soft drink for $4.95. The catch: That price isn't available on game days.
Tiger Town Tavern (368 College Ave, Clemson, 864-654-5901)
You know what's impossible to leave off this list? A restaurant that names all of its sandwiches after the mascots of the ACC. It was recommended by multiple readers, too.
DUKE (Durham, N.C.)
Backyard BBQ Pit No. 2 (3218 Guess Road, Durham, 919-477-8609)
How can anyone argue with a place that sells drinks by the gallon? Oh, and the pit-cooked BBQ for $6.49 looks good, too.
Dos Perros (200 North Mangum, Durham, 919-956-2750)
Tempting as it is to just go with straight barbecue in the Triangle, there's nothing wrong with mixing things up --- especially for a good Mexican meal. With plenty of variety and a reader recommendation, this looks like a certain stop for my next trip to Durham.
Only Burger (Anywhere and Everywhere, Durham, 919-724-1622)
Yes, that link is to Only Burger's Twitter page --- the most reliable way to track the popular burgers down. A "brick-and-mortar" location is supposed to pop up soon, but the traveling truck will have to do for now.
The Original Q Shack (2510 University Drive, Durham, 919-402-4227)
D1scourse recommended. Do get a beef brisket plate. Don't expect the BBQ beans to be heavy on the barbeque. Lesson learned from one post-game trip. Nonetheless, a strong choice.
Pop's Trattoria (605 West Main Street, Durham, 919-956-7677)
The best Italian in Durham? Quite possibly. A little pricey, but there's nothing wrong with a quality meal before a Duke basketball game.
Twisted Noodles (4201-112 University Drive, Durham, 919-489-9888)
One of two locations (the other is down the road in Chapel Hill), this Thai restaurant offers most of its entrees for less than $10. It's the house specials, though, that look out-of-this-world good.
Wimpy's Grill (617 Hicks Street, Durham, 919-286-4380)
No truth in advertising with this name. Wimpy's landed on Man vs. Food for a concoction called the Garbage Burger, a half-pound monstrosity with two slices of cheese and 10 topics. But be sure to get in early; Wimpy's is open only on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
FLORIDA STATE (Tallahassee, Fla.)
A.J.'s Sports Bar (1800 West Tennessee Street, Tallahassee, 850-681-0731)
Readers say it's the best play to catch a game if you can't get a ticket. Not sure that's been much of a problem of late, but apparently A.J.'s is a solid bar. Would help, though, if the establishment's website would work.
Chez Pierre (1215 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee, 850-222-0936)
Was warned this is "higher end, and worth it." Of course, you can get shrimp and grits for $12 at lunch. Not bad.
Cypress (320 East Tennessee Street, Tallahassee, 850-513-1100)
When in the South, eat Southern. Probably a nicer meal than most of the other Tallahassee options, and the seafood options should make it worthwhile.
Gordos (1907 West Pensacola Street, Tallahassee, 850-576-5767)
With reasonably priced sandwiches between $5 and $7, Gordos offers authentic Cuban cuisine to Florida's state capital.
Jim and Milt's (1923 West Pensacola Street, Tallahassee, 850-576-7595)
A reader-recommended BBQ option with an unforgettable logo. Click above.
Momo's Pizza (two locations, including 1416 West Tennessee Street, Tallahassee, 850-224-9809)
Expensive for a pizza place? Yes. Huge portions? Absolutely. Looks like a fine place to go with a group.
Po' Boys (1944 West Pensacola Street, Tallahassee, 850-574-4144)
One of three locations for the Tallahassee mini-chain, Po'Boys is a contender for best Cajun restaurant in an ACC town (there's a serious contender in Blacksburg, too). A shame Maryland doesn't head to Florida State in football or basketball in this school year, because this would be an automatic stop.
GEORGIA TECH (Atlanta)
The Dwarf House (461 North Central Ave., Hapeville, 404-762-1746)
A bonus inclusion, this fast-food restaurant just north of the airport is the original Chick-Fil-A. Yes, it's large chain, but there's at least some history there.
Fat Matt's Rib Shack (1811 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta, 404-607-1622)
Cheap ribs and other BBQ are an attraction, but so is a nightly band schedule. There's no going wrong here.
Fellini's Pizza (seven locations, including 909 Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-873-3088)
Open deep into the night and slightly pricey for a pizza joint, local chain Fellini's comes reader-recommended.
The Horseradish Grill (4320 Powers Ferry Road, Atlanta, 404-255-7277)
D1scourse HIGHLY recommended. Billed as "better than you remember," that's going to be tough in my case since it was home to one of the finest (and, arguably, most caloric) meals I've ever had. The sleepy restaurant north of town's fried chicken, turnpike grits and fried green tomatoes all carry the D1scourse seal of approval.
Majestic Diner (1031 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, 404-875-0276)
It's open 24 hours a day except for Christmas Eve and Christmas. It's been around since 1929. It's a classic diner. You know the drill.
The Varsity (61 North Avenue, Atlanta, 404-881-1706)
Billing itself as the world's largest drive-in, The Varsity is an Atlanta-area chain embedded in Georgia Tech fandom. There might not be much fancy --- lots of hot dogs and hamburgers --- but it's considered one of the must-have experiences when attending a Yellow Jackets game.
The Vortex Bar and Grill (two locations, including 878 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, 404-875-1667)
Reader recommended, it's probably not the place to take your family seeing as how it has an "18 and over ONLY" warning on its website. It's known for its burgers, among the best available in Atlanta.
GREENSBORO (Greensboro, N.C.)
Green Valley Grill (622 Green Valley Road, Greensboro, 336-854-2015)
Located at the O. Henry hotel, this is definitely a higher-end option come tournament time.
JP Looney's (Three locations including 3021 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro, 336-852-1331)
A quality sports bar atmosphere within a mile of the Greensboro Coliseum.
Lucky 32 (two locations, including 1421 Westover Terrace, Greensboro, 336-370-0707)
On the expensive side, but if you've got tickets to just one of the doubleheaders on Thursday or Friday at the ACC tournament, there's only so many good options to choose from in Greensboro for an high-end meal. This is one of them.
Natty Greene's (two locations, including 345 South Elm Street, Greensboro, 336-274-1373)
It's a pub, plain and simple, and this is the original location (the other opened recently in Raleigh). Multiple readers suggested it; I'll be sure to take a peek the next time I'm in town.
Stamey's BBQ (two locations, including 2206 High Point Road, Greensboro, 336-299-9888)
D1scourse recommended. Just an old-fashioned southern BBQ establishment, this Stamey's location is right across the street from the Coliseum. Unsurprisingly, it's packed during the ACC tournament --- as well as around lunch on most days. You won't go wrong with the chopped pork barbecue sandwich (with the slaw on top, naturally) and hush puppies at Stamey's counter.
Yum Yum Better Ice Cream (1219 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro, 336-272-82-84)
It's takeout. It's cheap. And the sign out front has a giant Cheerwine logo below it. Sounds like a plan.
MARYLAND (College Park, Md.)
Bagel Place (7423 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, 301-779-3900)
Enough readers recommended it, though I've never been inside the place. I'll admit, the pizza bagel sounds enticing.
Cornerstone Grill and Loft (7325 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, 301-779-7044)
Typical bar food and a solid place to meet friends before a game. Just be careful about visiting on Halloween.
Franklin's (5121 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, 301-927-2740)
Reader-recommended. Just down Route 1 and a place that runs a tad expensive --- certainly moreso than much of what's in College Park. Presumably not named for Maryland's football head coach in waiting.
Ledo Restaurant (4509 Knox Road, College Park, 301-422-8122)
Freshly transplanted to downtown College Park after 55 years on University Boulevard, Ledo offers greasy (but authentic) pizza and has attracted generations of fans.
Marathon Deli (4429 Lehigh Avenue, College Park, 301-927-6717)
D1scourse highly recommended. A family-owned Greek restaurant that has lasted longer than most of its neighbors. Go with the gyro platter; it's the best meal under $10 available in College Park.
Plato's Diner (7150 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, 301-779-7070)
Because if it's 2 a.m. on a Friday night and you're hungry, you've got to go somewhere. This is the place of choice in CP.
R.J. Bentley's (7323 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, 301-277-8898)
"Let's go to Bentley's." If you do, you never know who you might run into. There's more Maryland-related memorabilia here than anywhere else in town. As for a food recommendation, try the crab and artichoke dip or a crab pretzel.
Sir Walter Raleigh (6323 Greenbelt Road, Berwyn Heights, 301-474-3420)
A steak and seafood (and salad bar) former chain that has contracted to one location, it's more expensive but probably a better quality meal than most places within shouting distance of Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center.
MIAMI (Coral Gables, Fla.)
Didn't get a lot of help here, and I've spent less time in Coral Gables than any other ACC town). It can be on other folks to fill this one in.
Havana Harry's (4612 South Le Jeune Road, Coral Gables, 305-661-2622)
If you're in South Florida, you'd better find a Cuban restaurant. This looks like a fine place to start.
Joe's Stone Crab (11 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, 305-673-0365)
Costly, for sure, but also reader recommended. Given how few suggestions came in for Miami, that says something.
Perricone's Marketplace and Cafe (15 Southeast 10th Street, Miami, 305-374-9449)
Reader-recommended. Most of the pasta dishes run between $15 and $20, while the dinner entrees check in between $17 and $30. Certainly not the choice for a quick bite --- and, like the other options here, it's nowhere near Sun Life Stadium. But it certainly looks like a strong option to give a look to if you're ever in Miami.
NORTH CAROLINA (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Allen & Son Barbeque (6203 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill, 919-942-7576)
Eastern Carolina BBQ with plates running at about $10. It's not far from Exit 266 off Interstate 40.
Il Palio (1505 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, 919-929-4000)
If the goal is to find a high-end meal in a college town, here's the answer. Il Palio offers a three-course dinner for $39 and found inside the Hotel Siena.
Spanky's (101 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, 919-967-2678)
Plunked down in the center of Chapel Hill, Spanky's offers typical American fare. The brown sugar baby back ribs look particularly delectable.
Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen (1305 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, 919-933-1324)
As the name implies, this is a morning option. And considering how tasty (if terrible for your health) some of biscuit chains in the Carolinas are, this place seems particularly appetizing.
Sutton's Drug Store (159 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, 919-942-5161)
A breakfast and lunch operation, Sutton's is a Chapel Hill fixture and a solid choice to find a tasty sub-$10 meal.
Time-Out (133 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, 919-929-2425)
Featured (like so many others on this list) on Man vs. Food, Time-Out is famous for its Chicken and Cheddar Biscuit and serves breakfast all day long. Plus, part of Tyler Hansbrough's AT&T commercial was filmed there.
Top of the Hill (100 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, 919-929-8676)
D1scourse recommended. Perhaps some locals consider it overrated. But if you ever have the chance to have a meal in the outdoor seating overlooking Franklin Street on a warm early autumn Friday evening, it'll make you miss being in college as much as anything. Trust me. The food, in an addition to the atmosphere, is solid, too. Like Bentley's at Maryland, you never know who will wander in while you're there.
N.C. STATE (Raleigh, N.C.)
Angus Barn (9401 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, 919-781-2444)
D1scourse highly recommended. There are a lot of good restaurants throughout the towns in the ACC. This one is the best. Very pricey and worth every last penny, the Angus Barn is dubbed "the beef eaters haven." Somehow, that might be a bit of an understatement. Avoid the rookie mistake of filling yourself up on cheese and crackers, no matter how tempting it might be, and wait to gorge yourself on the main item. Don't expect to be hungry for another 18 hours at minimum.
Bella Monica (3121-103 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh, 919-881-9778)
Pasta, pizza and flatbreads a long Philip Rivers pass from the Carter-Finley Stadium/RBC Center area. For those who don't want to venture far from the arena area, this is a strong choice.
Char-Grill (Six locations, including 3211 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh, 919-781-2945)
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Char-Grill offers up the slogan "Simpler Times, Simpler Choices." There's hot dogs, burgers and more burgers. In short, precisely the sort of local place that belongs on this list.
Clyde Cooper's Barbecue (109 East Davie Street, Raleigh, 919-832-7614)
D1scourse recommended. High-value barbecue, plus superb hush puppies. It's an old-school BBQ joint, with little fancy but lots of great food. Extra points for service for being kind enough to stay open an extra 10 minutes on a Wednesday night in February for an out-of-town sportswriter. Let that be a way of warning you it closes at 6 p.m. six days a week.
Dos Taquitos (5629 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh, 919-787-3373)
When I'm in Raleigh, I do not always eat Mexican food. But when I do, I prefer Dos Taquitos.
Oakwood Cafe (300 East Edenton Street, Raleigh, 919-828-5994)
It's an Argentinean and Cuban restaurant. One thing's for sure: There is no shortage of meat. If BBQ isn't your thing, this reader-recommended establishment is a strong option.
The Pit (328 West Davie Street, Raleigh, 919-890-4500)
If there's a way to serve barbecue, The Pit probably knows how to do it --- and well. Near the top of my personal to-do list the next time I'm in Raleigh is to visit this restaurant, which consistently get raves from acquaintances.
The Raleigh Times Bar (14 East Hargett Street, Raleigh, 919-833-0999)
A bar in a building that once housed a newspaper? How appropriate is that? It's solid fare and a great convenient place to meet up with a group --- and not far from the offices of the modern-day News & Observer.
VIRGINIA (Charlottesville, Va.)
Aberdeen Barn (2018 Holiday Drive, Charlottesville, 434-296-4630)
Readers have described the Aberdeen Barn as Charlottesville's answer to the Angus Barn. That would be very high praise indeed. This gets a reader recommendation (without having visited, I can't personally vouch for it), but it sure looks like a tasty, high-end selection.
Bodo's Bagels (three locations, including 1418 North Emmet Street, Charlottesville, 434-977-9598)
D1scourse recommended. After a plethora of traffic lights, the sight of Bodo's on the left-hand side means you've finally made it into town from the north. Ten minutes later, you have a scrumptious (and cheap) bagel or two to munch on. The price, the short wait and the quality are all superb. A bagel and a small coffee will run you $2.20. There's no better sub-$3 meal in ACC country than Bodo's.
Eppie's on the Downtown Mall (412 East Main Street, Charlottesville, 434-963-9900)
A place with a little bit of everything, it also gives you reason to explore the downtown mall. There's good food here, and about four used bookstores within six blocks. What more could you want?
Littlejohn's New York Delicatessen (two locations, including 1427 University Avenue, Charlottesville, 434-977-0588)
A 24-hour sub shop on The Corner, Littlejohn's has the sort of prices that will make a college student and a fan on a limited budget smile. A lot.
Pig-N-Steak (818 Washington Street, Madison, 540-948-3130)
D1scourse recommended. Not in Charlottesville proper, but a great option if you happen to be driving north (either back home to Baltimore/Washington or toward a D.C.-area airport). About 25 miles up the road from Virginia's sports complex, Pig-N-Steak more than lives up to its name. Be sure to try the multiple barbecue sauces.
Take It Away Sandwich Shop (115 Elliewood Avenue, Charlottesville, 434-295-1899)
Another Corner institution, one reader described its "magical" house dressing. A tossed garden salad will run you just $3.
The Tavern (1140 North Emmet Street, Charlottesville, 434-295-0404)
Come for the all-day breakfast, stay ... for more of the all-day breakfast. Take note of the sign "where students, tourists and townspeople meet." If only all towns in the conference specifically built around a school were so welcoming to their student populations.
White Spot (1407 University Avenue, Charlottesville, 434-295-9899)
Another 24-hour hole-in-the-wall, it comes reader recommended. So do the famous Gus Burgers, which consist of a burger, a slice of cheese and a fried egg. It's like a tasty a heart attack for only a couple bucks --- and isn't that sort basically a free ticket onto this list?
VIRGINIA TECH (Blacksburg, Va.)
Big Al's/Poor Billy's (201 North Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-951-2200)
Both reader-recommended restaurants fall under the same aegis. Poor Billy's, in particular, drew raves for its seafood.
Backstreets (207 South Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-552-6712)
Solid Italian food, there's also outdoors dining for particularly nice autumn Saturdays. Reader recommended.
Boudreaux's (205 North Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-961-2330)
D1scourse highly recommended. Fantastic Cajun food in southwestern Virginia ... maybe a little out of place but welcome nonetheless? Nonetheless, this is a must-visit stop for a first-time visitor to Blacksburg. I'm partial to the Gumbo Ya Ya and the Crawfish Po'Boy as an excellent one-two punch, but be sure to look at the entrees and the daily specials. All sorts of goodies lurk on both lists.
Bull & Bones (1470 South Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-953-2855)
Upscale compared to the rest of the Blacksburg options, this is a popular place to find ribs or a steak, as well as something tasty from the restaurant brewery.
Cabo Fish Taco (117 South Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-552-0950)
D1scourse highly recommended. If there's a single suggestion here that should be followed without question (assuming you're not allergic to seafood), it's the ginger soy shrimp tacos at this mini-chain (there's another one in Charlotte). To. Die. For. A good college atmosphere, and often packed at lunch and in the evenings.
The Cellar (302 North Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-953-0651)
There's a large beer list, and live bands on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not a bad combination at all.
Gillie's Vegetarian Cuisine (153 College Avenue, Blacksburg, 540-961-2703)
Right on the doorstep to Virginia Tech. Readers are especially fond of the breakfast options at Gillie's.
Mike's Grill (418 North Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-951-7391)
Half-pound cheeseburgers for less than $5? You're not dreaming. You're in Blacksburg, arguably home to more "Best Eats"-worthy restaurants per capita in the ACC.
P.K.'s Pizza, Bar and Grill (432 North Main Street, Blacksburg, 540-552-1577)
Perhaps it is, as it claims, more than just pizza. Still, who's arguing a 16-inch pizza for $10.99?
WAKE FOREST (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
Elizabeth's (Multiple locations, including 3278 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, 336-768-0605)
Reader-recommended option for pizza in the Dash. A large plain Sicilian pizza will run you barely more than $12.
Foothills Brewing (638 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem, 336-777-3348)
A downtown option that, unsurprisingly, offers plenty of beer and solid bar fare.
Lexington Barbecue (10 Highway 29-70 South, Lexington, 336-294-9814)
You've got to go a little out of your way, but word from a fellow sportswriter is it is completely worth it. Formerly known as Monk's, it's worth heading toward High Point to get a taste.
Little Richard's Lexington BBQ (two locations, including 4885 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem, 336-760-3457)
Good and cheap. But don't take my word for it. The awesomely-named BBQ Jew offers this approving write-up.
Mr. Barbecue (1381 Peters Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, 336-725-7827)
D1scourse recommended. You can get a plate of barbecue, hush puppies and a soda for less than eight bucks. And the barbecue, as you might expect, is excellent. Service is quick and efficient. This is as safe a choice as there is in the Dash.
Prissy Polly's Pig Pickin' Barbecue (729 Highway 66 South, Kernersville, 336-993-5045)
Can't make up your mind between Eastern or Lexington-style barbecue? Prissy Polly's --- which can be found not far off Business I-40 between Greensboro and Winston-Salem --- ensures that isn't a problem, since it serves both. A plate of either sort of barbecue with hush puppies and two vegetables checks in at less than $8.
Putter's Patio & Grill (3005 Bonhurst Drive, Winston-Salem, 336-724-9990)
Just across the street from BB&T Field (nee Groves Stadium) and the Joel Coliseum, this is an easy option if you don't feel like dealing with postgame traffic. The steaks come recommended from readers.