While most of your meals will come in dining halls, there are plenty of ways to switch things up without breaking the bank. Here are some of our favorite places to eat on a budget.
201 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill
Franklin Street is probably the perfect location for a 24/7 restaurant, and that's what's made Time-Out not just a post-basketball-game hang but a year-round favorite. Whether you're in the mood for a pulled pork sandwich or a platter of pancakes, nothing on the menu will set you back more than $10.
Operating out of a food truck, The Dankery offers the dankest late-night food on a budget. While it's only open from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., The Dankery will hook you up with trays of chicken or vegan tenders, wings, or a shrimp burger with home-style fries. There are twenty different flavor offerings, and most trays cost $7. You can DM the Instagram account (@shrimpandpastasdankery) to order, pay through Paypal, and they'll deliver your food to Durham and the surrounding areas.
BACKYARD BBQ PIT
5122 N.C. Highway 55, Durham
In between Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham, Backyard BBQ Pit is easy to get to from anywhere in the Triangle. They offer sandwiches for $4, and you can get a half pound of any side for only $2.50. Located right near RTP, it's twenty minutes from Duke's and N.C. State's campuses, fifteen minutes from UNC, and just ten minutes or so from N.C. Central. Buy yourself a pint of pork for $9 while you're there, and you'll be set for the week.
1920 Perry Street, Durham; 128 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill
With locations in both Durham and Chapel Hill, Cosmic is the place to go when the party's over, but no one wants to go home. You can get a burrito for $5, a taco for $3, and a margarita pitcher for $12.
Multiple locations in Raleigh and Durham
Cook Out is cheap and unhealthy and will feed your soul while making your body hate you just a little. They're most famous for their "fancy milkshakes," which have a calorie count of at least five hundred but will only set you back $2.79. If you're looking for something more substantial, get one of their legendary trays. For only $4.99, you get a main, two sides, and a drink. The real hack? Get a main of quesadillas with two sides of quesadillas—four quesadillas for $4.99.
2444 Wycliff Road, Raleigh
Although the Durham location closed in the last year, State students can still gorge on chips and salsa at Chubby's Raleigh spot. Only five minutes from campus, you can get tacos for $2.69 or Chubbychangas for $5.69. Free chips come with every order, and a fan favorite is the salsa bar—a range of salsas of various heats, all for no extra charge. There's also a sushi bar, pizza place, and deli all in the same strip mall.
THE ROAST GRILL
7 South West Street, Raleigh
The Roast Grill in Raleigh has been serving classic hot dogs at low prices for more than seventy years. Their menu is short and to the point: hot dogs. They serve one type of hot dog that you can top with mustard, onions, slaw, or chili. But don't even think about asking for ketchup—or cheese or kraut or pickles or relish or mayonnaise. For $2.50, you can get a hot dog and a glass bottle of Coke, but make sure you bring cash. They don't accept cards.