Psst! The coast is clear. Now that most of the UNC students have gone home for the summer, the lines shouldn't be too long at two popular new burger joints in Chapel Hill. Now's the time to check them out.
EVOS, which opened last summer in Chapel Hill's Eastgate Shopping Center, is out to prove that the terms "healthy" and "fast-food burger joint" aren't mutually exclusive. The first Triangle location of a Florida-based chain, EVOS features burgers made with naturally raised, grass-fed beef that, according to the company's Web site, are slow-roasted, "sealing in natural flavors and nutrients." The site further boasts that many of its offerings are 50 to 70 percent lower in fat than at other fast-food chains.
While I can't judge the accuracy of EVOS' nutritional claims, I can say that the sirloin burgers sure taste healthy. Unfortunately, I don't mean "healthy" in an altogether good way. While the beef is obviously of very good quality, it's lacking in two key elements that are essential for a flavorful burger: fat and salt. The toppings are fresh, though, and the convection-baked fries are crisp, if a little on the dry side. All in all, though the EVOS experience doesn't fully satisfy my burger craving, it does leave me feeling virtuous.
"Virtuous" is the last word that comes to mind when I'm digging into a big pile of crisp, sinfully greasy skin-on fries at Buns. But because the burger itself is so satisfying, I have the willpower to refrain from devouring more than half of the fries. The beef is 100 percent Angus, hand-patted daily (there's no freezer on the premises), grilled to a juicy, well-crusted turn on a flat top grill, and served on a locally baked bun. You can choose from a single, double or jaw-stretching triple burger, available with a wide assortment of toppings ranging from homemade chili to avocado to fried egg.
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The locally owned Buns also offers healthy alternatives to beef in the form of veggie burgers and turkey burgers. I've never been able to resist the lure of beef, though, until last time I visited, when an enthusiastic order taker persuaded me to try the turkey burger with goat cheese on a wheat bun. The result, even though I've never been a fan of ground turkey (did I mention that the order taker was persuasive?), proved that it is possible after all to make a burger that's both healthy and satisfying. As long as you don't insist that a burger is made with beef, that is.