Here's to learning more about all that this small, southern town of squirrels, acorns, and rowdy college students has to offer!
For an up-and-coming school comprised of about 5,000 students, Elon University is lucky to have such a flourishing hub as Downtown Elon. Full of local shops, eateries, and businesses galore, this petite college strip makes a big mark, pleasing students, visitors, and area natives alike.
The restaurant owners along Downtown Elon know their audience. With sit down restaurants, bars, pizza parlors, and ice cream shops, there is certainly something for everyone. Some of the most popular venues include The Town Table, Acorn Coffee Shop, Pandora’s Pies, Taphouse, The Root, and Local Yogurt.
The Root and The Town Table are the swankiest of the Downtown Elon eateries. With consistently commendable service and outstanding food, these two venues are sure to please everyone, from the pickiest of eaters to the most laidback of college students. Despite the usually long wait, The Root receives high praise for menu favorites such as their Crispy Topped Fries, Falafel Burger, Foodie Grilled Cheese, and Fried Green Tomato BLT. Though those items may be known as the “must haves”, there is not a single bad order on their menu. In addition to the food, the service is quick, thanks to a friendly and professional wait staff. The atmosphere is a nice cross between dressy and casual, where one can feel comfortable in khaki shorts or a more dolled up sundress. With nothing but high approval, The Root is worth venturing to, no matter your college status or age. In addition, The Town Table provides a similar environment, where one can be served quality food in a pleasant and enjoyable setting. Top dishes at this restaurant include the Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza, Pub Burger, and Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich, which are coupled with a large selection of seasonal beers and other beverages. With endless positive reviews, such as “I take anyone who comes to the area here”, no visitor can go wrong.
If one is looking for more casual, grab-and-go options, other downtown favorites include Acorn Coffee Shop and Pandora’s Pies. Acorn Coffee Shop, owned by the university and linked with the school’s meal plan, is especially popular for Elon students. With a multitude of options, including Starbucks coffee, personalized deli sandwiches, garden-fresh salads, smoothies, and an endless amount of pastries, this café provides the perfect mix of homemade, just-baked choices and store-bought favorites. In addition to the delicious food is the set up of the café, which is roomy and cozy throughout. There are large spaces with comfy chairs and coffee tables, which are inviting to not just quiet studiers and professors alike, but also class project groups and club meetings. The shop is also a great alternative to the basic food found inside the dining halls, allowing students to feel satisfied with something more than just the usual Colonnades wrap or McEwen stir fry. Likewise, Pandora’s Pies, one of the newest hubs on the downtown strip, provides an inviting menu full of all sorts of goodies that cannot be found at any of the other restaurant locations. Owners Ustach and MacKenzie enjoy putting their restaurant’s focus on fresh food, noting, “It’s local everything, a very green facility. We’re so local we don’t even have a freezer”. Besides their ever-present pizzas (there are premade and build-your-own!), Pandora’s also produces the Italian and Greek likes of grape leaves, calzones, and caprese, as well as All-American favorites such as chili and cheesie bread. If there is ever a rainy day not filled with dinner plans, these are must-visits!
Finally, who can forget to stop by Taphouse and Local Yogurt? Two of the most popular hotspots in Downtown Elon, Taphouse is not just a bar, and Local Yogurt is not just a frozen yogurt, food-of-the-moment chain. Taphouse is known for serving up some tasty drinks, and some entertaining times too. Being a major spot on the social and party scenes, Taphouse is a very trendy place to be during weekend nights. If one is looking for an exciting time, it is usually recommended to hit up Taphouse! Local Yogurt, on the other hand, is not so much the party scene. However, it is a major gathering place for clubs, classes, hall meetings, and any other sort of get-together. Whether it be the low-fat original flavor or the always changing seasonal flavors, such as Peanut Butter, Watermelon Sorbet, Mint Chocolate, and more, there really is a yogurt option for everyone, including those that are gluten free. Also, not only are there Elon student discount days, but also special days for high school students, medical field workers, families, and everyone else in between (double punch Mondays and three toppings for $3.23 anyone?). With the upbeat music, kind staff, and colorful, eye-pleasing atmosphere, Local Yogurt is a great option any time of the day, week, or year, for any event, meeting, or fundraiser.
Though food is always a main focus for college students, those that frequent Downtown Elon also enjoy the many shops and services that the local vendors offer. Whether it be attending a Sunday morning church service, checking out the produce at the Thursday afternoon farmer’s market, or picking out some new clothing, there are lots of options for every type of person. Some of the most visited businesses include Mynt, the Elon bookstore, and All that Jas.
Mynt, Elon’s first contemporary clothing store, opened by local North Carolina State graduate Whitney Brown, is the perfect spot for that last minute date night outfit or the I-just-realized-I-need-a-formal-dress-tomorrow apparel. Brown loves the clothing she sells, but she also wants to focus on her clients, saying “I want to get to the know the girls. I want you all to be able to call me. I really want people to buy what they like. I love to play dress-up”. Frequented mostly by girls, it is also nice to acknowledge that Mynt does in fact offer men’s clothing, such as ties, hats, and Southern Proper t-shirts, too. Whether it is a statement-making necklace, the latest pair of jeans, or a comfy tank top, Mynt is definitely the place to be for these trendy and sophisticated items.
Elon spirit wear is the other key option on the downtown strip, for the university’s recently renovated bookstore has created a big buzz ever since it was reopened in its new location, wedged between The Acorn Coffee Shop and Pandora’s Pies, a little over a year ago. With an escalator, long, inviting windows, and a well-organized store layout, the bookstore is often visited by both students and Elon parents, in addition to the usual local residents looking for their Phoenix fix. From the Ralph Lauren polos to the Under Armour sports gear to the game day war paint and hair ribbons, there is something high-spirited for the tiniest of fans all of the way to the oldest of tailgaters.
Furthermore, All that Jas, one of the standout stores on Elon’s downtown strip, is extremely popular. Thanks to a big Greek scene and a lot of girly, Lilly Pulitzer, ladies, the success of All that Jas does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. With everything from sorority sweatshirts to monogrammed totes to Guy Harvey croakies, there is no possible way to upset a girl with a gift from this shop!
Considering the size of the university and the small town of Elon that encompasses it, the students and local residents alike are lucky to have such a booming downtown. Whether it be dinner at The Root, a pink pick-me-up purchase at All that Jas, or a new t-shirt from the bookstore for the next game day, there is an overabundance to chew, buy, and occupy in Downtown Elon. Eat, shop, and spread that Phoenix pride!