Located a stone’s throw from Symphony Lake, Koka Booth Amphitheatre emerges out of 14 acres of hardwoods and pines to offer up its stage to traveling national acts, theatrical productions, and movie screenings. Although its wood and earth-toned beams camouflage the venue within its natural surroundings, passersby can notice its sleek exterior glistening in the moonlight during nighttime performances. The outdoor amphitheater––designed by William Rawn Associates of Boston, which also constructed the Cambridge Public Library––seats up to 7,000 people on its spacious lawn, crescent deck, or loft bird nests.
An Aveda concept salon with a retro edge, The Hair and Face Lounge sets itself apart with complimentary beverages, vintage posters of Hollywood starlets, and yellow leather couches that look as if they were time-warped from the 1960s. Even when faced with such eye-popping décor, it doesn’t take clients long to hone in on what matters: a team of licensed stylists who craft flattering looks with haircuts and coloring treatments. Professional Aveda products feature prominently on the menu, popping up in everything from exfoliating facials to smoothing hair treatments.
When Scotsman Archibald Leslie settled in Holly Springs, North Carolina, in the early 19th century, he built a 180-acre estate right by the town’s freshwater springs. These days, only the estate’s springs and main house—a nationally registered historic site known as the Leslie-Alford-Mims House—remain. But with their pub, the proprietor’s of Archibald’s Tavern make sure the settler’s name lives on as well.
The tavern’s cooks specialize in staples of American bar food, such as hot wings, wraps filled with philly cheesesteak fixings, and burgers crowned with pepper jack cheese and jalapeños. Selections from an ever-expanding beer list pair perfectly with feasts, which patrons can complement by taking in that day’s game on flat-screen TVs mounted around the bar.
With a wide variety of beers on tap, 14 TVs, and a huge menu, The Train Station (formerly Harrison's Bar & Grill) is a great place to kick back and watch the game or UFC fight. It's also a great place to play a game—the bar has free darts as well as free pool, making the days of saving your spot on the pool table with a gold dubloon obsolete. Nearly every night of the week, events keep visitors further entertained, whether it's with free beer pong on Thursday, karaoke on Sunday, or DJs on Friday and Tuesday.
Judging by his daring attitude toward fusion cuisine, head chef Michael Schiffer probably tried to fry the rule book before throwing it out the window. He founded Maximillian's Grill in 1991 with humble aspirations: it would be a 32-seat pizza restaurant where guests could enjoy quiet meals. In four months, however, he had amassed magazine awards and a clientele that would line up outside the restaurant for an hour before he opened the doors. They were there, waiting patiently, to see what delicious fusion food would sail out of the kitchen that night—Michael hand wrote a new menu every day and often invented new dishes on the spot, fusing Italian flavors with creole and Asian influences.
Unfortunately, in 1998, a fire closed Max’s for good. Though he and his wife Gayle later opened a gourmet deli, it wasn’t until 2001 that they opened Max’s once again, this time in a roomier location with high ceilings, soft light, and tinted windows. The new joint even has a wine bar in the back separated from the dining room by a partition.
In the kitchen, Michael devises fresh takes on fusion cuisine while holding onto many of the dishes that made Max’s famous, classics as the grilled caesar salad—prepped by grilling the actual lettuce—and the peppercorn-encrusted Voodoo tuna. Michael has also archived his old menus on the restaurant's webpage, viewing them as a timeline for his culinary evolution and a way to remember how to spell "bouillabaisse."
According to a 2009 Newsobserver.com profile, Backyard Bistro knows a thing or two about ribs. To create this St. Louis–style specialty, the Bistro encrusts the pork in a dry spice rub and leaves it to bask in heat and hickory smoke for three hours. They then wrap each rack in aluminum foil with a splash of apple juice, returning them to the smoker for another four hours before charring them on the grill under a glaze of tangy or sweet barbecue sauce. The Bistro also stokes up the smoker to tenderize the dry-rubbed pork shoulder––another specialty––for 12 whole hours, while slices of juicy beef brisket await to be smothered between hefty slabs of white bread and saddled next to sides such as crisp coleslaw, Mama T's potato salad, and baked beans. Both the regular menu of barbecue and American comfort food and the straightforward Sunday brunch represent the efforts of several local businesses. Brioche rolls for burgers and english muffins for benedicts are sourced from La Farm Bakery, then crowned with poached eggs and canadian bacon. The bar's 16 taps pour Bud Light and Belgian-style Backyard Brew, the locally brewed house draft, to cool meals taken out on the patio or into a neighbor's hot tub, while inside it's all about sports. Five big-screen TVs broadcast every play in high definition, and speakers at each table give diners the option of turning down the volume if they'd rather tune out.
Ruckus Pizza and Bar's chefs have been satiating the immense hunger of NCSU's budding student body and esteemed faculty since 1999. They crown their fresh, made-to-order pizzas with garlic, roasted red peppers, and ricotta, and will even swap out traditional pizza sauce for ranch and spicy buffalo sauce. As their savory pies bubble in ovens, the kitchen team prepares a number of handheld foods, including gourmet philly cheesesteaks, meaty sub sandwiches, calzones, and spinach-stuffed harmonicas. Bartenders shake up fruity cocktails or pour beers and wine that complement the flavors of their hearty cuisine. On select nights, the staff welcomes guests to cheer and shout during trivia, participate in open-mic nights, and dance to the thumping beats of live DJs. They also unify their newly remodeled eatery's sports-themed decor with athletic flourishes such as jerseys, commemorative ballpark photos, and neon signs.