The two Rs in R&R Grill represent father-and-son co-owners, Rob and Ross, who moved to Chapel Hill permanently after falling in love with the area. However, they soon noticed an alarming trend; cookie-cutter chain restaurants began to replace local businesses, a pattern Rob and Ross sought to change with R&R Grill. At their eatery, Rob and Ross infuse the menu of casual American cuisine with fresh produce and meats, making every dish in-house. St. Louis ribs glisten under a coating of chipotle barbecue sauce and a jumbo lump crab cake shares plate space with garlic sautéed shrimp. Diners can match their meals with draft beers, wine, and specialty cocktails or fresh air on the expansive outdoor patio.
The face of the clock determines just what sort of gathering you'll find at La Residence. On Fridays at lunchtime, crepes leave the kitchen stuffed with sweet and savory fillings, from sriracha-spiced shrimp to bananas and chocolate. But as the sky darkens, a more classical air settles over the dining room. The fireplace begins to crackle, and patio lights flicker on above brick flooring. Now, Executive Chef Lemar Farrington and his team begin to prep appetizers of baked brie and warm bruschetta—overtures to an innovative French supper. They fill crispy pot pies with fresh seafood while monitoring pink cuts of filet mignon. Every night finds them experimenting with a different risotto and fish, just as each season heralds a new menu, replete with ingredients from local farms.
Even when dusk has come and gone, the restaurant doesn't sleep. Four nights a week, it becomes a late-night cocktail lounge: Cafe LaRez. Guests sip on mojitos, mint juleps, and French 75s made with gin and champagne. A dance floor beckons to antsy feet, but sitting-room corners and a terrace by Rosemary Street provide space for quieter chats. On some evenings, the restaurant even hosts weddings, amplifying the romance of the occasion with its rose gardens and historical charm.
Popular globetrotting pop collective Architecture in Helsinki transforms Cat’s Cradle into a throbbing, futuristic discotheque as its latest tour storms American shores. Formed in Melbourne, the ambidextrous dance band stirs fans with a tornado of flamboyant sounds, infectious anthems, and commitment-free instrument swapping. With hits such as “Do the Whirlwind” and latest single “Contact High,” lead crooner Cameron Bird and his cakewalking team of tunesmiths tickle ear bones and rehabilitate ankles in support of its latest album, Moment Bends. During the kaleidoscopic performance, the band seduces dance floors with 10-foot hooks and sounds culled from hypnotic synths, romantic glockenspiels, and strummed chest hairs. Filling out the bill, Swedish dance wizards Lo-Fi-Fnk enchant with instant club hits and songs for strobe-light campfires, and pop enthusiasts Dom charm with stargazing Casios.
A comedic abode of gut-busting proportions, DSI has hosted hundreds of joke slingers that have corralled scores of laugh-seeker smiles without nitrous-oxide tanks or clips of football-privates contact. A company of 45 active performers lives underneath the 84-seat non-smoking theater, constantly training with dummy microphones and audience dummies to provide optimal quip delivery. Owner Zach Ward leads this comedic cabal, and also has trained and worked with nationally known giggle catalysts of Saturday Night Live and MADtv fame. Visitors will be able to choose from a variety of scheduled Friday- and Saturday-night shows, including improv slams, stand-up, and slide shows of platypus photos.
Peruse the menu and start your barroom tongue brawl with an appetizer of the pub's loaded fries (french fries with cheese and bacon, $6.95; add homemade chili for $1); fried or grilled wings with mild, hot, or teriyaki sauce (one dozen, $9.50); or fried-chicken tenders ($7.50). Lunchtimers routinely find solace in an order of the pub's fish and chips (beer-battered cod with the pub’s fried potato chips, $9.95) and the North Carolina barbecue-pork platter, with french fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies ($9.95). For dinner, try the barbecue rib platter (half rack $10.95, full rack $20.95) or an avocado and tomato quesadilla ($11.95), or stick with a classic from the sandwich menu such as the oyster po' boy (fried oysters with coleslaw or Cajun rémoulade in your choice of a hoagie or wrap, $9.95).
Dark-wood paneling, stained glass, and a rustic stone archway lend Doolin’s Irish Pub and Cafe a timeless feel that harks back to the traditional pubs of its namesake village in County Clare. Shiny pressed-tin ceilings seem to blend seamlessly with the old-fashioned beer and whiskey ads that populate the warmly lit bar, and the menu blends together the best of Irish and American comfort fare to suit tastes on both sides of the pond.
Prime beef burgers arrive dressed with sun-dried-tomato aioli and rashers—also known as irish bacon—and creamy cheesecake becomes doubly indulgent when topped with fresh whipped cream and infused with a splash of Baileys. Authentic Irish specialties include a traditional corned-beef dinner with Aliquot mashed potatoes as well as Shannon boxty, a West Ireland specialty that combines grilled, marinated vegetables and a tender potato pancake with the joy of getting to know your dinner on a first-name basis.