As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon’s piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
There’s nothing more quintessentially Irish than Guinness beer, a fact not lost on the chefs at Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub. Led by Deacon Ovall, recently featured on Fox Charlotte's Chef Spotlight, the kitchen staff pairs house-cured corned beef and cabbage with Guinness au jus, smothers flank-steak shepherd's pie with Guinness gravy, and batters fried cod fillets in Guinness batter. But the menu is nothing if not multifaceted, with offerings ranging from traditional Irish eats and hearty half-pound Black Angus burgers to nearly a dozen freshly tossed salads.
Diners can pair their upscale pub eats with a hearty selection of pours. Four of the eight draft beers on tap hail from Ireland itself, and the servers also mix up "Lucktinis," including the Spiced Leprechaun made with Bacardi Oakheart, sour-apple Schnapps, and pineapple juice. Big-screen TVs dazzle eyes as flights of Irish whiskey tantalize tongues. Every Wednesday at 9 p.m., rounds of trivia keep brains from forgetting little-known factoids, such as the name of George Washington’s least-favorite fruit.
Though its dark wood trimmings and furnishings hark back to traditional pub decor, the rest of The Pub at Gateway drags that tradition into the 21st century. Broadcasting the latest sports, large LCD televisions hang above the tables and booths. Behind granite bar tops, bartenders mix more than 30 types of martinis, distribute beer via tap and bottle, and supply wine by the glass or fire hose.
The beverages complement the comforting pub food that emerges from the kitchen until 1:30 a.m. every night. Feasts range from a burger wrap filled with Angus beef, grilled onion, and barbecue sauce to sandwiches crafted with meats and cheeses, artisan bread from Nova's Bakery, and signature spreads and sauces made in-house daily. Throughout meals, The Pub at Gateway keeps diners entertained with festivities such as poker, trivia nights, live acoustic music, and DJs who spin top 40 records.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
At first glance, Angry Ale’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill looks like a regular sports hangout with its walls lined with dartboards and flat-screen TVs. But the eatery takes a creative angle with its menu of burgers, wings, wraps, and other pub food. From the redneck fondue—a heaping bowl of homemade queso dip—to tot-chos–tater tots smothered in jalapeños, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and a choice of meat–appetizers kick off meals with delicious unconventionality. This culinary aesthetic carries over to entrees and favorites such as the bacon fatty melt, a bacon cheeseburger with 1000 island dressing, whisked to tables by the ghost of Alexandre Dumas. Diners can also put their appetites to the test by participating in the Button Popper, a speed-eating cheeseburger challenge that asks the age-old question, “Are you built for speed or comfort?”
At the heart of Hawthorne's New York Pizza & Bar is a ball of dough. Over the past 10 years at seven locations, chefs use this dough to craft a seemingly infinite number of unique pies, including a special white pizza topped with ricotta cream sauce and mozzarella. But they also use it to create another kind of treat: garlic knots. These oven-baked bites are glazed with a seasoned garlic sauce, and since they're an appetizer, guests can start meals by munching on them instead of gnawing idly on the table. In addition to its main menu, Hawthorne's also boasts a lengthy gluten-free selection, which features many of the same entrees as well as a couple gluten-free beers.