Bars in Durham

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With a motto like: "Where you don’t have to have a good time to drink," it may come as no surprise that the staff of James Joyce leaves the socializing up to its patrons. The bartenders and servers keep their visitors fueled with a bounty of traditional American and Irish pub food. The kitchen adds a homemade touch to a few classics: they blend a pimiento cheese spread in-house, and brine their own corned beef before layering it onto brioche buns. A few entrees, such as Guinness–battered atlantic cod and chips and Guinness shepherd's pie, round out the menu. A beer list displays American craft brews alongside unique Irish imports.

Clinking glasses and scraping plates aren't the only sounds that echo across the pub's fenced-in beer garden or its dimly-lit, wood-filled interior. The staff organizes regular events ranging from open mics to trivia nights. Additionally, the pub screens Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United football games during the season, and sometimes twice if the players' mothers are visiting.

912 W Main St
Durham,
NC
US

Tropical Smoothie Café's wholesome smoothies are filled to the gills with fresh fruit, juices, yogurt, chocolate, nuts, and healthful supplements, minimizing the crushing guilt of dessert consumption to a soft heartbeat emanating from the floorboards. Puréed potions such as Pomegranate Plunge (pomegranate, banana, strawberries, cranberry, $4.99) are stuffed with super fruit, and low-fat options, such as Mango Magic (mango, pineapples, non-fat yogurt, $4.29), trick gullible taste buds into believing that they are traversing a candy factory full of whipped-cream lollipops. Supercharged smoothies are stocked with a healthy dose of supplements, such as the Kiwi Citrus Green Tea's antioxidant-laden matcha charge or the Muscle Blaster's whey or soy protein ($4.89 each). Individual supplements can also be added to any other smoothie ($0.59 extra), boosting its magic points by +10.

5311 South Miami Boulevard
Durham,
NC
US

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.

137 E Franklin St
Chapel Hill,
NC
US

Chapelboro.com argues that Fitzgerald's does a fantastic job of "toeing the line between high-tech sports bar and cozy eatery." In the tradition of gastropubs, Fitz's embraces the casual environs of a traditional Irish bar, but elevates the food to the next level with a menu ranging from shepherd's pie to blackened Atlantic salmon. And, of course, there's a lot of beer—more than 20 taps dispense brews such as SweetWater Blue, Brooklyn Lager, and Guinness. Regular events include trivia night, live music, and sports games shown on the giant pub's many TVs.

206 W Franklin St
Chapel Hill,
NC
US

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. Chefs 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. Guests can also opt to dine in an enclosed patio and joy an evening under the stars.

202 W Rosemary St
Chapel Hill,
NC
US