At an hour when many bars and restaurants are busy closing up shop, Dream Nightclub lights up as a beacon to nocturnal wanderers from across the city. Custom-designed graffiti murals, pulsing LED lights, and energetic dance beats greet patrons as soon as they enter the after-dark dancehall and performance venue. The 5,000-square-foot club features ample lounge seating for bottle service or dramatically lit staring contests, as well as two bars and a full-service kitchen that churns out plates laden with chicken wings and french fries as late as 2:30 a.m. on most nights. A QSC sound system floods the dance floor with Latin, techno, or hip-hop tunes depending on the day, although the club also hosts occasional DJ sets and regular jazz-band performances.
Sankey's is the resident restaurant taproom and restaurant of Custom Home Pubs, which means the owners have years of experience building draft beer systems. They extend this knowledge to Sankey's with a rotating roster of 10 North Carolina beers on tap, but also accompany their drinks with a menu of hearty pub-grub. Texas caviar, crispy wings, and a host of burgers and sandwiches are served in a dining room filled with beer-themed artwork, from local labels to impressionist paintings of keg stands.
A wraparound wall mural features a moose lounging among the trees at The Friendly Moose, where staff serve a warm, friendly experience along with plates of hearty American cuisine. Diners can try a Carolina burger topped with chili and slaw for lunch, a 12-ounce rib eye, or poutine slathered in gravy and cheese for dinner, or coconut-cream pie for dessert.
Beginning as a single restaurant in Indian Trail, Bonfire Bar & Grill has since expanded to a second location in Concord thanks to its palate-popular fare, ranging from expertly grilled burgers and steaks to Old World favorites such as pastas and pizza. Every Sunday during football season, patrons gather amid the glow of flat-screen TVs to watch grown men resolve their differences on the gridiron and to feast on crispy fish ‘n’ chips, blackened-fish tacos, or barbecue-smothered pork ribs fresh off the grill. On Wednesday nights, half-price bottles of wine supply amateur singers the liquid courage to storm the bar’s stage and belt out karaoke songs. Situated next to the Sun Valley 14 movie theater, the Indian Trail location offers dinner-and-movie packages and deals, such as 10% off food with every movie stub, or 100% off food for every Oscar you've won.
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.