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?”
The building has been there for generations, beneath a neon "Restaurant" sign that used to serve as a beacon of sustenance for WWII-era soldiers stationed nearby. Decades later, under that same sign, people still show up in search of food, and more importantly, in search of drink. This historic spot is now the home of Brewmasters Bar & Grill, a taproom that celebrates North Carolina brewers with its selection of nearly 100 craft brews. "Beer geeks," as Brewmasters likes to call them, can discover local suds from Big Boss and Crank Arm mixed in with nationally renowned beers such as Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro.
Of course, beer is also integral to the food menu. On it, guests will find pork belly braised in brown ale and beer-battered onion rings. The kitchen makes many of their ingredients in-house, including spinach dip forged from a family recipe and Brewmasters' signature candied bacon with jalapeño-apple jelly. As guests tackle their meals, they can study a state map that pinpoints North Carolina's best-loved breweries and least-invisible rivers.
K Panchos Mexican Restaurant offers hearty south-of-America fare in a cozily homey atmosphere. Head in on a lunch break to try one of many lunch specials, such as the Speedy Gonzales, which places one taco and one enchilada on a flavorful foodbed of either spanish rice or fried beans ($4.99). Steak or chicken fajitas seamlessly synthesize tender meats and freshly fired veggies ($10.50), and 27 combination dinners provide an endless matrix of subtly spiced suppers. Vegetarian options, such as two salsa-topped bean burritos with cheese dip ($7.25), abound for meat-avoiding plantavores, and K Panchos’ friendly, helpful staff can also help you decide on an entree, name for your dog, or high-altitude wedding venue.
From the Spanish word meaning the appetizer, La Botana references itself as "a modest little restaurant with big flavors." Modest is right. With its vegetarian menu alone boasting more than 30 dishes, the eatery was named the Readers' Choice for Best Mexican Food in 2011 by the Winston-Salem Journal, among a slew of other awards.
The full menu, which is rife with mole-slathered entrees, sizzling fajitas, and lime-infused seafood, comprises multiple regions of Mexico, including Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, and Oaxaca. North Carolina craft beers are also available to wash down spicy morsels or put out small table fires caused by rubbing your hands in anticipation.
Tony, the owner of Bandido’s Mexican Cafe, learned the tricks of the trade while working at his family’s Mexican restaurant as a teenager. Today, he and his wife own and operate three Bandido’s locations, which serve sizzling fajitas, crisp tacos, and burritos stuffed with beef, chicken, pork, or sautéed spinach. The Herald-Sun's readers praised Bandido's as the Best Mexican Restaurant in 2009, and the restaurant returns the favor by awarding individuals who finish the El Gigante burrito—a massive compilation of steak and chicken fajitas, rice, black beans, and shredded cheese—with a T-shirt and gentle pats on the back. The restaurant often hosts live entertainment, and the Durham location supplements its selection of lunch and dinner fare with a Sunday brunch menu served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Customers won't find any heat lamps within The Wing Co.'s kitchen, but that doesn't mean their made-to-order wings aren't hot. Instead, the increased temperatures come from nine sauces, which run the gamut from sweet chili to Cajun to teriyaki. However, the cooks aren’t content to just spread sauce on wings. Upon customer request, they can also splash the tasty liquids over salads, riblets, and sandwiches—including their signature wing burger.
Matching the wings’ heat is the dining room's firefighter-themed decor. Hardhats and helmets double as lampshades, while firefighter boots, tanks, and clothing hang from the walls, in case of an emergency costume party.