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.
Tiny combustions and the smell of butter emanate from Goodnight's Comedy Club's vintage popcorn maker as nationally touring standups such as Marc Maron and Ralphie May step up to the mic. With a brick wall behind them and a checkered floor below, these headliners spin their comic yarns as popcorn, Buffalo wings, and cocktails deftly land on tables. In addition to its cabaret menu of apps and drinks, the club is connected to two restaurants. Every month, the mostly private Grille at Goodnight's unveils a new menu of upscale American fare, from prime rib to lobster mac n cheese and pumpkin ravioli that turns into carriage ravioli at midnight. The Old Bar Restaurant and Bar resides underneath Goodnight's, treating diners to more casual fare in the form of burgers and Tex-Mex platters.
The chefs at Draft Carolina Burgers & Beers craft specialty burgers out of high-grade, local beef, boasting an extensive array of chuck cylinders alongside salads, sandwiches, and shareable appetizers. Every day, grass-fed Angus beef is ground in-house, eventually transforming into finger-bound feasts such as the Southern Lovin', a burger topped with fried green tomatoes, Holly Grove Farms goat cheese, bacon, and balsamic. Thanks to their partnership with the Mash House Brewery, Draft Carolina's bartenders decant ice-cold brews such as the Mash House blonde and the Mash House IPA, which won the 2001 Great American Beer Festival medal for Hoppy Hour IPA. Billiards and shuffleboard make ideal after-dinner entertainment, and a casual, welcoming atmosphere greets diners inhabiting all points of the monocle-to-jorts fanciness scale.
Oliver Twist Lounge buzzes with an effortlessly romantic vibe thanks to its candlelit interior, which brims with sumptuous dark-red and maroon accents. Artistically crafted plates showcase Spanish-style tapas crafted from verdant veggies and spicy seafood, and more than 20 specialty martinis and an extensive wine list complement each savory bite. Chefs cook up morsels well into the night, and a jam-packed calendar of entertainment—ranging from live music to belly dancers—propels guests from their perches in the VIP room onto their feet or extremely limber elbows.
At Trali Irish Pub, chef Eamonn Kelly has masterminded a diverse menu of traditional Irish fare. The daily-changing carvery menu harks back to medieval Ireland and stuffs stomachs with freshly cut meats in dishes such as meat loaf, slice steak tips with bourbon-peppercorn sauce, and corned beef and cabbage ($9.95 each). Edibles such as a fresh-fruit waffle with bacon and eggs ($9) and the traditional Irish breakfast—replete with irish sausage, rashers, and a grilled tomato buttressed by home fries, beans, and eggs ($12)—populate the brunch menu, and Trali's catering services deliver succulent Irish grub right to hungry doorsteps, dropping off items such as sandwich platters ($3.50–$4.50/sandwich), handmade desserts ($3–$40), and bangers and mash ($40).
Having materialized only recently in a puff of grill-smoke, The Artisan and its grizzled restaurant veteran, chef Justin Hourani, conjures a menu of Greek and Mediterranean delights out of locally grown, organic produce. An opener of steamed mussels in a tomato garlic sauce with a dash of ouzo ($9) synchronizes taste buds so that they hum harmoniously from the flavor-symphony of the lamb shank, which arrives braised with carrots, potatoes, and vegetables in a red-wine tomato sauce, garnished with rosemary and cinnamon ($17). Diners nursing more hippo-like hungers will leave full after a repast of herbed chicken sautéed in creamy ouzo sauce ($14) or the Alexander, a seasoned chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta and crowned with cheese and tears from the realization that there are no more worlds to conquer ($14). Adventurous vegetarians, meanwhile, can avoid offending their bovine blind date with the veggie mousakas, made with flippant eggplant, zucchini, and potato in a béchamel sauce with grated cheese ($12).