Audiences often arrive an hour early to Laugh Out Loud’s comedy shows, lured in by the comedy club’s amiable staff, frequent visits by nationally renowned comics, and full dinner menu. After dinner, audience members stay at their tables as the lights dim and the Laugh Out Loud stage is swarmed by daring and original joke tellers. Shaun Jones inaugurates the month of May with his outrageous personal anecdotes. Along with appearances on TV outlets such as BET's Comic View, the dapper funnyman also slunk onto the silver screen as a shifty poker player in 2003 Jamie Foxx vehicle Shade. Laugh Out Loud regularly schedules shows four nights a week, including a popular free Wednesday night open mic, which showcases the fresh talent of amateur comedians and the soundman's admittedly unoriginal microphone check.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.
Formed in the glory days of heavy metal, Queensrÿche rocks audiences with songs that reveal the fierce polish of 30 years of evolving artistry. The band's distinctive mix of prog rock, metal, and subliminal messaging rocketed their Empire album up the charts, launching hits such as "Silent Lucidity," "Jet City Woman," and "Best I Can." Normally reserved only for members of Queensrÿche's fan club, a backstage meet-and-greet lets a small group of the devoted make personal connections with the four lords of loudness, shaking their lightning-fast hands and comparing headbanging techniques. With experience opening for Nickelback and Staind, opening band The Fifth's wailing guitars rally fist pumps and head thrashes as raging as a riverbed full of angry bulls.
North Ridge Pub's casual kitchen whips up varied dinner and brunch menus of upscale pub grub. Meat minders take the Cameron steak's 9-ounce lean cut of beef ($13.95) for a dip in a soy-and-pineapple pool before laying it out on the grill to roast, and coat tender slices of meatloaf ($8.95 half/$11.95 full) in a secret sauce whose taste can only be deciphered with the help of a decoder ring. Savory sandwiches such as the Carolina shrimp burger ($7.95) and crab-cake sandwich ($7.95) warm hands as well as stomachs.
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.