Taste of The Town

For this year’s Taste of the Town, we decided to check out local restaurants that offer first-rate cuisine along with quality live entertainment. Here are our choices for the best places to enjoy an evening filled with memorable food and fun.

Bavarian Brathaus

“When customers step foot into the Bavarian Brathaus, they are immediately transported to Germany — no passport required,” mused Gene Gibbons, the restaurant’s co-owner. With a curious assortment of cuckoo clocks, flags and beer steins adorning the walls plus an extensive selection of specialty bratwursts (pictured here) and schnitzels, an authentic German experience is virtually guaranteed. Further merriment is provided by well-regarded act the Little German Band (see Web site for scheduled times). An acoustic duo plays Sundays starting at 5 p.m.
“During Oktoberfest, a number of bands play either indoors or outside in the beer garden,” Gibbons said. “Customers tend to linger longer on those nights while eating, drinking and dancing.”

Must Try: Schweinshaxen, a colossal, slow-cooked pork knuckle, is a traditional Bavarian dish that requires ordering 24 hours in advance. “This fall-off-the-bone dish is a head-turner and not for the fainthearted,” Gibbons said.

6464 Tryon Road (Wellington Village)
(919) 859-5299

Café Capistrano

Folks looking for healthily prepared Mexican food will find much to love at Café Capistrano, a cozy California-style bistro that’s just off the beaten path but well worth seeking out. Patrons cite friendly service, relaxed surroundings and exquisitely prepared food as reasons for loyalty.
“Everything we serve is fresh — from the guacamole to the enchiladas, and all meals are made to order,” said Proprietor James Cardona, who hails from the Golden State’s Fresno area. “We also do vegetarian and even vegan with no problem.” Be sure to stop by on Tuesday nights at 6:30 to hear blues/jazz guitar virtuoso Jimmy Collins.

MUST TRY: The Mexican salad includes a heaping portion of mixed greens with rice, black beans, meat of choice (go with the perfectly seasoned shredded chicken), pico de gallo and Santa Fe (ranch-like) or zesty California lime dressing.

2250 Gathering Place Circle (Carpenter Village)
(919) 467-2320

Hibernian Restaurant & Pub,

Popular Irish-themed outpost Hibernian contains some of the most distinctive furnishings you’ll see in any restaurant. Cathedral-style booths, stone archways and stained-glass windows are striking remnants from a historic church. Near the bar, a small library of sorts features a fireplace flanked by built-in bookshelves filled with antique books. Winning food choices like bangers (Irish sausage) and mash, shepherd’s pie and Cajun-seasoned black and blue burgers are sure to sate your appetite. Live music cranks up around 10 p.m. on weekend nights, and styles vary from acoustic pop to alternative rock and most everything in between.

MUST TRY: The signature beer-battered fish and chips entrée features light, crisp breaded cod served aloangside award-winning fries cooked in peanut oil.
(919) 467-9000

Irregardless Café

An iconic and eclectic culinary fixture since 1975, Irregardless Café doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to providing exceptional service, cuisine and live music. The chefs finesse everything from grown-on-site herbs and local vegetables to hormone-free beef and fresh fish. Special emphasis is placed on offering gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian-friendly menu selections.

“We originally opened as a vegetarian restaurant, but we’ve expanded the menu over the years to include healthy seafood and meat options,” said Arthur Gordon, founder and proprietor. Except Mondays, when the café is closed, talented local musicians perform nightly and during brunch on Sundays. Genres range from jazz and folk to bluegrass and classical guitar, and the dance floor fills up each Saturday evening. Consult the “secret passage” directions on the eatery’s Web site to avoid Hillsborough Street reconstruction.

MUST TRY: Venerable staple Morgan Street Chicken is a breast filet marinated in a too-good-to-be-legal lemon tahini dressing and then coated with crushed roasted cashews and cracker crumbs.

901 West Morgan St.
(919) 833-8898

Java Divine
Holly Springs

Java Divine has subtly transitioned from its coffeehouse roots into a soul-warming café. Consider, for instance, the addition of grilled and fresh panini sandwiches, made-in-house gelato and fine wine and beer. The café stocks more than 60 reasonably priced varietals from Italy, Spain, Chile, Australia and elsewhere. 
“My husband and I have traveled to Italy and France several times, and we just wanted to share our appreciation for wine with our customers,” says Owner Christy Longo, who added that Java Divine occasionally offers wine tastings. Just call or check the Web site for dates and times. Live music (largely jazz, acoustic guitar and folk) is available most weekends and sometimes on weekday evenings.

128 Bass Lake Road
(919) 577-6288

MUST TRY: The grilled salami panini teems with provolone cheese and a mixture of marinated mushrooms, olives, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes on an herb focaccia bread.

Six String Café & Music Hall

Inside the spacious venue that formerly housed Bullwinkle’s is a distinctive fusion of nightspot, restaurant and sports bar. There’s even a store that sells musical instruments and retail space for Miss Taffy’s Cheesecakes.
“We wanted to create a venue where people could hear great music, eat dinner and relax for an evening all under one roof,” said Matthew Pisacane, general manager/co-owner and a longtime restaurant industry professional. Musical options at Six String are manifold, spanning the gamut from acoustic performances to full-on rock shows. Eventually, stand-up comedy and feature films may be added to the mix.
“We’re still evolving,” Pisacane explained. When it comes to the food menu, everything from pizza and burgers to “headliners” like homemade lasagna and N.Y. strip steak lives in harmony.

MUST TRY: House-favorite Italian-baked almond chicken is stuffed with ricotta cheese, ham and mozzarella. It’s cooked in a delectable cream sauce, then topped with bread crumbs and toasted almonds and served with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli.

1040 Buck Jones Road
(919) 462-7054

About the author:
David McCreary plays one musical instrument: an iPod. When not wearing earbuds, he’s busy scouting out new restaurants and maintaining his hard-earned foodie status.

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