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Pub Grub 

If you're out for serious drink, food is often an irrelevant consideration. All that matters is the bartender's talent and the beverage options on the shelf, right? Not always. There are times when you find yourself starving in midtipple and end up inhaling a greasy burger, flaccid fries, and a lingering feeling of regret.

It doesn't have to be that way.

The Triangle has quite a few places where the food menu more than holds its own against the drinks lineup. (And we're not just talking about the often-elusive fleet of food trucks outside local breweries.) Here are five choice spots to drink where there's always a quality meal if hunger strikes.

The Eddy Pub

1715 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Road, Saxapahaw,

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
  • Photo by Alex Boerner

While drinking from The Eddy's selection of North Carolina beers on tap, satisfy your palate with Southern comfort food comprising ingredients from local farms. The menu items change frequently to keep pace with what's available. Recent dishes to look for include grilled North Carolina catfish tacos with a salsa constructed of locally grown peppers, the grilled Firsthand Foods pork chop, and the cheese and charcuterie board that boasts local cheeses from such producers as Holly Grove and Piemonte Farms and charcuterie from Left Bank Butchery (right next door).

The Players' Retreat

105 Oberlin Road, Raleigh,

  • Photo by Alex Boerner

Yeah, it's a sports bar, but Raleigh institution Players' Retreat is worth visiting even if you're clueless about jump shots and post patterns. The PR, as regulars call it, boasts the largest selection of single-malt scotches in North Carolina. If liquor isn't your libation of choice, well, the PR has won the Wine Spectator award of excellence every year since 2010, thanks to a selection of more than seventy-five wines by the glass. The food is a consistent winner, too. Burgers ground on site draw top marks. On the weekends, executive chef Beth LittleJohn expands the offerings, and you may find dishes such as fresh mahi mahi. The PR has a better-than-expected touch with salads, too.

Trophy Brewing & Pizza

827 West Morgan Street, Raleigh,

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER
  • Photo by Alex Boerner

Go for the beer. Stay for the pizza. Whether you're drinking a Sweet Stout of Mine, a Teacher's Pet IPA, or one of Trophy's other fine brews, there's an incredibly satisfying pie to go with it. Try the Local Celebrity, with its roasted parsnip ricotta, fontina, grape tomatoes, Heritage Farms house-cured pancetta, and arugula. For the brave of stomach, The Daredevil dazzles with ghost chili pepper salami, jalapeños, and Sriracha. (If you're hungry for pizza, make sure you go to the Trophy on Morgan Street and not the one on Maywood. The latter location just has a taproom and a rotating schedule of food trucks.)

The Wooden Nickel Pub

205 North Churton Street, Hillsborough,

This hole-in-the-wall is a fine destination for craft beers on tap. The food menu may fool you at first. It seems to be an assortment of typical bar food—burgers, wings, fried pickles. Try it, though, and experience the excellence of execution. Ingredients make a difference, such as the lamb shanks from Back Creek Farm in Mount Ulla recently used in a batch of tacos or sweet potatoes from Lil' Farm in Timberlake. Going beyond the standard with such choices as edamame tossed in Old Bay or a lamb burger with feta cheese and red peppers also helps. Ask about the fresh catch of the day, which comes from Durham-based Simply Fresh, specializing in selling seafood caught by North Carolina fishermen.

Crabtree Beer Garden

4325 Glenwood Avenue (Crabtree Valley Mall), Raleigh,

This beer garden and bottle shop is only a few months old and is still gaining its footing, but it has already nailed it on beer selection, with forty-plus well-chosen local and national brews on tap. The kitchen launched with a menu similar to its partner location in Brier Creek and maintains an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. Crabtree has a larger kitchen, though, which gives it more menu flexibility. Check out the white bean, sausage, and kale soup or one of the many flatbreads available, like the Loaded German with kielbasa, bacon, ham, sauerkraut, Gruyere, and spicy Dijon cream.

  • Photo by Alex Boerner


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