Where Tye-Dyes and Neckties Unite

“Buffalo fried tofu” isn’t exactly something you hear every day. That is, unless you’re Chef Brandon Cruze at the Sunspot restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee. “Where tie-dyes and neckties unite” is their quirky tagline, mainly because of the diverse menu that caters to an array of lifestyles and food preferences. Featuring a wide variety of Southwestern, Caribbean, and Latin American-inspired cuisines, Sunspot combines unique flavors for both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.   Start out with their signature tomatillo salsa and tortilla chips on the rooftop patio, but we hear the Roasted Pork Burrito and [... more]

Feelin’ Squirrely

Chattanooga, Tennessee, is known for its rolling hills, Civil War history, and top ranked aquarium – but what about for its bar scene? The Flying Squirrel has become quite the hot spot for the city’s young professionals and savvy visitors alike, and for good reason. The venue’s modern architecture and décor stunningly combines steel beams, wooden bars tops, and massive glass windows, allowing for a cozy yet chic atmosphere. Even more impressive? The menu. Bar food takes a sophisticated turn with options like duck tacos, crab rolls, and meat [... more]

Raleigh’s Newest Draw

Though it may not boast a fancy name, the Raleigh Warehouse District has transformed into one of the hottest spots in North Carolina. Though originally built as an industrial zone, the six-block district filled with spacious, old brick buildings now hosts several retail shops, businesses, restaurants, and art galleries. Some of the most popular creative spots include the Litmus Gallery & Studios and the Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh. For good eats, locals and visitors flock to Tuscan Blu for fine Italian cuisine and Humble Pie for jazz [... more]

Magic City Music

Though open just one year, Iron City Birmingham Bar & Grill has already become one of the Magic City’s hottest spots for nightlife. Capable of comfortably holding more than 1,000 people, Iron City plays host to many up-and-coming musical artists, as well as established musicians of all genres such as Kid Ink, Buckcherry, and Earl Sweatshirt. Located in the heart of downtown, the modern venue features not only two full-service bars and live music, but also an impressive eatery that strives to produce “a white tablecloth experience [... more]

Always Find Your Pants

It’s been our experience that passionate home brewers make the best craft brewers. That’s exactly how the people behind Madison, Alabama’s Blue Pants Brewery and Taproom started. They spent years in their kitchens, basements, and garages playing around with ingredients and flavors to find the best-tasting beers. That combined experience comes in handy at Blue Pants, where they brew a large variety of “unreasonably good” (as their slogan claims) beers—from an American red ale to a strawberry saison. Open six nights a week and on Friday and [... more]

Smelly Cat Coffee

“Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you?” Who doesn’t recognize the lyrics from the iconic song Phoebe Buffay performed at her local coffee shop in the popular TV show Friends. Named for that catchy ditty, Smelly Cat Coffeehouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, has charmed patrons since 2000 with its offbeat atmosphere, a superb roaster menu, fresh baked goods, and probably the most clever moniker of any coffee shop. Next time you’re in Charlotte, scoot over to the North Davidson District (NoDa), pull up a chair [... more]

Durham’s Spanish Flavor

Durham, North Carolina, is widely known for its intricate architecture and captivating cathedrals. However, visitors to this college town should not miss another gorgeous gem—Mateo Bar de Tapas, a restaurant on West Chapel Hill Street that is the talk of the town. Located in the old Book Exchange building, the eatery features a modern rustic décor and an inviting atmosphere, making it the ideal place to grab a drink with friends at the polished wood bar or settle into one of the plush booths to bask in [... more]

Less Is More

Union Common, the soon-to-open restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, bills itself as “a non-traditional steakhouse.” This may sound like an oxymoron since you can’t get much more traditional than steak, but unlike conventional steakhouses, Union Common will forsake the monster-size portions mentality for a fresh approach: small, shared plates. Considered a “social concept steakhouse,” Union Common encourages group dining. Brett Davis, one of the owners, explains, “We chose the name ‘Union Common’ because we want it to be about people coming together and breaking bread, sharing their time [... more]

Fresh From the Mountains

I’ve noticed that freshness is the main ingredient at Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville, South Carolina. They produce seven beers throughout the year, and offer four additional brews seasonally. Tom Davis, Thomas Creek’s owner, brew master, and brewery manager, told me that the natural water source starting high in the Appalachian Mountains contributes to that well-known fresh quality of his beers. From producing only small batches to double filtering, this craft brewery always operates in full swing to keep up with growing demands. I can assure you, [... more]

Mississippi’s Best Bar

When it comes to beer, Draft Magazine knows its stuff, and if they say a bar contains some great brews, well, we believe them. So when they named The Mahogany Bar in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, one of America’s top beer bars, we decided to check it out. Our conclusion: Once again, Draft got it right! The brewpub serves up more than 140 beers, including all five Mississippi breweries on tap. A drink menu with five pages of beers means everyone (even beer belittlers) can find something to suit [... more]

Build Your Own Manhattan

At Article 14, a Midtown Atlanta bar, you choose the bourbon or whiskey, vermouth, and bitters to customize your Manhattan. It’s a great concept for Manhattan aficionados, but a bit too intimidating for me. I prefer the A-14 Martini, in my opinion, the best apple martini you’ll ever have. If you’ve sworn off apple martinis based on the overly sweet ones you’ve had in the past, put your prejudices aside and try this one. You won’t regret it. Need something to nibble on? Get the lobster pasta—it’s [... more]

Groundbreaking Blues

The Blues began in the fields of Southern plantations and took hold in honky-tonk hole-in-the-wall places. So for an authentic Blues experience, head to Clarksdale, Mississippi’s divey Ground Zero Blues Club. (Some people even believe that Clarksdale is the birthplace of the Blues.) Co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman, the bar presents live music four nights a week. National acts occasionally occupy the plywood stage, but more often than not, you’ll find local musicians following in the footsteps of great Delta Blues artists. Good things are often repeated, [... more]

Young and Bold

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Company has caused quite the splash since opening its doors in 2010. Publicly lauded by peers such as top-quality Cigar City Brewing, Westbrook crafts their brews in barrels that once housed wine, apple brandy, or rum. And for young brewers, husband-and-wife co-founders Edward and Morgan Westbrook don’t shy away from experimenting with lots of flavors, from anniversary editions to seasonals to collaborations with other breweries. In fact, 36 different offerings have already hit the market at one point or another in [... more]

Everything But Overalls

The Overall Company is certainly both a local favorite and a beloved tourist attraction for those who pass through Opelika, Alabama, on their way to an Auburn University football game. Named for a pre-Civil War overall maker that once occupied the building, the artisan pop factory/coffee bar/restaurant/live music venue keeps people coming back with its unique and eclectic offerings. The restaurant resembles a large renovated barn with its rustic, down-home feel. The simple menu features only a few delicious specialties, but anything you order won’t disappoint. After [... more]

Any Day of the Week

I’ve been a fan of local craft brews as long as I’ve lived in Atlanta so I was immediately drawn to Monday Night Brewing’s selection, especially their IPAs. Just last year, they opened a new brewery  and tasting room. Walking in, you’re greeted by a wall full of ties with the message “Tie One On” and it’s exactly what you do—Monday Night encourages you to donate a tie to the wall. Throw in a shuffleboard court, a giant framed mustache, and a deck and it’s the perfect [... more]