The Hopscotch Music Festival is here delivering bigger acts and newer artists from your hometown. Lines to get into show venues get long as downtown Raleigh transforms this weekend into "Wristband City." If you're lucky enough to go, keep up the VIP experience and start the night of live music in these larger than life spots. They're less than a block away to key venues and may even make your wait in line a lot more bearable. Let these sites entertain your sense of taste before you feast your eyes and ears during this 3 day festival.
Red Hat Amphitheater - Jose and Sons
Jose and Son's is your headlining choice for pre gaming with friends for a big headliner concert at Red Hat Amphitheater. The creative menu has a variety of large and small options to best serve parties of any size. Share a small plate like the gouda mac and queso or the duck carnitas. Better yet, dive solo into some heartier fare such as chicharrons - crisp pork belly cracklins - and waffles or the enchiladas del mar. They have a vast selection of maragaritas and craft cocktails to imbibe before your short one-block stumble to Solange and Run the Jewels.
Slim's - Beasley's Chicken and Honey
Going to Slim's for a night of homegrown North Carolina rock? Pair with it modern twists on traditional southern comforts from Beasley's Chicken and Honey. This chicken joint brought to you by James Beard Award-winning chef Ashley Christensen has the classic chicken and waffles with all the staples that won't let you forget the great state you're in. We're talking the classic pimento mac and cheese custard, collard greens, and buttermilk biscuits. While it's safe to stick with any choice on the menu, we dare you to try their Nashville hot chicken which is rumored to make you sweat without the summer heat.
City Plaza - ZPizza
Partying with Future Islands or Big Boi in City Plaza this weekend requires party food served swiftly so you don't miss a beat. ZPizza is a slice above the rest showcasing not only artisan pizza, but 20 self serving taps of craft beer. Slap on another wristband to your collection from Hopscotch and use it pay and pour your favorite brew by the ounce. This pizzeria boasts better pizza because of their better-for-you ingredients like housemade marinara and fresh toppings on a fresh-baked crust. Take the premium outdoor patio to scope out your spot in the crowd or take your slice to go to claim your space on the go.
Lincoln Theater - Oak City Meatball Shoppe
Swing around the block for meatballs before rocking out at Lincoln Theater. Oak City Meatball Shoppe knows more ball tricks than you can imagine with its "Create Your Plate" menus of balls, sauces, and sides. Put your balls between buns for sliders or in a hoagie with cheese, but these balls really shine when they're on creamy risottto, polenta, or even mac and cheese! Don't worry about leaving hungry because these balls are big enough to have on their own whether they're your traditional beef, spicy pork, or veggie - they even have a "Ball of the Day." Don't forget to down these with their bourbon and cocktails before you roll out to the next show.
The Pour House - Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana
The Pour House is next door to the double whammy of Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana. Two sides of the same authentically exotic coin, these Laotian restaurants are perfect complements to one another: Bida Manda brings you big plates of pad thai and crispy pork belly soup while Brewery Bhavana offers smaller plates of dim sum. Recently featured in Bon Apetit magazine as a Top 10 restaurant, Brewery Bhavana's endless choices includes bao (buns, steamed or pan-friend, stuffed with braised pork, Cantonese barbeque, or curry chicken), vegetable or duck egg rolls, and dumplings almost too good to share but too vast to to miss out on the chance to try each one. Take in the atmosphere of another world that still makes you feel at home among lofty ceilings, bamboo-woven walls, and plenty of the fresh flora that inspires the local beer made here.
Written by Renee Baker
Renee is sit-down comedienne and event photographer when she's not at her day job. While it doesn't pay the bills, her talents are an excuse to day drink craft brews on rooftops, get into festivals on Fayetteville Street, and general gallivanting. Outdoors she's usually seen with her default date: her dog Max, scoping out a spot to people watch and heckle passersby. Her mother says the two worst things you can give her indoors are a drink and a mic.