Downtown Boone: Where to Unwind

Article Published: Aug. 19, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Downtown Boone: Where to Unwind

Triva Night at Galileo's.

Photo by Lauren Ohnesorge

Boone can never be accused of not having a nightlife: You just have to know where to look. Always have your ID ready and, if you're 21 or over and drinking, always drink responsibly.

The Boone Saloon (489 W. King St.)

The Boone Saloon (21+ during primetime) offers a chill atmosphere right on King Street, with a cozy window booth and dim lighting. Music's the main menu option here, evidenced by the fact that so many of its bartenders split their time between the tap and the stage. Check out the pool tables, juke box and $1.25 taco Tuesday special (on Tuesdays, beef, chicken and an amazing veggie-burger taco creation that's a Saloon favorite, but come early, because Tuesdays are crazy). Bring an ID - they take their 21+ night policy very seriously. Best part? It's literally right next door to campus. Expect a cover charge when bands are playing. For more information, call (828) 264-1811.

Macado's Restaurant and Bar (539 W. King St.)

No music, but you don't have to be 21 to come in for a soda during prime time. And there's never a cover charge. With a menu that has so many options it will make your head spin (and beer selections for the 21+ crowd), Macado's is the epitome of a college bar, complete with beer specials and desserts (try the Cinnamon Sensation) made to split. Think framed booths (as isolated as you want them to be) and movie posters to the extreme. Televisions in the bar make sure you don't miss Armanti's game. For more information, call (828) 264-1375.

Capone's Pizza (454 W. King St.)

It's where you go for a cheap beer and pizza, and the under 21 set is welcome. No music, but the food makes its own noise. Feeling thrifty? Try a personal pan pizza.
The crowd is a mesh of locals and college kids, winding down after a long day in the grind. Of all downtown's nightly munch spots, it's definitely among the best for your budget (and your tastebuds won't get the short end of your wallet). They even deliver. For more information, call (828) 265-1886.

Murphy's (747 W. King St.)

Local, local, local. If you want authentic, nitty gritty, in-your-face draft specials, Boone's version of an Irish bar comes calling (21+ during primetime). With pool tables, shuffleboard and darts, it's where locals come to get their game on, and, with televisions and the occasional bawdy fan, it's the closest you're going to get to a sports bar in downtown Boone. While beer specials and music take up space on the calendar, the real stars of Murphy's are its characters, and new characters are always welcome. Check out the deck in the back and order some hot wings. When bands are playing, expect a cover charge. For more information, call (828) 264-5117.

Black Cat Burrito (127 S. Depot St.)

A college favorite, expect to sample the best burritos in Boone (we like the "build it yourself" nachos and the "White Trash" burrito). While the joint's only open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, music can keep the bar open late (third Fridays are a good bet for live music), so call ahead. With beer specials and a full bar, it's a great post-work place to unwind. When bands are playing, expect a cover charge. For more information, call (828) 263-9511.

Koncepts Hookah Lounge (809 W. King St.)

If you've never hookah-ed, consider it as a college experiment. Think comfy couches and the most relaxed environment you'll find outside of a coffee shop. It's cliquey here, so bring friends to share couch space with. The venue is BYOB (21+), but anyone aged 18 and up can come out to enjoy the smoke. Koncepts also offers everything from comedy to music depending on the night. Wednesdays brings what operator Jesse Kellogg calls "hands down the best open mic in Boone." When bands are playing, expect a cover charge. For more information, call (828) 264-9476.

Char (179 W. Howard St.)

One of downtown's newer fixtures, Char brings a college-heavy mesh of students and young professionals to its deck, with a chill selection of music (including some beachy reggae, courtesy the Ital Seeds) on the weekends. Classy restaurant by day, posh bar by night, Char is the perfect place to bring your parents for lunch, then return hours later to get your groove on. It's 21+ Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Expect a cornhole tournament and 35 cent wings on Mondays, live trivia on Wednesdays and a DJ or live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call (828) 266-2179.

Paolucci's (783 W. King St.)

Paolucci's is all about authentic Italian. With good, quality classic Italian food and a relaxed bar environment after hours, it serves as a good first stop on your bar crawl. Check out the outdoor patio and the big screen televisions (perfect for the play by play). Expect a DJ on Fridays (21+), poker on Wednesdays and, coming soon, trivia on Thursdays. For more information, call (828) 268-7525.

Cafe Portofino (970 Rivers St.)

Portofino or, as its faithful call it, "The Port," is the perfect mesh of locals and college students, complete with the best outdoor dining and barring in downtown Boone. With pool tables, darts and a DJ on Thursday nights (pushing the scale toward a college crowd on Thursdays), it's strictly 21+ during primetime. If you're looking for a casual place to relax and unwind on a sunny day, the Port will suck you in. The restaurant itself is separate from the bar, making it a perfect place to bring your parents during the daylight hours. The food is great, if pricier than some King Street selections, and the garlic hot knots appetizer will have your palette ready for pasta and sandwiches. Try the Fried Green Tomato BLT (with "angry avocado sauce") or the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese (made with Texas toast). For more information, call (828) 264-7772.

Galileo's Bar and Cafe (1087 W. King St.)

It's the oddball, a bit of a walk, but, once you walk through the doors, expect a relaxed atmosphere full of dedicated faithfuls. While the moderately priced food (try the Caprese sandwich) is great, they stop serving it at 9 p.m., so come early. The best part of Galileo's? Its nightly offerings and drink specials. With a trivia night on Mondays, an open mic on Thursdays and some of the best karaoke in Boone on Fridays, it gets the diva in everyone front and center. Sometimes karaoke is 21+, so call ahead if you're underage. For more information, call (828) 355-9591.

The Town Tavern (208 Faculty St.)

Conveniently located near Appsouth Apartments, it's a neighborhood favorite, filling a niche for Faculty Street residents who don't want to make the King Street trek. Located about two minutes from the Holmes Convocation Center, the Tavern will surprise you. Though it's located in the same strip as Domino's, the inside atmosphere will make you think you're at a standalone downtown bar, and it carries its own crowd of faithful hoppers. One of the best places to catch a game, the Tavern prides itself on having four specials a night: A shooter special, a beer special, a mixed drink special and a food special (think 35 cent wings on Mondays). While not a 21+ establishment, prepare to show the doorman your ID. Friday nights mean karaoke and every night means "buzz time" computerized trivia. For more information, call (828) 264-2226.

Flipside (421 Blowing Rock Road)

It's where you go for some of the best beer specials ($1 beer specials on Thursdays) in Boone. It's also where you go for an authentic sampling of Chicago pizza. The building has some history (or infamy, take your pick), as well, as its previous occupant, the ill-fated night spot Spoonerz, was the locale highlighted by MTV a few years back. The crowd? Definitely college heavy at night. While parking can be a nightmare (we suggest parking on campus after hours and walking), its close proximity to Subway, Klondike and Parthenon sets your nighttime agenda nicely. Music is also an occasional part of Flipside's repertoire. For more information, call (828) 268-9708. Flipside's closed on Mondays.

Parthenon Cafe (455 Blowing Rock Road)

With 'Once a Week, Go Greek' as its informal slogan, it shouldn't surprise you that this bar can be frat heavy. With great drink specials and a dedicated following, it also shouldn't surprise you that, thanks in part to this bar, the strip's parking lot may not be visible through all the people. When the sun comes out and class lets out, this is where party-ready college students come to unwind and be seen. They're having some issues with construction, so call ahead to make sure they're open. For more information, call (828) 263-0900.

Klondike Cafe (441 Blowing Rock Road)

The third part of the Flipside/Parthenon trifecta, drink specials and a dedicated group of Klondike faithful keep the crowd coming. Here, it's all about college, evidenced both by the crowd and the enthusiastic employees. As with its cohorts, parking is the biggest issue with have with Klondike, so plan ahead or walk. For more information, call (828) 264-9988.

Late Night Eats
Jimmy John's (525 W. King St.)

They deliver! Jimmy John's, conveniently located between Boone Saloon and Macados, is open until 3 a.m. nightly, and they're waiting for your hunger cravings. For more information, call (828) 266-9820.

Boone Bagelry (516 W. King St.)

Recently, the breakfast staple expanded its hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Expect to be able to order a "Bagelicious" (I'd recommend the "tempeh-licious") late Fridays and Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. For more information, call (828) 262-5585.

Strut Your Genius

Who took over the role of Jesus after DeNiro turned it down in The Last Temptation of Christ?
This 2004 film is DeNiro's highest grossing ever.

No, we've not suddenly become obsessed with Robert DeNiro, but he was a category at this week's Trivia Night at Galileo's.

It's where smarties from all over the High Country converge to test their trivia, in teams that range from pairs to nearly a dozen. Live trivia doesn't involve a hand held computer device. In fact, computers and cell phones are strictly forbidden and, while not everyone will call you out for cheating ("I think their shame is private," smarty David Hudgins said), prepare for evil glares. These smarties, after all, take their contest very seriously.

"Serious enough to show up every week," Hudgins said.

And they're not about to let a cheater get the trivia title.

Think Trivial Pursuit meets Jeopardy meets history class with alcoholic beverages, and the trivia warriors come for many different reasons.

"To prove that we have the largest command of thoroughly useless information," Hudgins said.
"I come to support my friends and see what geniuses they are," Lynx Gallagher said.

Hudgins, Gallagher and the rest of the "Rural Jurors" are regulars and, while the team name may vary, the attitude doesn't. Serious. "Very" serious.

You can tell when trivia master and Galileo's owner Mark Dixon reads the answers to the questions.

"What?" one smarty cries.

"That's a stupid answer," said another. "A stupid answer to a stupid question."

At least one table, though, responds with cheers. "Eat that, old people."

After all, a correct answer brings mad bragging rights, but it's all in good fun. "They're all smart," Dixon said.

A seasoned trivia participant, "I used to play all the time," he said. "Since I'm here and I can't play, I figured I'd run a game."

By the way, Willem Dafoe. Meet the Fockers. What, have you already forgotten the questions?
Live trivia at Galileo's Bar and Restaurant happens Mondays at 8:30 p.m. A live trivia also happens Wednesdays at Char and will soon be a part of Thursday nights at Paolucci's. Come early to get a table.

Not into sharing your inner genius? Grab a guitar and try an open mic night (Thursdays at Galileo's, Wednesdays at Koncepts) or leave the guitar at home and karaoke it up (Fridays at Galileo's, Town Tavern and Nick's at Tynecastle).

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