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Best Place to Dance in the Triangle

The Pinhook

One can only wonder about the first person at the dawn of history who experienced joy as they wiggled, gyrated, jumped, plied, relieved, hopped, and shimmied in rhythmic fashion, doubtlessly inspiring onlookers who then rendered their own primordial versions of twist and shout. The Pinhook in downtown Durham has been selected by INDY readers in the past as the best gay and lesbian bar, and the best karaoke place. This year, voters say The Pinhook is the best place in the Triangle to get your groove on across the dance floor. —TM

Finalists: Legends Nightclub, Carolina Ballet, Nightlight

Best Community Event in the Triangle

Durham Farmers’ Market

Finalists: Drag Queen Story Hour, Beaver Queen Pageant, Pinhook Karaoke

The Durham Farmers Market is more than an event, it’s a happening. To begin with, few moments are as marvelous as the Central Park district on a warm, sunny weekend morning. It’s crowded along Foster Street, filled with vendors who stream in and out of the shops that line the sidewalks. Young derring-dos and daredevils, rude boys and ruder girls brace themselves atop skateboards as they push the limits of their skill at the skateboard park. Busking is heartily encouraged. Food trucks might be there. And at the center of the activity is the Durham Farmers Market, which takes place each Saturday—and Wednesday afternoons—from April through November at the Central Park Pavillion. The 22-year-old farmers market features 65 local vendors who provide a cornucopia of fresh produce, baked goods, pottery, jewelry, and more. —TM

Best Place to Hear Jazz in the Triangle

Duke Performances

Finalists: C. Grace, Carolina Theatre of Durham, Neptunes Parlour

Best Bartender/Mixologist in Orange / Chatham County

Alex Joustra, The Baxter/Belltree

Finalists: John Bowman, James Peery, Richard Stilwell, Darrick Long

Best Place to Hear Rock’n’Roll in the Triangle

Cat’s Cradle

With complete honesty, I say that I thank God every day that Cat’s Cradle did not close from the COVID-19 pandemic impact. With its affordable prices, even the most broke college students—cough, cough, my friends and I—could always go find a concert to quickly shoot for our procrastinated Intro to Photojournalism assignment, always due the next day. Considering the almost-religious experience of seeing Grateful Dead cover band Cosmic Charlie at Cat’s Cradle last year, I’m not surprised the venue was voted Best Place to Hear Hip-hop or Soul, AND Rock ‘n’ Roll—hey, that kind of rhymes! I remember how I felt when the band heeded my front-row plea to close the show with Brown Eyed Women, so I can say: I wholeheartedly agree with our readers. —EH

Finalists: The Pour House Music Hall, The Cave, The Pinhook

Best Golf Course in the Triangle

Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club

Finalists: Prestonwood, Hillandale, Knights Play, Hope Valley

Best Neighborhood Bar in Orange / Chatham County

The Kraken

There are dive bars and then there are dive bars. The Kraken falls soundly into the latter category. With its humble, shack-like exterior, it can be easy to miss sitting right off Highway 54 outside Carrboro, but a cluster of Harley Davidsons gives it away. Don’t be scared, though; the bar, featuring a humble selection of beers, is nicknamed “the church of beer” for the reverent crowd it draws to regular events, like Jonathan Byrd and The Pickup Cowboys’s long-standing Wednesday-night residency, plus rockabilly, metal, punk, country, and old-time string bands, all of which are free. The Kraken supports its artists, too, and tip jars make frequent rounds. At some point, the pool table is inevitably nudged to the side, and people start dancing. —SE

Finalists: Linda’s Bar and Grill, Orange County Social Club, Bowbarr

Best Place to Hear Bluegrass in the Triangle

The Blue Note Grill

Finalists: Haw River Ballroom, Cat’s Cradle, IBMA World of Bluegrass Festival

Best Live Theater Venue in the Triangle

Durham Performing Arts Center

Finalists: Raleigh Little Theatre, PlayMakers Theatre, Burning Coal Theatre Company, Stephenson Amphitheatre at the Raleigh Rose Garden

Best Art Gallery in the Triangle

NC Museum of Art

Whenever people from out of town visit Raleigh and ask me for recommendations for things to do, the one thing I tell them, without fail, is to visit the North Carolina Museum of Art. The NCMA is spectacular, with an amazing permanent collection spanning more than a dozen galleries, plus always-fascinating traveling exhibits, dynamic programming, an amphitheater for intimate live music performances, and, of course, the sprawling museum park. The NCMA is truly the Triangle’s crown jewel––whether I’m wandering through the wings of the West Building, or taking in the silent darkness in the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky; when I’m there, I’m always in my happy place. —JP 

Finalists: Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, Cedar Creek Gallery, Attic 506, Bev’s Fine Art

Best Museum in the Triangle

Museum of Life and Science

Last year, INDY readers selected the Museum of Life and Science as the best place for indoor fun in the Triangle. Oh, what a difference a year makes. The Triangle features some of the best museums in the country, and the expansive, 84-acre gem on Durham’s Murray Avenue is always a perennial favorite for budding young (and young-at-heart) scientific explorers. It takes top honors again, this year as the Triangle’s best museum. —TM

Finalists: NC Museum of Art, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Nasher Museum, NC Museum of Natural History

Best Place to Hear Blues in the Triangle

The Blue Note Grill

Finalists: Cat’s Cradle, Duke Performances, The Kraken

Best Live Theater Company in the Triangle

Raleigh Little Theatre

Established during the Great Depression, the venerable Raleigh Little Theatre is one of the oldest community theatres in the United States. Started in 1936, RLT celebrates its 85th anniversary this year. It’s fitting that the arts space in downtown Raleigh (where it routinely punches above its weight with powerhouse performances) was selected by INDY readers as the best community place in the Triangle for live theatre. —TM

Finalists: Playmakers Repertory Company, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, Burning Coal Theatre Company

Best Place to Get Specialty Cocktails in Wake County


Finalists: Watts & Ward, Bittersweet, SideBar

Best Comedy Club in the Triangle

Goodnights Comedy Club

Goodnights (originally Charlie Goodnights), the Triangle’s venerable comedy club, has been operating in the 1930s Art Deco Whites Ice Cream Co. building since 1983, following renovations in the early 80s by its original owner, Tommy Williams. Goodnights has lured in some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy over the years: Chris Rock, Ellen Degeneres, Jeff Foxworthy, Dave Chapelle, even Robin Williams stopped by for shows on their way to the top. Catching a standup show at Goodnights, now operated by Helium Comedy, is the perfect way to spend an evening. You’ll laugh a lot but don’t sleep on the food and the margaritas they serve there, either. —JP

Finalists: Raleigh Improv, ComedyWorx, Zog’s, The Comedy Lounge

Best Place to Shoot Pool in the Triangle

The Green Room

I’m telling you, yo: if I had heard that billiards legends like Minnesota Fats, Willie Mosconi, Luther “Wimpy” Lassiter, or Fast Eddie Monroe regularly shot games of eight- and nine-ball at the Green Room in Durham during their heydays, I wouldn’t be surprised. The Green Room on Broad Street looks like a poolroom. Looka here, I wouldn’t know William Vaughan if he beat me senseless with a Nerf football, but I agree with a one-sentence review of the Green Room he wrote in 2016, calling it, “Simply the coolest and most old school pool hall in the Triangle.” Ditto for Nate Freeman, who I wouldn’t know if he stood beside me and threw empty beer cans at my former wife. “The Green Room sells more PBR than any grocery store in the state,” Nate wrote in 2010. Nate ain’t lying, yo. Now that the Blue Swan is gone, the Green Room is one of the last old Durham spots. —TM

Finalists: Sharky’s Place, High House Billiards, The Kraken

Best Bartender/Mixologist in Durham County

Shannon Healy, Alley Twenty-Six

Finalists: Megan Corbally, Corpse Reviver; Kacey Liebes, Kingfisher; Arturo Sanchez, Pizzeria Toro; Mack Wilson-Leigh, The Oak House

Best Local Podcast

Basic Brunchcast

Finalists: The Bob and Lu Show, ArtCurious Podcast, At The Intersection

Best Theater to see an Indie Film in the Triangle

Carolina Theatre of Durham

Finalists: The Rialto, Chelsea Theater, The Cary Theater

Best LGBTQIA+ Bar in the Triangle

The Pinhook

Finalists: Ruby Deluxe, Legends, The Green Monkey, Flex

Best Place to Hear Hip-Hop or Soul in the Triangle

Cat’s Cradle

Finalists: The Pour House Music Hall, The Pinhook, Durham Fruit

Best Outdoor Music Venue in the Triangle

NC Museum of Art

Finalists: Red Hat Amphitheatre, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek

Best Place to Hear Noise/Electronica in the Triangle

Motorco Music Hall

Finalists: Cat’s Cradle, Nightlight, The Fruit, Alchemy

Best Neighborhood Bar in Wake County

Person Street Bar

Finalists: Slims Raleigh, Sharky’s Place, Foundation

Best Neighborhood Bar in Durham County

Alley Twenty-Six

Finalists: The Glass Jug Beer Lab, Accordion Club, Crafts & Drafts NC

Best Trivia Night in the Triangle

Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub

Finalists: Ruckus Pizza and Bar, Tomato Jake’s Pizzeria, Original Flying Burrito

Best Place to Get Specialty Cocktails in Durham County

Alley Twenty-Six

Finalists: Bar Virgile, Kingfisher, Corpse Reviver Cocktail Bar

Best Place to Hear World or International Music in the Triangle

Duke Performances, Carolina Theatre of Durham (tie)

Finalists: Motorco Music Hall, Raleigh Greek Festival

Best Place to Get Specialty Cocktails in Orange / Chatham County

The Crunkleton

Finalists: Bowbarr, Belltree Cocktail Club, Orange County Social Club, Old East Tavern

Best Bartender/Mixologist in Wake County

Martin Wheeler, Locals Oyster Bar

Finalists: Alison Williams, Slim’s; Greg Ewan, Aunty Betty’s Gin & Absinthe Bar; Josh Self, Blind Pelican; Shannon Spivey Aris, Toast it Up

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