When it comes to burgers and brats, the Triangle is stocked with new options. Geer Street Garden (644 Foster St., Durham, www.geerstreetgarden.com, 919-688-2900) moved into the former Geer Street filling station on May 5 and touts a menu of simple American fare including a local, pasture-raised burger ($9), a fried chicken plate with potato salad and slaw ($10) and a Reuben ($8).

Owner Andy Magowan says his vision for Geer Street is “really high-quality American food” and a “simple place to eat outside.” The restaurant’s patio packs long rows of picnic tables. “I wanted to have communal seating so people can meet other people that they may not know,” says Magowan.

Geer Street offers a dozen $5 drafts, a range of bottled beers, a small but noble list of wines and four specialty cocktails, including The Durhamite (vodka, black tea and lemonade for $8). The restaurant is open between 11:30 a.m. and midnight Monday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

In Raleigh, Rocky Top Hospitality shifted its Hi5 restaurant to a new concept, Draft Carolina Burgers and Beers (510 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, www.hi5raleigh.com, 919-834-2955) with a soft opening on May 5. General Manager Greg Hughes says the new restaurant is “not a sports bar, just a casual bar.” But the spot boasts five 8-foot pool tables, 42 televisions and 40 draft beers all from North Carolina.

Food is also sourced locally. For Draft’s burgers, beef from Coastal Cattle Company in eastern North Carolina is ground in-house with buns from Neomonde Baking Company in Morrisville.

Draft Carolina is open 5 p.m. until midnight, Sunday through Wednesday, and 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The bar plans to open early on game days during football season.

Beckon in the barbecue season with the annual Hillsborough Hog Day festival (www.hogdays.com) held this weekend downtown in Hillsborough’s River Park.

On Friday, 36 teams from across the state will start cooking barbecuean estimated total of 3,600 poundsand tend their concoctions throughout the night as they try to meet a deadline of 7 a.m. Saturday. A panel of judgesincluding Larry Faucette, a detective with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office; Larry Levine of the BBQ Jew (bbqjew.com); Ryan Pitz of North Carolina Barbecue Company; and David Hunt, an information specialist with Orange County governmentwill rate the chopped pork and announce the top five contestants at 9 a.m.

Barbecue from all 36 teams will be slathered in sauce by last year’s winner, David Burch of Smokey Dave’s BBQ catering, and sold by the sandwich or pound until the pork runs out. Seven winners from 2009 and 2010 will also sell barbecue$1 a sample or $4 a sandwichto compete for the 2011 People’s Choice Award. The winner of that contest will be announced at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

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