April 5, 2016
My entire culinary experience with Winston-Salem is from one trip to Reanimator Records for a show in early-2015. The hosting band, Spirit System, had set up a tiny grill and picnic on the four-foot wide sidewalk in front of the record store venue and welcomed any hungry passersby to partake in their homemade feast of veggie hot dogs, cole slaw, edamame salad, etc. This unexpected catering was in all actuality perfect for the low-key venue and was delicious (which comes as no surprise considering drummer, Gary Guthrie, is a top-shelf caterer). So, when searching for the best eateries to visit during my very first Phuzz Phest stint, I decided to ask Spirit System’s bassist, Laurie Ruroden, to indulge me in some of her favorite local spots to eat within the Winston-Salem area.
First stop (and middle, and later on because lord knows that a solid coffeeshop is beyond necessary during festival shenanigans) is Krankies Coffee located at 211 E. Third St. Sidenote: It took me well into my mid-20s to acquire a debit card, so while on that maiden voyage last year to Reanimator Records, I had to find an ATM to get cash and purchase the $4 Petula Clark album that I absolutely had to have. Krankies is about a minute away, so I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the communal charm of the sweet shop and can’t wait to go back for another caffeinated cup. Krankies, open until 10 p.m. every day except for Sunday, doubles as a venue, has a full bar and delectable small meals that utilize the vegetables they grow themselves. As for the coffee, Krankies roasts their own beans, resulting in the smooth, familiar taste that will make you feel right at home. Their outdoor patio will be a nice place for peaceful respite in order to recharge your batteries for optimal festival energy.
Pizza has to be on the list, of course; what’s a town without its pizza options? For this, Laurie has directed me to Mission Pizza Napoletana, the first and only Napoletana pizzeria in North Carolina. For those of you who may be wondering, Napoletana-style pizzas originate from Naples, Italy, and are normally 12” pies made with tomato and cheese, most often more tomato sauce than cheese. Because of this sauce/cheese ratio, the pies often get a soggy, molten consistency in the middle, so don’t ever expect a ‘by-the-slice’ Napoletana pizza. Leave the crispy misconceptions at home, grab a fork and go to town on that melty goodness. Although Laurie notes the pies are out of this world, Missions isn’t just any old pizzeria. The roasted cauliflower, pasta, Cioppino (fish stew), and heirloom tomato salad also top a gushing list of you-have-to-try-these-ASAP items. Mission Pizza is located at 707 N. Trade St.
Maybe you just caught Chairlift’s set and you’re feeling some food to reflect your modern and funky afterglow? There’s an eatery for you! 6th & Vine is a unique wine bar offering tapas as well as a full menu. The food options range from small plates to full dinner meals and an impressive wine list. The outdoor patio space is a lively, eclectic pocket that pairs art, food and conversation into one nestled, cohesive space. Patios like these make grabbing a drink and a bite a memorable experience. Inside, the seating is spacious and comfortable, and the staff is helpful and sweet– if you’re lucky you may get a certain bassist as your server. As an added tip, 6th & Vine is open until late both Friday and Saturday nights during Phuzz Phest with a special late-night menu that starts at 10 p.m. on Friday and 11 p.m. on Saturday. The late-night menu incorporates tipsy cravings into stylish plates like the Pepper Jack Queso Chorizo Nachos, Margherita Flat and Panko Crusted Chicken Strips served with Sherry BBQ Sauce.
Mediterranean food is my all-time favorite and with the help of locals, I’ve yet to be steered awry from a city’s best hummus spots. A good thing to keep in mind is that Mediterranean food is a definite crowd pleaser. If you’ve got a group of people split apart because one of you couldn’t miss Sunflower Bean, and the others wouldn’t dare miss Boulevards, everyone’s different tastes can be satiated with the a pre-show shwarma or falafel. During Phuzz Phest, I’m looking forward to sauntering into Mooney’s Mediterranean Café located at 101 W 4th St. where Mooney serves “the second best Lebanese food to your Lebanese grandmother.” Mooney’s offers all the traditional plates and platters but mark themselves as the best with their made-from-scratch sauces and marinades, imported Lebanese tahini, and, they’re the largest purchasers of eggplant in Winston-Salem. Mooney’s is open 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, so if you walk by at 4, don’t be discouraged, catch a set then circle back for this local favorite.
The Porch, Kitchen & Cantina is a little bit off the beaten path of the actual festival (840 Mill Works St.), but it is in the same space as a quirky brewhouse & lounge, Hoots Roller Bar, and within walking distance of the Sunday Phuzz Ramp Jam that will be happening at noon, featuring thrash and punk bands, indoor skate ramp, beer and fun in the sun! The Porch has brunch on Sundays from 11 am to 3 p.m. to send you back off into the real world with style. The Porch boasts savory and infused Tex-Mex with options from tacos to Mexican burgers. Who wouldn’t love that after a few nights of partying! The Porch is aptly capable of delivering options for all dietary needs & taste buds, including the Porch Taco Plate, Texas Banh Mi, Quinoa Zucchini Burger and Veggie Chili.
Also highly recommended is Side Bar (sister and attached to Hutch & Harris located at 424 W 4th St.) for their inventive appetizers and munchies. Side Bar is a mellow, newly renovated space that offers great specialty cocktails, 16 craft beers on tap and a good patio with prime people watching views. The menu for both Hatch & Harris/SideBar ranges from an impressive raw bar, to a vast appetizer menu (Laurie’s tip: their Mr. Destiny corn dusted oysters are the bee’s knees!), to a house-made black bean burger or even a ribeye steak, if that’s how you’re trying to play this game. They’re open until 2 a.m. both Friday & Saturday in case you need a nightcap refresher!
And last but not least, fingers crossed that food trucks will be out and about during Phuzz Phest, in particular, The Screaming Radish, a farm-to-truck organic feast on wheels.
Check out the full lineup for Phuzz Phest on April 15 & 16 in Winston Salem
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