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October 9, 2008

Montford crawls with nighttime fun

The entertainment district is a contrast to uptown's lines, cover charges and dress codes.

Hiding in the maze around Park Road Shopping Center is the unassuming Montford Drive. The small side street is home to one of the largest groupings of bars in Charlotte: 14 different places to eat or drink. It's second only to uptown's entertainment district. Every weekend, its loyal following – eager to avoid the hassle of uptown's lines, cover charges and dress codes – walks from bar to bar on an unofficial Montford Drive Bar Crawl.

Andrew Blair's

Start your crawl with a bowl of lobster macaroni and cheese ($21) at Andrew Blair's; you'll need a full stomach to keep up the rest of the night. The smoke-free restaurant opened this summer and offers an upscale, but still comfortable, alternative to Montford's crop of dive bars. Later in the night, the staff opens up the dance floor and the DJ starts spinning Fergie and Beyonce.

Best special: Half-price bottles of wine Tuesday nights.

The details: Dinner is served 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; bar service 4 p.m.-2 a.m. 1600 Montford Drive. 704-525-8282.

George Pappas Park Lanes

George Pappas opened Park Lanes in 1958 – and not much has changed since. It's a throwback to the down-and-dirty bowling alley: plastic seats, smoky atmosphere, great onion rings and cold beer. Work off your lobster mac with 10 frames and a pitcher of beer.

Best special: $5.99 pitcher of Coors Light on Sundays.

The details: Open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Weekend rates for games are $5.50 per person, per game. Shoe rentals are $4.25 per person. 1700 Montford Drive. 704-523-7633.

Moosehead Grill

Refuel with an order of chicken wings at Moosehead, named best in town by Observer food critic Helen Schwab. You'll be in raucous good company. The dark and intimate bar is a favorite hangout of students from nearby Queens University.

Best special: 50 wings for $35.95. (Try the honey and habanero “bee stings” for the best flavor.)

The details: 1807 Montford Drive. 704-525-4088.

The Press Box

Head over to the Press Box to listen to live music out on the sports bar's back deck. The bar is a Charlotte landmark – the first to serve liquor by the drink and the first to have a big-screen TV.

Best special: $1.50 Bud bottles while you watch “Monday Night Football.”

The details: 1627 Montford Drive. 704-523-4981.

Jeff's Bucket Shop

Once your liquid courage takes effect, it's time to karaoke at Jeff's. Choose from 10,000 songs and step up on stage. You'll feel oddly comfortable in this small underground bar that draws an eclectic mix of people. “It's like partying in your basement,” owner Jeff Laria says.

Best special: $2 beers every night.

The details: 1601 Montford Drive. 704-525-0425.

Angry Ale's

If your friends are able to pry the karaoke mic out of your hands, cross the street to Angry Ale's. The classic college bar is always bustling inside and out on the large deck. It's a great place to grab a table and watch fellow Montford crawlers walk (or stumble) up to the bar for last call.

Best special: $3 tall boys Thursday and Friday.

The details: 1518 Montford Drive. 704-525-3663.

Taco Bell

There's nothing better than Taco Bell after a night of bar crawling. Cap off your crawl – if you can manage the two-block walk down to Woodlawn – with a giant soda and burrito supreme. Your body will thank you in the morning.

Best special: It's all cheap.

The details: Open until 2 a.m. 1800 E. Woodlawn Road (on corner of Montford and Woodlawn). 704-522-7604.

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