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The Best Mini Food Crawl in Downtown Greensboro

by Kristi Maier

| @triadfoodies KRISTI MAIER

What better way to get a taste of what downtown Greensboro’s newest restaurants have to offer than make your way slowly through the area, sampling a few small plates and drinks? Time for a Foodcrawl. This one is “mini” sized because it’s only three places, but four stops (one got repeated). Being a professional foodcrawler (I’ve hosted more than a few), there are some parameters that one must abide by. One is “usually” that they should all be walk-able, but one of the places was just a little farther than we were willing to walk, so we did drive. You can walk. It’s okay. You just plan that into timing.

The restaurant has to have a great bar with great service that will also serve food. Bar service tends to move faster, probably because you don’t have a server pacing it all out for you. Barkeeps drop the food and move on and that’s fine because you don’t want all that attention. The casualness will then keep you moving. In and out in less than an hour.

The restaurant has to have small plates and appetizers that are shareable with one to four people. You don’t want to get so full that you go two stops and you’re done.

A great vibe so you can yuck it up with your friends and enjoy your nosh. No fancy quiet place. Good music and ambiance. Loud is ok. Bonus points for destinations that have hooks for the ladies’ purses under the bar. We were 3 for 3.

Foodcrawl Stops: LaRue Restaurant, 1618 Downtown and Crafted-The Art of Street Food. You don’t necessarily have to do any of it in this order. We were going to do Crafted Street Food first but there was a wait. So we went to the other end with plans on Street Food being the last stop.

LARUE, 313 S. GREENE STREET

One of the new kids on the block, but the oldest on our foodcrawl. Go figure. Cool and dark and jazzy inside. It has a small menu with a few reasonable small bites to choose from and a beautiful, inventive collection of craft cocktails. The bartenders and manager dress “speakeasy” style. The chefs cook right there in front of you with a tiny cooktop and infrared contraptions. It’s so interesting. We ordered the M & M’s, which is Marguez (lamb) sausage, with a Mustard Mint Raita (kind of like a tzatziki sauce, but no cucumbers). While we were there, we took a tour and then they mentioned that at 10:00 they close and then reopen and become”¦a noodle bar?! That got our attention. So, keep reading.

1618 DOWNTOWN, 312 SOUTH ELM STREET

Another newbie on the stop, 1618’s 3 rd concept just opened last month. The vibe inside is casual with a long bar and various tables, low and high. We found our place at the bar near the end, and we were joined by a friend, Chef Tim Thompson. The bartender suggested the Tuna Tartare Potato Skins. Think potato skins, but with rare tuna, but the potato kind of made like a pie shell. Tasty and light. Tim’s take, “It’s good!” A great drink to try”” The Fizzy Lifted, gin, peppercorn syrup, lemon, egg white and topped with soda. Think a citrusy, peppery grown up Julius. It was fresh and tasty.

CRAFTED-THE ART OF STREET FOOD, 600 BATTLEGROUND AVENUE

This foodcrawl was to experience downtown’s new restaurants so Street Food was our almost last stop. They stop serving at 10 p.m. so know that going in. Chef Fuller let us “squeeze in,” so to speak. Highly recommended for a mini foodcrawl, the Korean Beef or the Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich with pork, cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrot. Chef Fuller’s has a light drizzle over it. It’s tender and juicy, a little messy, but that’s okay. Chef Tim’s take, “It’s good!”

Street Food technically should’ve been the final stop, but remember that LaRue becomes a Noodle Bar after 10:00? We just had to see what that was all about. Now, the lights are even lower with only the light from the bar going. And Chef Justin Citty is dishing out pho with chicken, beef or shrimp and topped with dried shrimp, herbs, pea shoots with a side of kimchi. What makes it super cool is that it’s becoming an “after work” stop for the service industry. We saw servers from our previous food crawl stops there enjoying a warm bowl of Pho after their shift. The atmosphere stayed low-key. No partying, just some great decompressing after a busy Saturday night. Drinks were still flowing. Chef Tim’s take is that “No one else is doing what they’re doing. This is something special.” !

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