Recently, I spent an evening with a rotating cast of friends on Geer Street to answer the question: what do you do with too much time on a Saturday night in Durham?

Just north of the heart of downtown Durham, the area around West Geer Street and Rigsbee (hereby “Geer Street”) mixes Durham’s signature brick warehouse thing with the occasional barbed wire fence. Its clientele, restaurant goers and resident barflies, are a mixture of cute and tough.

A quick geography lesson: on the corner of Foster Street and West Geer (think Cocoa Cinnamon, Manbites Dog Theater, King’s Sandwich Shop), we find the epitome of cute. Think wholesome family brunches, spontaneous games of volleyball and Duke kids in their yoga pants. As you turn the corner onto Rigsbee, things become edgier: plaid and facial hair make an aggressive comeback at Fullsteam Brewery, but nearby restaurant The Pit maintains a family-friendly vibe. At Motorco, the atmosphere takes a turn for the eccentric (in a good way). By the time you get to The Bar, things have gotten so weird that, like the political spectrum (it’s a wheel, not a line, folks!), the vibe seamlessly slides back into hipster at a local favorite, The Surf Club.

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We begin our night at KoKyu, a thickly-graffitied food truck that serves up internationally-inspired BBQ dishes and falls somewhere in the middle of the cute and tough spectrum. Heavily tattooed men in black cut-off denim make delicious servings of comfort food with a twist, like tots fried in pure duck fat. It’s a truly Durhamite marriage of edgy and Carolina wholesome, and I dig it. Unfortunately, they won’t fry anything you bring them in their deep fryer of precious duck fat, so I stick my tots, carefully wrapped in a napkin, into my handbag to make them last.

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Dinner is at Geer Street Garden, which accidentally cancels our reservation but manages to seat us shortly thereafter (confession: I actually missed our reservation). I appreciate their friendliness, as well as the really nice lights they have strung up in their outdoor seating area. We eat our dinner of ravioli, a mountain of (oxymoronic) fried chicken salad and banana pudding–all family-style. It is as satisfying as it is unpalatable.

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By now, the sun has set and the stars have come out, so I’m dying to relive my summer days and get on a rooftop somewhere. The nearest rooftop is at The Pit, a BBQ restaurant on Rigsbee, but it’s unfortunately been rented out for a private event that night. I glance at the bar on the opposite wall longingly one last time and cross the street to Motorco Music Hall instead.

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But except for the alarming number of small children running around and under the outdoor tables, Motorco is uneventful. There’s something really peaceful, though, about the stillness of the dark sky and the frenetic hide-and-seek of the children underneath. Before I can get too introspective, I’m whisked to Fullsteam.

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Fullsteam passes by in the usual haze of good beer, board games and awkward picture-taking. I can’t figure out how to fix the white balance on the DSLR which I’ve borrowed for the occasion, and everything comes out orange. I care less than I would on other occasions because there is good beer. Another confession: I keep a beer journal, and based on my notes and prior drinking experience, I recommend the Cackalacky, Working Man’s Lunch and more fearsome Hogwash.

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It’s now one hour before the witching hour, and we decide to venture beyond my usual grounds to The Bar. The space is a neon-lit, LGBTQ-friendly dive bar with an empty dance floor outfitted with an unused stripper pole. We each order something called the “Pink Panty,” essentially a shot of alcoholic pink lemonade with a moniker excusable only because it has something to do with breast cancer awareness. A dull buzz has formed behind my eyes, a sure sign of exhaustion, adrenaline and alcohol. I make a note to come back on Fridays, when local drag queens perform. Sometime around 11:30, I convince two cherubic Southeast Asians to get freaky with me on the dance floor to Rihanna’s “S&M” (their suggestion, not mine), but I lose heart halfway through, and we leave surreptitiously before the DJ can deliver.

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Directly next door, thickly bearded types mill around The Surf Club. I expect the same kind of kitschy decor as The Bar, but am pleasantly surprised by the wooden bar manned by KoKyu doppelgangers and the ubiquity of either tweed or black denim, all of which tickle my bourgeois sensibilities. On the adjacent wall, a brightly lit tribute to Pabst Blue Ribbon illuminates the upturned faces of the well-read and poorly heeled crowd below. We sip two dollar draft beers and sample an extraordinarily roasted stout called The Yeti which nearly blanches my taste buds off. Outside, the wind whistles a bit across the open doorway, and I think of the long scooter ride back home with some trepidation. Still, it’s time to call it a night. We close our tabs, shuffle out, and with a deep breath, I square myself against the chill of the coming morning.