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Hangouts & Watering Holes 

A college bar is, of course, a place where student types hang out. And those folks who like to look at (usually female) student types. Students gather for any number of reasons: to drink, smoke, look at girls, look at boys, listen to some music, eat, or spend mom and dad's money. Of course, in North Carolina, you must be 21 to purchase alcoholic beverages, so the term "bar" is, we suppose, relative. As with all things college (you're still wearing Abercrombie & Fitch?), there's an ebb and flow to the bar scene -- a place that's popular this semester might not be next Spring. Plus, a place might be the shiznit for one college and not cool for students from another campus.

So what's a kid with a fake ID to do? Glad you asked. Put down that homework, and check out our unscientific (and very subjective) take on a few places around town where student types are known to congregate. Oh, and make sure you eat something more substantial than Ramen noodles. You'll thank us in the morning.

The Flying Saucer9605 N. Tryon Street, 704-568-7ALE, www.beerknurd.comThe Saucer keeps it simple. It doesn't pretend to be a restaurant with a full-length menu, instead, the food choices are condensed to the size of a good wine list. With the exception of the monstrous 82 beer tap wall and a few dartboards, the bar is covered in an array of, you guessed it, saucers. The prices are reasonable for imports, but Monday is a can't-miss with pints of almost every beer on tap going for a mere $2.50 -- just be prepared for a crowd.

Boardwalk Billy's Raw Bar and Ribs8933-2 JM Keynes Drive, 704-503-7427, www.bwbillys.comBilly's has a great selection of seafood and appetizers at reasonable prices, but the biggest attractions are the drink specials. Billy's offers a range of specials for those wishing to partake of the libations -- daily $1.50 domestic and $2.50 import specials plus $1 domestics and $2 imports on Monday. Thirsty Thursday is a best bet with all beers and all well drinks only $2. Billy's only has seven beers on tap, but who cares about choice when you can drink all seven for $14? Billy's is a great choice for those drinking on a budget.

Jocks & Jill's1009 Chancellor Park Road, (704) 596-1773, http://jocksandjills.charlotte.citysearch.comJocks, part of a small chain out of Atlanta, has all the feel of a national chain. Televisions, tuned to different games and muted, line the walls of this spacious restaurant. Traditional bar fare appetizers are available, but you better make another trip to the plasma center first. Jocks offers $1 domestic drafts on Monday, but other specials are unremarkable. With only six beers on tap, a short list of bottles, pricey food, and specials that are not very special, Jocks fails to provide the necessities of a good college bar.

Mellow Mushroom4100-A Carmel Road, 704-341-8236; 4422 Colwick Road, 704-362-5335; 5814 Prosperity Church Road, 704-875-2418; www.mellowmushroom.comAnother Atlanta-based chain, but this beer/pizza place avoids the many pitfalls of franchise restaurants. The Mushroom serves up some of the best pizza in town, with its trademark Parmesan crust, while delivering an impressive selection of beers and fitting in well with local surroundings. Over 50 drafts line the tap wall and coolers are filled with more than 100 bottled beers to choose from. Pizza, hoagies, calzones, and salads remain within the collegiate price range. Beer can get a little expensive, depending on your taste, but if you are up for trying new things, daily specials on varying beers start at $2. The Mushroom is one of the best at giving college kids exactly what we want: beer and pizza.

The GraduateDilworth, 911 E. Morehead Street, 704-377-3808; East, 2014 Sharon Forest Drive, 704-532-2562; Uptown, 123 W. Trade Street, 704-358-3024; Lake Norman, 19708-K Catawba Avenue, Cornelius, 704-892-7769; Pineville, 8334-101 Pineville-Matthews Road, Pineville, 704-543-4020; UNCC, 10008 University Boulevard, 704-503-6300; Gastonia, 1455 E. Franklin Boulevard, Gastonia, 704-866-8330; www.thegrad.comThis local chain prides itself on being the college bar and hangout, and it delivers for the most part. You can get a beer at the Grad for $1.50 on just about any day of the week, and they offer some decent mixed drink prices as well. The menu includes nachos, pizza, etc., none of which are terribly expensive. The bar is fully stocked and 12 beers on tap provide a little choice. Pool, foosball, music, and lively college decor make the Grad a solid choice for students.

Tyber Creek Pub1933 South Boulevard, 704-343-2727, www.tybercreekpub.comTyber Creek Pub, in the SouthEnd area, caters to every college student's needs. For the serious beer drinker, the downstairs bar provides a more relaxed atmosphere with immediate access to the mostly British imports that Tyber has on tap. The outdoor patio gives patrons a place to relax and listen to live music. Most students will want to head upstairs to the second bar and dance floor for all the debauchery of an uptown club, minus the $10 cover charge. Tyber offers some good specials, with $2 import bottles on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, and all drafts for $2 on Thursday. A wide selection of appetizers and sandwiches fill the menu, all reasonably priced under $7.Brixx Pizza1801 Scott Avenue, 704-376-1000; 225 E. 6th Street, 704-347-2749; 16915 Birkdale Commons Parkway, Huntersville, 704-894-0044; www.brixxpizza.comBrixx may not seem like a great college hangout, but this trendy pizza joint draws a pretty young crowd. First of all, the pizza is good, and it is all affordable, with many under $8. Brixx's best draw for college students is the Monday special: all domestic drafts for just $1.50 all day long. Some of the microbrews on tap are a steal for this price. Brixx also offers all imports on draft for $2.50 on Thursdays. Brixx is not the best atmosphere for serious partying, but it does provide good food and good beer at a reasonable price.

Fat City3127 N. Davidson Street, 704-343-0240, fatcityinc.home.mindspring.comFat City, in the heart of the NoDa arts district, presents live entertainment seven days a week, "like it or not," says one worker. If there's a band, you can count on a cover charge of at least $5 for 21 and up and $7 for 18 and up. A wide array of acts make their way to Fat City -- hip-hop night on Mondays is one of the best nights. For those who like the liquor, Thursday night is a good choice, with $2 well drinks. Draft beer is pretty rare at this colorful little dive, but there are over 25 bottles to choose from. Fat City has a good menu and all of the food is reasonably priced. Good music, good food and great atmosphere make it a great spot for students.

Jillian's SouthEnd200 E. Bland Street, 704-376-4386, www.jillians.comIf you like free food, and what college student doesn't, then Jillian's is the place on Friday nights. The free Friday buffet is intended to bring in people who will spend money on other things, but that doesn't mean you have to. After a week of cafeteria food, why not score some free grub before beginning the weekend's partying? Outside of the free buffet, Jillian's doesn't have all that much to offer the strapped-for-cash college student. Sure, video games, pool and ping-pong are fun, but not nearly as much when they empty your wallet. The only thing remarkable about the menu is the prices, and it's not how low they are. Jillian's does offer some drink specials, but nothing on a regular basis.

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