In June Naylor’s story on Graham’s historic downtown square, you find out how to explore local heritage and culture. That’s not to say, however, that Graham is all about the past. That’s hardly the case, in fact: Much of the author’s time in Graham included exploring today’s homegrown scene, the contemporary diversions that keep a small town lively. Here’s a look at some of the modern distractions that help fill a busy trip to Graham, with almost everything situated on the charming downtown square.
Eat and drink
On the west side of the square, 526 Pizza Studio occupies the former city hall space. It also serves as much more than a pizza place. On a long list of pizza options, the more unusual include The Olympia, topped with garlic hummus, mozzarella, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, feta, spinach, tomato and purple onion; and from the rock ‘n roll selections, the Van Halen gets toppings of pesto, jerk chicken, bacon, ha,, pineapple, pepperoncini and mozzarella. Assorted salads, wraps and sandwiches are on the menu, too. Thoughtfully, menu items include notations for gluten-free, vegetarian and carbohydrate-free diets. Open for lunch and dinner at 526 Oak St., Graham; 940-549-6606.
On the north side of the square, Neri’s on the Square draws a faithful clientele with its bistro offerings and its lounge. Occupying a long-ago hardware store space, this feels most like a special-occasion spot, but it’s not fancy. Best bets are the green salad topped with honey-roasted pecans, blue cheese, sliced strawberries and sliced sirloin steak and, on Taco Thursday, the carne asada tacos with a side of chile de arbol salsa, both of which are great with the jalapeno margarita. Open for lunch and dinner. 523 Fourth St., Graham; 940-549-8000.
Shop, shop, shop
Just north and west of the square, the Tattered Pearl is a boutique with frocks ranging from very casual to a little dressy. Young Living products, including essential oils and other goods, are stocked. Among accessories, find Kendra Scott jewelry and other contemporary trinkets. 338 Fourth St., Graham; 940-521-1971.
A sister shop to the Tattered Pearl, Mudd Puddles outfits kids in casual fashions. Decorated jeans by Grace in LA, colorful sneakers by Chooze, toddler and little girl outfits by Mustard Pie, fancy headbands for baby girls, a cake-smashing set for baby’s first birthday and amber necklaces are just part of a wide inventory. Cute and practical, the nap mats, lunch boxes and backpacks come in a variety of designs. 505 Fourth St., Graham; 940-521-8748.
Just east of the square, Vineyard Branch is a gift store right on the town’s main thoroughfare. Tables and shelves are laden with everything from Fredericksburg Farms salsas and jams, Yeti accessories, smart phone covers, inexpensive jewelry and candle holders to insulated water bottles, trays, wall hangings and trivets that can be monogrammed. 710 Elm St., Graham; 940-549-5899.
Catch a flick
The National Theatre, a 1919 landmark, with carrera glass on the façade, shows first-run films. 522 Oak St., Graham; 940-549-2077.
And at the Graham Drive-In Theatre, you can either listen through the old-fashioned window speakers or tune the audio to a station on your car radio. First run movies play Friday through Sunday, and on Throwback Thursday, you can see movies like Forrest Gump or Raiders of the Lost Ark. The concession stand keeps you well fed on burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, ice cream sundaes and snow cones. 1519 Fourth St., Graham; 940-549-8478.