The Federal has shockingly good food. Known as somewhat of a smoky bar for the Duke crowd (particularly graduate students), I was surprised to stop in here for a late dinner one night and find the food so tasty. The menu is very short and limited (especially for vegetarians - 2 options), but all of it is good. We haven't had anything here we didn't like. Our favorites are the Pickin' Plate appetizer - a bowl of warm olives and a bowl of warm almonds - fantastic! the grilled cheese - fancy with avocado and the chicken sandwich.
The beer selection is good too. To avoid some of the smoke and the bar scene, head to the back room - usually empty after 10pm as everyone migrates to the dj upfront or the patio outside. The service can be a little slow, but just order a beer, relax, and anticipate the tasty food.