34 Best Bars in Raleigh: A Guide to Raleigh Nightlife

June 16th, 2022

Moving to | Things to do | Life in Raleigh
34 Best Bars in Raleigh: A Guide to Raleigh Nightlife

The fun doesn't stop once the sun goes down in Raleigh. With so many places in each neighborhood to choose from, it’s hard deciding where to start your night off.

To take the guesswork out of your next night out, we put together a guide to the 34 best bars in Raleigh. Our team of Raleigh locals has put our heads together to share our top recommendations, so it’s easy to take your next date night or outing with friends to the next level.

Recommended Raleigh breweries are Raleigh Brewing Co., Trophy Brewing and Taproom, The Raleigh Beer Garden, Clouds Brewing, Crank Arm Brewing, Brewery Bhavana, Bowstring Pizza and Brewyard, and Lynnwood Brewing Concern.

Lynnwood Brewing Concern

Location: 1053 E Whitaker Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27604

Specialty: High quality small craft brews with fair pricing

Lynnwood Brewing Concern started with humble beginnings in the back of the Lynnwood Grill and quickly proved itself as a local favorite worthy of a bigger space. Now, they’ve spread to two locations with nine year-round craft brews plus seasonal brews and collaborations.

Stop by on Tuesday nights, when Lynnwood Brewing Concern donates $1 from each purchase to local charities and community organizations.

Bowstring Pizza and Brewyard

Location: 1930 Wake Forest Rd, Raleigh, NC 27608

Specialty: Elevated beer and pizza

Nothing goes together like a good slice of pizza and beer. At Bowstring Pizza and Brewyard, you can order by the slice or share a pie — they even have vegan options.

Of course you’ll need something to help wash it down too. That’s where Bowstrings rotating draft beer taps come in. They offer a mix of local craft brews with national favorites. Beer isn’t all they serve, though. Bowstring also has your back with their craft cocktails, offering new twists on classic drinks like their Berry and Orange Mules.

Crank Arm Brewing

Location: 319 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Unfiltered beers on tap

Famous for its bike theme, Crank Arm Brewing offers unfiltered brews on tap and cans to go. Crank Arm truly helps the Raleigh community grow, from hosting a bike racing team to working with local charities throughout the entire Triangle to support their community.

Crank Arm patrons come for their 18 taps and stay for the camaraderie that Crank Arm fosters with regular events and charity efforts. This makes Crank Arm Brewing a must-do in Raleigh for visitors and locals alike.

The Raleigh Beer Garden

Location: 614 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Largest beer garden in the world

The Raleigh Beer Garden has so many brews on tap that they don’t even print paper menus! You can check out the ever-rotating selection on their virtual menu. The Raleigh Beer Garden is also home to popular events such as karaoke nights and drag brunch.

While The Raleigh Beer Garden has a thriving late-night scene, families and pets can stop by during the day to enjoy the sunshine and great food. They even have a dog-friendly section on their menu so you can get your furry friend a snack too!

Brewery Bhavana

Location: 218 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Globally inspired local brews

Brewery Bhavana is a great place in Raleigh where you can get top-notch beer and food. They offer 10 core beers that are brewed just down on Bloodworth Street along with 30 more rotating beers on tap.

Brewery Bhavana’s core beers are inspired by travel and personal experiences. With unique notes like cardamom in the Bloom Tripel or fig in the Sprout Dubbel, you can taste international flavors without leaving the Tar Heel State.

Trophy Brewing & Taproom

Location: 656 Maywood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Outdoor hangout with food trucks and beer to go

When Trophy Brewing opened in 2013, it only had 14 seats at the bar in its West Morgan Street location. Now, it’s expanded to two locations and two sister restaurants, Young Hearts Distilling and State of Beer.

Trophy Brewing always has 12 beers on tap, so you’ll need to check their draft list to see what’s available. They host lots of events and food trucks, so keep an eye on their calendar to stay in the know.

Raleigh Brewing Co.

Location: 3709 Neil St, Raleigh, NC 27607

Specialty: Woman-owned brewery with Raleigh pride

Raleigh Brewing Co. is an ode to the City of Oaks with murals that celebrate Raleigh decorating its three locations:

While each location has slightly different options, the flagship Neil Street location has:

  • Indoor and outdoor seating

  • Onsite brewery

  • Draft beers

  • Food trucks

  • Event space

Raleigh Brewing Co. has 32 taps and is served in over 200 establishments across the Triangle.

Clouds Brewing

Location: 126 N West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Brunch and brews

Clouds Brewing opened up back in 2014 and now features 40 taps total. You’ll find 30 of their own brews with 10 guest taps that support other local establishments.

Hang out on their pet-friendly patio, show off your knowledge at Tuesday night trivia, or try their Southern Benedict at brunch Friday – Sunday.

Recommended Raleigh cocktail bars are Dogwood Bar & Eatery, C. Grace, Dram & Draught, Killjoy, The Architect Bar & Social House, and Watts & Ward.

The Architect Bar & Social House

Location: 108 1/2 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Drinks and dancing

The Architect Bar & Social House has it all, from craft brews to great cocktails, to a fun DJ. This is a great choice for people looking to get out, dance, and meet new people.

The drink menu is ever-changing, so check out their cocktail specials when you stop by. Go to The Architect to enjoy the historic setting, which dates back to 1922, with modern music and drinks.

Watts & Ward

Location: 200 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Craft cocktails with a 1920s theme

Watts & Ward features several different rooms, including an outdoor area, so there’s plenty of space to hang out with a group of friends. Decorated to remind you of a prohibition-era speakeasy, this is also a great choice for a nightcap. 

If you stop by, the Watts & Ward Old Fashioned is a must-try and includes house-made raisin bitters. They even offer a couple of mocktails on their drink menu for designated drivers or anyone looking to enjoy their ambiance without alcohol.

Dram & Draught

Location: 1 Glenwood Ave Suite 101, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: 300 whiskeys under one roof

Dram & Draught has all kinds of cocktails, wines, and beers, but the real draw to this neighborhood favorite is the fact that they have 300 whiskeys for patrons to choose from.

The space is a bit quieter, so it’s a great place to catch up with a friend or two and enjoy Dram & Draught’s service while you sample all sorts of new cocktails and whiskeys.

Dogwood Bar & Eatery

Location: 610 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Outdoor patio and event space

The Dogwood Bar & Eatery is an ideal place for meeting up with friends on the weekend or booking out for any event. It features a large outdoor space, complete with fire pits for when temperatures drop.

When you start getting the munchies, Dogwood serves brunch and shareable plates. Try their decadent flatbreads — my favorite is the Dogwood Flatbread — to pair with any drink.


Location: 116 N West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Craft cocktails and an eccentric yet welcoming atmosphere

Killjoy features a vast menu of wines, beers, craft cocktails, specialty shots, cocktail towers, tasting flights, and mocktails. And they serve up some truly unique flavors like their Ube Old Fashioned.

You can enjoy their heated patio to sip in comfort any time of year and each crafted cocktail is sure to be unlike any drink you’ve tried before.

C. Grace

Location: 407 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606

Specialty: Live music and jazz

There’s nothing like a jazz bar — and this one has live music five days a week! There’s almost always an event to check out at C. Grace, and while it’s usually jazz, there are also comedy nights and other types of entertainment.

Their cocktail menu is always changing, but you can rely on C. Grace to whip up a French 75 or Negroni Tuesday – Saturday.

Recommended Raleigh speakeasies are The Blind Barbour, Aunty Betty's Gin & Absinthe Bar, The Merchant, and The Green Light. Recommended Raleigh rooftop bars are Highgarden, Level7, 10th & Terrace, and The Raleigh Times.

The Raleigh Times

Location: 14 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Two floors of seating and a roof patio

Located in a century-old building, The Raleigh Times serves up food and drinks that are sure to please anyone. Stop by and try their Bangin’ Shrimp Po’ Boy for dinner then stick around to try a local draft.

Not sure which beer is the right choice for the night? All the servers at The Raleigh Times are Cicerone Certified Beer Servers, so they’re sure to have a recommendation for you.


Location: 101 Park at N Hills St, Raleigh, NC 27609

Specialty: Tapas and the perfect sunset view

Level7 aims to bring an upscale, European-inspired experience to the Raleigh skyline. There’s no better place to check out some unbeatable views and try their Crimson Martini.

If heights make you hungry, Level7 offers tapas to split with a friend. I recommend the Roasted Tomato Toast, which features Roma tomatoes that they roast in house.

10th & Terrace

Location: 616 S Salisbury St f10, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Cocktails and small plates with a sky-high view

Located atop the Residence Inn in Downtown Raleigh, 10th & Terrace is a rooftop bar furnished with heaters and comfy couches to lounge on while you snack and drink.

Their Smoked Black Eyed Pea Hummus Whipped Feta with Garlic Naan is the perfect bite to share while you choose from their ever-changing cocktail menu.


Location: 419 Glenwood Ave Level 3, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Open-air rooftop cabanas with a champagne bar

Highgarden is new to the Raleigh skyline and opened in 2021. They serve unique tapas, like their KBBQ Tostada alongside craft and draught cocktails.

Wine and beer lovers will find something for them on the menu while they enjoy the fresh night air. Check out the champagne bar too, whether you’re celebrating an occasion or just want your night out to feel special.

The Blind Barbour

Location: 3055 Medlin Dr, Raleigh, NC 27607

Specialty: Antique feel and antique spirits

The Blind Barbour shows that an excellent speakeasy doesn't have to be impossible to find. Located in an unassuming strip mall, the cocktails here are anything but boring.

If you like fresh flavors with a bit of spice, I recommend the Tom Yum. It features vodka, reposado tequila, lime, coconut, lemongrass, and jalapeno. There’s also a vast selection of whiskeys and antique spirits to choose from.

The Green Light

Location: 108 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Cocktails in a secret hideaway

Hidden in The Architect behind a secret bookcase door, The Green Light is a classic speakeasy experience. They recommend making a reservation before you stop by to secure your spot in this hideaway.

The well-rounded cocktail menu here has offerings like all your favorite classic cocktails (shaken or stirred) plus Green Light originals like the Bent Umbrella.

The Merchant

Location: 126 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Blast from the past with modern cocktails

The Merchant operates out of a building from 1922 that originally served as the headquarters for the North Carolina Merchant’s Association. It’s still decorated with an antique feel, decked out with marble tables and a large crystal chandelier.

Their cocktail menu is organized by flavor types like smoky and aromatic or smooth and citrusy, so it’s easy to find a drink you’re sure to love.

Aunty Betty’s Gin & Absinthe Bar

Location: 411 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Trendy ambiance with expert mixologists

Serving drinks from inside the Morgan Street Food Hall, Aunty Betty’s Gin & Absinthe Bar focuses on serving up Irish and American gin in their craft cocktails.

Bar patrons rave that Aunty Betty’s serves up world-class cocktails with great service and knowledgeable staff who are ready to shake up your new favorite drink.

Recommended Raleigh sports bars are Backyard Bistro, Brickhouse, Lucky B's, and Tobacco Road Sports Cafe.

Tobacco Road Sports Cafe

Location: 505 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Sports bar with fresh and scratch-made fare

Two sports fans that were tired of the same frozen food at other sports bars founded Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. Everyone’s welcome here — just come with an empty stomach and your game face on.

The draft menu features Tobacco Road’s own brews with other local favorites, perfect for sipping on while gathering with friends and family to cheer on your team.


Location: 3801 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27607

Specialty: Classic sports bar atmosphere

Brickhouse is the perfect spot to stop by and catch your favorite team on one of their 120-inch TVs.

If you’re coming with friends who aren’t into the game, they have 40 beers on tap, pool tables, and cornhole to keep anyone occupied. Stop by on Friday nights for karaoke from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. or take advantage of their daily specials.

Backyard Bistro

Location: 1235 Hurricane Alley Way, Raleigh, NC 27607

Specialty: Barbecue for sports fanatics

Located just across the street from the PNC Arena, you can head over to Backyard Bistro after a live event or while watching a game on their array of high-definition TVs.

You can even have them cater your tailgate! Once you try their famous Pepper-Crusted Brisket, you’ll understand why Backyard Bistro won the coveted title of 2021 Blueridge Small Business of the Year.

Lucky B’s

Location: 609 Tucker St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Sports dive bar with karaoke and unmatched daily specials

Lucky B’s — also known as Lucky 13’s — is definitely a good luck charm. Its owners won The Amazing Race in 2013 and have been sharing their good fortune since with daily specials that offer drinks for as low as $2.

While Lucky B’s is a sports bar at heart, you’ll find people from all walks of life here. Stop by and queue up your favorite song on the jukebox, where you’ll hear anything from classic rock to jazz.

Recommended Raleigh speciality bars are Tin Roof Raleigh, Legends Nightclub, Boxcar Bar + Arcade, Vita Vite, Ruby Deluxe, Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria, The Raleigh Wine Shop, and Atlantic Gardening.

Vita Vite

Location: 313 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Cozy art gallery and wine bar

Vita Vite operates out of two locations in Downtown Raleigh and the Warehouse District. Getting its name from the Italian words for life and vine, Vita Vite owner Lindsay Rice uses it as inspiration for a space that revolves around food and wine. What else could you want?

Stop by this space, which also features an art gallery, and choose one of their hand-selected wines to sip while you lounge by the fireplace. The gallery here features all southern artists including quite a few from Raleigh.

The Raleigh Wine Shop

Location: 317 S Bloodworth St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Wine bar offering educational classes and cellar services

The Raleigh Wine Shop has been a top wine bar in Raleigh since it opened its doors in 2011. More than just a wine shop, you can stop by for a drink at the bar, attend a pairing class, or even take advantage of their cellar services, which help connaisseurs organize and evaluate their wine cellars.

Order online and choose from over 400 bottles or stop by to enjoy their outdoor seating and sip a glass in the sunshine.

Legends Nightclub

Location: 330 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: LGBTQ+ friendly dance club

Legends Nightclub is a local club with dancing, drag shows, and other fun events, all supporting LGBTQ+ charities. This large space features four separate spaces and an outdoor patio, so you might need to consult their map:

  • Dance Club — A room for dancing and a typical night out.

  • View Bar and Game Room — A bar and arcade room.

  • View Bar Patio — An outdoor area to enjoy some fresh air and take a breather.

  • Spotlight Theater — A venue for Legends’ resident drag queens and other shows.

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

Location: 330 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Classic arcade games and pinball

If you’re looking to feel just like a kid again — with an adult beverage in hand — you’ve got to check out Boxcar Bar + Arcade. They have tons of games to play, including classics like air hockey, foosball, and skeeball.

You also can’t forget arcade favorites, including Frogger, Pacman, themed pinball, and more. Boxcar has various tournaments for the most competitive players and 24 rotating beers on tap along with their seasonal cocktail menu.

Tin Roof Raleigh

Location: 300 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603

Specialty: Southern dive bar with live music

Tin Roof is a go-to bar if you’re looking for endless live music and a good time. While it can get a bit crowded, it’s the perfect ambiance to meet new people and experience new music.

Tin Roof is also a full-service restaurant, so head over early to grab some wings before the lights dim and the gig starts.

Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria

Location: 106 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: Traditional mezcal and craft cocktails

Mezcal lovers rejoice! At Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria, fans of this smoky agave spirit are in good company. Gallo Pelón has over 40 mezcals to try, plus there are other cocktails for anyone who’s not into mezcal.

Gallo Pelón also serves up Mexican food, so your salsa bowl will never run dry while sampling some of the best mezcal from Mexico.

Atlantic Gardening

Location: 5217 Atlantic Ave, Raleigh, NC 27616

Specialty: Plant shop and bar

Perfect for plant lovers, Atlantic Gardening is a shop like no other. Sip on a local beer, a glass of wine, or a cocktail while you wander the nursery, greenhouse, and garden shop.

You can also check out their DIY flower bar while you sip your mimosa and create a beautiful bouquet to bring home. Whether you’re looking for the perfect date spot or somewhere to catch up with a friend, Atlantic Gardening offers a unique experience for anyone with a green thumb.

Ruby Deluxe

Location: 415 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Specialty: LGBTQ+ basement bar with an outdoor patio

The Ruby Deluxe offers a welcoming atmosphere for all. Described on its website as a “basement bar clad in glitter and sequins,” you’ll find arcade games, pool tables, a fully-stocked bar, and an outdoor patio to keep you entertained all night long.

Check out their Sunday drag brunch and flourishing event schedule to get to know this community-oriented space that’s become a staple for the LGBTQ+ community in Raleigh.

Get Out and Explore Raleigh

The Raleigh restaurant scene is unmatched, so it’s no wonder that the City of Oaks is also home to so many outstanding bars. While it’s hard to pick out the best bars in Raleigh, our recommendations are a great place to start when you’re looking to get to know Raleigh a bit better. If you are looking at colleges in Raleigh, you are in luck because this area has some great educational options to choose from. 

If you’re ready to check out Raleigh nightlife for yourself and join this thriving community, take a look at all the new homes in Raleigh that are waiting for you to make some memories.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!