15 of Downtown Raleigh’s Best Outdoor Restaurants
Updated: March 2016
The sunshine’s got Raleigh feelin’ fine. With summertime upon us, there are plenty of cold brews & hidden views to enjoy in our beloved City of Oaks.
It’s arguably the best time of the year to enjoy Carolina’s wide open spaces, so throw on some shades and get out there. Looking for a new spot to try out? We’ve got your back and we’re breaking it down for you one at a time (in no particular order).
Ask just about any local and they’ll tell you that the best view of the Raleigh skyline belongs to Boylan Bridge Brewpub. A pooch-friendly spot with picnic bench seating and feel good food, all beers are brewed in-house, meaning the views aren’t the only thing making the Brewpub’s terrace the ultimate happy hour spot.
*Note (3/9): Temporarily closed for construction, set to re-open soon.
The Hibernian’s cozy, classic Irish feel not only makes it a top-notch pub, but a favorite spot for folks from all walks of life. The recently renovated building on Glenwood South includes a sunny second floor patio and bar area overlooking the busy downtown streets — the perfect place for a pint or two to take the edge off, or even a family dinner. As the Irish say, “Sláinte!”
The corner bar that sits at the edge of Raleigh’s Historic Oakwood neighborhood has become a hidden refuge for locals. The cozy ambiance of its roomy outdoor space makes being at The Station feel like a relaxing block party with your closest buds. Wood-burning fire pits, mason jars, farm-fresh food & local brews? Raleigh Brewing lovers everywhere are rejoicing with “Hell Yes Ma’am!”
Breaking records & taking names, Glenwood South’s RBC holds the Guinness World Record for the most beer taps under one roof… That’s right, there are 366 of them, and 144 are dedicated to showcasing North Carolina craft beer. Beer isn’t RBC’s only claim to fame though — with delicious food, their massive indoor tree (a 35-footer to be exact), cocktail bar, and 3 spacious stories of indoor & outdoor dining space to back up the hype.
With top-notch specials for Taco Tuesday, Sunday Funday & lunch everyday, you can’t go wrong with a little more Dos Taquitos in your life. Although they close in their Glenwood South patio for winter, it transforms into the perfect open & breezy spot for a margarita with friends come springtime. If you happen to snag a booth, get ready to make friends with the coolest toy train that delivers hot tortilla chips to your table when your salsa gets lonely.
Housed in a 100 year-old building with an awesome renovated rooftop patio, The Raleigh Times has become a fixture in the bustling streets of the capital city’s Downtown district. In fact, the popular watering hole on Hargett Street was voted onto Scoutology’s Top 25 East Coast Bars list for 2015. The bird’s eye view of DTR from the rooftop coupled with a sidewalk patio seating option makes The Times a one-of-a-kind dining spot for visitors and locals alike.
When you’re looking to switch it up from the typical burger & beer scene, head towards Hillsborough & Harrington, where you’ll find blissful cheers of “Opa!” echoing from Taverna Agora. The Greek-inspired spot flawlessy combines an old world feel with a modern “New Raleigh” flair, and its new rooftop — complete with pretty foliage & full-service bar — certainly gives other local fixtures a run for their money.
Nestled in the heart of the Warehouse District, Humble Pie encourages guests to “share their humble fare” and try a little bit of everything. American-inspired shared plates can be enjoyed while dining al fresco under the patio’s tin roof or sipping on seasonal cocktails at the festive Tiki Bar. The restaurant is also just a hop and a skip from Red Hat Amphitheater, making it an ideal spot to hangout before or after an epic summer concert.
Clouds Brewing on West St. boasts one of North Carolina’s only self-serve beer walls, fondly nicknamed “The Downpour.” Customers can sample, select, and pour their own beer from 10 rotating taps (or opt for another beverage from the bar’s lengthy list), then find themselves a nice sunny spot on the restaurant’s spacious terrace for lunch or dinner. Who hasn’t always wanted to be their own bartender for a day?
Last year’s biggest addition to Raleigh’s booming Glenwood South neighborhood, CAH puts a Carolina twist on the traditional British pub in everything from its food to the atmosphere. A prime spot for sports fans of all ages, the Ale House’s weekly specials & countless TVs make it especially accommodating for large groups. The restaurant sits on the top floor of a new 3-story building, with floor to ceiling windows that open up to beautiful sweeping views of Raleigh.
Busy Bee Cafe, another long-time local favorite, also happens to be a proud owner of one of the best rooftop verandas in DTR. With Saturday, Sunday, and Monday brunch, patrons flock to the Wilmington St. rooftop for Bloody Marys & a good time with friends. Tasty Southern cuisine, fresh air & warm sunshine make for a true NC experience every day of the week.
A Raleigh establishment for nearly 65 years, the original Players Retreat sits on Oberlin Rd., right at the edge of NC State’s main campus. The Wolfpack centric restaurant — charming sidewalk patio included — is known for a deep-seeded local flavor and character that cannot be denied. The tasty food and drinks are merely a bonus in any PR dining experience, whether you’re a student, Raleigh local, or just passing through.
Regular “BeerKnurds” and visitors alike unite at Flying Saucer. While most prefer to hibernate in the dark interior of the bar during winter, all emerge to the spacious outdoor terrace as soon as spring weather makes its first appearance. Draft beers galore & signature appetizers won’t leave you disappointed as you gaze out onto Raleigh’s blossoming Warehouse District.
One of Fayetteville St.’s hippest residents, Tasty 8’s puts a trendy twist on the classic American hot dog stand. City-goers can use the walk-up order window & take a seat at a sidewalk picnic bench, or enjoy the breeze from inside, looking out through the fully retractable storefront wall. To boot, the locally-owned spot offers 8 gourmet dogs, 8 styles of beer, 8 tasty shakes & Belgian frites with 8 mouthwatering dipping sauces. Hot diggity dog!
This Seaboard Station hotspot is a go-to for burgers, craft beers, spiked milkshakes and some of the best tater tots around. A self-proclaimed “modern diner meets cool neighborhood bar,” BD’s inviting brick patio fits this description just as well as the indoor space does. Shady umbrellas, potted plants and pretty string lights give Bad Daddy’s that homey feeling we all know & love.
BONUS: Whiskey Kitchen
Write-up coming soon!
Already been there, done that? 13 other awesome options:
Oak & Dagger Public House (Seaboard Station); Sushi Blues Cafe (Glenwood South); Tupelo Honey Cafe (Cameron Village); Trophy (Morgan St); Armadillo Grill (Glenwood South); Cantina 18 (Cameron Village); Gringo A Go Go (Person St); MoJoe’s Burger Joint (Glenwood South); Village Draft House (Cameron Village); Mellow Mushroom (Glenwood South); Babylon (Dawson St); Calavera Empanada & Tequila Bar (Blount St), State of Beer (Warehouse District), Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria (Wilmington St).
Looking for a good deal at any of these spots? We thought you’d never ask…
Currently, you can enjoy rewards & freebies via the Stealz mobile app at: Raleigh Beer Garden, The Station at Person Street, Hibernian Irish Pub, Dos Taquitos XOCO, Clouds Brewing, Players Retreat, Flying Saucer and Armadillo Grill.