14 Best Bars in Central North Carolina, North Carolina

Foothills Brewpub

Downtown Fodor's choice
Winston-Salem's first craft brewery keeps a variety of year-round and seasonal brews on tap, including regional staples like their Hoppyum IPA and Torch Pilsner. The pub also serves up inspired bar food like dry-rubbed wings and daily flatbread and sandwich specials. It's a popular happy hour and weekend gathering spot. Try even more beers at the brewery and tasting room, just outside downtown.


Downtown Fodor's choice
The subterranean digs at this choice cocktail bar make it feel like a speakeasy, but there's no secret password required to enjoy bespoke cocktails like the Celebrity Sour, an addictive amalgam of mezcal, cinnamon, pomegranate, and caramelized goat yogurt.

6th and Vine


For a classy yet quirky evening out, try this wine bar--café. Outdoor patio seating (on the street and back patio), North Carolina wines, local brews, and frequent DJ dance parties make this a fun gathering place in the heart of the Arts District.

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Cat's Cradle

The Triangle’s premier live-music club since the late '70s, this legendary venue hosts local and regional bands as well as nationally known indie acts.

Fullsteam Brewery

Local ingredients are used to make the traditional and experimental beers at this regionally celebrated brewery. Beer-friendly food is served at the tavern.

Goodnights Comedy Club


This club near the university combines dinner with a night of laughs. Past performers include Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Motorco Music Hall

This former mid-century car dealership is now one of Durham’s top places to hear live music and enjoy cocktails with friends. Motorco is made up of four parts: the eclectic Garage Bar, Parts and Labor restaurant, a spacious patio with outdoor seating, and the 450-seat Showroom, where you can catch both nationally touring acts and favorite local bands and performers.

Natty Greene's Brewing Company


Located on lively South Elm Street, this tavern keeps a dozen beers on tap, including several that it brews in-house. The bar food here's done right, including the potato chips and a generous tuna steak. Upstairs is a sports bar with pool tables. In nice weather, you can sit on the patio along the main drag.

Raleigh Beer Garden

Cameron Village
This two-level pub claims to have the world's largest draft-beer selection. If that's not enough, it's just plain fun to drink here—there's a tree in the ground-level bar and junglelike patio seating amidst walls of green vines.

Raleigh Times Bar


Faces of early-20th-century newsboys stare out from a 20-foot photo mural covering one wall at this 1906 newspaper office, artfully restored into a gastropub. The bar features a great selection of Belgian beers and thoughtful wine and cocktail lists.

The Crunkleton


Setting the standard for craft cocktail bars in North Carolina, the Crunkleton has a knowledgeable staff of mixologists ready to stir and shake drinks. You can also select from a pages-long whiskey list—it includes antique spirits that seem to taste even better in the dark, parlorlike surroundings, with elk and deer busts lording it over the room.

Top of the Hill (TOPO)

A restaurant, brewery, and distillery all in one, TOPO has an impressive cocktail list featuring drinks made with homegrown spirits. As for beers, the refreshing Kenan lager and Old Well White wheat beer are always on tap. The top-floor space overlooks Franklin Street and is the place to be on UNC game days.

Watts & Ward

There's definitely a speakeasy vibe going on at this subterranean club downstairs from Caffé Luna. In fact, Watts & Ward is named for the legislative acts that first sought prohibition in North Carolina. With several bars, a terrace, and nooks with sofas and cozy seating, it’s the perfect setting for sipping a scotch or expertly mixed cocktail. There’s often live music.

Wise Man Brewing

Winston-Salem's downtown brewery scene is geographically compact yet expansive in variety, and Wise Man is arguably the best among a strong pack of contenders. Choose from over 20 rotating brews, like the punch-packing Body Electric double IPA or the Sufficient Wit Belgian witbier, and grab a seat at any of the shaded picnic tables lining the warehouselike brick taproom.