C. Grace is refined, a little mysterious, and darkly fun. The bar and Jazz venue is driven by live music and commitment to elegant, creative cocktails. These are mixed with just a few, strong ingredients, and have names that recall Jazz lounge Americana, like Kelly’s Grace, Hemingway, and New York Sour. Damask curtains and dim lighting add to the sultry mood here. C. Grace is a one Raleigh’s most rarefied bars, though membership is only a dollar. Performing musicians are mostly local but rotate regularly.
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium is a popular house of beer and UFOs in downtown Raleigh, where flying saucers adorn the walls and ceiling. The bar offers hundreds of beers to choose from and a generous menu of classic pub fare. Visitors can aspire to join the ranks of the “Ring of Honor,” a glory given to card-carrying U.F.O Club members once they consume 200 hundred different beers. Watch out for weekend fire sales, the Draught Emporium’s day-long version of happy hour.
Vinos Finos is a departure from run-of-the-mill drinking and dining experiences. Located inside European-themed Lafayette Village, the wine bar is designed to sample tapas-style dishes and world-class wines. The staff here is more than happy to help with wine selection and pairings. Dark woods, leather furniture, and warm colors make the interiors feel like an old-world wine shop. Vinos Finos encourages patrons to converse, and the intimate, colorful setting is doubly suited for first dates or casual business meetings.
Fullsteam brewery serves classic and innovative beers crafted with locally farmed ingredients, including sweet potatoes, basil and grapes used in experimental recipes. The industrial, spacious brewery has plenty of room for groups, the occasional live band, arcade games, darts, and ping pong tables. Although Fullsteam does not serve food of its own, visitors are welcome to bring their own, or take advantage of the rotating cast of food trucks that park just outside the bar on most days.
Calavera is an empanada and tequila bar that gets creative with the 15 varieties of empanadas on its menu, offering the traditional stuffed pastries along with inventive combinations of cremini mushrooms, Carolina pulled pork, chocolate hazelnut spread, or braised chicken. The bar’s greatest strength might be its tequila collection, which offers dozens of premium and carefully selected labels. Enjoy a tequila flight to sample which tequila suits your taste, and remember to cleanse the palette with traditional sangrita between sips.
Located beneath King’s Royal Barcade, Neptune's Parlour is a hip underground bar that offers DJs, pinball, ping pong and arcade games. It also boasts a menu of local craft beers from mostly small North Carolina Brewers, seasonal cocktails and the very popular shot of the week. On weekends the bar is packed with dancers, and on some nights live acts play in front of the brick-walled stage. Neptune’s adds subterranean character to downtown Raleigh’s bar scene, off–or under–the beaten path.