Welcome to our neighborhood guide of the Glenwood South District, known as Raleigh’s entertainment district with endless bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes and unique stores up and down Glenwood Ave and just minutes away from downtown!
Located just one mile Northwest of downtown Raleigh and bordered by Glenwood Ave to the east, Hillsborough Street to the south, and Peace Street to the north, this is a vibrant district and one of the most popular Raleigh neighborhoods.
Well known for its eclectic mix of entertainment options including lively bars, lounges, live music venues and an array of dining options from restaurants to cafes and pubs.
This is a popular destination for young professionals who enjoy a lively social scene and the best that downtown Raleigh has to offer without even leaving home, and, for visitors seeking a fun night out.
Whether you’re in the mood for a beer at the world’s biggest beer garden, craft cocktails at a vibrant bar or cozy lounge, a spot of dancing, a meal at an innovative restaurant, or a unique place to shop, Glenwood Avenue Raleigh offers a variety of options to suit all tastes and budgets.
You’ll find a diverse range of cuisines including Italian, Mexican, Asian and Southern American, from upscale restaurants to casual eateries, with many of the establishments offering outdoor seating which contributes to the neighborhood’s lively atmosphere.
One of the appealing aspects of Glenwood South is its walkability, being very pedestrian-friendly with wide sidewalks and crosswalks allowing you to easily explore the area on foot. The district also plays host to regular events, such as art walks and pop-up markets showcasing local artisans and vendors.
It’s also conveniently located near major highways, and public transportation hubs such as the nearby Raleigh Union Station that provide easy train and bus access to the district.
If you’re in pursuit of that vibrant Raleigh lifestyle we’ve come to embrace, it’s on full display here.
Guide to Glenwood South Neighborhood
- Guide to Glenwood South Neighborhood
- Cafes in Glenwood South
- Bars in Glenwood South
- Restaurants in Glenwood South
- Shopping & Retail in Glenwood South
- Hotels on Glenwood Avenue Raleigh
- Living in Glenwood South
Cafes in Glenwood South
Iris Coffee Lab
Looking for great coffee in the Glenwood South District, look no further than Iris Coffee Lab. While there is no shortage of bars and restaurants in this area of downtown Raleigh, it definitely needed a local coffee shop and thankfully Iris opened their doors in 2021.
This modern and cool space offers a relaxed vibe to sit for a while with coffee in hand, enjoy one of their tasty bagels, or pull out your laptop and work online for a while. For those reasons, I’ve ranked Iris one of the best breakfast spots in Raleigh for bagels and coffee lovers.
On offer is a full range of coffee drinks plus a seasonal bar menu and rotating food menu. I’m a fan of their Avo Toast, and their Hotshot Bagel is an all time best seller: egg, cheese, bacon, chive cream cheese, and hot honey from NY.
The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery + Coffee
Got a sweet tooth and love tasty cupcakes? Head to the Cupcake Shoppe Bakery at the southern end of Glenwood Ave, rated by us as one of the best Raleigh bakeries who make bespoke cakes and cupcakes using fresh, high end, local ingredients.
They specialize in daily cupcake flavors, plus pastries and confections like cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls, muffins, brownies and scones. And, if you are gluten free, their GF cupcakes are moist and delicious.
Besides cakes, they also do good coffee and proudly serve locally roasted Joe Van Gogh coffee and espresso.
Bars in Glenwood South
Raleigh Beer Garden
Beer lovers rejoice. With 350+ beers on tap, Raleigh Beer Garden was named the world record-holder for largest selection of draft beer (verified by the folks at Guinness World Records).
At Raleigh Beer Garden you can sample many local North Carolina brews, plus beers from other states and internationally.
This is a massive 8,500-square-foot venue with 3 levels. The North Carolina bar on the first-floor features 144 NC draft taps. The “International” floor offers 222 varieties from the rest of the country and the rest of the world. And the rooftop bar features 12 rotating taps.
Tons of outdoor space, a back beer garden patio (family-friendly), fun events like trivia and karaoke, and food wise they have a solid selection including burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and salads.
Right in the middle of all the action on Glenwood South is the beautiful Highgarden rooftop bar, a happening spot and one of the best bars in Raleigh for a party-like atmosphere – we’ve also enjoyed drinks here during quieter times for networking events.
This completely open-air rooftop bar offers fantastic views of the downtown Raleigh skyline with beautifully appointed cabanas surrounded by greenery making you feel like you’re on a getaway in the middle of the city.
They specialize in craft cocktails, a full champagne bar, plus they have 14 different tapas-style food items to choose from.
The atmosphere is lively as the night gets longer, and if you’re up for a big night you can combine drinks here with many of the other fun bars on Glenwood.
The Ark Royal Tiki Bar
Popular cocktail bar and modern tiki lounge serving exotic cocktails that feature ingredients from many cultures and regions around the world.
Tucked away slightly off Glenwood Ave, you get a chill atmosphere and low-key vibes, unique decor and lighting in a relaxing lounge-like setting, and an outdoor patio with fire pits.
The Willard Rooftop Lounge
At the very southern end of Glenwood Ave you’ll find the AC Hotel which is home to the Willard Rooftop Lounge, one of the cool rooftop bars in Raleigh – and no, you don’t need to stay at the hotel to access the rooftop!
This rooftop bar offers impressive views of the downtown Raleigh skyline from its two outdoor terraces, and along with the indoor dining space it’s the perfect spot for a late afternoon/early evening drink as the sun goes down.
The vibe is cool and comfortable and a fun place to gather and relax with your significant other, a group of friends, or work colleagues. And you’re steps away from many other bars and restaurants up and down Glenwood, or the nearby Warehouse District.
The Willard serves cocktails, beer, wine by the glass or bottle, plus Mediterranean-inspired small plates and brunch on Sundays. They also host cool events like wine tastings and star gazing.
Walking one block east from Glenwood Ave to N West St brings you to one of my favorite Glenwood South bars. Killjoy offers signature cocktails served up in a fresh, fun and colorful vibe, and is the kind of bar where you can tell the mixologist how you feel and they’ll whip up an elixir to match.
I’m a fan of the cool and colorful indoor decor, plus they have a nice outdoor patio with plants and herbs they use in their seasonal and classic alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails.
Killjoy also has cocktail making classes every Wednesday night with resident cocktail enthusiast Kat Binkley featuring simple yet delicious drinks that anyone can easily make at home.
Carolina Ale House
Located in the heart of the Glenwood South entertainment district, Carolina Ale House has an awesome 3rd floor rooftop terrace and their motto is food, sports and fun.
A popular hangout for NC State and Carolina Hurricanes fans, this casual (and also family-friendly) sports bar and restaurant has a large list of craft beers and some of the best wings in Raleigh on their fairly extensive menu.
I enjoy watching college and NFL games here, and have attended a Canes watch party – we also attended their block party in the street below during the Stanley Cup playoffs last year – let’s go Canes!
They have football season drink specials every day, all season long. Tuesday evening is kids night, where kids eat for $0.99, beginning at 5pm, with the purchase of any entrée.
Tobacco Road Sports Cafe
Located in the historic Powerhouse building and just half a block away from Glenwood Ave, Tobacco Road Sports Cafe is more of your upscale sports bar (but far from pretentious) and one of my favorite sports bars in Raleigh.
A great spot to take in all the pro sports, college sports, and international sports with a row of TVs lining the bar, more TVs high above the dining area, plus screens in their large games room with air hockey, pinball, a pool table and skee ball.
On the menu is scratch-made Southern-inspired food. If you’re a nachos and pork fan then don’t miss the Down East Nachos, a locals favorite that comes loaded with pork, pickled okra and red onions and big enough to share – one of the best nachos I’ve had in Raleigh!
As for drinks, choose from their own in-house craft beers plus bottled and canned beers to enjoy at the main bar, in their game room, or outside on the patio.
Especially busy on the weekends during college football and NFL Sunday’s, but a nice mix of people with attentive service and a passionate sports loving owner.
Hibernian Irish Pub
When we first moved to Raleigh in 2004 (pre-kids), you would have found us at the Hibernian in Glenwood South almost every weekend.
There weren’t as many bars back then, and that was when it was a single-story pub, not the two-story establishment with a rooftop patio that it is now, and we’d mostly visit to drink with friends and not so much to watch sports.
Hibernian is one of the best spots for a pint of Guinness in Raleigh, and my other love, an Irish Coffee. Food wise they do good burgers, and if you’re craving some typical Irish fare like Shepherd’s Pie, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Fish’n Chips and an Irish Breakfast, pay them a visit.
Being an Irish Pub, they show English Premier League Football (soccer matches), and 6 Nations Rugby games – plus American sports as well.
Tin Roof reminds me of our times partying in Nashville, and this fun live music joint features a ground level area with bar, seating and live music stage, as well as a rooftop patio with its own full bar and seating.
We had a big night there earlier this year and Tin Roof is all about giving musicians a place to play, and then a place to hang when they aren’t on stage. Add in tasty bar food such as Nashville Hot Chicken, some of the best wings in Raleigh, and their famous quesadillas to a fun and eclectic environment and you’ll find a community of music lovers.
They host live music every night with a mix of local, regional and national acts across all genres. On weeknights they showcase original songwriter nights and acoustic sets during dinner. Weekend nights feature live bands on stage playing your favorite songs while a DJ spins tunes on the 2nd floor rooftop patio to keep the dance floor rockin’ until last call.
Dram & Draught
Dram & Draught is one of my favorite bars in all of Raleigh, and I’m not alone as they have won best bar in Raleigh for like 5 years running.
Featuring 300 whiskeys from around the world, hand-crafted cocktails, draught beer from North Carolina and beyond, and wines from the old world and new, you can expect excellent drinks with unique and sophisticated flavors.
Their most popular drink is their Barrel Old Fashioned, and despite how fast Raleigh is growing, they haven’t lost that sense of southern hospitality and their bartenders know how to mix a drink.
The cocktails are exquisite and service excellent, I highly recommend this bar to anyone living in, or visiting Raleigh!
Another of the popular Glenwood Ave bars for live music in a historic, industrial-chic creamery building with three large garage doors. Grab a classic cocktail, drink a local brew, play skeeball, pool, rings, or shuffleboard, or relax by the open windows on the chesterfield sofas. Fun atmosphere and nice selection of music.
Address: 1220, 410 Glenwood Ave #101, Raleigh
My Way Tavern
Located two blocks west of Glenwood Ave, My Way Tavern is a locals favorite, and if you’re an English football fan it’s where the local Chelsea FC supporters club (RDU Blues) meet to watch matches (other fans welcome of course).
A focal point of the tavern is their horseshoe style bar from which you can enjoy 22 draft beers on tap (15 brewed in NC), in addition to more than 50 bottles and a fully stocked bar.
The menu includes signature items like Red Zinfandel Braised Ribs and the My Way Cajun Chicken, plus great burgers, sandwiches, Mac-n-cheese, and one of the best fish & chips I’ve had in the Raleigh area – the wings are good too!
Plenty of TVs to watch the game, indoor and outdoor seating tables, a relaxed atmosphere, and during the NFL and College football season they have specials on Monday and Thursday Nights, and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Large bar at the corner of Glenwood Ave and Hillsborough St. Nice patio area with TV screens and games to play like chess, checkers, connect 4.. Inside has nice seating areas, pinball, pool and buck hunter. Solid beer & spirit selection.
One of the top 20+ local breweries in Raleigh is located a block away from Glenwood South. Clouds Brewing is an industrial-chic Raleigh Pub and originally founded as “German Inspired, American Made” beer.
Clouds keeps its roots with a focus on European inspired lagers and ales, including seasonal releases to their year-round varieties.
They’ve got 40+ rotating taps with local and craft beers including Pilsner, Hefeweizen, Amber Lager, Amber Ale, German-American lager, Doppelbock, Belgian Dark, Belgian Golden, Porters, Sour, Milk Stout Nitro, and seasonal offerings.
Stylish hangout with mod decor offering original and classic craft cocktails, plus creative bar food. Perfect for a nightcap after dinner, or for cocktails and getting your night started. Fun atmosphere, funky decor and DJ music.
North Street Beer Station
Beer lovers looking for a casual “hole in the wall” bottle shop style bar to escape the crowds and noise of Glenwood South and a place to relax after work should head to North Street Beer Station and choose from over 500+ craft beers.
A locals favorite place to taste-test craft beers including a small selection of rotation drafts and good selection of cans, plus wine, cider, seltzers and seasonal cocktails. On offer is a warm neighborhood feel, you can bring your own activities (and dogs), get your own food delivered, and listen to live music on Thursday evenings.
That is not an exhaustive list of Glenwood South bars, but an excellent list to start with. Check those places out then discover more as you walk up and down Glenwood. This district continues to evolve and I’m excited to see what opens next.
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Restaurants in Glenwood South
Mojoe’s Burger Joint
If you’re craving a tasty burger from a classic neighborhood burger joint, whenever anyone asks me to suggest a burger joint I send them to Mojoe’s in Glenwood South, my current favorite of the burger spots in Raleigh.
This place is quintessential old Raleigh and they’ve been serving some of the best burgers in Raleigh since opening in 2002 with a loyal and diverse crowd, fun atmosphere, and tasty creations.
At MoJoe’s you get hand-pressed patties using 100% Sterling Silver Choice Beef and you can choose from a 6 ounce, 10 ounce, or “Hall of Fame” one pounder with 9 different styles to have your burger.
My personal favorite is the “Carnivore” style: 10 oz beef patty, crispy bacon, savory chili, pimento cheese, fried egg, avocado and a side of tater tots. And our eldest daughter loves their fried chicken sandwiches.
You can also build your own creations, plus they have gluten free buns, a dozen local beers on tap, and boozie shakes. Popular sides include their tater tots, onion rings with MoJoe’s signature sauce, and their fried pickles.
Open till late with indoor seating plus a nice outdoor covered patio, and you’re just steps away from all the action on Glenwood.
Located at the north end of the Glenwood South District on the corner of West Peace St, Mellow Mushroom might be a chain but it’s a funky, art-filled pizzeria that’s been a favorite for the locals in the Glenwood South, Five Points, and downton Raleigh areas since 2002.
Featuring stone-baked pizzas (many can be made gluten-free or vegan) and craft beer, this is a comfortable and colorful space to gather with friends or family, and their huge, partly covered patio offers views for people watching on Glenwood Ave.
If you’re not in the mood for pizza, consider a calzone, hoagie, sandwich, burger, or a Mellow salad. Wash your meal down from a selection of 20 draft beers and handcrafted cocktails.
Cortez is one of our favorite downtown Raleigh restaurants serving up delicious seafood and small plates with tropical cocktails plus rotating craft beers and a curated wine list in a classy yet comfortable setting.
Popular dishes include Chargrilled Oysters, NC Snapper Ceviche, and Charred Octopus. We had a dinner date here with friends and it’s possible to order sharing plates or larger plates.
Note: located on the second floor directly above Cortez is their sister cocktail bar, Cuya, which we have yet to visit but have it penciled in to check out their DJ lineups and seasonal cocktail menus!
We spent six weeks traveling through Vietnam in 2003 and came to love Vietnamese food, especially Pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup), so we like to visit Anise Pho as often as we can and rank them as one of the best Asian restaurants in Raleigh.
No, dining at Anise Pho is not quite like sitting in Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s the best Pho in downtown Raleigh we’ve had (so far) and brings back fond memories of our travels.
Here you can choose from typical Vietnamese classics like Pho, Banh Mi, and Spring rolls – their peanut sauce is a hit. We found the Pho to be flavorful and the portions large, and the service friendly and fast.
Indoors is quite small, but cozy, or pull up a table on the sidewalk on a nice weather day.
Five Star Restaurant
If you love Asian food like us, one street over from Glenwood is another of our favorite Raleigh restaurants for delicious Asian food, Five Star Restaurant, named after the owner’s grandfather, General FM Hsu, who was the equivalent of a Five Star General in the U.S. Army and who served in the Republic of China (Taiwan) armed forces.
Popular dishes here include the Pork Dumplings as an appetizer (my daughter loves dumplings so she’s happy here), and for entree my suggestion is the Crispy Sesame Beef with steamed rice (you can choose chicken).
Many of their items can be made gluten free, and Tofu and Tempeh substitutions are available. And the prices are very reasonable for such large portions.
The bar area is inviting, the interior decor is very interesting, and their outdoors space seems like it would be lovely for dinner and cocktails on a nice evening.
Plates Neighborhood Kitchen
Plates is one of our favorite brunch spots in Raleigh (or for lunch and dinner) and it occupies a prime spot right on Glenwood Ave South – the interior is cozy and comfortable, but it’s hard to beat dining on their outside patio on nice weather days!
They describe themselves as a modern eatery with a globally inspired, farm-fresh menu, plus signature cocktails, and we can vouch for their popular weekend (or weekday) brunch – and love their Breadbox Coffee Shop set up outside on their patio!
For brunch my go-to is the Big Breakfast Plate (3 scrambled eggs + bacon + home fries + cheddar grits + fresh fruit). Their Shrimp & Grits is flavorful too, paired with a mimosa and coffee of course.
They also host fun events like a Tiki Patio Party and a Beer vs Wine pairing dinners so keep a look out for their events calendar.
One of the most popular Mexican restaurants in Raleigh is ideally located in the lively Glenwood South District. La Santa serves up traditional and authentic Mexican food using recipes from Guadalajara.
You’re on Glenwood Ave which is all about a fun atmosphere and vibe, you get that here along with interesting and colorful decor, friendly and helpful service, and music that keeps the mood light and energetic.
Popular dishes include the signature burrito (Burrito Momia – a burrito wrapped with bacon), the guacamole, the ceviche, and Queso on the side – great chips and salsa too!
Their Margaritas are also popular and made with fresh fruit and organic Agave nectar, and they have some excellent Mezcal cocktails. All lunch specials are $10 on Monday-Friday, from 11:00am-2:30pm. They also have a dedicated vegan menu.
Savor every moment and dish at one of the most popular Glenwood South restaurants, Vidrio who serves upmarket Mediterranean cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, and an award winning wine collection in stylish surroundings and dramatic decor.
Sharing plates are made with the freshest ingredients, plus the purest Greek olive oil, and 50 wines on tap. Known for their exceptional service and atmosphere.
42nd Street Oyster Bar
If you love seafood, atmosphere, and good service, 42nd Street Oyster Bar is a Raleigh landmark and has been a Southern Seafood tradition since 1931. Located one block east of Glenwood, this is one of the most popular and famous places to eat in Raleigh downtown.
Offering classic charm (white table clothes, checkerboard floors, metal bar stool chairs around the oyster bar) and the raw bar dates back to 1931.
Popular items include Pimento Cheese Oysters, Baked Crab Artichoke Dip, Buffalo Shrimp & Grits, Clam Chowder, and The complimentary Hushpuppies.
Really good Bloody Mary’s and NC draft beers go well with the live music on Fridays and Saturdays. They also have good choices for non-seafood eaters.
Not directly on Glenwood, but worth the short walk to its location on Hillsborough St for more great burgers! It doesn’t get more old school Raleigh than Char-Grill, a local fast-food chain that’s been serving charcoal-grilled burgers fresh off the grill since 1959.
Take a trip down memory lane here, just placing your order is a part of the experience as you fill out a paper order sheet with a pencil and wait while your food is cooked to order.
When I think about places to eat in Raleigh to grab a quick burger, Char Grill is a great option, and our kids love their shakes and fries!
My suggestion, start with their famous ½ Hamburger Steak Sandwich: a thick, juicy burger with lettuce, tomato, cheese, served on a sesame seed bun. The Char Grill menu might be simple, but simple is often best!
Again, this is not a complete list of all the Glenwood South restaurants, but you could do worse than starting with these, and like the bar scene businesses come and go.
Shopping & Retail in Glenwood South
Glenwood South features a mix of boutique shops, specialty stores, and art galleries. Around the neighborhood you can find unique clothing, home decor, gifts, and artwork as you explore on foot.
You’ll also find an eclectic mix of artists, photographers, and entrepreneurs in the Glenwood South District including the VAE who produces, funds, and exhibits socially-engaged art through community collaboration.
The Wine Feed is a specialty retail wine store and wine bar with classes, there’s a vintage store, a consignment boutique, an e-bike retailer, the local skateboard shop Endless Grind is here, there’s a florist, the record krate is a new and used record store, and if you need a quality tailor head to Glenwood South Tailors.
Glenwood South Pharmacy and Market is here, there’s a Publix grocery store on nearby Peace St as well as the Peace St Market and much more. If you can’t find it here, you’re minutes away from downtown Raleigh!
The Glenwood South District also offers fun beauty salons and fitness studios such as Open Door Yoga and Bend Pilates.
Hotels on Glenwood Avenue Raleigh
AC Hotel by Marriott
The AC Hotel Raleigh Downtown opened in 2021 and is conveniently located at the southern end of Glenwood Ave and just steps away from all the action in Glenwood South.
It has 147 rooms and the aforementioned Willard Rooftop Lounge rooftop lounge with city views plus event space and catering.
You can experience European design and comfort including a European inspired breakfast, unwind in your guest room with free Wi-Fi, glass enclosed showers, smart TV’s, sleek furniture and premium bedding.
Hampton Inn & Suites (Glenwood South)
The Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh Downtown is another of the Glenwood South area hotels and a good choice for travelers who want to be among the action.
By staying here you’re not only close to all the Glenwood action, but within easy access to everything in downtown Raleigh. NOTE: if you are a light sleeper, consider booking a room in the back of the hotel which is more removed from the nightlife noise!
Living in Glenwood South
Glenwood South is not only a popular entertainment district, but also a residential hub offering a mixture of apartments, condominiums, and townhouses that attracts a diverse community of residents.
Its handy proximity to downtown Raleigh offices and amenities makes it an attractive location for young professionals looking to live close to their workplaces.
If you’re looking for a Raleigh realtor to help you buy, or rent Glenwood South Apartments, Caroline is a licensed realtor who acts as a referral agent and we have built a team of trusted realtors we can connect you with who can help you with your home buying or renting needs. Learn more here.
In summary, Raleigh’s Glenwood South District is a dynamic and bustling neighborhood that continues to evolve. If you’re looking for a mix of entertainment, dining, bars, shopping, and residential options, then along with North Hills, this is where the action is in Raleigh!