If you’re looking for the best sports bars in Raleigh, look no further, you’ve come to the right page and I’ve gladly done all the important research for you!
As a long-time sports addict who played professional Rugby in my native Australia, one of the things I love about living in Raleigh and the USA is the sports bar scene, and we’ve got some fun bars here being a college town!
In case you don’t know, this is traditionally an ACC basketball area with NC State, UNC and Duke all within 45-minutes of each other. We also have the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, and the Durham Bulls baseball 30-minutes away.
But with Raleigh being a fast growing area and popular place to live, there are many out-of-state fans here cheering on their teams from all over the country.
While my Rugby playing days are over, I’m a BIG lover of most sports (college football would probably be my favorite US sport), and I thoroughly enjoy a good craft beer, or whiskey, while watching a game with my mates and talking some friendly smack!
Before we get into my list below, you might be wondering, what exactly is the definition of a sports bar? Loosely put, a bar where televised sporting events are shown continuously, and typically containing several televisions and often sports memorabilia. Sounds good to me!
So if you don’t have tickets to an NC State or Carolina Hurricanes game, or are searching on your phone for the “best sports bar near me” to cheer on your out-of-state team, you can still enjoy game day in Raleigh at one of the happening bars below.
Ok guys and gals, let’s kick it off with a classic college bar.
The Players Retreat
If you can’t make it to Carter-Finley stadium, PNC Arena or Reynolds Coliseum to cheer on the Wolfpack, join the pack fans here. The Players Retreat (PR to the locals) is one of the storied sports bars in Raleigh and a true landmark in the city of Raleigh.
Established in 1951, it’s the oldest continuously operating tavern between Atlanta and Washington D.C. Located near NC State’s main campus, this is an old school sports bar with booths and bar stools, tables on the sidewalk, pool tables and lots of TV screens for sports.
This is the kind of local neighborhood bar I like to experience when we travel, and besides NC State fans you’ll also find an eclectic mix of people.
NOTE: Kids eat FREE here on Sundays. Also note, proof of vaccination currently required to sit indoors!
Sammy’s Tap & Grill
Sammy’s has been West Raleigh’s premier sports bar for just over 20 years. When we first moved to Raleigh in 2004, this was our local as we lived nearby on Lake Johnson and have fond memories of watching college and pro games with friends over a pitcher of Yuengling and serving of wings.
For college sports, this is still one of my favorite Raleigh sports bars and another NC State hangout considering its conveniently located next to campus on Avent Ferry Rd, plus Carolina Hurricanes fans frequent here too!
Pittsburgh Steelers fans take note. This is the home of the Steelers supporters club, but of course all fans are welcome and know that there’s a pleasant neighborhood and local feel to this sports bar.
Alabama Crimson Tide fans also have a home here, as this is where the Roll Tide Raleigh alumni group gather making it a fun place to watch Alabama football games.
Huge amount of TVs and seats for all the games in the main bar area and in the outdoor enclosed porch area, and individual TVs at each booth. Whether it’s NFL Sunday or college on Saturday’s, Sammy’s has a fun atmosphere with a boisterous crowd.
From the menu, the burgers and wings are good, plus there’s plenty of other typical bar food including tacos, pizza, sandwiches, and wraps.
With so many TV’s here, this is a place you can come with a group of friends and everyone can watch their own teams play at the same time!
They have a good selection of drinks including weekly drink specials. Sundays they have ½ off all burgers after 8pm, there’s a popular mid-week trivia night, and occasional live music.
Brickhouse Sports Bar & Grill
Another west Raleigh favorite and one of the best sports bars in Raleigh is Brickhouse located off Hillsborough Street (directly across from Meredith College) and relatively close to NC State and PNC Arena.
This sports bar is popular for NC State college games and Carolina Hurricanes fan. In fact, the Wolfpack Weekly radio show with Dave Doeren is held here offering fans the opportunity to attend each recording.
The radio show takes place every Wednesday during football season (except for the week of the Virginia Tech game which will be moved to Tuesday) at 7:00 p.m.
But, that’s not all. It also happens to be the headquarters of the Ohio State Buckeyes alumni club, and New England Patriots fans.
On Saturdays during college football season, you can get the OSU horseshoe home game atmosphere right here in Raleigh – they sing the fight song with every touchdown. Get there early to grab a seat for all big OSU games! Watch my video.
During NFL season, this bar fills up with New England Patriots fans cheering on the Pats – but once again, all fans are of course welcome – come in for some fun trash talk.
Featuring ten big 120″ projection screens that line the walls showing all the games, plus TVs behind the bar area, and TVs outside on their large outdoor full-service patio, this is a top spot for sports fans!
With over 40 beers on tap and daily drink specials, good variety of above-average bar food (wings, chips, and sausage dip are popular), great friendly service, 4 regulation size pool tables, and a lively atmosphere, come see for yourself why they are a West Raleigh favorite!
Listen up, Carolina Hurricanes fans and NC State fans (and their opponents fans), Backyard Bistro is conveniently located just a short walk (10-minutes) from their home stadiums, PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium, making it perfect for a pre or post game drink and bite to eat.
With five big screen high-definition TVs plus several smaller screens throughout the bistro, fans can watch all the games while enjoying the benefits of a full-service restaurant. A popular sports bar in Raleigh for those heading to a game.
On the menu is traditional American bar food, local beers and spirits with sports-themed memorabilia scattered throughout.
I haven’t been here before a hockey game and have heard the atmosphere is fun as it’s packed with fans, but I have visited after an NC State Saturday night football game, and before the Imagine Dragons concert and enjoyed both experiences.
They have friendly staff, special game-day menus, and you can call ahead for orders to pick up on your way to the tailgate.
Tobacco Road Sports Cafe
Located in the historic Powerhouse building in downtown Raleigh and just a block away from the Glenwood South entertainment district, this is more of an upscale Raleigh sports bar, but far from pretentious!
I stopped in here for lunch last Saturday to catch some college football and enjoyed chatting with owner, Alex Amra, who’s vision of a new category of sports restaurant led to not only this location, but their other Tobacco Road Sports Cafe that overlooks the Durham Bulls baseball stadium – see our Bulls post here.
While Alex is a Cleveland Browns fan, he shared enthusiastically about the 200 person private event for Clemson fans upstairs that night, about Florida State fans frequenting his bar, and of course about NC State fans enjoying games here!
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, you can watch all the sports including major league baseball, cricket, you name it.
On the menu is scratch-made Southern-inspired food, sourced locally whenever possible. If you love pork, I ordered the Down East Nachos which was loaded with pork, pickled okra and red onions and big enough to share. One of the best nachos I’ve had in Raleigh!
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, Alex suggests getting here early on Sunday’s for a table during NFL games being one of the popular sports bars in downtown Raleigh.
Considering their games room and extensive menu which is more than just wings and nachos, this is super family-friendly, clean,and with attentive service.
I love this iconic tavern. As I walk up the stairs to the second story bar area, the ambience and decor takes me back to our times living and traveling around the UK and Ireland.
Established in 1974, this is another of Raleigh’s true landmarks and favorite historic bars, especially for NC State students and alumni as it’s located on Hillsborough street directly across from campus – they have beautiful balcony windows overlooking the university.
Think old-school, wood-accent tavern that is well-known as the tavern in the 1988 Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon movie “Bull Durham.” And you can check out some great, quirky NC State memorabilia hanging around the tavern too.
Popular for great sandwiches (I enjoyed Mitch’s Reuben), hearty soups, chili and beers all at reasonable prices that you can enjoy while you take a trip down memory lane at this multi-generational establishment.
Although it doesn’t have dozens of TVs like the other Raleigh sports bars, with its cozy pub atmosphere and cool history (Mitch’s is the oldest place on Hillsborough), it is a must for anyone visiting NC State. There’s nothing quite like this place around Raleigh.
Carolina Ale House (Glenwood South)
Located in the heart of the Glenwood South entertainment district with an awesome 3rd floor rooftop terrace, Carolina Ale House’s motto is food, sports and fun.
A popular hangout for NC State and Carolina Hurricanes fans, this casual and 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.
A fun place to catch some college or NFL games, and attend a Canes watch party – we 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.
The Bridge DTR (formerly London Bridge Pub)
If you love watching English Premier League football (EPL) and watching all the big soccer tournaments, The Bridge DTR (formerly London Bridge Pub) is where it’s at.
They love their football here (soccer that is for Americans), and this British-themed pub is actually the home of the Raleigh Liverpool supporters club (LFC Raleigh), but all fans are welcome of course!
I have been to several games here during the past World Cup and European Cups, mixing with fans from all over, and I mean many nationalities, and the atmosphere is fantastic.
But they also show the Carolina Hurricanes, NFL and Six Nations Rugby.
One of my favorite things about this pub is their spacious outdoor courtyard. It reminds me of my days drinking in similar establishments back in the UK, and Ireland.
Multiple large TV screens sit behind the bar and they typically have a large projector screen outside for the BIG tournaments.
Solid beer selection on tap, plus mixed drinks, and classic English style bar food such as Fish’ n Chips, Bangers’ n Chips, and Full English Breakfast.
Great location in the heart of downtown Raleigh close to other restaurants and bars, and just a great pub experience, especially on match days, in a country which is more focused on bars,
If Joey is behind the bar, he’s fun to chat with, tell him Craig & Caz from This Is Raleigh said G’day and they’ll see you in November for the World Cup!
RELATED POST: Where to watch the World Cup Soccer in Raleigh
Here’s another of the more upmarket Raleigh sports bars located in the heart of the fantastic North Hills District.
Yes, it’s a sports bar chain, but a far cry from, say, Applebees. We actually had our first experience in a Yard House in Honolulu during our Hawaii vacation several years ago and watched some March Madness college basketball which was fun!
The North Hills location is large, with TVs behind the bar and more screens positioned all around the restaurant with views from the high top tables and booths.
It’s family-friendly, and I was there with my crew recently for lunch on an NFL Sunday and enjoyed a great meal while taking in some of the games.
They have an extensive list of craft, local, seasonal and imported beers on draft and by the bottle, plus a cocktail menu and mixed drinks.
The food menu is also extensive and made from scratch daily. They are well known for their signature burgers (GF buns available). I loved my bbq bacon burger, and our daughter her Nashville hot chicken sandwich. And their salads are HUGE!
They also serve steaks, pizzas, chicken and seafood dishes. And they are very accommodating to dietary restrictions and preferences.
Yard House is also known for their classic rock tunes playing in the background, and on busy game days it can get quite loud there, but overall an enjoyable atmosphere.
Besides indoor seating they have a large outdoor patio area if you prefer to sit outside, also with screens to watch the sports.
Overall it’s a solid sports bar and restaurant to have a casual family meal, a date night, or hang out with friends and catch a game. Get there early if you want the best table for big games!
Village Draft House
Another good spot for NC State fans being close to their Hillsborough street campus is the Village Draft House. Pop in here for local craft beer tastings paired with games from multiple TVs behind the large bar.
This brick-walled tavern offers an impressive 100 beers on draft and over 40 North Carolina brews including Pilsners, lagers, kolsches, brown ales, porters, stouts, and IPA’s. No matter you preference, there is a flavor you can savor.
If you find yourself a little peckish, the Village Draft House has quality pub food including solid wings, tacos, and sandwiches.
The atmosphere is relaxed, and the games are always on as they have large flat screen TV’s everywhere and all the sports packages.
Extensive menu featuring award winning hand-pattied burgers, excellent sandwiches, and good spicy wing sauce – the Carolina Reaper Buffalo Hot sauce. Overall a good place to eat in the Village District area.
Woody’s at City Market
While I have been to Woody’s at City Market many times over the years, to be clear it has been several years since I’ve been there so I can’t offer an up-to-date personal experience.
But this is a long running locally owned sports bar and watering hole in the heart of downtown Raleigh near Moore Square, and a popular spot to watch some sports on TV.
It’s your classic sports bar that feels like a locals’ corner bar with a good selection of craft beer and great lunch specials – many people say they have the best wings in the Triangle – plus signature burgers, subs, salads and other typical bar food.
Two main rooms allow for a good amount of seating, with several TV’s to watch your favorite teams. They also have locations in Cary and Morissville.
Hibernian Irish Pub & Restaurant (Glenwood South)
When we first moved to Raleigh in 2004 (pre-kids), we used to frequent the Hibernian in Glenwood South almost every weekend.
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.
But of course being an Irish Pub they’d show English Premier League Football (soccer matches), and 6 Nations Rugby games – plus American sports as well.
Like Woody’s, it has been several years since we’ve had a day, or night out, in this pub with so many other options in Raleigh now. But it still gets busy, and if you’re craving some typical Irish fare like Shepard’s Pie, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Fish’n Chips and an Irish Breakfast (I need to go back at least for the food and Guiness), put it on your list.
Other Raleigh Sports Bars
Below are even more sports bars in Raleigh on my list to experience in the near future that I have not yet personally visited, but have come recommended by friends and members of our online community.
My Way Tavern
Many people have recently mentioned this as one of their favorite Raleigh bars, so I’m taking that as a strong signal to get myself in there asap!
This is where the local Chelsea FC supporters club (RDU Blues) meet to watch matches (other fans welcome of course). So if you love the EPL, check it out.
The main focal point of the tavern is said to be their horse shoe 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 looking burgers, sandwiches and Mac-n-cheese.
When you consider they have local beer, plenty of TVs to watch the games, inside and outside tables, and a relaxed atmosphere, they are at the top of my priority list. Plus football specials on Monday & Thursday Nights, and all day on Saturday and Sundays!
O’Malley’s Pub & Restaurant
Located in the Oak Park Shopping Center on Glenwood Ave, this is known as a classic tavern offering Irish-American comfort food and a full bar, plus live music nightly, and a patio.
Some call it one of Raleigh’s best kept secrets and a bit of a hidden institution, this neighborhood pub has been serving up refreshing pints, tasty cocktails, and savory meals since 1996.
Great selection of 20 beers on tap (including Guinness of course), lLots of table seating, cool decor and atmosphere, and their wings are said to be very good. Family-friendly with a kids menu.
- Address: 5228 Hollyridge Dr, Raleigh
Sharky’s has been known as one of the top neighborhood sports bars in Raleigh for over 30 years (why have I not set foot in here yet?) Described as a casual bar and pool hall offering standard bar fare, sports on TV, darts and outdoor seating.
LSU fans take note; one of the co-owners was born and bred in the Big Easy, which is reflected on their menu with Cajun cuisine, and is possibly the only Saints bar in Raleigh.
22 large screen TV’s, 6 pool tables, a dart area, and a great beer and whisky selection. It sounds like a fun sports bar and a a great place to watch the game. Who’s coming with me?
There you have it. My current list of the top sports bars in Raleigh to catch a game. Now it’s your turn. What bar have I missed? Is there a Raleigh sports bar you suggest I check out next? Leave a comment below.