When the lights go down, Durham heats up. In the past few years, the area's bar and nightlife scene has exploded. New venues to suit all tastes mix with old favorites to provide a hangout option for everybody.
Below are just a few examples; click here to see picks from the DBA.
Beyu is a coffee shop/bar/restaurant that features live jazz most nights of the week—check their online schedule to find out which nights. The atmosphere is casual and warm, and the homemade desserts are fabulous.
Founded by a Duke Fuqua graduate, this downtown Durham brewery is just the latest addition to Durham’s thriving local microbrewery scene. Founded on the idea that beers should reflect their local cultures, this "plow-to-pint" brewery creates beers with locally sourced ingredients and features brews with unusual but surprisingly delicious flavors like basil, sweet potatoes, bacon, and Moonpies. The Fullsteam Tavern is a great place to unwind and enjoy a beer. You can also bring your four-legged friend along. Although it doesn’t have a kitchen, Fullsteam always has one of the many local food trucks parked outside.
From the outside, it may not seem like much: just another bar. But step inside, take a load off, and order a drink and the magic begins. What really makes "The Fed" special is its food menu, which is quite possibly the best bar menu ever created. What other bar features a special duck liver pate for under $10? The daily specials are a testament to fun and creativity. The Fed is truly the kind of place where everybody knows your name.
The unofficial, official sports bar of Duke University. If you didn’t score a ticket to the basketball game, or just want to watch any sporting event around the world with a few dozen of your closest friends, this is the place. Super casual, and always welcoming, there’s always a familiar face at Satisfaction.
Durham's music scene is perhaps its most underrated and underground asset. The Pinhook is where it is on public display every night. This great bar features live music for every taste in a great, intimate atmosphere.
250 kinds of whiskey. Need we say more? This bar is deliberately old-school. I's not just the rolled-up sleeves and handle-bar mustaches on the bartenders, but the classic cocktails, live jazz and old-school speakeasy feel. Whiskey is a great place to spend a low key, chilly evening.
Home to the greatest outdoor patio of any bar in Durham, Tobacco Road looks directly over The Durham Bulls outfield. During the spring and summer months, you don't need a ticket to see the Bulls play, only an open seat on the patio of Tobacco Road. With great beer and drink selections and some of the best bar food in Durham, Tobacco Road will not disappoint if you are looking for an evening of fun in downtown.
One of the new bars in the heart of the revitalized Central Park area of Durham and across the street from Fullsteam, Motorco offers something a little different every night – including a different food truck. Entering the renovated automobile repair garage is like going back in time. On any given evening a big band might be playing, while the crowd shags the night away. Motorco is definitely a break in the norms for most bars, a true one-of-a-kind place.
The New York Times focused on the Motorco/Fullsteam area in its recent spotlight on Durham.
Find out more about the area’s budding nightlife.
Best Pool Hall
The Green Room is everything that a pool hall should be: Lots of pool tables, lots of locals, cheap beer, a good jukebox, and a stale smokiness left over from the days when you could smoke in bars in North Carolina (not that long ago). Doyle's has an overwhelmingly expansive juke box, cheap drinks, darts, video games and an underutilized outdoor seating area. If that is not enough to grab you, show up on Saturday night for karaoke and a chance to see whether you have a potential career if this whole law school thing doesn't work out.
Best place to see law students (besides the library)
- Satisfaction's, Brightleaf Square, Durham, 919-682-7397
- Top of the Hill, 100 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-929-8676,
- East End Martini Bar, 201 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-929-0024
- Whiskey, 347 W. Main St., Durham, 919-682-6169
It takes a while to realize where everyone is actually going, having said they were not going to "Satie's." A frequent watering hole for law students and a great place to watch "the game," look out for great beer specials on Thursday night. Top of the Hill has beer that is brewed in house and a deck overlooking Franklin Street. What more could one ask for? East End is a popular Franklin Street hangout and Whiskey, while not for large groups, can't be beat for an intimate gathering of friends.
Best place to NOT see law students
- The Cave, 452 1/2 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, 919-968-9308
At the bottom of a narrow set of stairs, The Cave provides a "cozy kind of sketch" as one patron describes it. If you like dingy but wonderful dive bars, and have a dog that you like to take out drinking, this is the place for you. Be warned though; bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.
Best place to pretend that you are already a fancy lawyer
- West End Wine Bar in Durham, 601 West Main Street, Durham
- Revolution, 107 W. Main St., Durham www.revolutionrestaurant.com
If you went to a university that offered an Introduction to Wines course, you can frequent West End to impress your classmates with your knowledge of the finer differences between wines. At Revolution you can show off your wine knowledge over dinner.
Player's Club, 159 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-929-0101
If your legs are beginning to atrophy from sitting in the library all week, get ready to shake what your mama gave you at Player's, a favorite for dancing to the latest hip-hop music. I's a great place to show off just how bad you are at dancing.
Best bar for chilling and unwinding
- Dain's Place, 754 Ninth Street, Durham, 919-416-8800
- The Federal, 914 W. Main St., Durham, 919-680-8611
- Bull McCabes, 427 W Main St., Durham
Dain's offers a low key atmosphere and a good place to get to know your classmates away from the confines of the law school. And The Federal is owned by the same folks who own The James Joyce and features good food and a nice beer selection. Bull McCabes is situated by itself on Main Street away from the bustle of Brightleaf and Five Points.
Best Hipster Bar
Pinhook, 117 Main St., Durham, 919-667-1100