There’s no better way to enjoy our heavenly spring weather than hanging al fresco. And thanks to the success of trendy spots like The Durham Hotel and old faithfuls like Top of the Hill, rooftop opportunities are now in abundance throughout the Triangle. OTL headed out, and up, to determine Raleigh’s RoofTop of the Class.
Raleigh Beer Garden
Best All Around
Raleigh Beer Garden, Glenwood South
We couldn’t stop assigning superlatives to the rooftop portion of the RBG, which is how it earned the coveted Best All Around. A great atmosphere, great view, great crowd, and of course, a great selection of beer conveniently located at the outdoor bar on the rooftop, or one level down on the wall of taps.
Most Likely To Succeed
Level 7, North Hills
This brand-spanking new bar/lounge sits atop the AC hotel in North Hills, and earned it’s superlative for it’s high-end decor and swanky clientele. We visited early in the evening on a school night when Level 7 clearly catered to a successful business crowd–whether meeting up with colleagues in town for business, or celebrating a power deal over small plates and cocktails. Insider tip: befriend whoever has the largest expense account.
Taverna Agora, Hillsborough St.
Hello, Beautiful! From the elegant white and mediterranean decor, to the swooping vines and romantic lighting, we all agreed Taverna Agora was definitely the dreamiest rooftop spot on our tour. We were equally delighted by the menu and service.
Carolina Ale House, Glenwood South
No shock here, the 3rd story patio of The Carolina Ale house is the perfect spot for watching sports with it’s plethora of TVs, retractable roof, and large outside bar/lounge area. Warm-up: Your tush gets a workout climbing the 56 stairs to reach the entrance if you choose to forego the elevator.
Raleigh Times, Downtown
Are you looking at me? Of course not. I’m way too old for you. But if I were still your age, this is where I would hang out too. Why wouldn’t you? The rooftop bar is filled with college graduates, downtown hipsters, and apres-wedding parties. Add in easy access to a large bar, a cool view of Wilmington Street, some top 40 music…and young romance is in the air.
Most Likely to be on America’s Next Top Model
Solas, Glenwood South
This urban rooftop patio has been around for almost a decade and continues to draw a crowd, whether as a hot spot for private events or for it’s DJ night scene. And like the contestants on ANTM, you can expect the crowd to dress to impress, strike a pose, or start a catfight or two.
Hibernian, Glenwood South
You can always depend on Hibernian’s rooftop to provide a friendly, casual atmosphere to gather with friends. There are plenty of high tops to enjoy the views or simply belly-up to the rooftop beer bar featuring North Carolina craft beers. The dependable web site says: Thirsty Thursdays have arrived and all beers at the beer bar are $4 all day long.
Most School Spirit
Rudinos Rooftop, N. Raleigh
Once one of the only rooftop bars in all of Raleigh, this old faithful still caters to college sports fanatics and locals. With multiple TVs and access to all sports packages, you’re welcome here no matter your alma mater. The rooftop has even gone family-friendly allowing children to access the rooftop until 8pm.
Rockford, Glenwood South
The Rockford has a rooftop? Technically, yes. It’s not grand with a stunning view, but it’s intimate, quiet, and a great place to have a dinner with someone you actually want to talk to. If you’re trying to impress your company, ask for Myles, who’s friendly smile and Top Chef-like menu descriptions add to your experience.
Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria, Downtown
One of these rooftops is doing it’s own thing. Mezcaleria, located on top of El Centro and operated by the same hostess stand, was our most original rooftop experience. The rooftop itself is enclosed by high walls with eclectic “graffiti” art and a ceiling of patio lights hung so perfectly straight you forget there’s open air beyond them. Shining the spotlight on Mezcal is a unique concept for our area, and a fun way to try something new. Or you can always rooster-out and order something without Mezcal.
Most Laid Back
Trophy Tap + Table, Downtown
Better known as “what used to be Busy Bee,” this rooftop patio is now the place to enjoy Trophy Brewing Company concoctions and more. We landed on it’s casual rooftop at the odd hour of too-early-to-be-out, too-late-to-be-at-dinner. Everyone there seemed to be chillin’. Just chillin’. The rooftop view at night gave off a city vibe, making it the perfect venue to go to when you want to be low key downtown after dark.
Worst Case of Senioritis
Lynnwood Grill and Brewing Concern, NW. Raleigh
Bring on your laziness! Thanks to strategic architecture and a hodge podge of decor, you almost forget LBC shares a parking lot with the Raleigh Grande movie theater. House-brewed craft beers, friendly bartenders, and a sit-and-stay awhile attitude make this neighborhood rooftop a regular destination for locals and a compelling reason to diss your movie plans.
Bottomline: Raleigh’s rooftop scene has something for everyone with more to come. I wouldn’t be surprised to find this list outdated by al fresco time next year.