A Guide to Bars & Nightlife in Durham
Durham comes alive when the sun goes down. Here's a guide to the city's vibrant bars and nightlife with the best music, drinks, and atmosphere to keep the party going strong.
Call a babysitter. Gather all your friends. You’re overdue for a late night out on the town.
When it comes to nightlife, Durham has plenty of options to match your perfect evening mood. From late-night eats and dive bars to celebrated craft cocktails and venues with both nationally touring acts and homegrown bands, the Bull City’s energy will keep pace with you through the wee hours. Night owls rejoice – it’s time to enjoy all that Durham has to offer responsibly.
The pandemic has altered or narrowed the hours of many favorite local food and beverage establishments. This guide features bars, restaurants, and venues that currently stay open after 10 p.m..
Durham’s Late Night Bar Scene
The walkability of downtown Durham is uber convenient for bar hoppers and evening explorers. Within less than a mile, guests will find a wide range of options with “ground-to-glass” cocktails, one-of-a-kind syrups, and so much more.
Newer to Durham’s craft cocktail scene, Kingfisher gained national acclaim as one of the best new cocktail bars in the country in 2019. Open Tuesday-Saturday until midnight, you can cozy up in one of the private booths and sip on drinks like the Bee Durham with honey-infused Conniption Navy Strength Gin from Durham Distillery. Grab dinner beforehand at Alley Twenty Six, another award-winning craft cocktail spot from 4-10 p.m. on Wednesday-Sunday.
Just a few blocks away, try hand-crafted concoctions at Bar Virgile on Monday-Saturday from 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Boasting one of the largest spirit selections in the Triangle, Bar Virgile offers a wide variety of classic and modern whiskey, gin, rum, agave, and other drinks. Bar Virgile’s sister bar, Annexe, opened during the pandemic in the basement below and is currently open Wednesday and Thursdays from 5 p.m.-12 a.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. For those carrying into the night, enjoy the classics like the French 75 or forgotten classics like curacao-stained Blue Hawaiian, the Singapore Sling, and the Appletini. If you bring a record with you on Wednesday evenings, they’ll even play it for you on the turntable.
Durham Distillery's Corpse Reviver Bar and Lounge, located beneath the distillery's space, is designed to showcase Durham Distillery & Conniption Gins at their best. They are open every Thursday - Saturday from 5 p.m. -12 a.m., as well as Sundays and Mondays from 3 - 9 p.m., so head on over to enjoy a cocktail and "revive your spirit."
Aside from cocktails, there are a few more beer- or wine-focused options downtown, too. Pour Taproom, for example, offers a unique self-serve system that allows you to try a large variety of beer, cider, and wine on their patio at CCB Plaza. Currently, they’re open till 11 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and they're open till 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Right on Main Street, West End Wine Bar is tucked away in between downtown’s city center and the Brightleaf District featuring one of the area’s largest wine-by-the-glass selections on Monday-Wednesdays till 11 p.m. and on Thursday-Saturday’s till midnight. West End Billiards, just next door, stays open two more hours, with TVs, pool tables, bocce, and more in an industrial, brick-lined space.
If you’re looking for more of a hole-in-the-wall type vibe, mosey down towards Rigsbee Avenue to try Kotuku Surf Club. Open till 2 a.m., the bar offers plenty of outdoor seating, bocce courts, and an impressive rotating draft beer selection. Accordion Club is about a block away and is open until 2 a.m., too. Known by locals for their Sunday morning burritos, Accordion Club typically has a cocktail on tap as well as a wide-ranging beer selection.
Outside of downtown, there are a few more late-night options to try. West 94th St. Pub in South Durham stays open late till 2 a.m. with karaoke every Friday. Off of University Drive, you’ll find Doyle’s Sports Bar, a laid-back pub with several regulation pool tables, darts, beer, and cocktails open until 2 a.m. Made famous for scenes in the movie Bull Durham, the Green Room is a bar with pool tables on Broad Street that stays open till midnight most nights of the week.
Fill up on Late Night Food Options
Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub has one of the most convenient locations downtown with an expansive patio great for enjoying cooler evening air right at the historic Five Points intersection. Don’t miss the fish and chips or perfectly seasoned fries offered till 11 p.m. every Monday-Thursday and Sunday, and even later on Fridays and Saturdays. Just across the intersection, M Pocha recently announced a new late-night menu till midnight complete with drunken noodles, Korean-style birria tacos, BLT bao buns, milk bread grilled cheese with gravy, and more.
In the Brightleaf District, you have your pick of a few local favorites. The Federal is open seven days a week till 11 p.m. offering drool-worthy nachos, Buffalo chicken sandwiches, and burgers. Next door, the James Joyce Irish Pub also stays open till 11 p.m. nightly with fare including wings, fried soft pretzel bites with beer queso, steak and cheese sandwiches, and numerous burger options. Devine’s Restaurant & Sports Bar stays open till either 1 or 2 a.m. each night, with bar food staples, plenty of drink options, and TVs to watch sports. Their patio is often filled with live music acts on the weekend, too. Justin’s Bar and Grill, formerly Skewers, is located just up the block. It's a great option till 1 a.m. each night with regularly scheduled live music. Justin’s menu includes everything from hot dog combos to black bean burgers with French fries. If you’re in the Ninth Street area, The Tavern serves wings till midnight alongside a full-service bar and plenty of arcade games and TVs for late-night sports matchups.
Music & Entertainment Spots
Live events are slated to return to the Pinhook starting in September. Known as a safe space for marginalized groups, the Pinhook offers everything from karaoke and drag shows to nationally touring acts and dance parties. The Fruit is an art space and creative playground on Dillard Street, near Bull City Ciderworks and Ponysaurus Brewing Co. The 22,000-square-foot warehouse complex is home to festival programming, special events, and visual and performing arts that include dance, painting, photography, and drama.
Over by Surf Club and Accordion, it's hard to miss Motorco Music Hall and its accompanying restaurant Parts & Labor with picnic tables and stringed lights facing the street. During the pandemic, Motorco has hosted popular concerts and comedy shows at a safe distance in its parking lot. More programming is expected to return in its normal venue space by late August. For now, grab food till midnight on the weekends and enjoy the socially distanced atmosphere. If you’re looking to party into the night, head a block over to Boxcar Bar & Arcade. It's open until 2 a.m. and brimming with arcade and console games, pinball machines, table tennis, and other activities to accompany its full bar and pizza menus.
Pairings with Places to Rest Your Head
For those of you who don’t want to think about coordinating logistics or rides home, stay the night at one of Durham’s fabulous hotel options.
The Roof at The Durham Hotel has one of the best nighttime skyline views around. On Fridays and Saturdays, The Roof stays open till midnight, so you can take in the view while sipping craft cocktails and snacking on their late-night menu.
Across the street, Unscripted Durham also has a rooftop deck overlooking CCB Plaza. The Patio stays open till 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, so relax and enjoy the ambiance of poolside cabanas, seasonal bites, and cocktails. Every Friday and Saturday night from 9 p.m.-12 a.m., Unscripted also hosts live music in the first-floor studio area!
The 21c Museum Hotel, housed in the historic Trust Building catty-corner from Unscripted on CCB Plaza, has a contemporary art museum on its first floor that’s typically open to the public 24/7. Grab a nightcap cocktail from the lounge that stays open till midnight on Friday and Saturday, then check out the latest exhibit and explore the historic bank vault in the basement below.
Lastly, meet up with friends in the relaxed ambiance of the Bull Durham Bar at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. A late-night menu is available daily till 11 p.m., along with the last call for alcohol service. Spend the night and wake up refreshed and ready to play a round of golf at the course on-site, or spend the day exploring Duke University’s beautiful campus.