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First Take: Past the entrance to Centro you’ll find a lonely set of stairs leading to the slightly mysterious Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria! Past the noise and energy of this popular restaurant you’ll land at the top next to a hostess kiosk and velvet rope, oooh. What lies beyond that velvet rope? Find out my friend…
From the hostess kiosk, Gallo Pelón doesn’t look like much. Dimly lit, subdued crimson shades on the wall. A small bar in the mid-section opening up to a nice patio bar in back. But it has a really nice feel overall, reminds me of a smaller, prettier Foundation. The space used to be owned by a local Raleigh artist (who moved on to the West coast) and several of his pieces still hang at Gallo Pelón.
I grab one of the 10 seats at the bar and peruse the menu. Gallo Pelón specializes in mezcal, a smoked agave liquor. Think of it as tequila’s cool cousin. Already popular in other urban areas of the country, Gallo Pelón is the first mezcaleria (as far as we know) in the Southeast. I order up a Baba Looey which has cucumber, lime and guava which should make for a refreshing drink on a warm summer’s day.
In addition to their great mezcal cocktails, Gallo Pelón also serves up some small plates to snack on while you’re hanging out! The dishes range from chips and quacamole, chicken skewers and even a hot dog. There’s enough here to make for a casual meal or snack but probably not enough for a real dinner.
My Baba Looey shows up looking like a snow cone! Dusted with what I’d have to guess is seasoned salt, I take a sip. Very nice, there’s the tropical flavors backed by smoke which makes for a very interesting drink. And it’s strong too, which explains all the ice. It helps take down the edge off the drink and acts as a really nice visual presentation of the drink. The bartenders here at Gallo Pelón are definitely pro’s.
Gallo Pelón is already busy, early on a Friday evening with the after work crowd. I finish up my cocktail and head out of the evening impressed! Gallo Pelón has done a great job in bringing an urban and hip vibe to downtown Raleigh. And in a small, sophisticated space. You may not know mezcal yet but you will soon, because I’m pretty sure Gallo Pelón is going to be a big hit in downtown Raleigh…
106 1/2 S. Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601