When you talk about classic Raleigh restaurants and eateries, Players Retreat is usually mentioned since it’s been such a long-standing favorite for NC State students and alumni! In business for over 65 years, you have to be doing something really good. And while I don’t have any Wolfpack blood running through me, I do appreciate a good college bar and restaurant no matter what university you’re associated with. So it was time for a visit to this old-school Raleigh eatery for lunch!
It’s really easy to find Player’s Retreat (PR to the locals). Located on Oberlin Road, just look for the large NC State red awnings and umbrellas. Or the large Players Retreat flag waving out front! They’ve got a very nice sidewalk patio for outdoors dining but you gotta head inside to really understand the charm of Players Retreat. Inside, Players Retreat sports a long classic bar, low slung booths to the right and additional dining rooms on either side of the main room, TV screens above along with an impressive collection of beer cans and old-school NC State finishes off the decor. It has the comfortable feeling of other college bars-restaurants in the area like Dain’s Place over in Durham.
I grab a seat at the corner of the bar and am immediately asked about a drink. I go with a Lonerider Bad Penny just to keep things simple and peruse the menu. Next-door is an energetic crowd of folks visiting for a political event. There’s a casual but fun energy at Players Retreat and I suspect that there are a lot of locals showing up here on a regular basis. Players Retreat has a long menu of bar food ranging from fried appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, American entrees and more. And the PR is also known for their selection of scotch, check out their website for details on the Scotch Club at PR if you’re a fan!
I keep things simple and go with a chicken parm sub and side of house-made potato chips. The food comes out pretty quickly at Players Retreat, I’ve got a sizable (10″) sandwich with chicken tenders and layer with marinara sauce and provolone. The bun is fresh and soft, it’s a satisfying bite and good deal at $9. Along with the decent chips, I’m a happy camper sitting at PR’s bar and watching the people walk by.
Service at the bar is solid and attentive, they’ve got some pros here behind the bar and it shows. While I’m sure the PR has its regulars, they take care of me really well as a newbie which is always appreciated. All in all, I was pretty happy with my visit to this classic Raleigh eatery. It’s held up well over time which isn’t always the case for long-time local favorites. Along with the Mecca Restaurant, the Players Retreat can hold its own in terms of food, service, ambiance and overall value. So cheers, Players Retreat! While I may not bleed Wolfpack red, here’s to another 65 years for this popular college staple…
105 Oberlin Road
Raleigh, NC 27605