There’s no doubt that a successful restaurant can get stale over time. They get popular, they develop a clientele and then things get taken for granted. They stick with the same menu to keep their regulars happy, they don’t bother re-decorating since that’s what made them successful. Thankfully, the Raleigh Times Bar has not fallen into that trap of success. As one of the first cool spots I visited when I moved into the City of Oaks, the Raleigh Times still has that comfortable feel to it but seems to be broadening its appeal through a larger space, consistently high-quality bar food, and of course, a cool chameleon-like flavor to its ambiance.
Why do I call the Raleigh Times chameleon-like? Because it works in so many ways for different types of visits. Sit outside on a first date and enjoy the fresh air. Cozy up at the bar with a buddy for a great craft beer and fries. Come in on a busy Sunday morning for some brunch-like eats. Or stumble in after a long night on the town for a nightcap and some late-night snacks. I’ve been here under each of those circumstances and the Raleigh Times always delivers. And with the recent opening of their second floor and patio, I expect even more dining options from the Times!
Given its success over the years, the dining area has expanded down Hargett toward S. Wilmington Street. Adding a second floor area and patio means you have 4 bars to choose from and plenty of space to stretch out in! Just be very specific about where you are seating when meeting up with friends.
The most important thing to understand is that the Raleigh Times is self-service seating. Grab any open table, when it gets really busy you might even have to stalk one that has a party about to depart. The Raleigh Times specializes in great beer and bar food, ask for the list of what’s on tap and you’ll find rare and difficult-to-find brews along with PBR’s. The food menu is somewhat small but some favorites include the loaded fries, pork-barbeque nachos along with an assortment of sandwiches and appetizers
One long-time favorite is their braised pork burrito smothered in enchilada sauce and cheese, a spicy bite! And I highly recommend their Cuban sandwich pressed between soft bread and layered with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles, a classic taste combination. The new chicken parm sandwich is also a wonderful bite! Marinara sauce from sister restaurant, the Pizza Times, tops this Italian-American classic.
And while the food is decent and the beer list excellent, what I really enjoy about the Raleigh Times is the decor. An old-school Raleigh feel with reminders of what used to be a newspaper press building along with murals paying homage to a different time and place. The lighting is dim and muted, perfect for a casual and fun date. The staff is very efficient and hip, they do a high volume business here so they better be good. While the Raleigh Times may not be the new shiny restaurant on the block, it’s still a solid choice and I’ve never heard anyone complain about a visit here. But what do you expect from a Raleigh icon? Truth is, the Raleigh Times still delivers good food, solid service in cool environs, day in and day out. So a thank you to a Raleigh classic, the Raleigh Times! And of course, bon appetit…