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Woman dipping a sandwich into birria consomé.
French dip sandwich at Queeny’s.
Forrest Mason Media

13 Queer-Friendly Bars, Restaurants, and Coffeeshops in the Triangle

Safe spaces for queer and trans people to escape and unwind

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French dip sandwich at Queeny’s.
| Forrest Mason Media

It’s safe to say that many parts of the Triangle celebrate Pride year-round, with intersectional pride flags a common sight in neighborhoods across Raleigh and Durham, actual North Carolina Pride celebrated around Duke’s East Campus in September, and any number of queer-friendly businesses making it clear that around here, all are welcome.

However there is something special about supporting queer businesses during Pride month, and though the area may not have the same concentration of traditional LGBTQ establishments as say New York or Los Angeles, there are plenty of queer-friendly spots at which to spread some love this June. It’s easy to keep those dollars circulating throughout the queer community from morning to night at these coffeeshops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Beer Tooth Taproom

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105 W, NC-54 Suite 263
Durham, NC 27713
(919) 908-0425
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Named after the song “Beer Tooth” by Shelby Merchant, Beer Tooth Taproom is the culmination of owner Christa Donofrio’s journey from Budweiser to craft beer. With 36 rotating taps, along with non-beer beverages like selzter and ciders, there is truly something for everyone. Beer Tooth also places a hefty emphasis on education, with a monthly “flight school” led by Donofio, who is a certified Ciccerone beer server.

2. Grub Durham

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1200 W Chapel Hill St
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 973-3636
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Breakfast until 3 p.m. Classic Southern sandwiches. Blue plate specials. Grub Durham is unique twist on an old school diner, with double-decker seating and loyal following. Owner Wendy Woods, a lifelong Durhamite and local restaurateur, has transformed a former gas station into a mainstay of the West Chapel Hill Street neighborhood. Menu highlights include Maybelle’s brisket, the smoked barbecue ribs, and an affordable array of towering breakfast biscuit sandwiches.

3. Arcana Bar and Lounge

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331 W Main St
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 973-1675
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Longtime catering and restaurant industry veteran Erin Karcher opened the basement bar and lounge Arcana with Lindsey Andrews in 2015. The bar’s witchy New Orleans-meets-Art Nouveau vibes have garnered a loyal following, as have the craft cocktails, regular tarot card readings, and events like cabaret nights. Cocktail offerings range from classics like a sazerac or mai tai to session cocktails, easy-going sippers like the Octavia Minor, which is made with Orgeat, lemon juice, Chambord, and prosecco.

4. Pinhook

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117 W Main St
Durham, NC 27701
(984) 244-7243
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Pinhook has been a staple of the downtown Durham queer scene since opening its doors in 2008. They’re back with live events after an extended pandemic closure, with near-nightly shows, regular drag performances helmed by hometown drag diva Vivica C. Coxx and her House of Coxx queens, and more. Think queer bar meets rock venue meets dive bar, with PBR tall boys, draft beer, and cheap well drinks. Owner Kym Register also fronts the queer country-funk band Loamlands.

5. Queeny's

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321 E Chapel Hill St Suite 100
Durham, NC 27701

The intersectionality of queer life means a queer person often claims multiple identities at once, and Queeny’s is perhaps the best embodiment of that intersectionality. Co-owner Michelle Vanderwalker (who with Sean Umstead is also behind Kingfisher and Queenburger) has created a space that is uniquely Durham and uniquely queer — a neighborhood bar vibe with a library and podcast studio, late night eats, and cheap but delicious cocktails. Grab a burger or French dip birria sandwich, wash it down with a Cosmo, and watch as all walks of Durham life gather together.

White mugs with the word “Queeny’s” Forrest Mason Media

6. Honeygirl Meadery & Tasting Room

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105 Hood St #6
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 399-3056
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One of the world’s most ancient drinks mead has gotten a modern update at Honeygirl Meadery. Owner and mead-maker Diane Currier has spent years reintroducing the honey-based liqueur to a new audience, and the tasting room on Hood Street is the perfect place to discover (or rediscover) this sweet beverage. Currier guides guests through a mead tasting of some of her offerings, such as orange blossom, hibiscus “lemonthyme,” and blueberry.

7. Rofhiwa Book Café

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406 S Driver St
Durham, NC 27703
(919) 391-8945
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Black books. Black coffee. This queer-owned East Durham coffeeshop and bookstore has embraced it’s identity as a place for those who may not always feel welcome in queer, white-centric spaces. A full coffee bar and snack offerings complement the extensive collection of fiction and non-fiction titles from Black authors, one of the only such collections in the Triangle. Owner Beverley Boitumelo Makhubele and curator Naledi Yaziyo continually strive to make the space a welcoming destination for all in a majority-minority neighborhood that faces rapid gentrification.

8. Legends Nightclub

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330 W Hargett St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 831-8888
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Legends Nightclub has been a leader in Triangle queer nightlife for more than 30 years. Think bumping dance club, strong drinks, and near-nightly drag shows. A more recent addition of a patio space and quieter back bar provide ample opportunity to make a night at Legends as crazy or calm as one likes. This is the place to be to dance the night away.

9. The Fiction Kitchen

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428 S Dawson St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 831-4177
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A leader in vegan cuisine, the Fiction Kitchen owners Caroline Morrison and Siobhan Southern have garnered statewide and national attention for their commitment to community and their ability to transform southern staples like chicken and waffles and Salisbury steak into delicious, meatless offerings. There are also more international offerings like chicken tinga tacos made with mock chicken, Lion’s Mane mushroom “crab rangoon”, and peanut roasted tofu lettuce wraps. A full beer, wine, and cocktail menu is also available.

10. Poole's

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426 S McDowell St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 832-4477
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What’s there to say about Poole’s Diner that already hasn’t been said a million times over, perhaps that chef Ashley Christensen’s beloved restaurant takes its commitment to equality as seriously as its commitment to serving expertly-prepared, locally-sourced Southern food. A mural on the side of the building reads “All are welcome in Raleigh”, with the word Raleigh in rainbow colors, and and Christensen along with her wife Kaitlyn Goalen have regularly spoken up in support of LGBTQ+ policies and raised funds for local organizations such as the LGBTQ Center of Raleigh.

11. Poole'side Pies

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428 S McDowell St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 803-8660
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Yes, this is also an AC Restaurant, but Poole’side Pies is worth an extra mention for two reasons — first, the Neopolitan-style pizzas and Southern-meets-Italian dishes are top notch. The meatballs made with local Lady Edison pork are worth a visit alone. Second, chef Christopher McLaurin (previously of Durham’s Picnic restaurant) has recently joined as chef de cuisine, bringing his more than decade of experience to the AC Restaurant Group. To make it a truly delicious (and queer night), start with a pizza at Poole’side and then hop next door to Poole’s Diner to continue the party.

12. Ruby Deluxe

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415 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 999-9999
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Ruby Deluxe is part dance club, part lounge, part music venue, and wholly queer. The bar’s commitment to a fun, safe atmosphere (under FAQ’s on the website states, “bring yr fave people, mind yr manners, and get weird) is as strong as the commitment to equality and justice. With regular drag brunches, DJ sets, and more, Ruby Deluxe is a place to have fun while feeling safe and welcomed.

13. Work Nightclub

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112 Fayetteville St
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 600-2523
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Stretching across from Fayetteville Street all the way back to Salisbury Street, Work is a slightly more elevated take on the traditional gay nightclub. The drinks are still strong, the music still blares, and on weekend patrons fill up the narrow space and spill out onto the high tops and tables that line the sidewalk. Work is a prime example of how queer spaces in Raleigh are no longer confined to the Warehouse District, but rather an integral part of the city’s nightlife.

Work

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1. Beer Tooth Taproom

105 W, NC-54 Suite 263, Durham, NC 27713

Named after the song “Beer Tooth” by Shelby Merchant, Beer Tooth Taproom is the culmination of owner Christa Donofrio’s journey from Budweiser to craft beer. With 36 rotating taps, along with non-beer beverages like selzter and ciders, there is truly something for everyone. Beer Tooth also places a hefty emphasis on education, with a monthly “flight school” led by Donofio, who is a certified Ciccerone beer server.

105 W, NC-54 Suite 263
Durham, NC 27713

2. Grub Durham

1200 W Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

Breakfast until 3 p.m. Classic Southern sandwiches. Blue plate specials. Grub Durham is unique twist on an old school diner, with double-decker seating and loyal following. Owner Wendy Woods, a lifelong Durhamite and local restaurateur, has transformed a former gas station into a mainstay of the West Chapel Hill Street neighborhood. Menu highlights include Maybelle’s brisket, the smoked barbecue ribs, and an affordable array of towering breakfast biscuit sandwiches.

1200 W Chapel Hill St
Durham, NC 27701

3. Arcana Bar and Lounge

331 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

Longtime catering and restaurant industry veteran Erin Karcher opened the basement bar and lounge Arcana with Lindsey Andrews in 2015. The bar’s witchy New Orleans-meets-Art Nouveau vibes have garnered a loyal following, as have the craft cocktails, regular tarot card readings, and events like cabaret nights. Cocktail offerings range from classics like a sazerac or mai tai to session cocktails, easy-going sippers like the Octavia Minor, which is made with Orgeat, lemon juice, Chambord, and prosecco.

331 W Main St
Durham, NC 27701

4. Pinhook

117 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701

Pinhook has been a staple of the downtown Durham queer scene since opening its doors in 2008. They’re back with live events after an extended pandemic closure, with near-nightly shows, regular drag performances helmed by hometown drag diva Vivica C. Coxx and her House of Coxx queens, and more. Think queer bar meets rock venue meets dive bar, with PBR tall boys, draft beer, and cheap well drinks. Owner Kym Register also fronts the queer country-funk band Loamlands.

117 W Main St
Durham, NC 27701

5. Queeny's

321 E Chapel Hill St Suite 100, Durham, NC 27701
White mugs with the word “Queeny’s” Forrest Mason Media

The intersectionality of queer life means a queer person often claims multiple identities at once, and Queeny’s is perhaps the best embodiment of that intersectionality. Co-owner Michelle Vanderwalker (who with Sean Umstead is also behind Kingfisher and Queenburger) has created a space that is uniquely Durham and uniquely queer — a neighborhood bar vibe with a library and podcast studio, late night eats, and cheap but delicious cocktails. Grab a burger or French dip birria sandwich, wash it down with a Cosmo, and watch as all walks of Durham life gather together.

321 E Chapel Hill St Suite 100
Durham, NC 27701

6. Honeygirl Meadery & Tasting Room

105 Hood St #6, Durham, NC 27701

One of the world’s most ancient drinks mead has gotten a modern update at Honeygirl Meadery. Owner and mead-maker Diane Currier has spent years reintroducing the honey-based liqueur to a new audience, and the tasting room on Hood Street is the perfect place to discover (or rediscover) this sweet beverage. Currier guides guests through a mead tasting of some of her offerings, such as orange blossom, hibiscus “lemonthyme,” and blueberry.

105 Hood St #6
Durham, NC 27701

7. Rofhiwa Book Café

406 S Driver St, Durham, NC 27703

Black books. Black coffee. This queer-owned East Durham coffeeshop and bookstore has embraced it’s identity as a place for those who may not always feel welcome in queer, white-centric spaces. A full coffee bar and snack offerings complement the extensive collection of fiction and non-fiction titles from Black authors, one of the only such collections in the Triangle. Owner Beverley Boitumelo Makhubele and curator Naledi Yaziyo continually strive to make the space a welcoming destination for all in a majority-minority neighborhood that faces rapid gentrification.

406 S Driver St
Durham, NC 27703

8. Legends Nightclub

330 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Legends Nightclub has been a leader in Triangle queer nightlife for more than 30 years. Think bumping dance club, strong drinks, and near-nightly drag shows. A more recent addition of a patio space and quieter back bar provide ample opportunity to make a night at Legends as crazy or calm as one likes. This is the place to be to dance the night away.

330 W Hargett St
Raleigh, NC 27601

9. The Fiction Kitchen

428 S Dawson St, Raleigh, NC 27601

A leader in vegan cuisine, the Fiction Kitchen owners Caroline Morrison and Siobhan Southern have garnered statewide and national attention for their commitment to community and their ability to transform southern staples like chicken and waffles and Salisbury steak into delicious, meatless offerings. There are also more international offerings like chicken tinga tacos made with mock chicken, Lion’s Mane mushroom “crab rangoon”, and peanut roasted tofu lettuce wraps. A full beer, wine, and cocktail menu is also available.

428 S Dawson St
Raleigh, NC 27601

10. Poole's

426 S McDowell St, Raleigh, NC 27601

What’s there to say about Poole’s Diner that already hasn’t been said a million times over, perhaps that chef Ashley Christensen’s beloved restaurant takes its commitment to equality as seriously as its commitment to serving expertly-prepared, locally-sourced Southern food. A mural on the side of the building reads “All are welcome in Raleigh”, with the word Raleigh in rainbow colors, and and Christensen along with her wife Kaitlyn Goalen have regularly spoken up in support of LGBTQ+ policies and raised funds for local organizations such as the LGBTQ Center of Raleigh.

426 S McDowell St
Raleigh, NC 27601

11. Poole'side Pies

428 S McDowell St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Yes, this is also an AC Restaurant, but Poole’side Pies is worth an extra mention for two reasons — first, the Neopolitan-style pizzas and Southern-meets-Italian dishes are top notch. The meatballs made with local Lady Edison pork are worth a visit alone. Second, chef Christopher McLaurin (previously of Durham’s Picnic restaurant) has recently joined as chef de cuisine, bringing his more than decade of experience to the AC Restaurant Group. To make it a truly delicious (and queer night), start with a pizza at Poole’side and then hop next door to Poole’s Diner to continue the party.

428 S McDowell St
Raleigh, NC 27601

12. Ruby Deluxe

415 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Ruby Deluxe is part dance club, part lounge, part music venue, and wholly queer. The bar’s commitment to a fun, safe atmosphere (under FAQ’s on the website states, “bring yr fave people, mind yr manners, and get weird) is as strong as the commitment to equality and justice. With regular drag brunches, DJ sets, and more, Ruby Deluxe is a place to have fun while feeling safe and welcomed.

415 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC 27601

13. Work Nightclub

112 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Work

Stretching across from Fayetteville Street all the way back to Salisbury Street, Work is a slightly more elevated take on the traditional gay nightclub. The drinks are still strong, the music still blares, and on weekend patrons fill up the narrow space and spill out onto the high tops and tables that line the sidewalk. Work is a prime example of how queer spaces in Raleigh are no longer confined to the Warehouse District, but rather an integral part of the city’s nightlife.

112 Fayetteville St
Raleigh, NC 27601

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