Players Retreat ("the PR" in Raleigh) was one of the city's first real bars, and much of its charm remains the same -- beer steins hanging behind the bar, old wooden booths and the famous aquariums. They always have a great selection of beer, including a number of the best local brews. Outdoor seating near the street is pleasant for two reasons -- the street (old Oberlin Road) is now one-way and not busy; and unlike many outdoor dining areas, they restrict smoking to only a few tables. In the summer, they use a misting system to keep diners cool, even on the hottest days. There are lots of TVs, large and small, in the bar, the sidewalk and back room for sports viewing. And, the chef (yes, that's right) has started a special Friday and Saturday night menu that features more than just pub food, but upscale selections like, Colorado Lamb BBQ w/Napa Cabbage Slaw, Red Bliss Potatoes & Jalapeno Corn Bread ($19.95) or Curried Butternut Squash Bisque w/Smoked Chicken ($6.95). Of course, don't expect pub prices on these selections, but what I've tried has been very good.
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