Heywire (sic) of Charlotte, NC performs at Martin's in Downtown Roanoke. (David Hungate/ Dominion Images)
From classic late night stops to the best off the beaten path secrets, here's a quick look at Roanoke's diverse nightlife scene.
Classic Late Nights
Texas Tavern (342-4825, 114 W. Church Avenue)
Description: Open 24-7 year-round, except Christmas, Roanoke’s “Millionaire’s Club” has become a local landmark. It’s not unusual to see tuxedo-clad dilettantes rubbing elbows with lawyers, bikers or blue collar folk, over a “bowl with” and a “cheesy.”
Claim to fame: the Tavern has won numerous awards for Best Chile( yes, it’s spelled that way), Best Hamburger and Best Hot Dog, as well as Best Late Night Dinner
What they say: “The Texas Tavern has been serving its world famous chile since 1930 (over 20 million bowls and counting).
What the regulars say: “Good food and fast.” “One of a kind and cheap.”
The Waffle House (345-3181 3606 Franklin Road, Southwest)
Description: An American institution since 1955, the bright yellow sign of the Waffle House has been a beacon in the night for weary, hungry travelers and night owls. Open 24-7 365 days out of the year.
Claim to fame: The world’s leading server of “real” hash browns (smothered, covered, diced, capped, chunked, peppered, topped, country or All the Way) Bert’s chili, Walt’s soup and , of course, waffles.
What they say: “At Waffle House we measure success by one thing-people.”
What the regulars say: “classic diner, great hash browns.”
Fork in the Alley (982-3675 Alley behind 2123 Crystal Spring Avenue)
Description: Located in an old carriage house in old south Roanoke, FIA has developed a reputation for great food, a great atmosphere and a fun place to hang out. FIA has expanded to three locations in Roanoke.
Claim to fame: Brick oven pizzas, s’mores, Hot dogs and salads; a wide selection of beers.
What they say: “You’ll like the food, you’ll run into friends, and you’ll most likely enjoy the experience.”
What the regulars say: The pizza was delicious, the beer was thirst-quenchingly tasty, and the s’mores were divine. “Good solid pick. Lots of choices to please all including a kids menu. Good service and good food.”
Music into the Night
Blue 5 (904-5338 312 2nd Street)
Description: Created to be a music venue with a 5-star restaurant sensibility, Blue 5 provides live music four or five nights a week.
Claim to fame: Crab cakes, fried oysters, and a selection of craft beers from 46 taps.
What they say: “Our menu is a mix of southern inspired creations of unique pastas, seafood dishes, steaks, catfish, collard greens, grits and more. We try to incorporate traditional southern dishes while also creating non-traditional dishes with a southern twist. Come and you will see why Blue 5 is award-winning and recognized as one of the premier restaurants in the Southwest Virginia.”
What the regulars say: “Fantastic place for dinner, lunch or just drinks.” “One of the best specialty beer selections I have seen so far in Roanoke, very impressive.”
Martin’s Downtown Bar and Grill (985-6278 413 1st Street Street)
Description: Having won numerous awards as Roanoke’s Best Music Venue, Martin’s offers a wide variety of food choices and types of live music.
Claim to fame: Half Price Burger Night, St. Louis style Ribs, Bluegrass music
What they say: “Martin’s is a casual dining restaurant featuring steaks, chops, seafood, pasta, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and a huge appetizer list. Martin’s was also voted ‘Best Place to Hear Live Music’”
What the regulars say: “Love the food here - if the Bourbon Steak is on the menu, you have to try it.” “Fantastic dinner menu, also go there a lot for lunch!”
See and Be “Scene”
202 Market (343-6644 202 Market Street Southeast)
Description: 202 has become the standard by which mainstream Roanoke nightlife is judged. A gourmet menu, a contemporary urban lounge and live music venue, and a cigar and sports bar.
Claim to fame: Mahi Mahi, Sunday brunch, dancing, entertaining drama in the club and by reputation.
What they say: “Five-star restaurant by day, amazing entertainment at night.”
What the regulars say: “Great food, friendly bartenders, lots of energy!”
Corned Beef & Company (342-3354 107 S Jefferson St )
Description: From humble origins as a market food stand to one of the premier restaurants, music venues and social touchstones in the valley, Corned Beef has become the default after work meet-up location for many of downtown’s professionals.
Claim to fame: Billiards, excellent and quality selection of alcohol, brick oven apple pie, poor decision-making at last call,
What they say: “In addition to the great food served at the restaurant, Corned Beef and Co. is also widely considered a pioneer in developing downtown entertainment.”
What the regulars say: “I love this place. For a meal with my super picky son, he likes the chicken al fredo, cheeseburger, and the pepperoni pizza. I like the boneless Buffalo wings app and the BBQ chicken pizza. For a summer night with the guys, nothing beats drinking at the rooftop bar. And the wait staff are HOT.”
Community Inn (342-2351 1304 Grandin Rd. Southwest)
Description: The CI is a rare and wonderful thing- a corner neighborhood bar with great food and a family of regulars. Nobody is a stranger when they come through the door.
Claim to fame: award-winning bar food and pool hall.
What they say:” CI is also a home. A clubhouse. A retreat. A meeting place and a refuge. A dash of rec center, water cooler, Washington think tank, comedy club, and barber shop all rolled into one. It is a family of people not related by blood but by choice.”
What the regulars say: “I cannot say enough about how much I love this place.” “Tired of the downtown meat market, the crappy music and the expensive drinks? Recently voted the “Best Bar Food in Roanoke,” the Community Inn lives up to its title with cheap, good, classic food. When I say classic...I mean it. When is the last time you had school-house pizza? How about a grilled cheese? Add some tomato? Perhaps a burger with a side of tater tots? Nice.”
Flanary’s Irish Pub (400-0222 303 South Jefferson Street)
Description: The oldest continuing pub location in Roanoke, Flanary’s offers an authentic taste of the emerald isle. Friendly folks, great drink and food and a true sense of community.
Claim to fame: Guinness Beef Stew, Shepard’s Pie, cheese curds, hanging out at the tables on the street, Celtic music
What they say: “Join us for Celtic Jam each
Monday at 8 p.m. Local musicians crunch out Celtic jams through the night. Bring your instrument and join in or just come to have a pint and listen.”
What the regulars say: “If you enjoy a chat with friends, maybe a brew or three, and meeting new friends Flanary’s is a great place for all three.” “It’s all about the trivia on Wednesday nights.”
Off the Beaten Path
3rd Street Coffee House (342-4268 305 Mountain Ave SW)
Description: Since 1987, 3rd Street has been a non-profit venue for bohemian live music and has been a welcoming performance site for new and experimental musicians.
Claim to fame: Open mikes, no cover (though they do “pass the hat” for the performers), local and regional performers
What they say: We serve soft drinks, teas, coffee and snacks. We are open every Friday night. Sign up for open mike 7-7:30; open mike performances 7:30-8:15; featured performer from 8:30-10pm.”
What the regulars say: “One of Roanoke greatest venues for live music.” “Where else can you go to hear live music, meet the performers, enjoy smoke-free and alcohol-free venue, and it’s no cover charge?”
The Bazaar (309-0928 675 Brandon Avenue Southwest)
Description: Located in the space that was once the old Record Exchange, The Bazaar offers a treasure trove of coolness- vintage clothing, vinyl, art work from local artists and more. The Bazaar is also a coffee and tea shop and gathering point for the valley’s alt-culture. Live music shakes the walls many nights and weekends.
Claim to fame: the place to look for one of kind gifts and to hang out with the coolest people in the Star City, and the children of the night.
What they say: “The Bazaar carries records, art, coffee and tea, clothing, vintage and antique items, local consignments, and hosts shows for various local and out of town acts.”
What the regulars say: “Check out the vinyl records and local music they have for sale.” “Jamie (the owner) is awesome and works really hard to have cool stuff at the Bazaar. Go buy something there today!”
Oasis (777-5586 5524 Williamson Rd)
Description: One of two Hookah bars in Roanoke, The Oasis caters to a younger crowd and is longer established.
Claim to fame: Iced tea, a good selection of shisha flavors, Mediterranean menu, vegan friendly, live music
What they say: “Come in and see us to try our new flavors! You won’t be sorry! It is really good stuff!”
What the regulars say: “Service here is outstanding. The guys working the counter were friendly and efficient. They also come around to replace the coals on the hookah. They have nice comfortable leather couches to relax on and you don’t have to worry about sharing mouthpieces as they provide each person with their own plastic mouthpiece. Also, they have a number of board games to play.”
The Double Apple (540) 204-4441 3604 Brambleton Ave)
Description: Roanoke’s newest Hookah Bar, the Double Apple has developed a reputation for excellent Mediterranean food.
Claim to fame: falafel, mousaka, the upstairs hookah bar
What they say: “the Double Apple offers something new, fresh and different to the greater Roanoke community”
What the regulars say: “Being a Persian girl from DC I know good Middle Eastern food when I have it. This is good stuff. Food’s always delicious and affordable, with a vast and eclectic menu to pick from.”
The Park (342-0946 615 Salem Ave SW)
Description: The best dance club in the Roanoke Valley, period. Since the 70’s The Park is the home away from home of much of the regions LGBT community. Anyone can enjoy a night of dancing and drinks. Leave your preconceptions at the door.
Claim to fame: Great dance floor, Burlesque and drag shows.
What they say: “The Park is a mainstay of the gay community in the Roanoke Valley. Open Friday through Sunday, you can find the best music, the best dancing and some of the best entertainers (drag and non-drag) in the country.”
What the regulars say: “This place definitely gave me a positive impression of Roanoke. I would never have expected there to be a lively gay dance floor in the city! The crowd is amazingly friendly and mixed with a large number of heterosexual couples and even a few raver kids mixed in for good measure. Apparently, this is the place to go dancing, regardless of who you are.”
No Shame Theatre (the Mill Mountain Theatre Trinkle Main Stage 11:00 pm, Friday nights, .noshame.org/roanoke/index.htm)
Description: The most fun one can have in downtown Roanoke on a Friday night, No Shame’s mission is to to provide an experiential learning experience for all aspects of live performance. Anyone can do a performance piece. A true artistic and human experience, don’t miss it.
Claim to fame: a venue for the creation and performance of original theatre by anyone, about anything. There are only three rules:
1) All pieces must be under 5 minutes long.
2) All pieces must be original, meaning no possible copyright violations.
3) You can’t break anything--not laws, not the venue, not the audience, not your performers, and not yourself.
What they say: “No Shame Theatre is a place where anything can happen...and usually does!”
What the regulars say: “Too cool for words!” “It was like a really weird family reunion, with people you’re not related to but know really well, sort of. Anyway, the show was awesome!”