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Busy Bee Cafe

Busy Bee CafeBusy Bee Cafe

Taps: 19 / Bottles: 120
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y

32 Ratings
Ratings: 32
Reviews: 22
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 8.39%
$$ - reasonable

[ Bar, Eatery ]

225 S Wilmington St
Raleigh, North Carolina, 27601-1433
United States
phone: (919) 424-7817

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

None, yet.

(Place added by: rtratzlaff on 04-18-2009)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 32 | Reviews: 22 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of dirtylou


4.21/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | $$$

Cool little spot in downtown Raleigh - watch out for the bus depot a few doors down - tons of terrifying looking vagrants nearby. Inside the busy bee is a warm and comfortable place though.

We had just crushed some BBQ at Cooper's and were looking forward to pizza at Trophy, so we didn't eat here. The menu looked solid though, and everything coming out of the kitchen looked great. I'd definitely plan a subsequent visit around dinner I think.

the selection is a little odd - tons of bottles at a pretty high premium and 15-20 unique taps between the 2 bars. Nothing was particularly enticing on our visit - i opted for the BA hoppyum which was better than expected. Taps appear to turn quickly, and should always be good, but haven't ever been great when I've looked.

Eagle eye-blackie spotted some BCBCS in the cooler that wasnt advertised so we domed a few coffee wales, which turned out to be just the kick in the pants we needed for our Raleigh adventure night.

01-01-2014 22:36:39 | More by dirtylou
Photo of JoshuaKyleSmith

4.4/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$

Overall, a great place to sit and enjoy a good craft beer with some pretty decent food. Selection is decent but, not as vast as the flying saucer. The service of the staff varies depending on the night just as any other normal bar. However, the many times I've been and asked for something new, the staff is always good at recommending new beers as well as explaining their recommendation. The atmosphere is tight and dim sometimes but, still likable.

If you're just looking a for a nice place to sit and enjoy a few new craft beers and a nice environment this is the place to go.

07-20-2012 15:32:48 | More by JoshuaKyleSmith
Photo of SteveMi

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$

A - Nicely lit, art on the walls, wooden bar, a few big flat screens which are available but not in everyone's face. Once I walked in for an after work beer and watched the History Channel while eating dinner and drinking a nice Maple Porter. Hipsters? Yeah, there are some but not a ton of them. PBR isn't flowing freely.

Serv - I've been back to the place many times since my original visit and I have not had a bad experience. Bartenders are friendly and helpful. Drinks are poured well and come reasonably quick. Waiters are knowledgeable about the drinks and food available and can help with pairing.

Sel - Well thought through rotating taps. Most of the beers available are of a higher ABV than many other places I've visited (and that is a good thing!).

Food - Not used to good food from a bar -- but then again this isn't a normal bar. The food is fantastic. I've been back a few times just for the food (fish tacos, organic chicken, yes please).

V - Drinks run about the same amount as most other bars. Food prices are on par with most restaurants of it's caliber .

05-07-2012 03:28:32 | More by SteveMi
Photo of socon67

New York

3.9/5  rDev -11.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$

Went here while visiting the area for work. Recommended thanks to the great folks on BA.

A - A mix of hipsters and the happy hour folks. Was here on a Tuesday evening. Since they have a seating area for foood, there can be some children. Overall not bad, but not ideal.

Q - Everything served in proper glasses. Every pour was correct. Nothing to be upset about.

Ser - Bartender was helpful, polite, and talked briefly about the selections. They knew their stuff, and I tipped well because of that.

Selection - Great mix of locals and rares. I've seen better lists, and certianly more taps. But seeing things like Struise Pannepot was sweet, and their sours list was actually amazing.

Food - Not many choices, but what I ordered ( a salad) was very good.

V - I'm from NY, so I found it reasonable. I had Duck Rabbit milk stout, Mother Earth Dark Cloud, and Foothills red plus a salad for under $30. I can live with that.

I may swing by tomorrow if I can. A great find courtesy of BA.

02-22-2012 02:49:22 | More by socon67
Photo of dbrauneis

North Carolina

3.65/5  rDev -17.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$

The vibe in the Busy Bee is a little too hipster for me, the music is overly loud and indie or ironic and you certainly feel like people are giving you the you are not cool enough to be in here looks.

The beer selection is good, while not extensive. The beers that are available tend to be very good beers and are definitely served properly. I have not been disappointed in any of the beers that I have ordered and received at the Busy Bee. I found the prices on the beers to be a little higher than some similar establishments in the same general area of downtown Raleigh.

The service at the Busy Bee has been very hit and miss for me. I have had servers that had extremely good knowledge about the beers but were inattentive or very slow, I have had servers that were great but knew nothing about the beer, and I have had servers that were attentive and knowledgeable.

The food has been solid each of the times I have been though not outstanding - some items are definitely better than others. The menu seems to change around about every 6 months so it is nice to try the different items as they appear.

01-20-2012 15:49:36 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of bikehorn

North Carolina

4.1/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$

I can't hide the fact that I love the Busy Bee.

I think the atmosphere is good, but occasionally a little hipster heavy for me. It's really a beautiful space with exposed brick walls a nice bar.

The food there is great. I've lived through a couple iterations of the menu, but the tots, fried green tomatoes and tofu are all great. I have also enjoyed several of the soups they've offered, as well.

The beer selection is very good - and to be honest, the folks there know beer...for the most part. They only have a handful of taps, but they have some good stuff offered. They also have an interesting selection of bottles (and cocktails) if you're into that sort of thing. I've had an experience or two where a server has led me WAY astray when I was ordering. For the most part, however, the beer selection and knowledge are good.

I've had many EXCELLENT servers and one rotten one. I suppose sitting out in front of the restaurant on First Fridays leads to poor service, or cold food, or slow food, or being forgotten, but the other times truly have been great.

10-05-2011 19:00:48 | More by bikehorn
Photo of Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.36/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$


I entered the Busy Bee Cafe on the high recommendation of the friend who took me there, but I'm not sure I expected it to be THIS great.

The place is large, but more long than wide, and feels like a spacious, modern saloon. Very much an establishment focused on drinking great beer, all other concerns sitting on the periphery. (Even better would have been no TVs at all, but they were showing some baseball, so okay...) The service was fine, quick enough, but not overly friendly. No big deal.

It's the selection that amazes. No, maybe not the hugest tap selection, but they absolutely deal in 100% quality here. I spotted and tried a couple of beers that aren't even on the market yet, or might have just gotten there (like new offerings from both Dogfish Head and Ommegang). And every single beer they serve is something of some high degree of quality, something to fit just about any palate.

I was totally focused on our beer and our conversation, so there's probably not a ton more insight I can offer, other than this: 1) go there when in Raleigh, and 2) You won't be disappointed, and 3) Go There When in Raleigh!!!

09-05-2011 00:52:55 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of JebediahScooter


4.8/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$

Updating my review because we've been frequenting BB a lot since my last review and because they've been steadily making changes to the place. More taps have been added, and they have committed to keeping at least one sour on at all times, which is nice since my wife has discovered that she really likes Guezes. Bottle list has expanded to include more wilds and vintages.

They also got a cask engine recently, and they do Thursday Cask Nights with some great offerings. The dry-hopped Hoppyum cask was excellent a few weeks ago, and they got NBB Night of Foeder recently as well. They're doing a cask of Hannsen's Oude Gueze on thursday for their Belgian Independence Day party.

We've gotten to know some of the bartenders, and they'll bring us samples of new things they think we might like. The owners, Woody & Chris, are good guys who always come over to chat beer or tell us about cool things that they have coming up. They have worked hard to get a bunch of regional breweries to do one-off Busy Bee exclusives, and I've had BA versions of stuff from Lonerider, Foothills, Terrapin, etc over the past few months. A lot of other cool little things like an iPhone app with their currrent tap list and updates about what theyre going to tap next, letting people vote for kegs to tap on the website, brrewing with local homebrewers and posting interviews online, more and more beer dinners and events with brewery reps, etc.

Awesome guys who always have something creative in the works, and that makes for a fun and unique bar-going experience. Busy Bee is now our regular spot. <end update>

Went to the Busy Bee on 12/17 for my second or third visit. This place is pretty great! Lots of exposed brick with multiple levels and bars on two floors.

Draft selection is fairly small (probably 15 taps between the two bars), but it always has some really excellent offerings. You can tell their beer guy knows his stuff. Price is so-so on draft. Their bottle list is pretty nice with a lot of big name bombers/750s, but the bottles are marked up a fair amount. I'd say 75-80% of the stuff on the bottle list can be had pretty easily at bottle shops in the Triangle for less. I will definitely stick to draft.

I had a tough time deciding between the Avery duganA, Terrapin Wake-n-Bake, and Terrapin Moo-Hoo. I went with the duganA, and it was poured perfectly into proper glassware (a SN tulip...I also noticed that they serve in DFH Signature Glasses, which is my glassware of choice at home). It was on tap upstairs, which was closed due to a private party. I asked my waitress if she could still go up and get me a glass during the private party, and she came through.

The menu is pretty good, with small plates, soups/sandwiches, and large plates. The large plates are expensive. Each time I've gone, I've stuck to the small plates/sides/sandwiches. Two small plates make a nice meal. I ordered the loaded tots burger, which was outstanding. They have these loaded tots on the appetizer...fanciest tater tots I ever did see. They have sour cream, bacon, green onions, and cheese sauce. The burger wasn't on the menu but on special, and it was basically an order of the loaded tots plunked down on top of a burger. Great mac-n-cheese on the side.

07-19-2011 14:32:37 | More by JebediahScooter
Photo of Beerness

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$

I visit the bee somewhat regularly, definitely one of my favorite Raleigh bars. Including upstairs and downstairs taps, they keep a steady rotation of interesting and good beer. That, and the owners seem to have a serious liking for sours and bourbon-barrel aged beers, so I can usually find something randomly barrel-aged by Foothills or a nice sour like Allagash Vrienden. It's probably my favorite draft selection in Raleigh. Not to mention, they also have quite a large bottle list.

I've found the service to be pretty solid, and if you sit at the bar it's better. Great bartenders. Good food too, they have a rotating menu based on fresh & local, but I can't seem to not get one of their burgers...good stuff.

Also attended some events like the beer dinner with Sam from Dogfish and their anniversary parties when they pull out about 8 kegs of barrel-aged beers they've stashed away.

05-06-2011 05:20:39 | More by Beerness
Photo of ewright

North Carolina

4.05/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$

Was in Busy Bee about two weeks back on a Wednesday night. There were very few patrons in the place ... not overly surprising for a downtown location on a mid-week night.

We stayed downstairs, where they have about 16 taps. I had a Great Divide 17th Anniversary Wood Aged DIPA and my wife had Lagunitas Cappucino Stout. I was surprised to see a sour beer on tap, considering the relatively low number of overall taps.

The food selection is somewhat limited, but what we had was really good. I've only been once, but I get the impression that the menu rotates on a regular basis.

I'd definitely go back and have recommended it to out-of-towners coming to the area.

05-04-2011 21:51:18 | More by ewright
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Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh, NC
96 out of 100 based on 32 ratings.