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There’s a time machine in New Bern. Step through the double doors of Baxter’s 1892, and you’re transported to the early 1900s, to a supper club dressed in claret, dark

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There’s a time machine in New Bern. Step through the double doors of Baxter’s 1892, and you’re transported to the early 1900s, to a supper club dressed in claret, dark

A Night Out in New Bern

There’s a time machine in New Bern. Step through the double doors of Baxter’s 1892, and you’re transported to the early 1900s, to a supper club dressed in claret, dark woods, and metallic ceiling tiles. The smooth intonations of a crooner fill every corner. This captivating space is no Roaring ’20s fantasy; the cocktail bar was recently created by founders Tyler Griffin and Von Lewis to expand the area’s live music offerings.

Baxter’s 1892 is just one of New Bern’s distinctive hotspots that wakes up as the sun sets. Read on for a roundup of New Bern’s newest establishments perfect for a night out on the town — whether you’re celebrating a special occasion over dinner, sharing a beer with friends, or unwinding after a busy week.


Sushi lovers will delight at Kuma Sushi Bar. Photography courtesy of Visit New Bern

Dinner with a Side of Ambiance 

One fun bit of trivia about Kuma Sushi Bar, a new restaurant across from city hall in downtown New Bern: Its name, Kuma, takes a cue from the city’s famed bear mascot — it’s the Japanese word for “bear.”

Dining at Kuma Sushi Bar, surrounded by subdued earth tones and traditional Japanese-style artwork, feels like a cozy den. Within the intimate space, artfully presented creations are a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Try the black dragon roll, a customer favorite made with crab, cucumber, and avocado, and topped with flamed unagi eel. Kuma’s dinner menu includes poke bowls and Tonkotsu ramen, with noodles made in-house. This is also your chance to sample high-quality sake from their bar’s selection, which is unrivaled in the region.

For a lively atmosphere, head to Harry’s Blind Tiger. Photography courtesy of Visit New Bern

For a more casual meal, Harry’s Blind Tiger, the latest eatery from Cypress Hall’s Chef Ashley Moser, serves pizzas and pastas in an inviting environment. “What I try to do is take Mediterranean food and Italian cuisine and create them with local ingredients,” explains Moser, owner and executive chef of Harry’s.

The menu’s spinach salad includes ham from Watauga County, and the meats in the restaurant’s popular Bolognese are all raised in the state.

Harry’s large courtyard makes a great place to while the evening away with drinks from its full bar. On Tiki Thursdays, you’re likely to hear steel drums or refrains from your favorite Jimmy Buffett song as you sip Mai tai from — you guessed it — a tiki glass. Other nights, the tunes of singers like Clarence Coley fill the evening air while you cozy up to a fire pit.


Coffee and Cocktails 

Not sure if you’re craving an after-dinner drink or a decadent dessert? At Nautical Star Coffee Company, owned by veterans, you get the best of both worlds. Stop in for a dessert cocktail, like the espresso martini made with vodka, cream liqueur, and espresso.

A dizzying selection of specialty coffee drinks features Nautical Star’s own roasted beans, all available hot, iced, or frozen. Their candy- and sweets-inspired flavors include peppermint patty, cinnamon roll, and tiramisu.

More treats are available in this cozy spot: a bakery case with pastries and goodies; a “General Store” with tins of teas, puzzles, and hand-made crafts; board games; pup cups for your pooch; and house-made frozen custard and tempting milkshakes.

Above Nautical Star, the newest addition to the New Bern night scene — Pinkys the Pub Upstairs — opens the last weekend in September. Marisol Schultz and Daniel Hand, both veterans and owners of The Garage on U.S. Highway 70, opened the Irish pub to invite a new dynamic to New Bern’s downtown. “Growing up in San Francisco, I frequented all the Irish pubs there and loved the sense of community, the warmth and coziness, the unpretentiousness of them,” Schultz says.

In addition to the traditional Irish beers on draft, the full bar stocks Irish whisky. And the pub (of course) serves Shine moonshine from the owners’ distillery — and amazing cocktails made with it. Speaking of cocktails, you can find specialty and seasonal cocktails at Pinkys, as well as a menu of mocktails.

For more beautiful creative cocktails, mocktails, beer, and wine, head to the Flying Fox around the corner from  The Chelsea restaurant downtown, where a welcoming little space with brick walls and a cozy back patio lined by hanging ferns inspire visitors to sit and sip awhile. Try a Not for Kits — made with Altos tequila, Pamplemousse liquor, jalapeños, lime, grapefruit juice, agave, and egg white. Or, for something nonalcoholic, order a Fo Faux — made with blackberry simple syrup and ginger beer.


For live jazz, blues, and more music, check out Baxter’s 1892. Photography courtesy of Visit New Bern

Overture, Curtains, Lights 

Every night, you can find live entertainment in and around downtown New Bern.

Baxter’s 1892 is the place to be to hear jazz, blues, and easy listening; singer-songwriters, cocktail pianists, and instrumentalists. Some nights the music becomes part of the ambiance of the supper club, adding a harmonious backdrop to your evening. Other nights, all attention focuses on the show.

To lean into the spooky spirit of fall, Baxter’s will host psychic, medium, and spiritual guide Vincent Genna. A Christmas party and a New Year’s Eve Bash will round out the year.

In addition to high-caliber music, Baxter’s features a tapas menu created by Chris Maravales, a James Beard Award finalist who appeared on Chopped and Iron Chef. His Barefoot eggrolls, filled with eastern Carolina-style pulled pork mixed with some collard greens, have gained a following. You can also choose from a slate of creative cocktails, some seasonal and others perennial, like the Bircher Old Fashioned.

Catch a stage show at New Bern Civic Theatre. Photography courtesy of Visit New Bern

For more stage performances, visit The Athens Theatre, home of New Bern Civic Theatre. Don’t miss its musical production of the campy and macabre comedy The Addams Family, running October 27 through November 11. Other events hosted this fall include the Mumfest after-party with Bathtub Improv and Down East Dance’s performance of The Nutcracker Ballet.

Recent updates to The Athens, originally built in 1911, include ADA-accessible restrooms, wheelchair-accessible platforms, and a state-of-the-art sound system. “One of our priorities in the renovation was making the theater feel contemporary and very current but also paying respect to the history of the theater,” says Michael Tahaney, executive director of New Bern Civic Theatre.

The civic theater also adds variety to the music scene with its Encore Series. These performances range from Fogo No Trio, highly acclaimed musicians playing lively Brazilian folk music, to Von Attica, an eastern North Carolina rock group launching their debut album.

In December, two seasonal shows are planned to get audiences in the holiday spirit. “A Pretty Purdie Christmas,” featuring the most recorded drummer in the world, Bernard Purdie, is sure to have you swinging to jazzy versions of holiday favorites. Later in the month, Simon Spaulding — local music historian, musicologist, and performer — will present “The Surprising History of Holiday Music: Ancient Music from All Over the World.”


Bears are everywhere in New Bern — including Bear Plaza: In 1710, Swiss and Palatine Germans, whose leader was from Bern, Switzerland, settled on the Neuse River. They named their village New Bern, carrying over the old Germanic word for “bear” and cementing the animal as the city’s mascot. Photography courtesy of Visit New Bern

Take a Stroll 

Want to enjoy the fresh air? Plan a walk to see the murals scattered around town. Along South Front Street, two scenes depict New Bern’s waterfront in days long past — one on the Community Artists Gallery and the other on Captain Ratty’s building.

Head north along Middle Street and take a short detour on Pollock Street past The Athens Theatre. Here, the recently painted Greetings from New Bern mural adorns the side of Cowell’s Cleaners.

See 1,000 origami cranes folded by New Bern community members on Broad Street. Photography courtesy of Visit New Bern

Back on Middle Street, you’ll see other public art — the imposing carved bear in Bear Plaza, and sculptures at the intersection with Broad Street. On your way west along Broad, you’ll pass the Unity Project — a 12-foot-tall papier mâché sculpture of clasped hands painted in vibrant geometric shapes.

A bit farther down Broad, an old billboard pole has transformed into a large-scale art installation created with 1,000 origami cranes folded by community members.

At the intersection of Queen, Broad, and Roundtree streets, look for several murals that add color to the landscape. And a bit farther on Broad Street, look for a trio of murals painted by a team of artists from the Dominican Republic.

After a short walk south on Queen Street, a mural illustrates the neighborhood’s bustling day-to-day life in the 1930s on the side of New Bern Mexican Bakery.


Try a pale ale or alcohol-free sparkling beverage at Brewery 99. Photography courtesy of Visit New Bern

Raise a Glass 

Brewery 99’s shiny new taproom is a far cry from the tiny cinderblock building where Pete Frey began brewing eight years ago. Here, at Craven County’s first brewery and the state’s 99th, you can try the flagship Confignorant Pale Ale or sample a newer creation like Hop2O, a sparkling beverage that contains no alcohol or gluten.

A true community player, Brewery 99 also hosts food trucks, live musicians, and trivia nights, and serves as a pickup location for several area farms’ Community Supported Agriculture programs.

With a pint in hand, take a seat near one of the tap room’s large windows with views of New Bern’s Little Five Points community. When aromas from the on-site bakery waft through the taproom, you might decide to snack on a warm pepperoni roll — a delicious way to end your night out on the town in New Bern.

This story was published on Sep 23, 2023

Lara Ivanitch

Lara Ivanitch is a freelance writer who resides in Raleigh.