Get a taste of one of these local bars to wrap up (or start) the afternoon or night. Craving a cocktail somewhere sleek and exquisite? Prefer a cheap beer at a quirky dive? Planning to dive into dinner with that glass of wine? Charlotte has it covered.Read More
20 Essential Bars to Visit in Charlotte
From pubs to fancy cocktails
Two words: edible flowers. That’s the frozen flair this light-filled, Southern-style eatery first wowed the local cocktail scene with, dropping flower-filled ice cubes into drinks. Cocktail program director Colleen Hughes also adds the floral accents to seasonal drinks, like the white chai with white chocolate washed vodka, chai syrup, cardamaro, and lemon. Add something sweet and order that luscious cinnamon roll during brunch hours.
2. Hattie's Tap & Tavern
This quirky (and dog-friendly) dive in Plaza Hills is a craft-beer-lover’s haven, with 24 rotating drafts and more than 50 offerings by the bottle and by the can. Settle in for some quiet patio time (picture picnic tables and painted walls), or come by for a boisterous round of bingo, karaoke, or live music.
3. Graham St. Pub & Patio
Not only is Graham St. one of the top places to grab a beverage en route to a solid Panthers tailgate near Bank of America Stadium, it’s also a rare standalone, two-story bar Uptown with a sweeping skyline view. Expect pump-up music and a menu featuring Asian, Mediterranean, and Southern influences. And while the beer list is extensive (try a local $6 pub can), the $10 cocktails are nothing to scoff at, from the Southern Spicy Mule to the Sir Purr-fect Lemonade.
4. Merchant & Trade
Merchant & Trade is making waves in the hotel bar scene as a rooftop lounge on the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel. The panoramic view of the city makes it a destination for locals and travelers alike, whether at the indoor bar, on the outdoor terrace, at the private terrace or on the lawn. Many of the cocktails boast North Carolina-produced spirits and locally sourced produce. Start with something classic like the French martini with Belvedere, pineapple, raspberry and lemon, and a snack on the side (a foot-long Cubano, perhaps?).
Perched 21 stories up into the skyline, the long, glass-rimmed balcony at Fahrenheit has an enlarging effect on the view of Charlotte. Cozy up to a fire pit outside on a clear night with a pricy cocktail (kombucha lovers should try Sarah’s Mule with locally crafted ginger Sumbucha kombucha) before skimming the wine and beer list. Inside, grab a reservation for dinner, with an interesting mix of American and Asian options.
6. Thirsty Beaver Saloon
Widely celebrated for holding its ground as a grungy dive bar while a massive apartment complex rose around it, The Beav is reliable for a cheap beer and a basket of pretzel sticks. Take a moment to stand in awe of the giant buck-toothed beaver painted on the side of the building, and also those bras dangling from the wall inside.
7. The Workman’s Friend
Charlotte, NC 28205
Handsome with its wooden accents and European vibe, this Irish pub offers a vast selection of Irish whiskeys (not to mention an Irish coffee with locally roasted beans, plus Jameson), local and international beers, wines, and smart cocktails (try the Bloody Jimmy with brunch, featuring bacon-infused Jameson, house-made bloody mix and pickle juice). Stick around for dinner, with pub fare like Not Your Mama’s Pork and Beans, and a shockingly delectable vegan curry with eggplant.
8. Soul Gastrolounge
This nighttime-only lounge hits every hunger craving from spanakopita with spinach and feta, to pork belly tacos, to vegan sushi. Cocktails are a must here — especially when faced with that inevitable wait for a table. Try the Beautiful Mind with Russel’s Reserve six-year-old rye, Cappelletti, earl grey-infused Lillet rose, and lemon bitters.
New to South End, this intimate sushi bar features a cocktail program shaken up by DiSean Burns with seasonal specialties like the Yume apple chai with apple brandy, chai spiced syrup, cocoa bitters, and an orange twist. Don’t skimp on the signature Japanese sake, either, before diving into a bowl of authentic Japanese Hakata ramen.
Add this new spot (it opened this spring) to the wish list for a night out of fine dining spotlighting chef-driven small plates with global influences like Japanese and Spanish cuisine. Let mixologist Amanda Britton work her magic on the cocktails (try the Balancing Act with Reyka vodka, Emulsion gin, peach, pistachio, cardamom, honey, cream, egg white, citrus and sparkling water) and indulge in the limited list of artful eats, from veal sweetbreads to charred shishito peppers.
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This two-level, self-serve South End watering hole is like a happy hour playground. Guests hand over their credit card in exchange for a wristband, pick up a glass and pick a wine, cider or beer to pour themselves -- after swiping their band to activate the pour. Just watch out for that 32-oz (at-a-time) limit.
12. Tyber Creek Pub
Dip into this dark, Irish-style pub for a Guinness Stout or a Magners Irish Cider (there are local brews here, too) and try the dinner menu with both Irish and American offerings, from bangers and mash to a black bean burger. Worth noting: This place goes nuts during the World Cup -- just look for the enormous inflatable soccer ball on the street corner.
13. Dilworth Tasting Room
If the list of eclectic wines is intimidating, the deals are sure to draw in any wanderer to this elegant and polished space. Depending on the day, try half-price pinot noirs, half-price cabernet sauvignons, $25 red wine flights (accompanied by a small cheese board), and other deals. Don’t overlook the improved cocktail lineup, plus the seasonal menu with snacks and entrees (like scallops). If it’s nice out, search for a seat on the foliage-filled patio.
14. The Queen & Glass
Charlotte, NC 28203
This Dilworth cocktail parlor is hidden away in a parking deck, though the double doors do occasionally swing open to beckon to passersby. Expect exquisite craft cocktails designed by Bob Peters (the Cinnamon Girl with Tito’s vodka, apple cider, and prosecco is simple but sweetly satisfying) and handcrafted bites like pesto and avocado flatbread, as well as tuna poke with wonton chips.
15. Ed's Tavern
Neighborhood regulars are fierce about this Dilworth staple conceived in 1935. They caused a huge stir last year when the tavern rebranded as Bourbon N Burgers, so the original name was quickly restored. What stayed put: the enormous new back patio with dozens of draft beer taps, the popular trivia games, and the simple bar menu (try some Buffalo chicken dip or pretzels and cheese, late-night).
16. Selwyn Avenue Pub
Charlotte, NC 28209
With a large, loung-y patio, ample TVs for watching the big game and occasional Michael Jordan appearances, this Myers Park Irish pub can get packed. Since it was also established in 1990, the bar is one of those rare spots to find more than one Charlotte native in the same place. Opt for pizza or wings, and a cheap sip (like a $5.50 Transfusion).
17. Dot Dot Dot
Add some mystery to the evening by searching for the nondescript entryway into this speakeasy in the back lot of Park Road Shopping Center (the person checking IDs outside is a good clue). Grab a $10 membership card before filing down the hidden hallway to the main lounge and dining area. Settle into a sleek red booth in the wood paneled room (or cozy up to the marble bar) for a hand-crafted cocktail by Stefan Huebner (the Truffle New York Sour is a must, with Larceny bourbon, orange curacao, house sweet and sour, ruby port and, of course, truffle egg white). The wine list is also sure to delight, not to mention the seasonal small plates (foie gras included).
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18. Treehouse Bourbon and BBQ
This casual hangout (with a prominent decorative tree inside) offers a flair of nightlife in sleepier SouthPark, with hours extending to 11 p.m. daily, except for Friday and Saturday (open until 1 a.m.). The recently rebranded Treehouse pours more than 50 bourbons, while also serving up barbecue, shareable sides and appetizers. Don’t miss the signature Boujee Juice, a frozen cocktail brought out in a collectable tin cup.
19. Foxcroft Wine Co. SouthPark
Both locations in Foxcroft and Dilworth cater to small plate and wine cravings. Browse the rows of wines from around the world lining the walls (the goal is to offer options from every major wine-producing region) — and pop a bottle in-store. Get fancier as a wine club member and enjoy two interesting selections each month.
20. Rush Espresso Cafe and Wine Bar
Over in the Ballantyne suburbs, Rush offers a boost of night life, with hours extending to midnight multiple days a week, plus a dinner menu with flatbreads, burgers, and more. Grab a glass (or bottle) of wine in the bright and airy atmosphere, with selections ranging from bubbly, to interesting reds to familiar whites. Beers are also available, along with cocktails (like the Rush Espresso martini with espresso). On a lucky night, catch live music from a Charlotte artist.