After living a majority of my post grad life in Charlotte, aka the Queen City, I have had my fair share of fun nights over great beer and food. As someone who is steadily aging (halfway to 30) my idea of a night around the town has transformed over the past couple of years. Before it was scandalous and hazy club nights filled with dancing, cheap wells, and really terrible late night food.. Now? A nice sit down with good music, delicious food and a diverse selection of beer. Despite Charlotte’s consistent and ever growing nightlife in Uptown, some of its greatest hidden gems lie in the neighborhoods that surround the city and that’s where I’ve now found solace. So here I give you some of the places I like to frequent to enjoy a chill time, with great Beer, Food, and Friends. (Don’t forget to click on the names of the places to visit their websites!)
Heist Brewery – NoDa
2909 North Davidson Street, Charlotte, NC 28205
Located at the edge of the main strip, in the self-appointed hipster quarter of the North Davidson (NoDa) neighborhood, Heist Brewery stands tall. With each visit I have had the opportunity to try their locally made brew. Some of my favorite beers I’ve had there include a series of IPA’s ranging from the strong kick Barrel Aged Cataclysm or the hoppy Jade Monkey, a scrumptious and filling stout With Love…from Russia (my personal fave), and the sweet Blackberry Pickin’. The great beer selection is complimented by an intimate atmosphere with a class act food menu. Their menu is filled with a wide influence of international taste from Chorizo Sliders, Woodfried Duck, and some amazingly crafted dips. My favorites from the Dinner menu include the BBQ flatbread, and the Spinach Cheese Dip! The warm low lit setting creates a cozy ambiance, making it an ideal location to bring your date, and close friends with a side of enjoyable conversations.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – South Charlotte
4150 Yancey Street, Charlotte, NC 28217
Charlotte’s first major brewery is a tall and spacious German-style Beirhall, located on the south side of Charlotte, not too far from Park and Woodlawn and the Montford strip. The Germanic influence is evident everywhere: long wooden tables that can seat x amount of people, a biergarten with plenty of space, and the menu is no exception. definitely enjoyed this place because of the combination of hearty food, as well as the flavor-packed beer from the brewery. On my previous, I enjoyed a Bratwurst and tried their Fat Boy Baltic Porter. The Porter was simply phenomenal. It is a heavy beer with a bold taste, but a sweet wintery finish with traces of chocolate and caramel. OMB is the home of the locally famous OMB Copper that you can purchase at any up-to-date craft beer store in Charlotte. It is the mainstream breakthrough for craft beer here in Charlotte, and was instrumental in starting the brewery renaissance in 2009. Some of my favorite brews from the past include the Hornet’s Nest Hefeweizen, the Dunkel Lager, and the Southside Weiss. The overall mood of classy rowdiness makes OMB a great spot to bring co-workers on a Thursday afternoon, or your homies visiting from out of town.
Sycamore Brewing – South End
2161 Hawkins St., Charlotte, NC 28203
After the launch of Old Mecklenburg Brewery in 2009, a slew of breweries began opening around Historic South End. Sycamore Brewing is no exception, it is nestled right in the heart of South End, with an open layout and a large outside seating area as well as a cozy inside layout. A typical night would feature great music (sometimes live), a flight of its variety of brews, and good food whether directly from the kitchen, or from their blessed partnership with food trucks in the area. Friday’s during the summer are the ideal day to go, for the food trucks come and offer delicious treats at a decent price. (Come with cash tho). Sycamore specializes in Small Batched beer, giving them the ability to have extremely unique flavors for patrons with a taste for something new. With food truck vets Papi Queso running their kitchen the majority of the week, we have the pleasure of grabbing one of their new brews with a delicious grilled cheese on any given day of the week. My favorite combo? A BBQ Pork Grilled Cheese with the nightly IPA special. Notable beers I’ve had from Sycamore include: Dark Falls Black IPA, Southern Girl Blonde, Opening Day IPA, and the Comet IPA; it’s an IPA heaven. For a more lowkey night head over on a Thursday to grab a grilled cheese and brew, or if you want to satisfy your inner foodie – Fridays in the summer are your nights to get great beer and explore which food trucks are featured for that week.
Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse – Uptown
330 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Alright so my top two of the lists aren’t breweries mainly because
1. These locations offer so many options when it comes to quality beer.
2. There are full kitchens to choose from with amazing homemade recipes.
I recently went for National Whiskey Day, and enjoyed a properly made Old Fashioned, which I hadn’t had since college. The staff is very well-versed on the rotating taps while always being able to offer sound advice and suggestions. My favorite location is Uptown, because of the energetic employees, proximity, and the amazing wine cellar (perfect for a casual date). Positioned on North Tryon street, right before the main uptown area of Charlotte, this strategic location makes it the perfect “Pre” or “Post” move for the night. My favorite item on the food menu is the Chorizo Burger: a burger made of chorizo chuck, with grilled onions, peppers ,with melted pepper jack cheese, all on an onion roll. Perfection for my taste buds. The fajitas that I recently had were also amazing because of the juicy steak and the savory grilled vegetables. I’ve also been to the Ballantyne and the Park Road locations whom both offer quality service.. Next time you find yourself in one of these areas, take a seat, and enjoy a great cocktail or one of the many beers on tap with some home chips or fried pickles (another favorite).
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium – University Area
9605 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28262
Although these aren’t ranked, if I had to do so, this would be my number one spot. This bar is the best for BFF’s because it offers various beers, affordable meals, and televised entertainment. Ask any of my friends: if anyone doesn’t have a suggestion, then we are headed to Flying Saucer. Not only am I a member of the U.F.O. Beerknurd club ( their member list), I also live less than seven minutes away. The crowd is often low-key, patrons are not too rowdy but are also more than silent wallflowers. A unique feature that any beer enthusiast will enjoy is their restaurant-wide monument, the plate wall of fame. The challenge is: a member of the U.F.O. club has to try 200 different beers in order to enter their hall of fame, and they also get a trophy ( a golden saucer with their name) mounted on the venue’s walls or ceiling. The Plate includes what number plate you got, your name, and a quote; a genius ideas to generate a consistent base of patrons I won’t let you all know how close I am to one, but you’ll know when I get one for sure. This awesome program, as well as the variety of events: celebrating holidays, random happenings in town, and the landing of new brews to the taps makes it so there is always something going on at this magical place. The menu is damn near-perfect bar food, with a yummy shareables like beer pretzels or cheese fries. The main courses include a variety of sandwiches and plates like French Dip; however, hands down, my favorite dish is the personal pizza. Saucer gives you the option of any three toppings on a small personal pizza. I’ve tried many combinations, but my favorite has been a combination of bratwurst, mushrooms, and green onions. Don’t tell me I’m wrong until you’ve had it yourself!
There you have it. Definitely try these places out the next time you’re planning an outing with friends, etc. If you have suggestions for please me let me know! These are just some of the places you can visit as Charlotte has many more interesting places to visit so stay tuned for another BFF list later on!
Under-promising and Over-delivering,