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Need some fresh air? Here’s a list of the 18 best patios in Charlotte.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has kept many of us home for the past few months. Now you may be venturing out a little more and revisiting your favorite restaurants.
Safe dining: With more space to spread out and greater airflow, dining al-fresco can be safer than dining indoors, experts say. Not all of these patios are currently open — bars aren’t allowed to open until October 2, at the earliest. Restaurants and breweries are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Here’s where you’ll find us eating and drinking outside. The list below is no particular order.
Honorable mentions — bars and breweries: Angry Ale’s, Thomas Street Tavern (temporarily closed), Resident Culture, Brazwell’s, Sycamore, and Craft. Need outdoor views? Here’s a list of the best rooftop bars in Charlotte.
The Neighborhood Hangout
The chill neighborhood hangout has a recently renovated patio with tiki umbrellas and porch swings that beg you to drop everything and linger over a little signature house-made sangria.
Sunday Funday: Swing by on Sundays for free lunch from the grill. For real. They’ve done hot dogs, burgers, and even tacos.
The Charlotte Classic
This family-owned bar in a repurposed house has been holding it down in Myers Park since 1990. The front patio has a bar, flat-screen TVs, fire pits, and a retractable awning to keep it accessible when the weather won’t cooperate.
What we’re drinking: $5 Transfusions. The dead-simple mixed drink — vodka, ginger ale, and a splash of grape juice — has been the same since the bar opened in 1990.
The Adult Playground
The popular Korean-inspired barbecue restaurant delivers all the backyard day party essentials on its South End back patio. They have a huge U-shaped bar, beer pong tables, lawn games (including cornhole and human-sized billiards), and even a fenced dog park. Owner Timothy Chun, who grew up in Charlotte, opened Seoul Food Meat Co. in early 2016.
Takeout program: Seoul Food is currently doing takeout and delivery only, but their patio is still open for you to enjoy your food.
Agenda guide: 20 best weekly specials in Charlotte
The European Courtyard
This popular wine bar has an enchanting back patio complete with a koi pond. Lush greenery and the warm glow of string lights make it feel like a hidden escape from the city less than two miles from Uptown.
Reservation required: Dilworth Tasting Room is operating on a reservation only system during the coronavirus pandemic.
Agenda related guide: Coolest wine bars in Charlotte
This sprawling three-story bar with a whopping 436 beers taps, opened earlier this year in South End. The facility, comparable in size to the new Pins Mechanical, is the first sister site to the original Raleigh Beer Garden.
First floor: The ground level has two bars. For starters, there’s an indoor-outdoor local beer bar, which owner Niall Hanley calls “an homage to North Carolina beer,” with 190 taps. For cocktails, there’s a full bar and lounge in the front at the base of a tree that fills the two-story atrium. There’s also a dog-friendly patio with fire pits and heaters.
Second Floor: Another bar, this one with 222 taps featuring beers from all over the world. This area is set up like a traditional beer hall and caters to sports fans. There’s also a small private event space (30 people) and a balcony overlooking South Tryon.
Third Floor: The greenhouse-style, partially covered rooftop bar with 24 taps will be the main attraction this spring. There’s picnic-table seating and the space will drip with plants, shrubs, and vines.
(6) Lincoln Street
This new sister concept from the owners of Craft Tasting Room & Growler Shop has three seating zones — the main dining room and bar, a rooftop patio with Uptown views, and a ground floor patio fronting Lincoln Street.
Rooftop patio: Stairs from the Craft parking lot lead up to a rooftop patio with views of Uptown. A live Ligustrum tree is planted right in the middle with banquette and high-top seating surrounding it.
Booze: The bar menu has a dozen signature craft cocktails (all $13), house-infused liquors, shrubs, and natural sodas. On Tuesdays, bottles of wine are half off.
House infusions: These house-infused liquors are used in some of the signature cocktails but can also be ordered on the rocks ($9). Flavors include toasted pecan vodka, 5 citrus gin, vanilla orange bourbon, spiced date rum, sage rye, and dark chocolate chili tequila.
(7) SouthBound / Mac’s / The Music Yard
The Patio Row
Neighbors Mac’s Speed Shop (a southern smokehouse) and SouthBound (a SoCal-inspired taco bar) are linked by The Music Yard, an outdoor performance venue. The curb appeal of those three places next to one another creates an alluring “patio row” of sorts along the busy South Boulevard corridor.
(8) Flower Child
The Urban Lunch Spot
Located on the light rail in South End, this fast-casual chain has bowls, salads, and wraps made with responsibly sourced health foods — including sustainable salmon, grass-fed beef, and organic non-GMO tofu.
The Mill House Courtyard
This new restaurant serving “elevated comfort food,” opened earlier this year in NoDa. It took years to transform an early 1900s mill home into a more than 5,000-square-foot, 165-seat restaurant.
Patio details: Out back, a 150-year-old Holly tree offers shade for the patio and bar, which resembles a backyard shed with tools hanging on the wooden frame. Chef Chris Coleman calls it the “working man’s bar” with $2 PBR for sale among other beer on draft and in cans.
Expansion: The Goodyear house just opened another 5,000 square feet of outdoor space with picnic tables and yard games like bocce ball.
Bread: Every meal starts with free pull-apart sour cream and onion brioche. Also don’t sleep on the classic burger, which will always be on the menu (called the “goopy burger,” $12).
Related Agenda guide: Best new restaurants in Charlotte
(10) Hello, Sailor
The Lakeside Tiki Getaway
Located about 25 minutes from Charlotte, Hello, Sailor is the perfect venue for a lakeside date — test out tiki cocktails, share crab legs, fight over a lobster roll, and enjoy the sunset over Lake Norman.
What we’re drinking: The three most popular cocktails are the Sea Legs (mezcal, yellow chartreuse, spiced mango, and mint), Subterranean Spritz (vodka, smoked pineapple, falernum, agave, key lime, and lime La Croix), and the Daughter Judy (bourbon, grapefruit, honey thyme).
(11) Pins Mechanical (temporarily closed)
The Gamer’s Paradise
The sprawling 23,000-square-foot facility has two indoor bars with 36 taps each, a rooftop bar with 24 taps and skyline views, four fire pits, and a stacked lineup of patio games, retro arcades, and duckpin bowling.
Drinks: The drink menu features a playful lineup of boozy Slush Puppies, candy-laced cocktails, large-format punch bowls, and novelty souvenir glassware. All specialty cocktails are $10 and drinks in souvenir glasses are $14-$16.
Game inventory: 12 duckpin bowling lanes, 20 pinball machines, 30-plus arcade cabinets, two pong consoles, two Jenga sets, two patio pings, two giant connect 4s, two foosball tables, bocce ball, ping pong table, and a giant lite-bright. A console wall on the 16-Bit side has a lineup of classic Nintendo and Sega games. Pins also has a private event space.
At least during non-pandemic times, recess is always in session at this monster back patio (covered and heated in the winter), filled with games like giant Connect Four, cornhole, and giant Jenga. Looking for something more physical? It’s also home to The Sandbox, a five-court, lighted sand volleyball facility. When it’s safe to do so, join a league here.
What we’re eating: Totchos — tater tots topped with VBGB’s homemade beer cheese, fire sauce, roasted red peppers, corn, black beans, jalapeños, and sour cream ($7.50).
(13) El Thrifty
The Urban Dessert Garden
Find this Mexican-inspired restaurant, bar, and gaming venue from the team behind Queen Park Social (Reid Olsen and Joe Lariscy) on the ground level of Optimist Hall.
Layout: The 6,931-square-foot space includes an 85-seat restaurant, a gaming room with 50 lounge seats, and a 30-seat patio with custom lounge areas for game-watching.
Drinks: Expect agave-based spirits, mezcal, tequila, local craft beer, and wine. They have 10 signature cocktails that range from $9 to $14.
(14) Noble Smoke
The Barbecue Beer Garden
This new flagship barbecue spot by Jim Noble (owner of Rooster’s) serves up tasty pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, and fish on Freedom Drive. The 200-person patio and biergarten out back has its own pavilion with about a dozen Suffolk Punch beers on draft.
Space: It’s big. The building is a 10,797-square-foot former tractor-trailer garage.
Barbecue: The pork is cooked both Carolina and Texas style in an 1,800-square-foot smokehouse. Noble Smoke has eight wood-fired smokers — six made of steel (Texas style) and two traditional North Carolina masonry barbecue pits (which consist of 20,000 bricks).
(15) Suffolk Punch
The Trailside Park
The combo coffeeshop, restaurant, brewery, and fermentation lab has an expansive trailside patio with rows of picnic tables and retractable awnings to keep the space usable in hot weather and rain. Bonus point: It’s located on the light rail at New Bern Station, giving it the feel of an unexpected urban park.
What we’re drinking: A Patchwork Orange, a super tasty American IPA (5.7% abv).
Deal: All beers are $3 on Thursdays and Sundays. In North Carolina, you can’t do “happy hour” specials, so restaurants and bars have to keep the same price for the entire day. So yes, it’s $3 beers all day on Thursdays and Sundays at Suffolk Punch.
The Getaway Lounge
This new two-story, self-serve bar from the owners of Hoppin’ offers duckpin bowling and 72 taps. The 6,023-square-foot space formerly occupied by Midwood Cleaners is located a couple of blocks down the road from Resident Culture.
Vibe: The taproom has a distinct Gatsby-inspired design with lots of gold, navy, and burgundy, marquee-style lights and luxe textures like leather and velvet.
Layout: The two-story space features self-serve taps, a mix of lounge, high-top, and table seating, along with roll-up garage doors and outdoor patios overlooking Veterans Park on both levels. The duckpin bowling lanes are in the basement, which opens out to a spacious lawn and fireplace. The view from out back makes you feel far away from Charlotte.
The Historic Villa Courtyard
This isn’t just any old taco bar. It’s a taco bar located inside the Reynolds-Gourmajenko House, a historic Mediterranean-style Myers Park mansion built in 1926 and beautifully maintained today as a dual-restaurant “villa.” RuRu’s is located on the back side of the property with a gorgeous outdoor bar and patio in the old courtyard.
Agenda related guide: Best Mexican restaurants in Charlotte
The Family-Friendly Communal Backyard
Charlotte’s oldest brewery is home to a sprawling beer garden that’s popular among everyone from toddlers to grandparents on any given good-weather weekend. Grab a seat at one of dozens of picnic tables.
What we’re drinking: Copper, a Düsseldorf-style Altbier beer that’s known as the brewery’s flagship (4.9% ABV).
Agenda related guide: Complete list and map of Charlotte’s local breweries, plus the most popular beer at each
Looking for more Charlotte food and drink guides? Here’s a complete list of Agenda guides including best burgers, best bars, best new restaurants, best weekly specials, best sushi, best pizza, best cocktail bars, top restaurants, and best brunch.