By Leah Hughes
Whether you’re looking for a romantic night under the stars, a lively place to sample a flight of craft beers or a table for two with some delectable dishes, the Queen City delivers.
In the South, we spend nearly as much time on the front porch as we do in the living room. Whether you’re coming or going, Charlotte Douglas International Airport greets you with its own front porch style—white rocking chairs in its tree-lined atrium. The rockers are made by Troutman Chair Co., located about 45 miles from Charlotte. They are an ideal way to lessen traveling stress and a warm gesture of hospitality by the Carolinas’ largest city.
The Duke Mansion, once owned by James Buchanan Duke of Duke Energy and Duke University fame, is a treasure of the Myers Park community. The 1915 mansion is now a bed-and-breakfast. Its screened-in sleeping porches overlooking immaculately landscaped gardens are considered some of its finest amenities.
When a large, stately house is remodeled into a restaurant, it’s immediately inviting. 300 East on Dilworth’s East Boulevard has been serving upscale American fare for 30 years. Linger over dessert on the white-columned porch that wraps around the restaurant. Pastry chef Ashley Bivens Boyd is known for her confections, which resemble works of art.
The Fig Tree Restaurant is a fine-dining icon in the Elizabeth neighborhood. It’s located in the Lucas House, a 1913 Craftsman-style bungalow. The signature elk chop is especially good when enjoyed on the porch with a breeze.
Up the street, in the 1918 brick structure that was once a single-family home, is a Charlotte favorite for New Orleans-style fare. The Cajun Queen’s second-floor terrace beckons hungry passersby with whiffs of garlic and smooth sounds of jazz. The restaurant has live music every night of the week.
A newcomer to the porch scene, the NoDa Company Store has fast become a local gathering spot. The venue fits in well with the arts-district vibe; it touts vibrant murals, live music and craft beer. The porch swings are popular seats, ideal for sipping and swinging.
The Charlotte skyline is a looker anytime, anywhere. But it gets even more attention when the sun begins to sink. Retreat to these rooftop bars in the evening as daylight fades and the lights go up.
Fahrenheit has an unrivaled Uptown view from its 21st floor post atop Skye Condos/Hyatt Place Charlotte Downtown. Snapping a selfie from the balcony with a skyscraper backdrop is on every Queen City bucket list. The view’s only competition is the food—short ribs, steaks and grilled seafood—coming from the kitchen, which is led by Chef Rocco Whalen.
A new addition to Center City, City Lights Rooftop Bar opened in June. It stakes its claim as the city’s largest rooftop bar. Located on the 19th floor of Le Méridien Charlotte, the bar reveals 360-degree views. Fridays are DJ nights.
Over in Plaza Midwood, two rooftop spots in sight of each other offer frame-worthy skyline shots. The Peculiar Rabbit packs three stories of dining options. Make your way to the open-air top story to enjoy upscale bar food. Choose from specialty cocktails, wines, craft beer, and an assortment of scotch and bourbon.
A couple of blocks east, Whiskey Warehouse’s bar occupies most of its upper story. The covered, U-shaped bar has TVs for game-watching. The tables rimming the deck’s edge have umbrellas, so diners can enjoy streetscape views in the shade. Monday is half-priced wing night, and the weekend brings specials on mimosas, sangria and bloody marys.
The Gin Mill is located along the LYNX Blue Line light rail. Its rooftop bar is a low-key space to gather with friends. The Gin Mill offers drink specials and live music on the weekends. Its proximity to Amos’ Southend, right next door, and Bank of America Stadium, about half a mile away, makes it a convenient pre-game or after-party stop.
From fire pits to outdoor games, make plans to hang out at some of Charlotte’s various outdoor decks, where you can enjoy everything from watching a baseball game to sipping a beer in style.
The Carolinas HealthCare System Home Run Porch at BB&T Ballpark is one of the most energetic sections in the park. The standing-room-only porch gives Charlotte Knights fans an up-close view as balls soar over the right-field wall.
Thomas Street Tavern in Plaza Midwood contains an adult’s playground out back. The large deck has built-in fire pits and a second outdoor bar. Cornhole and Ping Pong are popular diversions.
Located on Montford Drive’s 1/3-mile entertainment strip, Moosehead Grill is a casual, no-frills neighborhood joint. Have a seat on the multitiered deck and choose from a dozen different wing flavors. Uncle Donnie’s famous blackened wings are a go-to for many Moosehead regulars.
Just up the block from Moosehead, at Brazwells Premium Pub, warm weather means draft beers, tasty bites hot off the kitchen’s grill, and tables filled with chatter and laughter on the sprawling deck. With a dockside feel, it’s surprising not to find a shoreline just beyond the deck’s railing.
Pick Your Patio
While summertime cookouts on your backyard patio are a must, head to these promising patios around Charlotte when you don’t feel like firing up the grill at home.
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Charlotte’s first craft brewery, opened in 2009. It adheres to German standards in brewing its beer and carries that Old World theme through in its location on Yancey Road. Its patio extends out into an expansive Biergarten. The picnic tables are an ideal place to enjoy a flagship Copper amber ale and a fresh pretzel as the kids play on the fenced-in lawn.
Sycamore Brewing is the place to be when the weather is nice. With a spacious patio filled with picnic tables, a second outdoor bar slinging cold beverages and a platform for live music, it’s as hopping as the tap room. With water bowls plentifully stocked, furry friends love lounging outside of Sycamore as much as their owners.
Pasta & Provisions, a Charlotte institution for more than 20 years, expanded this past winter to a second location on Park Road. The new space allows the Italian grocer and deli to serve made-to-order sandwiches, pizzas and pastas, and guests can enjoy those dishes with a glass of beer or wine on the patio.
For those in South Park looking for a friendly place to enjoy wine and sample some small plates, J.Sam’s is happy to oblige. When the weather is nice, guests fill the patio’s comfortable seating. If the temperature drops after sunset, the fire pits heat things up.
This feature ran in the July 2016 issue of Happenings magazine.