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14 Popular Charlotte Nightlife Ideas

From concerts and sporting events to theater performances and shopping, we’ve paired 14 popular queen city nightlife ideas with some of the best dishes at nearby restaurants to help you plan your next night on the town.
Enjoy live music at beautiful views at USNWC
Enjoy live music at beautiful views at USNWC

Story by Chrissie Nelson

From concerts and sporting events to theater performances and shopping, we’ve paired 14 popular queen city nightlife ideas with some of the best dishes at nearby restaurants to help you plan your next night on the town.

1. LIVE MUSIC IN NODA

Rock out to your favorite band at the Neighborhood Theater or The Evening Muse in NoDa. Fuel up pre-concert with a Reuben from Growlers Pourhouse, piled high with corned beef, gruyere cheese and Sriracha Russian dressing. For something just as indulgent but a little lighter, go for a heaping order of Crepe Cellar’s pesto brie fries topped with fresh tomatoes.

2. MOVIE NIGHT AT PHILLIPS PLACE

See the latest action-packed blockbuster at Regal Cinemas Phillips Place 10 and make a post-show reservation at Upstream or Harper’s Restaurant in South Park. Upstream’s signature sake marinated sea bass and Harper’s hot and bubbly six-cheese penne pasta will leave you feeling more satisfied than the movie theater popcorn.

3. PICNIC AT FOOD TRUCK FRIDAY IN SOUTH END.  

Pack your picnic supplies and a six pack before ordering dinner from your favorite food truck. Try the Brazilian churassco steak sliders from Street Spice, which are marinated in chimichurri and topped with plantains, or Papi Queso’s pig Mac, a happy marriage of grilled cheese and barbecue. Save room for dessert and try Southern Cake Queen’s 14 karat cupcake, a personalized carrot cake with fresh shredded carrots, crushed pineapples, a hint of cinnamon and cream cheese icing.

4. DRINKS AND DANCING AT THE EPICENTRE 

Dress to the nines and head out for a night of drinks and dancing at the EpiCentre. Start your evening with Blackfinn Ameripub’s shrimp and grits, a modern spin on a Southern classic with house-made fried goat cheese grit cakes. Then plot your route through the EpiCentre to make your way to Bubble, Suite and Vault for dancing and Howl at the Moon, Tin Roof, Whisky River or Rooftop 210 for another drink with your friends.

5. DINNER AND A SHOW AT BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

Enjoy a Broadway show, concert or comedian at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. For your pre-show meal, head to Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen for the beef short ribs or duck confit or order the Cobb salad from BLT Steak for a light option. The savory salad is topped with tender lobster and crispy, fried shallots. After curtain call, visit The Punch Room for a creative cocktail and snack on crispy duck sliders with date “ketchup.”

6. SHOPPING AT SOUTHPARK MALL

Shop ‘til you drop at all of your favorite stores at SouthPark Mall. After an evening filled with lots of walking and few trips in and out of fitting rooms, reward yourself with a glass of wine and a big plate of the famous digatoni d’ with slow roasted herb chicken and a marsala cream sauce at Maggiano’s Little Italy.

7. OUTDOOR CONCERT AT THE U.S. NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER

Get outdoors and enjoy live music at the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s free River Jam Series Thursday and Saturday nights through September. Before jamming out with your friends, explore the flavors native to North Carolina with a three- or five-course dinner at Heirloom Restaurant (seven-, nine- and 12-course dinners are also available). Heirloom’s menu changes daily featuring the freshest fare from local North Carolina farmers, foragers and growers.

8. BASEBALL GAME AND FIREWORKS

Root for the home team (Go Knights!) at a baseball game at BB&T Ballpark. Pair America’s pastime with spins on Southern classics. Before the game, chow down on a white trash burger at Pinky’s (fried pickles included). Or get your Southern food fix with an order of soul rolls from Mert’s Heart and Soul, packed with fried chicken, black-eyed peas and collard greens, all wrapped up in an egg roll. On Friday nights, enjoy fireworks after the game and then take a stroll through Romare Bearden Park to work off those soul-filled calories.

9. A NIGHT AT THE ARENA

Cheer on the Hornets or catch a star-studded event at Time Warner Cable Arena. Before the event, grab dinner at 7th Street Public Market, which is guaranteed to have something for everyone in your group. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, order Local Loaf ’s Chicken and the Egg served on a homemade biscuit with chicken tenders and melted white cheddar or a grilled cheese with cheddar, gouda pickles and mustard from Orrman’s Cheese Shop. Bonsai Fusion’s the incredible hulk burrito will give you some Asian flare with spicy tuna, edamame and a chipotle honey sauce. In the mood for pizza? Split Pure Pizza’s the chorizo, a pizza that embraces a Mexican street taco. If crepes are more your thing, order the maple dream from Hazelnut’s Creperie, filled with bacon and cheddar cheese and drizzled with real maple syrup.

10. PLAY IN PLAZA MIDWOOD

Spend an evening exploring Plaza Midwood’s hotspots such as Common Market, Snug Harbor and Workman’s Friend. Start your evening with classic Carolina ‘cue and bacon wrapped jalapeños at Midwood Smokehouse. A few bars later, groove to the DJ’s sweet beats at Soul Gastrolounge while you sip on a cool cocktail and share an order of pork belly tacos.

11. BREWERY CRAWL IN SOUTH END

Pop in for a few pints at Charlotte breweries in South End like Triple C Brewing Co., Sycamore Brewing ,Wooden Robot Brewery, The Unknown Brewing Co. and Lenny Boy Brewing Co. In between stops, soak up the local brews with The Liberty’s poutine, grown-up cheese fries with curds and short rib gravy, or a hearty bowl of fire and ice ramen made with hot smoked salmon from Futo Buta.

12. BALLROOM DANCING IN SOUTH PARK

Put on your dancing shoes for a class or lesson at Queen City Ballroom, where you can spend the evening learning how to waltz, tango, foxtrot and salsa. Continue your elegant evening with a French dinner and plate of fiery mussels at George’s Brasserie or a succulent petit filet accompanied by twin lobster tails at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse SouthPark.

13. BOWLING AND KARAOKE ON MONTFORD DRIVE

Before a night of bowling at 10 Park Lanes and karaoke at Jeff’s Bucket Shop on Montford Drive, stop into Moosehead Grill for an order of Uncle Donnie’s blackened wings, a customer favorite, or share the Korean beef and a few other tapas with friends at Good Food on Montford.

14. CARRIAGE RIDE THROUGH UPTOWN

Start your romantic date night by indulging in local flavors with Mimosa Grill’s pecan crusted North Carolina mountain trout or experience a Brazilian feast of grilled meats and a gourmet salad bar with Brazz Brazilian Steakhouse’s dinner rodizio. You can’t go wrong with traditional steakhouse fare; order a bone in filet at Ruth’s Chris Uptown or the prime 60 second NY strip steak at 5Church. After dinner, cozy up on a horse-drawn carriage ride through Uptown with Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours.

This article ran in the August 2015 issue of Charlotte Happenings.