Eat & Drink

7 Cozy Indoor Spots in Charlotte

Where to go in Charlotte when you don’t want to go anywhere at all.

Want to unwind and get comfortable but don’t want to become a permanent fixture on your couch? Charlotte has plenty of options where you can recreate all the comforts of home—including oh-so-cozy home cooking—while still venturing outside those familiar four walls and seeing more of your city. Discover how you can get ultra-comfortable around town.

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Coco and the Director

When you stroll into Coco and the Director, your eye is instantly drawn to the distinctive illuminated steps filled with comfy cushions. Tucked inside the Marriott Center City in the heart of Uptown, the frequently Instagrammed spot is the scene of many coffee meetings and brainstorming sessions. Regardless of what your Next Great Idea may look like, Coco is the spot to settle in and get started. Even the toughest java connoisseurs will be impressed by the coffeehouse’s locally sourced blends. Their sandwich offerings switch daily and are anything but boring. One day you’re enjoying a shrimp po’boy, and the next it’s a chicken Philly with spicy horseradish sauce. Don’t count Coco out as a date-night spot either. The coffeehouse offers up beer and wine, too, and is full of cozy nooks that are perfect for spending quality time with your significant other.

Eat

Coco and the Director has a rotating menu of seasonal “cronuts” (imagine if a croissant and a donut had a sweet, flaky baby) plus their coffee, pecan and original flavors are always on the menu.

Do

Wine N Color Wednesdays are an ultra-unique date night, and can also serve as the perfect chance to catch up with friends. From 5 to 8 p.m., grab a $5 glass of wine, a pack of crayons and a coloring sheet, and let your creative juices flow. If you’re feeling especially confident in your shading abilities, enter your work to win free coffee for a week.

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Trade & Lore and Salud Cerveceria

Trade & Lore and Salud Cerveceria do double duty in the NoDa neighborhood. The coffeehouse and brewery share a space, and together they’re one of the area’s most popular fixtures. During the day, grab your laptop and make use of the relaxed coffeehouse vibe. In the evening, the tempo inside picks up significantly, but it’s still not the kind of spot where you’re trying to scream into your friend’s ear as someone knocks a drink all over you on the way to the bathroom. Instead, it’s the place to go when you want quality craft beers (preferably made in-house) and understand there’s simply no reason to be out until the wee hours of the morning requesting Fireball shots anymore.

Do

Grab beers or a glass of wine, curl up in a booth, and catch a DJ set on the first of the month. You’ll also find specialty shows from time to time, like tributes to Prince and Outkast. For a more active evening, challenge your friends to a round of table shuffleboard. Loser buys drinks.

Try

Salud, the bottle shop beneath Trade & Lore and Salud Cerveceria, recently revamped its kitchen. The new head chef Teddy Spickler is adding a delicious menu that hungry patrons will be eager to sample. Order the Neapolitan pizza with homemade dough. It pairs perfectly with a beer.

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Crave

Crave Dessert Bar in Uptown offers the perfect vibe for a date night. It’s intimate, sleek and sexy. Crave’s desserts are as decadent as its lengthy list of signature cocktails. The choices are far beyond your typical brownie sundae (though they have those, too) and include candied bacon ice cream cookie, red velvet waffles with white chocolate fondue, and bourbon pecan cheesecake. You can also choose from dinner entrees, including shareable small plates like bruschetta and hummus. Accompany your pick with a cocktail that’s basically dessert in a glass, and you’re sure to have a sweet night.

Do

The s’mores dessert throws it back to your days at summer camp, minus the homesickness and mosquitos. It’s packaged in a neat little kit with marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers, and even a miniature fire pit. It’s delivered to your table, so you can toast each marshmallow to your personal standard of perfection.

Try

The Tiramisu Dream cocktail is a standout, featuring espresso vodka, hazelnut liquer, butterscotch schnapps, and Irish cream. It’s sweet, creamy perfection.

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Dilworth Tasting Room

Dilworth Tasting Room is a wine lover’s paradise. The illuminated bottles behind the bar feel like a modern art installation. Weather permitting, head outside to the patio, and you’ll feel as if you wandered into a secret garden that only you know about. With a brick koi pond as the focal point, the ethereal space is bursting with greenery. Add in people you love and great wine, and you’ve got yourself an elegant garden party. Dilworth Tasting Room’s menu is expansive and has picks to please every palate. Dry, fruity, sparkling, the choice is yours.

Do

The only thing better than wine is wine and snacks. On Tuesdays, order a flight (yes, a wine flight) and get a free deconstructed charcuterie board to go with it. You may be smack dab in the middle of the week, but this should help to ease your pain.

Try

If you’re looking for something more substantial, the chicken and dumplings is a must. The dish is hearty and comforting without leaving you feeling like you need to nap ASAP.

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ROOTS Café

When it comes to beautiful eateries in the Queen City, ROOTS Café certainly makes the list. With fresh greenery aplenty and delicate light fixtures, the cozy, inviting space blends urban and earthy. It’s what Pinterest dreams are made of. You’ll find a plethora of healthy food options like salads and wraps, plus an appetizing brunch menu. Coffee lovers will fancy ROOTS’ subscription service. The cafe serves up local brews from Enderly Coffee Company, and a monthly fee gets you an unlimited supply. You’ll be bouncing off the walls in no time. Roots is perfect for an evening out, too, as they serve food all day and close at 9 p.m. Grab a beer or a glass of wine, and unwind on their patio.

Do

Keep an eye on their Instagram, as they post about wine tastings, discounted drinks and other specials.

Try

Their latkes are homemade and are served with sour cream, green onion and sunny-side up eggs. Comfort foods don’t come much more decadent than that.

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Julia’s Café & Books

Bookworms can use their love of literature to benefit their community at Julia’s Café & Books. Not your typical bookseller, the gently used titles found at Julia’s raise funds for Habitat for Humanity Charlotte. The shop is named for Julia Maulden, who was the first volunteer executive director of Habitat for Humanity. Now, her legacy lives on at the café. Whether you’re into romance, mystery, historical fiction, or something in between, you can find your next favorite title here. Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry or sandwich while you browse.

Do

If you like the mission behind Julia’s, you can do more than just dig for something new to read: Join the cause! The organization is always looking for volunteers. Jobs include everything from cleaning and pricing the used books that come in to sorting and shelving.

Try

Julia’s lattes are top-notch, and are made using beans from local favorite Magnolia Coffee Company. Each drink is carefully crafted by volunteer baristas.

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Soul Gastrolounge

There’s a reason that Soul Gastrolounge frequently makes the list of “must visits” when Charlotteans are entertaining out-of-towners. Situated in the artsy Plaza Midwood neighborhood, Soul’s menu, cocktails and atmosphere are sure to impress anyone, regardless of what the visitor’s home city’s food scene is like. The tapas-style dining allows patrons to sample more of the menu, plus it’s a way to connect with friends and family over food. Pro tip: Soul doesn’t take reservations, so download the No Wait app before you go. A table in the small space is in-demand, and the app lets you see how many parties are ahead of you in line.

Do

Soul makes sure the vibe is spot-on each time you dine. They’ve got a series of resident DJs, with Friday and Saturday nights reserved for a “wild card” spot. Will you be hearing R&B, soul from the ‘70s, or something else entirely? Climb the steps to the front door and find out.

Try

Their Ramen is a cozy bowl of heaven featuring noodles in a garlic cream sauce alongside veal cheeks and goat cheese fried mushrooms. Is your mouth watering yet?