The combo of spending a year at home, the excitement of hanging out with my family and friends at restaurants again, and the sunny, Spring like weather we’ve been having recently has me itching for some dinner and drinks al fresco.
WHERE SHOULD I EAT OUTSIDE IN CHARLOTTE, NC?
Ok, so first of all, what does it mean to be one of the best patios in Charlotte?
It’s a totally subjective thing…it’s totally based on my own personal experiences, feelings, tastes and opinions.
Basically, my list of Charlotte’s best outdoor dining and drinking experiences can vary differently from anyone else’s list, because it’s my favorites.
But let me tell you, while a best of list is subjective, I do feel like I am qualified to write one about the best patios in Charlotte.
Because patio beer season is my favorite season!
(I guess also because I’ve lived in Charlotte for almost 10 years, which means I’ve had the chance to eat and drink outside at a ton of Charlotte’s patios).
Hello, Sailor’s patio in Cornelius boasts both boat slips and lakeside views.
This Charlotte restaurant guide was one of the hardest ones for me to write because there are just so many patio dining and drinking options in the Queen City, so this list was really hard to narrow down.
We’re lucky that you can basically eat outside all year round (and it’s been interesting to see how restaurants are adapting to patio dining through the colder months), which means we have a lot of options when it comes to outdoor drinking and dining.
My best patios list started at more than twenty spots, and then I had to whittle away. Here’s a few things that helped me narrow my list:
I started by focusing on spots that are more unique and special, and maybe some that are more, off the beaten, or eaten, path could we say? Sure, some of these patios are on every single platforms’ “best patios in Charlotte, list” but that’s because they are really great outdoor dining options!
I wanted to include outdoor spaces that offer something other than just the view of a parking lot…Charlotte does have an abundance of patios with stellar parking lot views.
I also steered away from spots that only serve drinks because I wanted to focus on Charlotte’s best patios where you can enjoy a meal (but of course, any of these spots are perfect for a cold beer or cocktail!)
The result is a wide range of food options, price points and ambiance. So if your looking for laid back rooftops, bustling biergartens, sweeping skyline views, covered hideaways, neighborhood hangouts or picturesque points right next to the water, we’ve got a spot for you!
Some honorable mentions include: The Fig Tree, Foxcroft Wine Co., Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Middle James Brewing (in Pineville but close enough!), Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop, Reid’s SouthPark, Lincoln Street Kitchen and Cocktails, and Birdsong Brewing.
At The Goodyear House, you can enjoy locally sourced comfort food with an international flair at picnic table under twinkle lights and the branches of a hundred-year-old holly tree.
While casual and comfortable (and dog friendly!) the design is detailed, beautiful and thoughtful, making it feel like you’re relaxing in a friend’s backyard, which nails their goal of being “NoDa’s neighborhood gathering place built on a shared history of community and kinship.”
The Goodyear House expanded their patio last year, adding an open air greenhouse and igloos over several tables to make outdoor dining in their gorgeous backyard accessible and comfortable all year round (the igloos will leave for the season in mid-March but if you missed igloo season they are coming back next winter!)
Being a lifelong water lover (the beach is my favorite place on the planet) there’s just something about being near the water that brings me so much joy and energy.
While I love living in Charlotte, one of the downsides is that it’s landlocked (in fact they made fun of us for that a few weeks ago on SNL on top of being the “Gateway to Gastonia.”)
Lucky for us, Hello, Sailor is an easy drive up I-77 so we can get our fill of tiki cocktails, seafood and lake views. (You can also arrive at Hello, Sailor by boat and park in one of their 20 dedicated boat slips.)
Beyond simple seafood dishes, beach worthy drinks and beautiful mid-century modern decor, Hello, Sailor boasts 3,500 square feet of waterfront deck space made for boozy slushie sipping.
Usually I equate rooftop patios with sweeping skyline views, but one of the best, most underrated rooftop spots in town is actually tucked in among small businesses and Willow Oaks in Dilworth.
On a clear, Carolina blue cloudless day, there is nothing like eating a delicious JJ’s hot dog and drinking a cold beer on their rooftop patio. Just writing that sentence makes me salivate for a hot dog on a sunny day. My favorites are The Char Heel, Uptown Downtown, and JJ’s No. 1 Red Hot, but honestly they are all good. JJ’s says they serve “the best hot dogs on the planet” and I have to agree.
Speaking of rooftops and skyline views, The Waterman’s rooftop terrace (dubbed Topside) features a slice of Uptown’s skyline through the back of their bar.
The casual South End spot serves seafood favorites like fried platters, po boys, fish tacos, and chowder, along with burgers and sandwiches for landlubbers. They also have a full raw bar and an extensive craft cocktail menu, called boat drinks (so on brand!)
Shhh, did you know that Charlotte has a secret garden?
The historic building in one of Charlotte’s oldest neighborhoods (which was originally a dry goods store, later turned a neighborhood billiards hall) is now home to an elegant and modern wine bar. From the front door, stroll to the left past the sleek, bold red leather couches and the illuminated wine wall behind the bar and through the door to a dreamy, picturesque patio.
The focal point of this magical patio space is a bubbling koi pond in the center, which is surrounded by small tables and winding stone lined paths. Low hanging trees, colorful blooms, and strings of white lights create a serene, backyard escape just blocks off South Boulevard.
Dilworth Tasting Room’s gorgeous garden is one of my go to spots for after work wine, catching up with girlfriends, and a romantic date night.
Speaking of gorgeous gardens (and also wine!) another one of my favorite patios in Charlotte is Rosie’s Coffee and Wine Garden.
Located in McGill Rose Garden (and named after a cat!), Rosie’s is open daily serving coffee, wine and a small selection of snacks (but you can bring your own picnic too).
Their small, cozy storefront is currently only open for ordering, and then take your beverage of choice out to the garden to explore! The roses bloom in May and October, but the garden is gorgeous any time of year!
Camp North End is way more than a patio, it’s bustling hub featuring 76 acres of outdoor space, art, curated retailers, and yes, food!
I highly recommend carving out a couple hours to walk around and explore the campus, and then start or end your adventure with a bite and a beverage. Camp North End also hosts special events, pop ups, markets and live music, so check out their website and social media to see what’s coming up!
For food and drink options, Camp North End is home to four different outdoor food stalls, a full service restaurant, brewery, coffee shop, speciality food retailers and mobile bars:
Plant Joy: locally sourced, Mediterranean influenced and inspired vegan cuisine
La Caseta: Latin street food celebrating community and made with family recipes
Saru by Bow Ramen: An authentic Nagahama style Tonkotsu ramen shop with five varieties of pork bone broth ramen. (and a vegetarian option too!)
Bleu Barn North End: The popular farm to table food truck now has a permanent location serving seasonal burgers, sandwiches and salads made with local North Carolina ingredients.
Leah & Louise: A juke joint owned by James Beard nominated Chef Greg Collier and his wife, Subrina, serving modern interpretations of Southern classics from the Mississippi River Valley foodways.
Free Range Brewing: A community focused local brewery making delicious beers with locally sourced ingredients.
Hex Coffee: A specialty coffee roaster (that started as a pop up) who believes coffee is best served in its purest form.
Chop & Chisel: A grab and go meal concept making healthy eating fun and convenient. They offer meal delivery, but have a walk in cooler available at Camp North End.
Wentworth & Fenn: A gourmet bakery with breads, pastries, macrons and cakes all baked from scratch.
Popbar: A walkup window serving customizable popsicles made from gelato, sorbet and yogurt.
NoDa Company Canteen: Serving beer and wine on Friday nights and at special events in the Boileryard
Black Moth Bars: A 1960s camper turned mobile bar serving one of a kind drinks on Friday nights and at special events.
Babe & Butcher (opening soon): Custom charcuterie, crudite, fruit, and dessert boxes, boards and grazing tables.
NoDa Company Store, a fixture of the popular arts neighborhood in an old millworker’s house and artist’s private residence, is part neighborhood general store and part party at a friend’s house. The welcoming, funky vibe is everything you want in a neighborhood bar, complete with a sprawling patio out back with porch swings and picnic tables.
NoDa Company Store has a variety of beverage options including local beer, wine, prosseco and seltzer, but the stars (must order) are the house made sangrias made with seasonal fruits and the signature NoDa colada, which also comes in slushee form.
As part of a 2020 pivot, NoDa Company Store started working with local producers to offer grocery pickup and delivery. They have a variety of local goods and products and prepared meals, along with essentials like spices, toilet paper, canned and dried goods, beer and wine and more. (Learn more about how you can get locally sourced fruits, veggies and groceries in my Charlotte Farmers Market Guide!)
Optimist Hall a redevelopment of a historic, turn-of the-century textile mill into a food hall, complemented by retail shops, restaurants, office and outdoor space in the Optimist Park neighborhood (between Uptown and NoDa).
Optimist Hall has 23 tenants (19 are open right now) and tons of pet-friendly outdoor space including a main courtyard (with skyline views), patios and lawn space.
Optimist Hall has a little something for everyone:
Ava: Authentic Neopolitan pizza
Bao and Broth: Asian street fare favorites like bao buns and ramen bowls
Billy Sunday: A Chicago based craft cocktail bar
Botiwalla: An Indian street grill inspired by Irani cafes
There is a similar, indescribable yet happy, feeling that I get from hot dogs and cold beer on a rooftop (see JJ’s above) and drinking a margarita on a beautiful, sunny warm day.
RuRu’s will satisfy all of your sunny margarita drinking hopes and dreams. Located in the historic Reynolds-Gormajenko House in Myers Park, the building’s architecture will transport you to Tuscany while you munch on tacos and sip tequila.
The Whitewater Center has a leg up on any old patio in Charlotte…it’s a full on outdoor adventure complex along the banks of the Catawba River. Even if you’re not in a rafting, zip-lining, or mountain biking mood, you can go to the Whitewater Center to relax by the water, grab a bite to eat, and listen to live music. Their River Jam concert series is one of our favorite Charlotte events!
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[…] (Speaking of patios, I love eating and drinking on patios and I think these are the best Charlotte patios.) […]
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Thursday 3rd of May 2018
[…] They just did a big tap room renovation complete with a rooftop patio with a skyline view and we haven’t been to see it yet which is foolish of us because one of my favorite activities is to drink a beer on a rooftop patio. […]
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Friday 9th of March 2018
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Friday 2nd of March 2018
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Saturday 29th of July 2017
HI...My husband and I are driving from Dallas TX to the 2017 PGA Championship golf tourn in Charlotte. So excited...have never been there or the east coast. Need recommendations for hotel location...have not booked one yet...yep..I am late in doing so! LOL Also, we are foodies so any local restaurant recommendations would be awesome! Thanks so much,
Tuesday 1st of August 2017
Thanks for checking out my blog! If you're going to the PGA Championship, the closest hotels to Quail Hollow would be in SouthPark or Ballantyne (both are probably a 5-10 minute drive from the golf course, and SouthPark has offered a shuttle in the past from the mall). If you stay in Uptown (Charlotte's downtown) you'll probably be at least 20 minutes away. For my local recommendations, check out my "where I've eaten" page...it has all of the Charlotte restaurants I've eaten at. My Charlotte's Best Bites series is also great because it's local recommendations from me and other Charlotte foodies. Are you looking for something specific? I'm happy to give you a list depending on what you're looking for!
Hi! I'm Chrissie: a pizza and sushi loving, craft beer and red wine drinking, restaurant exploring and traveling home cook who's been taking pictures of my food since 2013. To learn more about Off the Eaten Path, click here!