Bars, Dance Clubs, Live Music Venues, Happy Hours, Trivia Nights, and More
118 W. Fifth St., 704-333-7989, dandelionmarketcharlotte.com
Dandelion Market opened a few days before 2010 rang in and quickly became uptown’s most popular nightlife destination, with lines down the sidewalk on weekends. The two-level space with exposed brick walls and hardwood floors doubles as a bar and a restaurant, with the latter drawing crowds most evenings for small plates. However, it’s the late-night scene that dominates here, with DJs spinning Top Forty mixes until 2 a.m. and twenty-somethings to forty-year-olds dancing and enjoying drinks from one of the two full bars (there’s one on both floors).
Marigny Dance Club
1440 S. Tryon St., Ste. 110, 704-910-4444, marignycharlotte.com
With its abundance of lounges, bars, and a concert venue, South End’s growing nightlife district had a void until Marigny Dance Club opened last year. It’s a place where you can dance like nobody’s watching. But at this popular gay nightclub people are watching: the dance floor fills up Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and this is a place to be seen. You don’t come here to stand around—if the bass doesn’t move you, the light show will leave you hypnotized.
Place to Spot a celebrity
210 E. Trade St., inside EpiCentre, 704-971-7878, suitecharlotte.com
It’s not the biggest physically, but Suite draws the biggest names. As the EpiCentre has filled up with bars and nightclubs during the past couple years, none have surpassed the exclusivity of Suite. Celebrities and professional athletes are known for making the short trip here after performing a concert or playing a game at nearby Time Warner Cable Arena. From LeBron James and Michael Jordan to Nelly, Jessica Simpson, and your favorite reality TV stars, they’ve all enjoyed the Suite life.
Place to watch the Game
4625 Piedmont Row Dr., 704-972-0503, tacomac.com
More than seventy-five TVs and 140 beers on tap (plus 250 bottles) mean watching one game just turned into watching the games all day before reluctantly going home. Taco Mac opened in SouthPark last year just in time for college football season, and the fans haven’t let up, continuing to come for NFL games and recently for the NCAA’s March Madness. If you’re lucky, your team will be featured in the big game—shown on the 103-inch plasma TV.
2839 Selwyn Ave., 704-372-1424, nolenkitchen.com
Diners with a sophisticated palate praise the menu at Nolen Kitchen. But on Thursday nights, food takes a backseat as this becomes the place to see and be seen. People start filing in for the happy hour specials, and on Thursdays all beers are just $2 until 2 a.m. The patio is a hot spot when the weather is warm, and the bar fills up late into the evening.
Bar in the ’Burbs
Cosmos Café Ballantyne
8420 Rea Rd., 704-544-5268, cosmoscafe.com
At Cosmos Café Ballantyne you’ll find families enjoying dinner in the early evening, but after 10 p.m., this place gets rocking. The music is hip and loud—even blasting onto the patio—and while there’s no actual dance floor, that doesn’t stop this crowd. But it’s the creative martini list and attractive crowd that keep this place popular long after the rest of the neighborhood has gone to sleep
Uptown Alternative to Epicentre and NC Music Factory
Near South Church and West Third streets
Before uptown became home to two huge entertainment complexes, Brevard Court was more the city’s speed. The cobblestone courtyard is anchored by French Quarter Restaurant, which has been serving patrons for more than thirty years. And recent additions have added more energy to this historic pathway: Metropolitan Café, which serves Turkish cuisine, and Courtyard Hooligans, where guests come to watch sports or play pub poker. When the weather is warm, the courtyard fills up with outdoor diners, and bands often play. A new bar is slated to open soon in the space formerly occupied by Eggheads.
110 N. College St., 704-972-4380, bltsteak.com
Happy hour at BLT Steak, the acclaimed restaurant on the first floor of uptown’s luxurious Ritz-Carlton, features “5 at 5,” in which several appetizers are offered for $5 each from 5 to 7 p.m., in addition to daily $5 drink specials. Grab a seat at the
beautiful bar and have a couple of the restaurant’s top-of-the- line cocktails alongside steak sliders or miniature crab cakes.
2200 Park Rd., 704-335-0033, edstavern.com
Ed’s Tavern has that classic tavern look—wood floors and bar tops, exposed brick walls,
all illuminated by the glow from beer signs and old-school arcade games. Wednesday nights feature music trivia and Thursday nights focus on general topics. Bring your A- game because there are some serious competitors here. They’re battling it out for a bucket of beer (on the D.J.) each round as well as $25 in Ed Bucks to the overall winner.
Place to Hear Live Music
The Fillmore Charlotte
1000 Seaboard St., inside NC Music Factory, 704-916-8970, livenation.com
When you come to The Fillmore Charlotte, you’re not only getting great live music, you’re also experiencing it in style. The hardwood floors and chandeliers create an intimate, ballroom feel. With a capacity of 2,000, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. A wide variety of artists have played here in the past year, ranging from bubbling indie bands to big names like The Smashing Pumpkins, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Roger Daltry, and Drake.
Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel
5501 Carnegie Blvd., 704-501-2510, marriott.com
When the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel completed a multimillion-dollar renovation last August, it created a social experience at its bar that transcends the customary dark woods and flat-screen TVs. At the Bar at Flagstones, you can grab your drink and step into the four-story atrium, complete with a fountain and tall trees. And outside, right off the atrium, is a relaxing courtyard, complete with oversize couches, fire pits in the winter, and servers.
Selection of DJs
1440 S. Tryon St., 704-334-8336, dharmacharlotte.com
The large golden Buddha statue wearing headphones at the front of Dharma Lounge makes it clear that this is a place that takes its music seriously. Some of Charlotte’s best DJs play here, and top spinners from cities like New York and L.A. are often booked. Wednesday nights feature the Le Bang series, when house and dance music reign supreme, followed by a hip-hop takeover on Diverse Thursdays. Friday and Saturday nights are when anything goes.
VN Wine Café
1315 East Blvd., 704-343-0131, yn-café.com
At Dilworth’s Yn Wine Café you’ll find a cozy atmosphere and tasty small plates (from the menu of 131 Main, which shares a building and owners), but more importantly you’ll find good deals on great wine. There are daily specials, such as half-price bottles
on Mondays, and $6 Tuesdays, where select wines by the glass are offered for $6. On Wednesdays the café always offers something new, and on Thursdays, you’ll find high-end bottles that would usually put you out up to $100 on sale for between $30 and $40.
950 Seaboard St., 704-295-1565, buttercharlotte.com
First, VIP status gets your party of up to six past the velvet ropes as regular folks wait in line. Then, it gets you into VIP booths on either the main or lower levels. Top-level booths are prime for groups or couples who want to enjoy their drinks and music while people watching. But to be where the action is (and up your chances of spotting a celeb), you’ll want to reserve a spot on the lower level near the DJ booth, along the dance floor, or in the large corner section.