Drinks and Bites
Make sure you like your date for this Dilworth restaurant, because the dishes are made for sharing.
Every great night on the town should start with savory cuisine complemented by drinks and conversation. That prelude to the evening can range from 'cue and brews to freshly rolled sushi and sake in this sophisticated Southern city. Take your pick.
M5 Modern Mediterranean
Since opening in 2007, M5 has been SouthPark's destination for beautiful people. It's more than your typical restaurant and bar concept -- each entity has its own identity. The bar has a trendy lounge that's a favorite of the area's socialites, and it's popular as both an after-work spot and late-night hangout. Friday and Saturday nights feature a DJ and also include "Mojito Madness" on the patio, with $5 mojitos. 4310 Sharon Rd., 704-909-5500
Mac's Speed Shop
There are three Mac's locations now, but the South Boulevard spot is still the head hog. A couple dozen motorcycles usually line the parking lot, reminding you that this is a biker bar, but as many bankers as bikers pack this place most nights. You can't beat the big beer list -- more than 150 to choose from. (In Lake Norman, check out Mac's at 19601 Liverpool Pkwy.; in the Steele Creek area go to Mac's at 2414 Sandy Porter Rd.) 2511 South Blvd., 704-522-6227
Nikko Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
When Charlotteans talk about high-end sushi, they're usually referring to Nikko. The restaurant is as upscale as the condo building it's housed in (first floor of The Arlington, in South End). Dark woods are offset by bright lights behind the long sushi bar, where chefs roll fresh sushi (a selection of more than sixty rolls) in front of your eyes. That is, of course, if you can take your eyes off owner Joanna Nix, who is notorious for dancing around the restaurant wearing a cowboy hat and boa. 1300 South Blvd., 704-370-0100
Blue Restaurant and Bar
Blue continues to be a staple in uptown's dining-and-nightlife scene. In the dining room you'll find a Mediterranean-themed menu complete with dishes like falafel and lamb. Spend some time in the large bar area, where sweet martinis in flavors like raspberry or caramel reign supreme. Live jazz plays Wednesday through Saturday nights, which sets the mood as couples and friends chat. 214 N. Tryon St., 704-927-2583
Make sure you like your date for this Dilworth restaurant, because the dishes are made for sharing. Choose the seat that fits your mood, whether it's the rustic bar in the middle of the room, the classy dining room, or the patio that's intimately lit by night. You can get full off the meaty Spanish embutido sausages ($5) or take your pick of more than thirty tapas plates ($4-$14). Half-price bottles of wine are offered every Monday and Wednesday. 2400 Park Rd., 704-335-8444