50 best bars in Charlotte, ranked
From hole-in-the-wall dives to upscale craft cocktail lounges, we’ve rounded up the absolute best bars in town. Our livers took a beating, but it was worth it.
Note: This list excludes breweries. For your local beer fix, see our Charlotte brewery guide.
#1 Thomas Street Tavern
Casual no-frills neighborhood bar that doesn’t try too hard
Why we love it: It’s the epitome of a classic neighborhood bar that’s stood the test of time in a hip, rapidly evolving neighborhood. At Thomas Street there’s no theme, no gimmicks, no pretentiousness — just an easygoing atmosphere where anyone can have a good time. It’s less polished than newer concepts around town, a little rough around the edges but still approachable to all. Grab a seat on the spacious back patio and call next on a game of ping pong.
What we’re drinking: PBR in one hand, ping pong paddle in the other. Let’s not overthink this.
#2 Selwyn Pub
Laid back Charlotte classic popular with the country club crowd
Why we love it: The frat-tastic bar in the heart of Charlotte’s wealthiest neighborhood knows exactly what it is and who it appeals to — Michael Jordan and Ted Williams.
What we’re drinking: $5 Transfusions. The dead simple mixed drink — vodka, soda or ginger ale and a splash of juice — has been the same budget-friendly five bucks since the bar opened in 1990.
Related Agenda story: How Selwyn Pub made a name for its cheap $5 Transfusions in a craft cocktail and brewery town
#3 Moosehead Grill
Chill Montford watering hole known for its legendary wings
Why we love it: Old school. And so many regulars. Don’t forget, they’ve also got a chill rooftop seating area.
Ted’s favorite wing order: 1/2 Uncle Donnie’s, 1/2 Bee Sting. Choose from 10+ sauces, including blood orange ghost pepper and PB&J.
#4 Soul Gastrolounge
Cozy date night spot in the heart of Plaza Midwood
Why we love it: The intimate, no-reservations space drips cool with resident DJs spinning every night of the week, and it’s a landmark restaurant for many Charlotte couples’ relationship milestones.
What we’re drinking: Cucumber Mule on tap. They sell 100-150 a night. In the summer, I also can’t resist the grown-up snowcone (complete with a tiny wooden spoon).
#5 Seoul Food Meat Co.
Korean-inspired Southern barbecue restaurant with a killer patio and private karaoke rooms
Why we love it: The back patio is a millennial Charlotte wonderland complete with a dog run, adult playground and a huge covered bar.
What we’re drinking: Soju. The Korean liquor comes served in a melon or pineapple with a ladle for sharing or a straw if you’re here to party.
Charlotte’s first self-serve bar with 60+ taps including beer, wine, bubbles and kombucha
Why we love it: No more waiting for a bartender’s attention. You’re in charge with a smart wristband linked to your credit card. Just swipe it at the tap and pour your own drink.
Agenda tip: Wednesday is $1 oz. Wine Night + Music Bingo. Details.
Related Agenda story: Hoppin’ gets off to record-setting start, looks to add VIP wristbands and more locations
Huge beer hall and garden with patio games and sand volleyball
Why we love it: It’s like a backyard party with a bunch of strangers. Bonus points for giant Jenga and giant Connect Four.
The Sandbox: VBGB is home to The Sandbox, a 5-court, lighted sand volleyball facility. Join a league or check the schedule for pick-up play.
Agenda Tip: Don’t miss the food window at the front of the bar. Grab a pretzel bun burger and totchos. You will not regret it.
#8 Angry Ale’s Montford
Classic neighborhood hangout with a huge patio
Why we love it: The come-as-you-are party bar is just a flat out no drama good time with a sprawling front patio and outdoor bar.
What we’re drinking: Signature 32-ounce B.A.C.s (Big Ass Cups) of beer — just $4 on Thursdays.
Agenda tip: The kitchen is open until 2 a.m. 7 days a week because they love you.
Craft beer tasting room and growler shop in South End’s Gold District
Why we love it: It’s one of the chillest happy hour destinations in town with a relaxed vibe, focused food menu and 36 rotating taps featuring local and regional craft brews.
What we’re drinking: 5-beer flight and a charcuterie board
Agenda tip: They’ve got $6 cheese plates every Wednesday and free outdoor movies every Friday from May through October. And get excited – expansion is on the way as Craft gears up to open a sister concept next door.
Related Agenda story: I thought I couldn’t love happy hour at Craft more, but then I learned about their $6 cheese plate on Wednesdays
#10 Dot Dot Dot
Members-only craft cocktail speakeasy in an old storage unit behind Park Road Shopping Center
Why we love it: It feels truly insider and off radar. You have to know what you’re looking for to find it — a subtle triple dot sign above a brown door that leads you down a dark hallway to an intimate window-less lounge.
What we’re drinking: A classic Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig 10-year bourbon, bitters, sugar, orange and cherry served over ice.
Agenda tip: The dress code is no joke and has caused a bit of drama with its restrictions on shorts and flip-flops. Play by the rules or you won’t get in.
Related Agenda story: Approaching 10,000 members, Dot Dot Dot edges ahead as Charlotte’s top cocktail bar
#11 Thirsty Beaver
Iconic dive bar on Central Avenue
Why we love it: The Beav held its ground when major development came bulldozing through and now a behemoth apartment complex literally wraps around the tiny orange building making it look like the defiant little house in the movie Up.
What we’re drinking: PBR cans.
Related Agenda story: The #1 most underrated bar in Charlotte
Southern fried chicken restaurant with a dominant cocktail program
Why we love it: Bar manager Colleen Hughes is one of the most influential mixologists in town, overseeing cocktail programs at Sea Level, Growler’s Pourhouse, Crepe Cellar and here at Haberdish.
What we’re drinking: Hughes is always adding complex, inventive new drinks but Haberdish’s classic signature mint julep with a mountain of shaved ice is a good place to start.
#13 Duckworth’s Uptown
Sports bar with a mind-boggling number of TVs on a mission to make Charlotte a cheesesteak town
Why we love it: The tap wall features a whopping 150 beers.
Cheesesteak options: 7 different sandwiches — from the classic Original Philly to the Fajita Chicken Philly — along with 8 cheese options (including Cheez Whiz)
Agenda tip: Head downstairs to The Cellar, a basement speakeasy with a completely different vibe, if craft cocktails are more your speed.
#14 Foxcroft Wine Co.
Mature wine bar, full-service kitchen and retail wine shop
Why we love it: Charlotte’s unofficial girls’ night out destination is an unexpected wine oasis in two strip center locations — SouthPark’s Foxcroft Shopping Center (original) and Dilworth’s Kenilworth Commons.
Agenda tip: Buy any bottle off the shelf to enjoy at the table. There’s no corkage fee on wines over $30. Also, the signature house doughnut holes are mandatory. They’re served hot out of the fryer with chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauces.
#15 Merchant & Trade
19th floor rooftop bar atop the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel
Why we love it: It’s Uptown’s swankiest rooftop with views overlooking Romare Bearden Park and BB&T Ballpark. The flexible, indoor/outdoor space features an indoor bar with floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor covered terrace, a semi-private VIP section and a sprawling “lawn” with a retractable roof.
What we’re drinking: Beet It! ($13) with Deep Eddy vodka, Domaine de Canton, lime juice and local Lenny Boy beet kombucha
Agenda tip: This is another bar with a dress code that’s strictly enforced enforced so check it before you go.
Multi-concept bar with a karaoke room, pizzeria and secret lounge all under one roof
Why we love it: Your night can progress from cocktails at the bar (or in the secret lounge) to a raucous karaoke performance to drunk pizza without ever leaving the building.
Agenda tip: Look for a door handle on the bookshelf to enter the secret library lounge, and stop by on Wednesdays when you can get a charcuterie board and TWO glasses of sangria or wine for $15.
#17 Jeff’s Bucket Shop
Charlotte’s classic basement level dive karaoke bar
Why we love it: It’s where you go to get weird and shut down a night on Montford.
What we’re drinking: Fireball shots. Yikes. Sorry. On special for five bucks every single night of the week.
Good time party bar with playful over-the-top cocktails and budget-friendly daily specials
Why we love it: It’s just a flat out good time as a casual alternative to Charlotte’s surging ultra-refined craft cocktail scene.
What we’re drinking: The Soccer Mom Special served in a Capri Sun-style pouch
Agenda tip: Their daily specials are out of control, including $2 champagne on Mondays, $4 wine on Thursdays, $3 wells on Fridays and $2 PRB drafts daily.
Related Agenda Story: Rosemont is now open in the old Wu’s spot in South End and Bottlecap got it right with fried food and no-frills cocktails
#19 Workman’s Friend
Cozy Irish pub in the heart of Plaza Midwood
Why we love it: It’s an all-seasons home run with its indoor/outdoor side patio, charming back patio and a cozy living room-style fireplace inside for the winter months.
What we’re drinking: Whiskey.
Charlotte’s favorite soccer bar
Why we love it: The cozy bar draped in international gear is THE place to catch soccer games. It’s a small space so the action spills over into historic Brevard Court for big matches.
#21 Common Market Plaza Midwood
Eclectic urban market with a beer and wine bar, deli and retail shop
Why we love it: The front patio is always packed. Grab a bottle of wine or case of beer inside and settle in on one of the picnic tables. Prefer to drink by the glass? Head to the bar.
Agenda tip: Stop by Tuesdays for the $5 wine tasting.
#22 Dandelion Market
Two-story Irish-inspired small plates restaurant and bar with a dance club vibe after hours
Why we love it: Dando’s second floor dining room transforms into a dance floor after hours when the huge central table is hoisted into the air on a pulley system.
What we’re drinking: Holy Water — Jameson Irish whiskey, demarara sugar syrup, citrus zest and ginger beer.
Agenda tip: Want a hell of a dining experience? You can order one of everything on the food menu for $295. Just ask for “Everything at the Market” and bring a crew to help you. It’s 30+ dishes.
#23 Ed’s Tavern
Classic neighborhood hangout with plenty of TVs and a spacious patio
Why we love it: Ed’s suffered a little identity crisis when it rebranded to Bourbon N Burgers in 2017. Regulars flat out rejected the new brand and ownership quickly course corrected, rehanging the Ed’s sign within 60 days. The customer is always right.
What we’re drinking: A bucket of beer on the patio. Looking to get weird? The frozen Orange Octane made with Everclear 151 will get you there.
#24 Graham Street Pub
Casual rooftop bar located between BB&T Ballpark and Bank of America Stadium
Why we love it: It’s a new casual option (no dress code, no elevator lines) among Uptown’s swankier rooftop options. And while it may not be soaring 20 floors up, the view from atop the single-story building is pretty impressive.
What we’re drinking: Strawberry Honey Smash ($10) — Deep Eddy’s vodka, fresh citrus, strawberries, local honey and a sugared rim
Related Agenda story: Worth the wait: Graham St. Pub & Patio finally opens June 20. First look at full menu, food, cocktails and space
#25 Whiskey Warehouse
Two-story restaurant with a rooftop deck in the heart of Plaza Midwood
Why we love it: Top Shelf, the rooftop bar, has a jackpot view of Uptown.
#26 Lucky Dog
Sprawling dog bar with an on-site boarding facility and groomer
Why we love it: It’s a dog wonderland with an indoor/outdoor off-leash dog park and a sports bar for the humans.
Agenda tip: Tuesday is Beer & Bath Night where you can swing by for a pint for you and a bath for your dog for $15.
#27 Dilworth Tasting Room
Wine bar in a historic 1940s-era building with a courtyard garden
Why we love it: The enchanting courtyard garden and outdoor bar feels like a faraway secret escape right in the heart of Dilworth.
#28 The Cellar
Basement level craft cocktail bar below Duckworth’s Uptown
Why we love it: The dim Prohibition-style speakeasy stands in such stark contrast to the sports bar upstairs and is the perfect escape when you’re looking for a more intimate experience for date night.
What we’re drinking: Sazerac — a classic rye and cognac cocktail served in an absinthe-rinsed glass
#29 Sophia’s Lounge
Regal cocktail lounge at The Ivey’s Hotel
Why we love it: The space is outfitted with opulent crystal and gold decor, statement chandeliers and unique artwork. Catch it on a good weather day when the windows overlooking 5th Street are open.
#30 All American Pub
Classic South End sports bar with huge crowds on game day
Why we love it: Located right on the light rail and not far from Bank of America stadium, it’s the perfect spot to rally with fellow Panthers fans.
What we’re drinking: Drunken’ D. The grown up spin on Sunny Delight is a frozen citrus cocktail served in a nostalgic Sunny D-style bottle. On special for $5 every Monday.
Uptown nightclub featuring 80s and 90s music
Why we love it: The best way to wrap up a night out in Uptown is to cut loose with your favorite 80s and 90s throwback songs.
What we’re drinking: Someone in your crew will yell “LET’S TAKE SHOTS” and you will and you’ll regret it.
#32 Queen Park Social
Social house with 10 pin string bowling, shuffleboard, skee ball and more
Why we love it: It’s a fun full-service bar complement to a brewery-heavy neighborhood home to OMB, Sugar Creek, Victory and Southern Tier.
What we’re drinking: Take a break from the LoSo beer circuit with a Socially Awkward ($9) made with Absolut lime, jalapeno simple syrup and soda.
#33 Snug Harbor
Gritty live music venue
Why we love it: They host a monthly residency featuring a different artist with weekly performances.
#34 Gin Mill
Laid back bar with a full-service kitchen and rooftop deck serving Charlotte since 1927
Why we love it: Gin Mill 2.0 is embracing its evolution in a new home after moving next door to take over the space formerly occupied by Amos’ Southend in 2017.
#35 Brazwell’s Montford
Casual sports bar with a young crowd
Why we love it: Satisfying bar food, a premium back patio and a $4 Bloody Mary bar every weekend.
#36 City Lights
18th-floor rooftop bar atop Le Meridien hotel
Why we love it: This is the place to be for stunning skyline photo ops.
What we’re drinking: Sparkle & Pop — a glass of bubbles with a King of Pops popsicle.
21st floor rooftop bar and restaurant with incredible skyline views
Why we love it: It’s one of the most quintessential Uptown skyline photo ops and is a go-to destination when you want to show off to friends and family who are visiting from out of town.
Traditional Irish pub in Uptown
Why we love it: The dim, cozy Irish pub is true to its roots as “the home of the perfect pint.”
#39 Dilworth Neighborhood Grille
Casual sports bar with a spacious patio and roll-up garage doors for an indoor/outdoor setting
Why we love it: It’s a major game day destination where fans pack in to rally before home games (just down the street from Bank of America stadium) or watch away games.
#40 Ink N Ivy
Eclectic restaurant, bar and nightclub overlooking Romare Bearden Park
Why we love it: The sprawling patio is prime Uptown real estate, and it transforms into an outdoor nightclub when the sun goes down.
#41 Providence Road Sundries
Old school neighborhood restaurant and bar serving Charlotte since 1933
Why we love it: The family-friendly spot (yes, there’s a kids menu) knows parents need a bar escape, too — even with little ones in tow.
#42 Ri Ra
Irish pub with a late-night party vibe
Why we love it: There’s a sneaky little rooftop patio overlooking the courtyard at Hearst Tower.
#43 Jack Beagle’s
Laid back NoDa favorite with a great back patio
Why we love it: Their landmark people mural by Will Puckett has to be one of the most photographed walls in town, the back patio doubles as a mini music venue and their legendary mac & cheese is the kind of drunk food we all deserve.
Agenda tip: A new westside location is in the works in the space formerly occupied by Savor Cafe on Morehead Street.
Grown-up arcade bar
Why we love it: The adult arcade with a full bar is a delightful throwback featuring childhood favorites from retro pinball machines to classic console games like Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
What we’re drinking: The Basil Hawkins — pineapple, lemon, basil and vodka. (Yes, they have cupholders for when you’re playing.)
#45 Tyber Creek
Irish-inspired South End pub with a charming front patio
Why we love it: The classic pub has been serving Charlotte for almost 20 years, a tough feat in this town.
#46 Growler’s Pourhouse
Cozy European-style pub with craft beer and beer food for the seriously beer-obsessed
Why we love it: Co-owner Jeff Tonidandel is a Certified Cicerone. When he passed the test back in 2012, he was one of only 7 cicerones in North Carolin and the first in Charlotte. Short story: He knows beer.
Agenda tip: Reigning Doughnuts, a walk-up doughnut window, is located around the side of the building.
#47 The Punch Room
Intimate 37-seat craft cocktail lounge on the 15th floor of The Ritz-Carlton
Why we love it: They have super fancy shareable punch bowls (priced $35-$95).
What we’re drinking: Jager Punch with Jagermeister, Sutler’s gin, Lenny Boy ginger kombucha and fresh pressed orange juice
Agenda tip: Not surprisingly, the Ritz’s cocktail bar is home to Charlotte’s most expensive cocktail — the $400 Cocktail made with Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac, byrrh, sassafras & sorghum bitters
Airy SoCal-inspired taco bar with a killer patio and outdoor music venue
Why we love it:
Agenda tip: Look for the green light around back to access BackStage Lounge, a sneaky speakeasy you enter by lifting a payphone. (Here’s how to get in.)
#49 Bulldog South End
Craft beer and wine bar — with real bulldogs
Why we love it: The casual beer lover’s haven has an industrial garage vibe that’s particularly awesome on nice days when the doors are up.
#50 The Bar at 316
Gay bar in a renovated Dilworth home
Why we love it: The unique residential building with a double-decker porch creates a never-ending house party vibe.