Charlotte is growing, fast. New developments are lighting up the city skyline and with that comes new places to eat and drink. From New York transplants hawking fine wine to small patisseries and neighborly watering holes, here are the eight latest and greatest bar and restaurant openings in town.
You might think that you ambled into a pub in the Irish countryside, except the Workman’s Friend is located in Plaza Midwood’s heart of hearts, on the corner of Thomas Street and Central Avenue. Inspired by a Flann O’Brien poem, an excerpt of which you can find hand-painted on the pub’s outer brick wall, the Workman’s Friend is an Irish pub aimed at cozy gatherings and plenty of pints. Regaled in reclaimed wood and Old World decor, the pub features 18 beers on tap, traditional Irish fare, and bartenders who know how to pour a Guinness.
Oenophiles rejoice! Manhattan meets the Queen City in this elegant wine studio led by young master sommelier Laura Maniec who eats, sleeps, and breathes grape juice. Corkbuzz is part wine bar, part restaurant, and part wine education hub. Maniec wanted a place where all levels could commiserate, without pretense, and have a buzzy good time while doing it. Corkbuzz offers brunch, lunch, and dinner along with Sunday suppers, special events, and educational classes.
Benny Pennello’s quietly opened inside the former textile mill in NoDa that also houses Heist Brewery. The Blacksburg, Virginia-based concept is a fine complement to the copious pints of beer to be had in the neighborhood. Benny’s boasts 28” pies with slices that warrant not one, but two plates, to carry a single piece. And, with late-night service (until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays), you can feast into the wee hours of the morning.
Brothers Jeff and Jason Alexander finally unlocked the doors to their long-awaited microbrewery in NoDa. Small batch is the name of their game and with a family-friendly vibe and farm-to-glass ingredients, these boys just might be the sweethearts of the brew community in no time. Cold brew and farm-fresh sodas are on tap along with a selection of rotating brews like Jenny Bought a Farm, named after the Alexanders’ beloved grandmother, and a high-gravity IPA (9.5%) that goes by the name My Fair Lady.
Charlotte, we have ramen! Futo Buta Ramen opened directly on the light-rail trail near the Bland Street Station stop with a minimalist interior and piping-hot bowls of ramen. House-made noodles, properly steeped broths glistening with golden droplets of fat, and vegetarian options cover all your noodle bowl needs and then some. Sit at the communal table, order some sake, and slurp the night away.
Piedmont Social House is a 23,000sqft adult playground. This massive facility, outfitted in Carolina memorabilia, features three bars, one of the largest outdoor patios in the city, a restaurant with on-point fried chicken, bowling lanes, and games galore. There’s ping-pong, foosball, darts, cornhole, shuffleboard, pool tables, and an old-school arcade featuring classics like Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. It’s like reliving your childhood, except with beer.
Perched atop the 15th floor of the Ritz Carlton in Uptown Charlotte, the Punch Room offers throwback luxury so glamorous, it’ll make you feel like breaking out the long cigarette holders and white gloves, except you definitely cannot smoke inside the Ritz. Cocktail magician Bob Peters is at the helm of this intimate experience overlooking Uptown Charlotte, mixing up handcrafted potions and daily punches ladled out from a vintage punch bowl by the Beyonce-shaped service staff.
If I were French, I would tell you to go to this small patisserie on South Boulevard because the guy in charge of the impossibly flaky creations is French. By default, Chef Sylvain Rivet knows what he's doing because he's a Frenchman, but he is also classically trained, backed by years of experience and world travel, and has served the likes of Oprah Winfrey. How’s that for street cred? Napoleons, tarts, and croissants on fleek.
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1. The Workman's Friend1531 Central Ave, Charlotte
2. Corkbuzz4905 Ashley Park Ln, Charlotte
3. Benny Pennello's2909 N Davidson St, Charlotte
4. Free Range Brewing2320 N Davidson St, Charlotte
5. futo buta222 E Bland St, Charlotte
6. Piedmont Social House2135 Ayrsley Town Blvd, Charlotte
7. The Punch Room201 E Trade St, Charlotte
8. Renaissance Pâtisserie2809 South Blvd, Charlotte
Named for a Flann O’Brien poem, this pub is an authentic Irish pocket in Charlotte, South Carolina. The warmly-lit local gathering place has 16 beers on tap (primarily Irish, of course), a solid selection of whiskey (also Irish), and a lengthy menu of traditional Irish fare -- think pork & beans or shepard's pie. But perhaps most importantly, the joint is staffed with chatty bartenders, all of whom have mastered the art of the Guinness pour (an Irish necessity). The place feels something like a public living room, with two fully-functional brick fire places -- one stationed beside the bar, and another tucked into the covered backyard patio area -- and there is more than enough Irish coffee to go around.
This elegant wine bar is lead by young, master sommelier Laura Maniec who eats, sleeps, and breathes grape juice. The spot offers brunch, lunch, and dinner as well as special events and wine tasting classes.
This Virginia-based pizza concept boasts 28-inch pies with slices that warrant not one but two plates to carry a single piece. Benny Pennello's, in the NoDa neighborhood, is a great casual late-night and pizza-by-the-slice spot amidst Charlotte's bar scene, and it has more than 25 brews on hand so you’ll never go thirsty. Every month the pizza specials change so be sure to check online before you go to see what the month's special is, unless you're going for a little pizza adventure.
At Free Range Brewing, small batch is the name of the game. In addition to a rotating selection of amazing beers, it's got a chill vibe, cold brew coffee, and farm-fresh sodas on tap, making this a spot for the whole family to kick back and enjoy a drink.
Futo Buta, located in the South End of Charlotte, serves authentic house-made ramen noodles steeped in broths glistening with golden droplets of fat, plus vegetarian options, as well. The restaurant offers an intimate group-style dining experience with long communal tables and a chic, minimalist look. On the menu, you'll also find other traditional Japanese cuisine options and an extensive selection of sakes and locally brewed beers.
Piedmont Social House is like a huge playground for adults, with three bars, one of the largest patios in the city, on-point fried chicken, bowling lanes, and TONS of games. Think: ping-pong, foosball, darts, cornhole, shuffleboard, pool tables, and an old-school arcade featuring classics like Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga.
When a bar is on the 15th floor of The Ritz-Carlton and features gold accents, plush leather seating, and skyline views, you expect it to be good. When that spot also includes Bob Peters, an enthusiastic bartender whose creations make him more magician than mixologist, it's safe to expect greatness. Sample the daily punch, but bring your sense of adventure for one of the inventive elixirs like Carbonated Aviation, an effervescent twist on the classic, or Strange Brew made with smoked bourbon, hazelnut milk, and a coffee ice cube.