Courtesy of Corkbuzz
Courtesy of Eric Gaddy, Casting Shadows Photography
Courtesy of Remy Thurston
courtesy of PSH
Courtesy of Justin Driscoll
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1. The Workman's Friend 1531 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205

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.

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2. Corkbuzz 4905 Ashley Park Ln, Charlotte, NC 28210

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.

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3. Benny Pennello's 2909 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

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.

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4. Free Range Brewing 2320 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

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.

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5. futo buta 222 E Bland St, Charlotte, NC 28203

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.

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6. Piedmont Social House 2135 Ayrsley Town Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28273

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.

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7. The Punch Room 201 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202

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.

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8. Renaissance Pâtisserie 2809 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28217

Napoleons, tarts, and croissants on fleek at this French bakery, helmed by classically trained chef Sylvain Rivet, who has served the likes of Oprah... How's that for street cred?