By now, you all know I’m obsessed with food, and I’m almost always up for a big meal. But sometimes, I just need a place to try a new cocktail, have a bite to eat and catch up with a friend without compromising on quality food or trying to elbow my way to the bar. These are some of my favorite picks for the full trifecta.
As I compiled this short but sweet list, I also realized how much I enjoy eating and drinking outdoors. Let’s hope for another burst of warm weather over the next few weeks. I’m already over this winter thing.
Ahh, Good Food. Home of really good food. I love this place because the whole menu is shareable, making it the perfect spot to hang out, sip on cocktails, and enjoy a plate or two (good luck choosing just one) with a friend.
When you make it inside (go early!), see if you can chill at the chef’s counter toward the back. You’ll get a sneak peak of what goes on behind the scenes and enjoy a little more privacy.
App/Plate: The pork belly steamed bun, of course.
Cocktail: The cocktail menu changes, but the Rosemary Collins is always a consistent and smart choice. Lemon and rosemary infused Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, soda.
The Summit Room
If you haven’t heard, The Summit Room has amazing cocktails. They also happen to have a great atmosphere, including a fantastic front porch. Sit on the porch during one of our special Southern winter days. You’ll feel like you’re visiting a friend’s home instead of a public place.
App/Plate: I liked the lobster nachos, but I think those are seasonal. The pimento cheese deviled eggs sound like a good substitute.
Cocktail: The Blueberry Smash. Tito’s vodka, fresh lemon and lime sour, muddled blueberries. Pretty, isn’t it?
Oh you fancy, huh? Head on up to Fahrenheit for quality conversation over apps, drinks and a breathtaking view. You obviously can’t go wrong with a seat outside, but if you pick a particularly chilly night, take a seat at the bar. But make sure you brave the cold for a quick panorama of the skyline.
App/Plate: Seared lamb sliders with triple cream brie and Asian pear marmalade on a brioche bun. These are incredibly flavorful.
Cocktail: Try the Mango Mule off the “Mule menu.”
RuRu’s Tacos & Tequila
A top contender for the best patio in Charlotte. This place serves up yummy tacos and margaritas but really hits home with its setup. Head here with your co-workers after a long day to unwind with over 100 types of tequila (but not all at once.) For a fun conversation piece, see how many movie references you can guess from the menu.
App/Plate: Three Amigos. Salsa, guac and queso. Done.
Cocktail: My Precious. Cucumber vodka, St. Germain, lime juice, cucumber slices. (Bonus: This one’s Lord of the Rings. I win!)
The Punch Room
I was recently introduced to the magical place that is The Punch Room. This is the ideal location for a relaxed night with good company and out-of-this-world cocktails. With only 37 seats, The Punch Room offers a sophisticated bar experience in a dimly lit, beautifully-furnished lounge on the 15th floor of the Ritz-Carlton. Does it get any cooler?
App/Plate: You can order a small plate from the Ritz-Carlton’s kitchen to complement your drink of choice.
Cocktail: Share a punch, particularly the Fiesta. Tequila, cilantro, jalapeno, beet ginger kombucha, orange and lime. Whoa.