Best Nightlife

Out of all the clubs and bars in a city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer a carefully vetted selection to let you explore Charlotte nightlife on your own. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Charlotte Best Nightlife list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss.


While not truly Irish and more of a sports-bar-meets-nightclub than a pub, Hartigan's is two things for sure: wonderfully friendly and wildly fun. This no-frills neighborhood gay bar is a lot of things to a lot of diverse people, including a scrumptious restaurant for diners, a tailgating spot for Panthers fans and a dance club for late-night partiers. Phenomenal drink specials and events ranging from trivia to pudding wrestling round out the delightfully eclectic experience.

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300 East has a sophisticated European feel – a bit Bohemian, a bit Champs-Elysées – and always makes for a memorable evening. The antique mahogany bar is where you'll find one of the best martinis anywhere, and, unlike some bars, 300 East's food is the perfect complement to your libations. They also boast a full Sunday brunch menu, including veggie eggs Benedict and a light breakfast of bagels and fruit. Sandwiches, salads and selected entrées are also available. On seasonable days, snag a table on the outside patio surrounded by cascading lantana and black-eyed susans.

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One of Charlotte's more seductively hip gathering places once the sun goes down, Cosmos caters to stylish 20- and 30-somethings who have "big city palates." Indeed, on the one hand, the place gains wide approval for its bold, sexy fare, which ranges from European-inspired meze and tapas to wood-fired pizzas and made-to-order sushi. On the other, Cosmo wins big for a suave, loungey style that embraces its richly diverse clientele with terrific music, cool artwork and outstanding martinis.

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One of the Queen City's more popular watering holes, the multi-level Rí~Rá offers all the charm and comfort of a traditional Irish pub – in fact, considering that the Victorian-style bar itself was once part of the officer's mess hall at the barracks in Dublin's Phoenix Park, this place IS as Irish as you can get. Among the pub's more fascinating characteristics are its collection of Dublin ledgers (some of which date back to 1800), an antique Guinness mirror, and portraits of many of Ireland's greatest literary figures.

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If you're looking for a place to chill out with a pint of stout, a single-malt scotch or a glass of wine, head over to this comfortable neighborhood spot, which has been featured on Turner South's "Blue Ribbon" series as one of the Southeast's best places for a late-night bite. Wood tables and chairs, dart boards and a genuinely comfortable atmosphere give the place sure-fire pub credentials, and the kitchen takes things up a notch by delivering ostrich meatloaf and pork tenderloin alongside the traditional pub eats. If the weather's cooperative, grab a seat on their well-landscaped patio. WiFi is available.

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Formerly the Liquid Lounge, TILT is a great place to blow off steam after work and on the weekend. A barometer of what's cool on the Uptown scene, TILT features great live music, eight flat-screen TVs, classy chandeliers and hardwood floors, an outdoor patio and plenty of top-shelf elixirs. Indeed, TILT is a place that has no problem attracting hordes of beautiful, stylish young professionals seven days a week, and its upscale vibe is enhanced by a strict dress code.

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If the exterior of this popular watering hole looks familiar, that's probably because Moosehead occupies a building that once housed a Pizza Hut. It's true that the place isn't as pretty and stylish as hipster joints Uptown, but what it does have going for it is this: Long-time Charlotteans claim that the kitchen serves what may be the best bar eats in town. Add to that the fact that you don't have to put on airs to come in and have a good time, and it's easy to see why the place has such broad appeal.

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One of Charlotte's best-kept secrets, "Al Mike's," as regulars know it, is the perfect neighborhood restaurant/bar. It's the type of place where everybody truly does seem to know your name. Here, you'll find standard pub fare, including favorites like nachos, burgers, and fried pickles. The bar stays open long after the kitchen has closed for the evening – so plan to kick back and hang a while.

Read more about Alexander Michael's →