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Uptown Charlotte - Where to drink?

I need the help of my fellow local 'hounds for a couple of outings downtown/uptown this coming Friday.

First we need a casual, non-chain spot for lunch and a drink. Good food & atmosphere and not too stuffy.

After dinner that night, we need a place to relax and unwind. It's been too long since I've hung out downtown (I hate the uptown label). We're looking for a lively, place for drinks and maybe some live music (although not required). No clubs, please. I don't want any chain concepts either and please, no overcrowded bars w/ 20 somethings doing jaeger bombs and royal flushes. Ha! I also don't want to go to Dandelion Market (was just there last week). I'm also thinking I need to avoid the Epicentre.

Thanks in advance for your help!

P.S. Bonus points for something different and fun! I do want to try and catch the Steve Perille - Unfiltered exhibit at The Light Factory... but that doesn't necessarily count as "fun". ;-)

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  1. Molly McPherson's and Ri Ra would fit the bill I think for both your lunch and after dinner fun, although technically both are chains, albeit small ones. Chima has a nice bar area for after dinner, although no music (I don't think). Blackfinn also, but perhaps close to being overcrowed with 20somethings doing jaeger bombs, and of course, its in epicentre. Alexander Michaels would be a good bet for your lunch too.

    The Wooden Vine is a relatively new wine bar on Tryon Street...might be a fun place for after dinner, though perhaps to chill. (not sure what your definition of "lively" is) They do have live music on some weekend nights, though its usually a jazz guitarist or something similar.

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    Alexander Michael's
    401 W 9th St, Charlotte, NC 28202

    1. Yes, you are correct to avoid the Epicenter and its drunken minions. I have been working in my uptown space a lot lately and am really enjoying the Banh Mi at Wok on Fire (second floor Ivey's building). I'd love to know what you think. I think my favorite is the spicy chicken. They have a bar now but I've only been for lunch. It is definitely not a chain, a lunchtime rarity in uptown.

      My favorite place to grab a drink after work is still Ri-Ra. Definitely not a 20 something crowd, a bit banky on Friday nights but still fun. I get dragged to Connelly's a lot, not bad but kind of dirty. The bar area at Chima is very cool, obviously not as casual as Ri-Ra.

      What are you doing for dinner? Report back and have a great time!

      I

      3 Replies
      1. re: southernitalian

        Wok on Fire is definitely on my list, given all the chatter on here lately. Thanks! Ri-Ra & Alexander Michaels are on the list also (I always forget about AM's). Chima eh? I never would have guessed.

        We're having dinner at BLT Steak. Not my first choice, but again, the pickin's are slim downtown. I certainly will report back - you know me!

        Isn't it crazy that you can't find a well-crafted cocktail in this city? No one has ever heard of St. Germain and all the other off-the-beaten path spirits that are so easily found in NYC and the like. Beer and wine and a cosmo or some sickening sweet "martini" is a s good as it gets. We need innovation and herbs and bacon-infused bourbon (ok this is a little passe but you catch my drift).

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        Alexander Michael's
        401 W 9th St, Charlotte, NC 28202

        1. re: lynnlato

          One other suggestion (if you're feeling fancy schmancy) is to have a glass of wine in the lobby bar of the Ritz Carleton. It's gorgeous!

          1. re: southernitalian

            Oh yea, we've already planned on doing that. I heard the cocktails don't suck.

      2. I would recommend Alexander Michael's for lunch. In fact, that's generally the only place downtown where I choose to drink.

        Other than that, for the most part, you'll have trouble finding places with more than 5% of the population over the age of 30 (or over the age of 25 in many cases).

        Crave is decent. I like Cedar Street Tavern alright (in Gateway Village). Connolly's is tolerable, but it can get crowded and it can be a pretty young crowd. Same with Madison's.

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        Alexander Michael's
        401 W 9th St, Charlotte, NC 28202

        Cedar Street Tavern
        120 N Cedar St Ste 755, Charlotte, NC 28202

        1 Reply
        1. re: ickymettle

          Thanks guys! Cedar St. looks interesting too.

        2. I probably shouldn't recommend someplace I've never been, but Godfatheroflunch gave this place the thumbs up - Kalu Asian Restaurant. Their atmosphere looks fantastic and Esquire named it one of the top 20 new restaurants in 2010 (again, not sure what that means as an endorsement) but here's another review http://www.examiner.com/cooking-in-ch...

          1 Reply
          1. re: hazardnc

            Oooh, that's right! I forgot about that place. Thanks harzardnc!

          2. We had a fabulous time uptown - The Ritz is a beautiful hotel and the lounge and BLT Steak restaurant are equally lovely.

            We had lunch in the lounge, which is very cozy with dark-paneled walls, warm sofas and chairs and a gorgeous wall of fire (really). They have every kind of high end liquor you can imagine, including Remy Louis XIII $300+ a glass cognac. We shared a cheeseburger and a caesar salad. The burger was cooked med-rare, as requested, with farmstand cheese, chipotle mayonnaise and jalapenos and served on a brioche roll. Both the burger and the salad were good but overpriced (as is everything, but of course that's what you expect at the ritz). They had a good cocktail menu too with interesting concoctions. I had a more standard cocktail - St. Germain and champagne - but my husband had something with muddled rasperries and blueberries with Tuaca and a lemon vodka.

            For dinner we ate at BLT Steak. I had a seared duck breast with a fig puree and roasted beets. We had roasted brussel sprouts & bacon slightly sweetened with honey and au gratin potatoes. Husband had the ribeye and was underwelmed by it. It was cooked rare as requested but was tough and not flavorful. We had a bottle of '06 Condado de Haza. It was a good food wine but I was shocked to learn that it retails for $30 and we paid $70. I know wine mark-ups are typically 100% mark-up but damn....

            We had breakfast at BLT Steak today. I had a scrambled egg burrito with red peppers, black beans, avocado and mozzarella cheese. It was served with mixed greens and "home fries". The "home fries" were deep-fried and not good.

            We did have a couple of beers at Ri-Ra Saturday night and enjoyed people watching there. The bartenders were in costume (one was Edward Scissorhands) and were great.

            The Pacers and Michael Jordan were staying at the hotel so after the game it was a mob scene. We enjoyed checking out MJ's Aston Martin which was parked prominently out front. :-)

            2 Replies
            1. re: lynnlato

              Where else did you go besides the Ritz and Ri-Ra? Did you have banh mi?

              1. re: southernitalian

                Ha! We had lunch, dinner and breakfast the next morning - all at The Ritz. But I'm definitely heading back up to try a banh mi at Wok on Fire!