Jul 9, 2021 - Food and Drink

Date ideas: 15 must-try dinner and drinks pairings

Grand Bohemian Mico opening

Mico Restaurant at the Grand Bohemian. Brianna Crane/Axios

If dinner and drinks is your go-to date, here are a few combinations to throw into your rotation.

Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated Uptown escapade, anniversary meal or a first date spot, we’ve got you covered.

(1) Dot Dot Dot and Flour Shop

There will often be a wait at chef Trey Wilson’s intimate, no-reservations restaurant Flour Shop, but pros know to fill the down time with cocktails at Dot Dot Dot, a basement speakeasy in an old storage unit under Park Road Shopping Center. Both are located in the shopping center’s Back Lot.

Pro tip: Aim for a bar seat at Flour Shop so you can catch all the pasta-making action up close in the wide open kitchen.

burrata appetizer at flour shop
Burrata Toast at Flour Shop

(2) Idlewild and Orto

Start at with some Italian food at Orto, Paul Verica’s newest restaurant that opened in NoDa earlier this year. When you’re ready to transition to a second destination, head to Idlewild, an intimate, members-only craft cocktail lounge where all the drinks are made custom to your preferences.

Go if: You want to try something new in one of Charlotte’s reliably fun neighborhoods.

orto new restaurant noda 2

(3) RuRu’s and Stagioni

A historic Tuscan-inspired villa in Myers Park is home to two restaurants that make for a home run two-part date night. Start with margaritas on the gorgeous courtyard patio at RuRu’s before dinner reservations at Stagioni, a cozy Italian restaurant.

Go if: You spent your glory days at Selwyn Pub. (Maybe head there after if you want to relive them.)

pasta at stagioni in charlotte

(4) Elsewhere and Superica

Put your name in at trendy Tex-Mex restaurant Superica. Then wait for your table at Elsewhere, where you’ll find globally inspired craft cocktails.

Go if: You’re on a first date. Both spots will impress but are casual enough to take some pressure off.

Elsewhere drinks

(5) Dilworth Tasting Room and O-Ku

Kick off the night with wine and cheese on the enchanting patio at Dilworth Tasting Room with twinkling string lights and a fountain. From there, head down the street to O-Ku for Charlotte’s best sushi.

Go if: You’re meeting right after work. DTR is the ideal spot to wind down from a work day.

Cheese and charcuterie from Dilworth Tasting Room’s original location in Dilworth.

(6) Hello, Sailor and Kindred

Fire up your Lyft app and commit to a long commute north for waterside tiki cocktails at Hello, Sailor followed by dinner reservations at Kindred, the area’s No. 1 restaurant. It’s worth the drive (or ride if you’re drinking).

Go if: It’s your anniversary, or you’re ready to take a new relationship to the next step.


(7) Protagonist and Crepe Cellar

Start with a cold beer at Protagonist while you people watch on North Davidson. Then head right across the street for a romantic meal at Crepe Cellar, a Charlotte classic.

Go if: You’re newly dating. Protagonist has a nice range of beers, and Crepe Cellar has low-key romantic vibes.


(8) Tattoo and KiKi Bistro

Start with dinner and draft cocktails at KiKi, a plant-forward spot from the owners of Soul Gastrolounge. Then move to Tattoo, the restaurant’s a tiny, spirits-only lounge which explores creative takes on classic cocktails.

Go if: You need to get out of your routine.

Octopus at KiKi

(9) The Crunkleton and The Stanley

This no-brainer combo on the corner of 7th and Pecan is the ultimate Elizabeth date night. Make a reservation at The Stanley, chef Paul Verica’s James Beard-nominated restaurant, and then cap off the night with an after-dinner drinks at The Crunkleton.

Bonus: The Crunkleton has a new patio that’s worth checking out.

Go if: You’re looking for enchanting settings and elevated foods.

chicken sandwich at the crunkleton

(10) Summit Seltzer and Counter-

Get the night flowing with some bubbly at Summit Seltzer. Then head to Counter- for a 10-course meal paired with music — an unforgettable dining experience.

Go if: You’re the people who always need to try something different.

The sixth Counter course
The sixth course, Autumn, was poached in a giant squash.

(11) Free Range and Leah & Louise

Start the night at Leah & Louise, the best new restaurant of 2020. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but don’t skip Leah’s cabbage or river chips – Crispy chicken skins served “Voodoo-style” with a creamy “Granch” dipping sauce. Cap it off at Free Range.

Go if: You haven’t explored Camp North End together yet.


(12) Mico Restaurant and Búho Bar

Located in the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Uptown, both of these spots ooze sophistication. Explore the Argentinian-inspired menu at Mico then head upstairs for rooftop drinks at Búho.

Go if: You want a bougie night in the city.

Grand Bohemian Mico spread
Dishes from Mico, the restaurant inside the Grand Bohemian Hotel

(13) Merchant and Trade and Haymaker

Catch the sunset and sip cocktails at Merchant and Trade then head to Haymaker, a stunning two-story restaurant with a seasonally inspired menu.

Go if: You’re a trendy duo.

chicken sandwich from haymaker charlotte

(14) 1501 South Mint and Bardo

Start out with a casual drink on 1501 South Mint’s patio then spring for the 12-course dinner (around $125) at Bardo.

Go if: You want to splurge.

Bardo Restaurant

(15) Peppervine and RH Charlotte (Restoration Hardware)

If you’re looking for an indulgent day date, start out with some bellinis and truffle fries at RH. Then do Sunday brunch at Peppervine.

Go if: You’re craving a fancy brunch date.

peppervine brunch

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