Archive Extras » Best of Charlotte 2009 Winners

After Dark: Critics' Picks

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1400 Central Ave.
704-342-2663

BEST BOWLING ALLEY

Strike City

For non-leaguers who just like to get out there and have fun, you can't beat the upscale bowling atmosphere at Strike City. Get full restaurant and bar service laneside from the comfort of your chic seating area, which feels more like the VIP section of a nightclub than an alley. If bowling isn't your game, a dance floor, big screens, and three bars will keep you entertained.

210 E. Trade St.
704-716-9300

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR

Thomas Street Tavern

Is it any surprise that our pick for Best Area to Live would also be home to our favorite neighborhood bar? But you don't have to live in the 'hood to feel welcome at T-Street. This Plaza Midwood mainstay attracts people from all walks, with its massive dog-friendly deck in back, which in addition to the stadium seating for ping-pong and a full alfresco bar, now offers free Wi-Fi.

1218 Thomas Ave.
704-376-1622

BEST DOWNTOWN BAR

Ri Ra Irish Pub

A repeat winner. Bring on the new nightlife ... nothing as of yet has compared to this tried and true favorite. The guys who started this place know a thing or two about Irish pubs. Born and raised in Dublin, one has a background in design (as evidenced by the beautiful bar) and the other in Guinness marketing (as evidenced by what's poured behind the bar). Even with the unfortunate fire that has temporarily closed the joint, we propose a toast to David Kelly and Ciaran Sheehan: Twelve years of Dublinesque debauchery and going strong. Cheers!

208 N. Tryon St.
704-333-5554

BEST SPORTS BAR

Fox & Hound Smokehouse & Tavern

If you don't have a ticket but like being close to the action, their Uptown location sits in close proximity to both Bank of America Stadium and Time Warner Cable Arena. Wood accents with hunter green and burgundy walls provide a casual yet classy atmosphere to rendezvous with the guys. With multiple levels and multiple screens, you're sure to find a spot to scream and yell for (or at) your favorite Carolina team.

330 N. Tryon St.
704-333-4113

15235 John J. Delaney Drive
704-544-8902

BEST GAY/LESBIAN BAR

Petra's Piano Bar

This cabaret-style club is not your run-of-the-mill (read "Howl at the Moon") piano bar. Of course you can still gather around the baby grand and sing along on Friday and Saturday nights, but Petra's has expanded over the past year to add more space including a patio and pool room for your lounging pleasure. Don't miss Dragaoke on Wednesday nights with Roxy C. Moorecox. If singing isn't your thing, there's something for everyone, from live jazz and trivia to DJs and drag shows.

1919 Commonwealth Ave.
704-332-6608

BEST BAR/RESTAURANT PATIO

Suite

Even if you don't roll with the dressed-to-impress club crowd, you'll appreciate the Zen-chic ambience of Suite's prized private outdoor area. Take in the views of Uptown from one of the VIP tables on their Skyview Terrace where they offer the same swank service you get throughout the club. You have to pay to sit outside, but standing room is open to all club members and their guests.

210 E. Trade St.
704-971-7878

BEST STRIP CLUB

Uptown Cabaret

You won't find dudes doing meth in the bathroom at this upscale "gentleman's" establishment, which is more than we can say for its sketchier competition. This club has class -- as they say on their Web site, "If you look like you just walked out of an MTV hip-hop video, you're probably not going to get in." Get your fill of breasts and free all-you-can-eat wings on Fridays with their Happiest Happy Hour.

108 E. Morehead St.
704-344-0802

BEST DIVE BAR

The Thirsty Beaver Saloon

A repeat winner. If you like Selwyn Pub, you won't like the Beaver. Which is pretty much exactly what we love about this place. You won't find the typical khaki-clad Charlotte clientele here. What you will find at this funky, smoke-free spot is PBR tallboys, killer Bloodys, a great jukebox and a colorful cast of regulars.

1225 Central Ave.
704-332-3612

BEST-LOOKING BAR STAFF

Mez

F&B isn't all about the presentation, but it helps when you're served with a smile. Especially when that smile is attached to a pretty face. While their food has received rave reviews from critics, we're equally enthralled with the lovely ladies and gents who make their martinis garnished with eye candy behind the bar at this EpiCentre hotspot.

210 E. Trade St.
704-971-2400

BEST PLACE OPEN UNTIL 2 A.M.

Apostrophe Lounge

When you're hanging at Apostrophe Lounge -- with its earth-toned furniture, hardwood floors and décor that oozes sex appeal -- you don't feel like you're spending time in a typical bar; no, it's more like kickin' back at your rich friend's apartment. So, you know, it's so cozy you want to take your pants off and spoon somebody on the couch. Yes, it's that cozy. And on top of the great ambience, Apostrophe serves an exhaustive number of tasty cocktails and exotic beers; plays a cool selection of music; and attracts a decidedly unpretentious congregation of patrons who not only love the finer things in life, but also know how to get down.


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