The Democratic National Convention
Some discussions extend across cities, countries, even the world. Others heat up only the dinner table. Test your debating skills at some of the city's finest eating, drinking and cultural establishments, only steps from the convention.
The more-regal-than-Tampa-sounding Queen City will extend its abundant Southern hospitality the week of Sept. 3 during the Democratic National Convention, when the Time Warner Cable Arenaand its surrounds will be enveloped by over 35,000 politicians, staff, delegates, visitors and members of the media. But don't succumb to political rhetoric all day long and take a look outside of the Arena—only steps outside to be precise—to experience some of the best that this Southern charmer has to offer and make the most of your trip.
1 MEZ 210 E Trade St
Take the escalator up past the carpeted walls and prepare for an eye-full on the second floor of the EpiCentre: this eatery awes not only with its delectable Mediterranean-infused American cuisine—the truffle fries get a lot of votes—but also with its incredible aesthetics: soaring ceilings, minimalist lines, incredible skyline views. Mez manages to flawlessly fuse cuisines with mesh big-city grandeur and a cozy, homey vibe. You won't find views like this in Tampa.
2 BASIL THAI 210 N Church St
This is a favorite among Charlotte's see-and-be-seen crowd, and maybe you'll get to spy some famous political faces. The sleek, contemporary uptown look is perfectly executed, complete with an open kitchen and red velvet accents. Don't miss the unrivaled pad thai—delicate noodles tightly wound around tender chicken and shrimp.
3 BLUE 206 N College St
After a day filled with heated discussions, unwind with some cool jazz and a glass of wine. Blue is a staple of elegance and Mediterranean fare—ask for the slow-roasted lamb shank in a mix of apricots, dates, carrots, chickpeas and saffron potatoes—and its décor is the epitome of sophistication: a peaceful marriage of contemporary and old world finishes. Live jazz starts Wednesday evening at 7.30pm, Thursday at 8pm.
4 RΊ-RÁ 208 N Tryon St
For a raucous, Irish-style good time, belly up to this authentic Irish pub. The Victorian-style bar itself was once part of the officer's mess hall at the barracks in Dublin's Phoenix Park. This multi-level pub is a smart blend of quaint and modern, all with a real watering hole feel for discussing Irish issues worldwide. Check out the collection of Dublin ledgers dating back to 1800, and portraits of Ireland's greatest literary figures.
5 WHISKY RIVER 210 E Trade St
Forget political parties and enjoy some real parties. The owner—NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, Jr.—created a perfectly unpretentious, honky-tonk bar without the rough edges. Drink in a down-home vibe that has been upscaled with VIP tables and great live music that spans country to rock—a hit with all ages and political persuasions. Feeling gutsy? Determine your position on the mechanical bull.
6 STRIKE CITY 210 E Trade St
Whether you're a lefty or a righty, this isn't your dad's bowling alley (or one you'd find in backwoods Tampa). Sleek surroundings and high-tech amenities include huge flat-screen TVs at the end of the lanes. And the food, from fellow EpiCentre mainstay Libretto's Authentic NYC Pizza and Italian Kitchen, is well above customary bowling fare.