Move over EpiCentre and NC Music Factory. These days some of Charlotte’s hottest bars can be found in a realm formerly reserved for things such as deli meats and checkout lines.
Sure, drinking while grocery shopping has historically been frowned upon – and, well, something for which one could get arrested. But from indulging in cocktails at the corner market to sipping wine in suburban stores, these trendy spots are making this classic errand less chore and more cheer.
So consider this your guide to grocery store drinking. As for your excuse for why a milk and bread run took so long? You’ll have to come up with that on your own.
Whole Foods Market
Oh, you thought this store was just for lululemon-wearing salad eaters? Well, you’re basically right. But on your next visit, bypass the locally sourced greens in favor of some locally sourced brews. Queen’s Corner bar includes a craft beer bar downstairs and a chic loft area featuring an Enomatic wine-dispensing system. With beer taps that rotate often and 24 different wines to choose from, the selection is as varied as that aforementioned salad bar.
Top tip: Order a cheese and charcuterie plate from the adjacent cheese counter to enjoy alongside your sips.
Details: 6610 Fairview Road. 980-213-2400; www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/charlotte.
With its Plaza Midwood and South End locations, this eclectic market is the local granddaddy of booze-offering bodegas. Pull up a stool at one of the colorful bars, where you’ll find local beers on tap and wines by the glass. Or grab a bottle from the shelf to enjoy alongside one of its famed deli sandwiches. And plan on doing your “grocery shopping” on one of the days when there’s live music – ideally on the Plaza Midwood patio or South End courtyard.
Top tip: Most Wednesdays you’ll find free beer tastings at the Plaza Midwood location and free wine tastings at the South End version.
Details: 2007 Commonwealth Ave. and 1515 S. Tryon St. www.commonmarketisgood.com.
Step one: Ignore any preconceived notions you might have about a concept from the folks behind Harris Teeter. Step two: Grab a cold pint at the inviting bar area. Step three: Start shopping by perusing the beer room, wine cellar and specialty food aisles while you sip. This mecca for beer and wine lovers is stocked with perfect pairings for both (think cheese, olives and nuts). Step four: Consider the frequent beer tastings from popular breweries.
Top tip: Shopping early? Stop in for tasty pastries and coffee at the wine and beer bar, which opens at 9 a.m. every day except Sunday.
Details: 13108 Eastfield Road, Huntersville, and 5939 Weddington Road, Wesley Chapel. www.201central.com.
The charming new Elizabeth Avenue market offers you the chance to forget the typical grocery-store stress and sip the strong stuff while you shop. From its mixology lab with local renowned bartender Bob Peters to cocktail bar pop-ups like a recent one with Haunt Bar, there are plenty of opportunities to indulge in potent elixirs while picking up some of the shop’s prepared foods, charcuterie and fresh pasta.
Top tip: While Earl’s only serves beer and wine on a regular basis now, starting on March 21, bloody marys and mimosas will be available during weekend brunch hours.
Details: 1609 Elizabeth Ave. 704-333-2757; www.earlsgrocery.com.
Dean & Deluca
This luxe Phillips Place grocer has taken its drinking to new heights with its adjacent Wine Room. The sophisticated space features craft beers, an extensive wine selection and gorgeous dishes to rival any upscale restaurant in town. Not in the mood for the full restaurant experience? The main store offers its own selection of wine and beer ideal for enjoying with one of its sandwiches or sushi rolls – or as you’re marking items off your grocery list.
Top tip: In addition to offering 2-ounce tasting pours of its wines, The Wine Room also features several red and white flights for those who like to sip and sample.
Details: 6903 Phillips Place Court. 704-643-6868; www.deananddeluca.com.
This new FreeMoreWest market and deli’s owner, Rob Rondolez, previously worked at Common Market. So it should come as no surprise that it already serves as a neighborhood gathering spot. Food options here are local – Dukes bread, Pasta & Provisions fare, Rowlands Row Eggs, Enderly Coffee – so naturally the beer on tap is, too. Grab a pint of brew from spots such as NoDa, Triple C or Asheville’s Wicked Weed to enjoy while you shop.
Top tip: With in-demand beers in store, the offerings here change frequently. Keep an eye on the market’s Facebook page for updates on what’s on tap.
Details: 1500 W. Morehead St. 704-348-1428; www.rhinomarket.com.