6 Best Budget-Friendly Bars & Cafes in Charlotte 


The Queen City’s burgeoning food scene offers plenty of budget-friendly eats and drinks, whether you’re looking for a jolt of caffeine to jumpstart your day or a late-night cocktail to end your day on the right note.

Charlotte offers a plethora of delicious dining and drinking options (Photo: charlottesgotalot.com/Cody Hughes)

Charlotte’s drink culture is booming. Not only are there a plethora of craft coffee shops where you can enjoy a brew unlike anything you’ll find at some chain coffee shop, but there are bars, taverns, breweries and distilleries galore turning out delicious beverages. Whether you prefer coffee, tea, beer or bourbon, here are six bars and cafes in Charlotte that won’t break your budget.

Coco and the Director 

Enjoy this cafe’s wide assortment of craft coffees and teas. You can choose from straight house brews and cold brews, or go with a well-known variety such as a flat white or cappuccino. Whatever you pick, you’ll see the noticeable difference between what you receive and what you might find at a Starbucks down the street. Six tea varieties are available for those who prefer tea to coffee. 

100 West Trade Street 

Not Just Coffee

Delicious brews in several hip locations (Photo: Holly Riddle)

There are several Not Just Coffee locations around Charlotte. Pick any and you’ll be happy with your findings. Enjoy flavorful coffee creations served up with love, in inventive spaces that encourage visitors to pause and really enjoy their morning joe, rather than rush out the door. However, if you do need to get your morning brew to go, you’ll certainly find this to-go coffee to be a step above your normal drive-thru cuppa.

2000 South Boulevard 

Eastside Local Eatery

Grab a cup of coffee or even a glass of non-alcoholic wine (Photo: Holly Riddle)

This darling spot for coffee, vegan and vegetarian eats and cocktails is a true hidden gem. It’s tucked away in a shopping center. Blink and you might miss it! Visit when the weather is nice and grab a chair on the pet-friendly patio. The menu includes locally roasted coffee, teas and both cocktails and mocktails, so everyone has something to enjoy, whatever you’re in the mood for. The menu is vegan, vegetarian, organic and raw, with lots of gluten-free options and locally-sourced ingredients. Whether you grab some Bitchin’ Brownie Bites to go along with your coffee, a gluten-free bagel to start your day off on the right foot or an impossible vegan burger or vegan chili to enjoy for dinner, you’ll find that this good-for-you food also tastes pretty amazing. 

3102 Eastway Drive

NoDa Company Store

Check out Charlotte’s up-and-coming NoDa neighborhood. The city’s arts and entertainment district, it features lots of fun music venues, galleries, boutique shops, restaurants and — of course — bars. NoDa Company Store sports a relaxed setting, but you’ll find an experience above and beyond your average bar stop here. Grab a craft beer or the signature house-made sangria and swing a while on the front porch before you head out and explore the neighborhood and maybe do a little window shopping.

3221 Yadkin Avenue

VBGB Beer Hall and Garden

This German-inspired beer hall boasts one of the city’s largest patios, perfect for kicking back on a balmy Charlotte evening. The vibe is totally relaxed so feel free to come in your jeans and hoodie. There’s no need to get gussied up. Enjoy regional and craft beers from around the state at a variety of price points. You can get a brew for as little as a few bucks, or a pitcher for under $20. The German-style pub food is delicious and budget-friendly, too, with yummy items like giant pretzels and bratwurst. 

920 Hamilton Street

Red Clay Ciderworks 

This cider bar and urban cidery was named one of the top U.S. cideries and was Charlotte’s first cidery when it opened in 2015. Try these distinct, dry, gluten-free ciders made from North Carolina apples in a low-key atmosphere where everyone feels at home. Choose from a range of ciders to wet your whistle and don’t miss one of the kitchen’s “wafflewiches,” a sandwich served between two Belgian waffles, with the fillings ranging from chicken salad to black forest ham to toasted marshmallows. 

245 Clanton Road 

By Holly Riddle