July 8, 2022
When the sun is shining or the stars are out, head for the nearest patio and dine under the Carolina sky.
Cabarrus County has plenty of options for outdoor dining, from umbrella-covered tables and beer gardens to scenic parks for picnic blankets. Let this sampling of spots to eat outside inspire your al fresco meal. Then, enjoy everything from brunch to barbecue to locally made condiments that complement any charcuterie board.
As a nod to local history, this Concord restaurant and taphouse was named for the 44 textile mills that operated in Cabarrus County between 1829 and 2000. The menu is local, too. Request a table on the patio and pair something from the outstanding craft cocktail menu with salads and sandwiches, plus Southern favorites like fried pickles and mac and cheese that are made with local ingredients. 44 Mills also serves a rotating selection of craft beers on tap.
Afton Pub & Pizza specializes in Italian favorites like fried ravioli, Italian wedding soup, manicotti, lasagna and pizza, which are made with fresh ingredients and perfect for enjoying on the outdoor patio overlooking Afton Village. Save room for dessert: The cookie pizza, creme brulee and Italian donuts are amazing.
A staple of the Mt. Pleasant dining scene, Café Lentz has one of the best patios in town. Visit the European-inspired neighborhood cafe to start the day with coffee and pastries outside on the upper level or spend the evening sipping beer and wine on the dog-friendly patio.
In search of outdoor dining near Charlotte Motor Speedway? Located minutes from the track, Johnny Roger’s BBQ & Burgers offers picnic table seating plus a menu featuring delicious daily specials, gourmet burgers and barbecue covered in sauces and seasonings made from family recipes.
Don’t forget dessert when dining in downtown Kannapolis! This charming sweets shop is brimming with a variety of indulgent ice cream and fudge flavors. It’s located in the West Avenue District along with plenty of local boutiques and Atrium Health Ballpark where you can grab classic ballpark fare from Boomer’s Bistro.
The smoked meats and made-from-scratch sides attract crowds to The Smoke Pit, and coveted patio seating fills up fast when the sun is shining. Menu favorites like Texas brisket, hickory-smoked pulled pork and burnt ends are served with smoked pork BBQ beans, baked mac and cheese, kickin’ collard greens and other sides that are worth the wait.
What-a-Burger #13 is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving burgers, hot dogs and barbecue for more than 50 years. Take your order to a table outside or get it to go and walk across the street to Mt. Pleasant Town Park for a picnic lunch. Don’t forget to order a Witch Doctor — the signature soda, made with a combination of soft drinks and dill pickles, is a local favorite.
Harrisburg-based Vortex Bottle Shop is devoted to local sips. In addition to a cooler filled with Carolina craft beverages, the taps highlight beers from Cabarrus County and across the Carolinas. The beverages — along with flatbreads, poke bowls and tapas-style dishes like pimento cheese, pork belly canapes, and blackened shrimp and artichoke dip — are best enjoyed on the patio. Stop in on Sunday for an al fresco brunch featuring open-faced biscuits and a mimosa flight.
Tucked inside Gibson Mill, a restored textile mill in Concord, Cabarrus Brewing Company pulls pints of award-winning craft beers like Driveway Sesh and Baller Beer. The Beer Garden is always popular, but it comes alive on Friday nights for Food Truck Fridays. Order from your favorite mobile kitchen and pair your meal with a cold pint. Or grab dinner on any evening from CBC’s in-house kitchen and enjoy it with a frozen drink on the patio.
Also located inside a former mill, the local favorite duo of Hot Box Next Level Kitchen and Southern Strain Brewing Company pairs handcrafted dishes with small batch beers. On the menu, you’ll find dishes from all over the world with a special Hot Box spin. Order online from your seat on the outdoor patio or walk up to the window inside the taproom.
When hunger strikes at this laidback local brewery, snack on eats from on-site food trucks or bring a meal over from Sabor Latin Street Grill next door. You can also enjoy food from Chophouse 101 — just scan the QR code on your table at Old Armor and place your order. Then, Chophouse will deliver your meal with the help of their awesome mint green, three-wheel bicycle.
Places like Cannon Honey Mill, Union Street Market, The Eat Well Market, Small Batch Foody, Blue-Eyed Daisy and many others carry tons of specialty snacks and locally made food items. Visit one of Cabarrus County’s farmers markets to round out your spread. Now that you’re stocked up on fresh, local goodies, grab your blanket and find some greenspace.
This picturesque vineyard grows acres of grapes for sweet muscadine wines and dry varietals like cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. Order a tasting flight, a charcuterie plate and cheese straws and spend the afternoon soaking up the scenery at Rocky River Vineyards.
The 16-acre Village Park is the perfect picnic spot. Order from the concession stand in the park when attractions are open or bring lunch to enjoy at a table under a picnic shelter. After fueling up, ride the train, play in the splash pad, walk the greenway or listen to live music during Concerts in the Park.
With trails, disc golf, a splash pad and regular special events, Harrisburg Park is another great place to pack a lunch and play all day. Burn some energy walking, mountain biking, playing horseshoes or splashing around, then find a seat to eat and recharge.
This list highlights additional parks in Cabarrus County, such as Rob Wallace Park in Midland and Franke Liske Park in Concord. Visit each of them online for more information, including guidelines on outside food and beverage.
Where are your favorite spots to eat outside in Cabarrus County? For more outdoor dining options, check out our full list of places to eat in Cabarrus County!