Lake Norman is known for its charming downtowns, bustling interstate exits and waterfront entertainment. Each of these provide excellent patio dining options. Here’s a sampling of restaurants with outdoor seating in the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Denver, Huntersville and Mooresville.
17830 Old Statesville Road, Cornelius
The upscale casual restaurant not only has a nice patio, but also a fire pit. The kitchen boasts fresh ingredients, as well as a hickory wood fire grill. Entrées include a double cut grilled pork chop, Danish baby back ribs and Maryland-style crab cakes. Details: www.131-main.com or 704-896-0131.
Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails
19918 N. Cove Road, Cornelius
The four-year-old restaurant specializes in casual American cuisine. The patio is known for being children- and pet-friendly. You can find sandwiches, salads and steaks, as well as high-end fish entrées such as Atlantic yellowfin tuna, Seattle-style salmon and West Coast grilled fish tacos. Details: www.altonskitchen.com or 704-655-2727.
16915 Birkdale Commons Pkwy., Huntersville
Located in Birkdale Village, the seafood restaurant offers an outdoor dining area great for people-watching. The national chain serves several grilled fish options, including Chilean sea bass, gulf grouper, mahi mahi, rainbow trout and cold-water lobster tails. Yep, there’s beef and chicken, too. Details: www.bonefishgrill.com or 704-892-3385.
209 Delburg St., Davidson
Located inside the historic Davidson Cotton Mill, Brickhouse Tavern has a large dining room, bar area and outdoor seating. The menu consists of more than a dozen varieties of 12-inch pizzas, sandwiches and specialty items – many of which exceed the quality of your typical tavern. Details: 704-987-2022 or www.brickhousetavern.com.
Brixx Wood-Fired Pizza
16915 Birkdale Commons Pkwy Huntersville
The pizza restaurant features a patio that overlooks Birkdale Village, making it ideal for children, pets and people-watching. The menu consists of hard-to-find varieties of pizza, including rosemary chicken and mushroom, sweet Thai chicken, pimento cheese, and pear & Gorgonzola. There’s also pasta, sandwiches and wraps. Details: http://brixxpizza.com or 704-894-0044.
100 Huntersville-Concord Road, Huntersville
The family-owned restaurant, specializing in American fare, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu consists of burgers, omelets, sandwiches and salads. The outdoor seating area can accommodate large groups as well as live music. There’s also a children’s menu. Details: http://thecafe100.com or 704-274-5932.
445 S. Main St., Davidson
The Mexican taqueria serves burritos, tacos, quesadillas and tostados. It has a full bar with specialty and top-shelf margaritas. The restaurant’s location in downtown Davidson provides a great spot to people-watch from the child- and pet-friendly patio. Details: www.carrburritos.com or 704-237-3040.
Chillfire Bar & Grill
121 Cross Center Road, Denver
The minds behind Epic Chophouse opened this upscale steakhouse in May 2013. The menu includes steaks, chicken, pasta and seafood, as well as fancy fare such as oven-roasted Barbary duck, skillet baked lobster mac & cheese and boneless lamb loin. The outdoor seating is good for children and groups. Details: www.chillfiregrill.com or 704-827-2121.
Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse
560 River Hwy., Mooresville
The restaurant specializes in Philly cheesesteaks, with nearly a dozen varieties such as buffalo chicken and steak and egg. The concept has caught on. Since opening in Mooresville in 2004, Duckworth’s has expanded to Charlotte and Huntersville. The restaurant has an extensive beer list. Details: http://duckworths.com or 704-799-2881.
Eddie’s Seafood & Raw Bar
643 Williamson Road, Mooresville
Eddie Lubic and Ann-Margaret Wagner bought Vinnie’s Sardine Grille and Raw Bar, renovated the space and revamped the menu in summer 2013. The lakeside restaurant serves up burgers, Italian entrées and seafood. The restaurant offers Sunday brunch. Details: www.eddiesrawbar.com or 704-799-2090.
eeZ Fusion & Sushi
16925 Birkdale Commons Pkwy., Huntersville
The restaurant, located in Birkdale Village, specializes in sushi, as well as a blending of Chinese, Japanese and other cuisines around the world. Among its entrées is Korean bulgogi beef taco. Outdoor seating is appropriate for pets, children and people-watching. Details: www.eezfusion.com or 704-892-4242.
Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse
215 S. Main St., Davidson
The restaurant packs big-city cuisine into the charming town of Davidson. Its concept draws inspiration from New York’s Flatiron Building, while its menu consists of local produce, as well as high-quality wagyu beef and Kurobuta pork. The child- and pet-friendly patio offers a great vantage point for people-watching. Details: www.flatirononmain.com or 704-237-3246.
17044 Kenton Drive, Cornelius
Many people are familiar with the Irish pub’s storied architecture – it was originally built in Ireland, deconstructed and returned to form in Cornelius – but its patio is also a sight to behold. Framed by greenery, the patio can be customized for special events like rehearsal dinners. Details: www.galwayhookerpub.com or 704-895-1782.
9526 Birkdale Crossings Drive, Huntersville
115 Morrison Plantation Pkwy., Mooresville
The casual dining restaurant organizes events focused on its outdoor seating, such as Patio Palooza in Huntersville’s Birkdale Village and the Independence Fireworks Parking Lot Party in Mooresville. The menu consists of burgers, sandwiches, chicken and taco entrées. Details: www.thehickorytavern.com, 704-897-8490 (Huntersville) or 704-660-9793 (Mooresville).
J.J. Wasabi’s Grill & Bar
183 N. Main St., Mooresville
Located in downtown Mooresville, J.J. Wasabi’s outdoor seating gives diners a good vantage point for people-watching. The menu consists of American favorites, a Japanese steakhouse and Asian grill. The restaurant, which opened in 2010, has doubled as a Gettysburg diner in the Showtime series “Homeland.” Details: www.jjwasabis.com or 704-799-0068.
Jack’s Corner Tap
8301 Magnolia Estates Drive, Cornelius
The casual restaurant touts its menu as a step up from serving “pub grub,” but entrées, sandwiches, appetizers and drinks are affordable. The patio is children- and pet-friendly and can accommodate musical entertainment. Go inside to catch the score of the game. Details: www.jackscornertaplkn.com or 704-892-4433.
117 Trade Court, Mooresville
Known for their barbecue, the Lancaster family focused on opening a fine dining restaurant with Southern influences. The menu is peppered with dishes like fried Alaskan cod filet, pecan-crusted baked sea bass and veal saltimbocca. The patio is great for groups. Details: www.jeffreyslkn.com or 704-799-1110.
North Harbor Club
100 N Harbor Place, Davidson
The lakefront restaurant offers boaters an opportunity to “dock and dine.” The menu boasts high-end seafood dishes, such as herb-crusted tilapia, charred Mediterranean tuna, fire-roasted swordfish and cornmeal crisped catfish. The cozy patio is great for large groups. Details: http://northharborclub.com or 704-896-5559.
Port City Club
18665 Harborside Drive, Cornelius
Nick Lyssikatos, of the Brickhouse Tavern, opened up Port City Club in the fall at the site of the former Midtown Sundries and Latitude 36. The restaurant allows patrons to pull up the lakefront restaurant by boat. It also offers a meeting place and coffee bar. Details: 704-765-1565.
Red Rocks Café, Bar & Bakery
8712 Lindholm Drive, Huntersville
The Birkdale Village restaurant’s outdoor patio can seat up to 60 people. The menu consists of American meals named after prominent people in the area, such as (NASCAR driver) Kasey Kahne’s Lobster Tail Dinner, (NASCAR driver) Danica Patrick’s Salmon and (Davidson College men’s’ basketball coach) Bob McKillop’s Large Mixed Greens Salad. Details: www.redrockscafe.com or 704-892-9999.
Sabi Asian Bistro
130 Harbour Place Drive, Davidson
Sabi Asian Bistro opened in 2008, combining Asian food with American spirits. Entrées span Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine. Its sushi is well-regarded and its patio is good for children and groups. Details: www.ilovesabi.com or 704-895-5707.
Sports Page Food & Spirits
179 Cross Center Drive, Denver
Established in 1987, the restaurant has made a home in the Coulwood neighborhood of Charlotte, as well as Denver. The menu features several sandwiches, as well as hamburgers, pasta and seafood. The outdoor seating is child-friendly and can accommodate groups. Details: http://sportspagenc.com or 704-827-6283.
The Prickly Pear
637 Williamson Road, Mooresville
After nine years of operating out of an old Catholic church, The Prickly Pear moved to a lakefront location in May 2012. The restaurant specializes in fine Mexican dining. An example includes filet mignon with Chile guajillo-red bell pepper sauce, Chile spiked potatoes and pasilla-laced mushrooms. Details: http://pricklypear.net or 704-799-0875.
The Rusty Rudder
20210 Henderson Road, Cornelius
The restaurant includes a patio and outdoor tiki bar overlooking Lake Norman. The outdoor bar attracts popular acoustic musicians and offers great opportunities for people-watching. Management has made an effort in the past year to serve lighter and healthier food. Get there by car or boat. Details: www.therustyrudder.net or 704-892-9195.
101 N. Main St., Davidson
Serving the Lake Norman area since 2005, the café is on the cusp of expanding quickly through franchising. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant’s outdoor seating is not only child- and pet-friendly, but also a good spot to people-watch as it’s located in downtown Davidson. Details: http://toastcafeonline.com/davidson/ or 704-655-2778.