5 Outdoor Dining Options for North Carolina

Camp North End in Charlotte, one of 5 hubs with tons of outdoor dining options this spring. (Shutterstock)

By Leah Sherrell

April 5, 2023

Dining in perfect spring weather makes everything better – here’s our list of outdoor dining hubs that will plug you into the community this season. 

Temperatures are on the rise this week in North Carolina, and that means it’s finally starting to act like spring. It’s a beautiful time when temperatures sit in the perfect place between freezing cold and blisteringly hot. Butterflies, birds, and flowers are emerging from their winter breaks, and outdoor heaters are disappearing from restaurant patios. 

Outdoor dining this time of year adds an effortless romanticization to your Sunday brunch, friend get-together, or solo dining experience. So here’s a list of community hubs across North Carolina that offer a variety of dining options on the premises—people-watching is encouraged. 

Durham’s Boxyard RTP


Right in the Research Triangle Park, Boxyard RTP is 15,000-square-feet cargo containers repurposed into a place where people can eat, shop, work, and enjoy the fresh air. 

The indoor-outdoor seating areas make it a great place to enjoy restaurants like Bulkogi (Korean fusion), Lawrence Barbecue (BBQ, oysters, and a bar upstairs), Leroy’s Tacos (basically taco heaven) , and Beyú Caffè (coffee, breakfast, salads, and wraps). And if your pup tags along for lunch, there’s a dog park for them to enjoy as well!

Winston Salem’s Innovation Quarter


Located in downtown Winston-Salem, Innovation Quarter brings together multiple areas of life centered around gathering spots like Bailey Park and the Power Plant’s outdoor seating. 

The block is scattered with restaurants like Krankies (coffee and biscuits), Alma Mexicana (contemporary Mexican food and a great date-night deal), and Cugino’s Forno (handmade pizzas). 

Charlotte’s Camp North End


Sitting on 76 acres, Camp North End was once a car factory and military depot and is now home to colorful murals (Abel Jackson III is particularly popular), local businesses, and restaurants like Leah & Louise (Southern classics), La Caseta (traditional Latin cuisine), Saru Ramen, and Bleu Barn (burgers and sandwiches). 

Dine in or choose one of the many picnic tables (or swings) outside! 

Wilmington’s Cargo District 


Home to local businesses, restaurants, and Wilmington residents is the Cargo District. Many of the businesses are actually refurbished cargo containers, neatly arranged in a way that invites guests to wander between shops and enjoy the outside seating. 

Some local favorites include the Mess Hall (creative burger and tater tot bowls), Cheese Smith (dressed up grilled cheese sandwiches), and Beat Street (an ever changing menu of fresh flavors). 

Downtown Asheville’s Pack Square 


Since 1797, Pack Square has been a central point for the community of Asheville. The public space sprawls over 6.5 acres and includes a green space, a splash fountain, and a performance stage. 

Surrounding the park are restaurants with great outdoor dining such as Café Bomba (Latin inspired fare and pastries), The Noodle Shop (staple Chinese noodle dishes), Bargello  (Italian and Mediterranean flavors) , and Pack’s Tavern (classic bar food). 


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.

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