The best locally-owned bars for watching March Madness in Charlotte

Photo courtesy of Hickory Tavern via Facebook.

By Ryan Pitkin

March 12, 2024

If there’s one sport that has a hold on North Carolina, it’s college basketball. Sure, we don’t all agree on teams, especially on Tobacco Road, where the rivalry between UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University runs deep. 

In Charlotte, things are a little different. With so many transplants here, there are fans of just about any team you can imagine living in the city. That’s why for the list we’ve compiled below, we focused not so much on which bars to go to if you’re a fan of any given team — be it UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, NC State, UNC Charlotte — but which bars to go to if you’re a fan of high-energy college basketball, because that’s one thing we guarantee you’ll see. 

Read More: 17 veteran-owned businesses to support in North Carolina

Smaller conference tournaments have already started, with the big ones like ACC and Big Ten wrapping up on Sunday, March 17, just in time for the Selection Sunday show later that evening. After that, it’s time for you to fill out your bracket. Maybe you’re in a pool amongst friends or coworkers, or maybe you’re going to be taking advantage of the fact that sports betting becomes legalized in our state on March 11, just in time for the tournament. 

Either way, we can’t help with your selections, but if you’re looking for a place to watch all the games, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve spread the following selections around the city, so there’s always a good spot to watch the games nearby. 

The Kilted Buffalo – Plaza Midwood

1212 Central Ave.

A neighborhood sports bar with over 40 domestic and imported beers, a great wine selection, and tons of TVs, The Kilted Buffalo is also home to various pub games such as tabletop shuffleboard, a shut-the-box dice game, corn hole, and more, so there’s no chance you’ll be bored between games. 

“It was so busy and still got fast service!” wrote Yelp user Farrah J. “Love that they have cornhole & ping pong inside. My husband and I had a great time there. We played those games the entire time with people we met at the bar. Definitely a good time.” 

Picasso’s Sports Cafe – University City

230 E. W.T. Harris Blvd.

A longtime staple for nearby UNC Charlotte students in the McCullough Commons shopping center, Picasso’s is a no-frills sports bar known for its great wings, pizza and drink specials. 

“I recommend this place very highly!!!!” wrote user Dottie4UT on TripAdvisor. “We were there to watch our [University of Tennessee] Vols. As it was, we were playing the team from Charlotte. These people treated us like we belonged there even though we were the ‘enemy.’” 

Ed’s Tavern – Dilworth

2200 Park Road

With televisions inside, televisions on the covered patio, and televisions on the outdoor deck, it’s up to you to set the atmosphere. One of Charlotte’s oldest neighborhood bars in one of Charlotte’s oldest neighborhoods, Ed’s has earned its spot as one of the best, as well. 

“I love this place!” wrote Jenny Sassman in a Facebook review. “The bar staff…is fantastic and welcoming. They always remember my name and treat me like family. Their beer selection is fantastic, highlighting many local breweries! Perfect place to hang out for game day, or any night for that matter. Also, the wings are amazing. Try the ‘Flying Pig’ sauce!” 

Photo courtesy of Ed’s Tavern via Facebook

Hickory Tavern – Multiple locations

While it got its start in Hickory an hour up the road, hence the name, Hickory Tavern is now headquartered in Charlotte, from which it manages over a dozen locations spread across the Carolinas. This March, the sports bar is hosting Tavern Madness, a “First or Worst” competition that awards a 65-inch 4K UHD TV to the first-place finisher and a $300 Hickory Tavern gift card to the last-place finisher. 

“Food was great! I built my own salad and my wife had a burger. The drinks were strong and our server was quick and attentive even though she was a one-woman show!” wrote Vanessa T. on Yelp about the Providence Road location in south Charlotte. “The restaurant is spacious and booths are nice and big. Lots of televisions to watch games.” 

Photo courtesy of Hickory Tavern via Facebook.

The Blind Pig – NoDa

453 E. 36th St. 

With a row of big-screen TVs behind the bar viewable from all angles, The Blind Pig in Charlotte’s art district of NoDa is the best spot to keep an eye on multiple March Madness games at once. There’s also a game room with no TVs and a punching bag in case you take a big loss.  

“Great TVs for sports, games for playing, staff for talking, and selection for drinking,” wrote Kevin Carolla in a succinct Facebook review. 

Photo courtesy of The Blind Pig via Facebook.

Ten58 Sports Bar and Lounge – Uptown

430 W. 4th St. 

Owned by legendary Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, the interior of Ten58 is understandably football centered, but there’s no football on in March, so the 13 TVs are all ready for basketball (15 if you include bathroom viewing). Check out the private lounge with cushioned recliners to level up the experience if they’re available. 

“This new Black-owned sports bar located [in] Uptown Charlotte definitely has great views, delicious food and flavorful cocktails,” wrote Tanya C. in a Yelp review. “We enjoyed their private lounge area on a Saturday afternoon … It’s a great game day watch party atmosphere.” 

Photo courtesy of Ten58 Sports Bar and Lounge via Facebook.

All American Pub – South End

200 E. Bland St. 

With a great location right on the Rail Trail, All American Pub has 45 TVs — that’s more televisions than you’d need if every first-round game were happening at the same time (which they aren’t). 

“All American Pub is a great place to be if you like sports,” wrote Tripadvisor user lvmylabrador. “This place has a large bar and seating area inside as well as a bar and seating outside.” 

Angry Ale’s – Montford

1518 Montford Drive

Angry Ale’s features myriad TVs both inside and outside, plus a great menu that includes everything from juicy burgers, hand-breaded tenders, and house-smoked meats to grain bowls, tacos, and cheesesteaks. 

“I had a late night stop over at Charlotte [Douglas] International Airport and wanted some good wings. I’m so happy I found Angry Ale’s,” recalled Kevin W. on Yelp. “The wings were delicious. The atmosphere is very welcoming. The waitresses are very quick to help if anything is needed but also leave the customers alone to enjoy the food and atmosphere. They have plenty of TVs and I loved the unique photos on the wall. I will definitely go back the next time I’m in Charlotte.” 

Photo courtesy of Angry Ales via Facebook.

Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse – Ballantyne

14015 Conlan Circle, Suite C1

Rob Duckworth opened the first Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse in Mooresville north of Charlotte back in 2004 for the simple reason that he, a Philadelphia native, couldn’t find a decent cheesesteak in the area. Two decades later, there are six locations spread throughout the Charlotte area (we just picked Ballantyne because we didn’t have a Ballantyne bar on the list yet). The only things that outnumber the TVs spread throughout the establishment are the beers on tap. 

“My husband and I get together with friends at Duckworth’s in Ballantyne all the time,” wrote Sandra J. on Tripadvisor. “Food and service at the Ballantyne location is better than the uptown location. The food is consistently good (particularly fond of the steak salad and the pizza). Great drink selections, too!” 

Sidelines Sports Bar & Billiards – Collingwood

4544 South Blvd. 

Located in the Collingwood neighborhood near the I-77 and South Tryon Street interchange, Sidelines has filled a void as Charlotte’s only LGBTQ sports bar for 17 years. There are 12 TVs to catch the games along with foosball, four pool tables, and two dart boards to keep you engaged during the slow periods. 

“Chill neighborhood gay bar open and friendly to all!” wrote Tally L. on Yelp. “My partner and I were welcomed and graciously hosted by the bartenders. They both checked in with us a couple of times, chatted and got to know us, made sure our chosen sports game was on the closest TV, and checked in on our pool game when our drinks appeared empty. … I noticed several folks who came in seemed to get a ‘Cheers’ style greeting from people at the bar and realized it’s one of those cozy homey places people always come back to! If we lived in Charlotte we would totally make this our go-to Saturday night bar.”

Photo courtesy of Sidelines Sports Bar & Billiards via Facebook.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Author

  • Ryan Pitkin

    Ryan Pitkin is a writer and editor based in Charlotte, where he runs an alternative weekly newspaper called Queen City Nerve. He is also editor of NoDa News, a community newsletter in the neighborhood where he has lived for 15 years.

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