Torontonian Chow needs recs for Charlotte
My colleague and I will be in Charlotte from Sunday July 15 - Friday July 20th for a conference and will be staying at the Westin Charlotte on 601 South College Street.
We're in need of recs for nearby grocery/corner stores for some breakfast items & fruit, lunch locales that are close to the hotel and dinner recs for wherever a cab can take us.
We're big beer drinkers, preferring brew pub or microbreweries, so send us those recs too!
Also a good non-chain coffee place with fairtrade, organic coffee.
Thanks! Looking forward to your help and visiting your city.
If you want to try what is maybe the best fried chicken in town, maybe the south, Price's Chicken Coop on Camden is about a mile away from the hotel, anyone can give you directions - some lines at peak, but worth it. This is a take out place, no seating to speak of. Also about a mile away is Simons 4th Ward, which is a Charlotte institution for Southern country cooking, breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you want a hot dog for lunch, there's none better than at Green's Lunch, about 1/2 mile away - burgers are good, but skip the fries.
As to a good place to have a variety of beers, try The Hotel Charlotte - it's a bar and restaurant, not a hotel - large selection of beers.
There are no corner store type places real close to the Westin that I can think of, but there is a Harris Teeter grocery store at 6th and Pine (I think! - head down College to 6th and turn left. It's 3 or 4 blocks from College). It's definitely a healthy walk from the Westin, but if you just made one trip Sunday afternoon or something, it wouldn't be so bad.
Organic, fair trade coffee...I'm not sure. There is a Dilworth coffee house on Tryon and Martin Luther King, just a couple blocks from the Westin. I know some of their locations always have a fair trade option brewing, but cannot say for certain about this particular location, which is part of the Charlotte welcome center whcih has lots of good info about the city.
I leave the beer suggestions to someone else. Since I'm only uptown during the workday, I don't get to sample too much beer around those parts. ;)
Southend Brewery is a microbrewery on South Blvd (and a stone's throw from Price's!). Alexander Michael's at 9th & Pine is a great pub to have a beer and bar food. McCormick & Schmick's has an excellent $1.95 happy hour menu (the catch is a two-drink minimum, which is perfect for you!).
I gravitate towards cheap and/or soul food. In addition to Price's Chicken Coop, Green's Lunch, and Simmons Fourth Ward, there is The Coffee Cup is a few minutes away at Clarkson & West Morehead, Mert's Heart & Soul at 5th & College, Lola's at 7th & Tryon, and several Fuel Pizza's uptown. I'm also a huge fan of The Roasting Company on Montford Drive--Costa Rican style rotisserie chicken dishes and killer sides.
The Westin is Uptown--inside the I-277 loop (or downtown to folks that aren't from around here). Southend is the South Blvd area that abuts Uptown (just across I-277 from the Westin). You're also reasonably close to the Dilworth, Elizabeth, and Plaza-Midwood neighborhoods, if you get any suggestions there.
I moved from Charlotte a year ago but I can help with beer and coffee..two of my vices, too.
Regarding beer, Southend no longer brews. Their beers are contract brewed by a third party and you may be extremely disappointed by their quality, depending on your beer drinking tastes.
Rock Bottom is the only brewpub in town that brews locally. They are a chain and some of their brews are done to a corporate recipe. They do provide their excellent brewmaster some leeway to do small batches which are typically on cask.
I have not been to Hotel Charlotte recently but when I last went I was disappointed in that their large selection was pretty much confined to domestic and Euro lagers. Things may have changed for the better.
If you are seriously interested in the full range of beer styles, you should head to what used to be known as Mellow Mushroom - I'm having a brain freeze but the new name is something like Moon Dog Cafe. There are three of them in town. Other good spots for beer are Mac's Speed Shop and the Flying Saucer. Both the Mushroom and Mac's have decent food but I wouldn't eat at the Saucer.
Also, make sure to stop at Brawley's to stock up on some beer purchases. Great selection and service.
Now to coffee....Counter Culture Coffee is the roaster of choice in Charlotte for the type of thing you are seeking. Java Passage in the Design Center services their coffee, but you might want to contact Counter Culture at (704) 370-7758 to see where else you can get it. The Heck Yea coffee bar at the McGill Rose Garden used to serve it but I'm not sure whether they are still in business.
Another nearby grocery is Reid's Fine Foods. It's half upscale grocery/half cafe. They serve coffee, hot lunches, salads, take out, specialty desserts, etc. It's just as far as the Harris Teeter on 6th. It's located in the bottom of 7th Street Parking deck (corner of College and 7th). Brixx Pizza next door has a few draft options as well. Red Oak is a great beer brewed in Greensboro (one city over) and I believe is served at Brixx now. It's great. A few minutes from Uptown in Plaza Midwood include Thomas Street Tavern (good bar food), the Penguin (great burgers, fries, onion rings and fried pickles), or the Dish (various southern options). However, to go anywhere outside Uptown you'll need a car or cab.
Other dinner options Uptown (moderately priced) include Mert's Soul Food or Ri Ra's Irish Pub. These are farther down Tryon past Bank of America. Uptown is dead at night during the week so getting a table should be easy. Of the options other people mentioned, my favorites include Mac's BBQ (ranked highly by Food Network), Alexander Michaels (mainly for atmosphere), and Coffee Cup (it's as southern as it gets). Price's is excellent but not conducive unless you're on your way to somewhere else. Hope you enjoy our city.
There are a number of nice restaurants that have bar areas where you would feel comfortable. Blue, Zinc and Sonoma all come to mind, but there are others.
You will find that the Uptown area is busier along Tryon in the Bank of America region (Trade though about 7th) than over in the Wachovia region near your hotel. It's less than a five minute walk but that is the direction in which I would head.