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Three days in Charlotte - suggestions please!

My husband and I are traveling to Charlotte the first weekend in Nov. for work and pleasure. We are staying downtown and need ideas for dinner, lunch and brunch around town.

(1) On Thursday night we will be a little lower energy having flown all day and probably wish to stay in downtown city center area. Are there any good bistros or such? I am very adventurous, my husband a little less so but I can usually pacify him if there is something with beef or pork on the menu. :-)

(2) On Friday we will be at a business meeting somewhere near Billy Graham Parkway and South Tyron Street?? Are there any good places for lunch fairly close by? We will have an hour or so to get a working lunch and would like to sit down and attempt to relax between work sessions. We are very open to any ideas here and will have a group of 3 or 4 people.

(3) Work is finished and we are on our own to explore the city on Friday night and Saturday!!! We are staying downtown but would entertain any suggestion around town as we will have a car! We would love to have a nice dinner and either casual or upscale will work - we are flexible ---ideas??? Having never been to Charlotte it would be nice to discover a local secret spot. Thanks for your suggestions!!

(4) Breakfast on Saturday downtown area - we are at the Marriott???

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  1. Prices Chicken Coop is a MUST for great fried chicken. Nothing fancy,just good fried bird.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Spreadhead

      Yumm!! We won't miss it! Where is it located?

          1. re: mommy3esq

            Just be aware that Price's is take-out only. You can't eat there. There are a lot of restaurants in Charlotte with good food and lots of atmosphere. Just do a search on this site. Read brentk's posts.

    2. On Thursday, consider Ratcliffe on the Green in the 435 South Tryon Street (ratcliffeonthegreen.com) The chef works with local produces when planning his menu, sothe ingredients are fresh and often organic. You will always find pork and beef on the menu in Charlotte!

      Sadly, the are where your meeting is being held (the Embassy Suites?) is not a good place for food. It's more office-park central than retail. This would be a good day to drive to go to Price's Chicken Coop. Or, if you can fight the traffic, take Woodlawn (Billy Graham changes it's name to Woodlawn on the oher side of I-77) to South Blvd, take a right, and go about 2 miles (past Tyvola Rd) to Bill Spoon's Barbecue. It's (IMO) the closest to thing to Eastern NC cue in the city. Anyway you look at it, an hour will be tight here because the Billy Graham/Tyvola area is always congested. If you go to Prices, you'll have to picnic because that's take-out only. If you want fancier, your best bet it to go back to the city center.

      Other good places in "uptown" for dinner: Aquavina, Coco Osteria, Arpa (for tapas), Sonoma Modern. Not far from the city center on Elizabeth Avenue is The Customshop (reservations a must) or Terra on Providence Rd. Walking around the city is nice on weekends - visit the Mint Museum of Craft & Design, the Bodyworks at Discovery Place, hang out at the park at The Green.

      For breakfast, our favorite local spot, The Coffee Cup, has moved to a new building so I am not sure it's as good as it used to be, but they make the best grits and biscuits in town. They are now in a nsty looking office building at the corner of McDowel and Third.

      You can get a good, bad for you hot dog a Greens (4th street between Church and Poplar) or I like Matts Chicago Dog, also at the Park on the Green.

      4 Replies
      1. re: hazardnc

        Great suggestions! I had heard that Ratcliffe on the Green was a must and I am really looking forward to the fresh local ingredients. I will checkout the other ideas - esp. the Customshop sounds intriguing. My husband loves biscuits and gravy so we will have to hunt down the Coffee Cup in its new location. I appreciate all the great suggestions! I am disappointed that there is nothing wonderful near our meeting site but we may just have to make the trip to Bill Spoons! Thanks again!

        1. re: mommy3esq

          Speaking strictly from personal experience, customshop is a bore. If you're heading in that direction, I'd really recommend Carpe Diem (http://www.carpediemrestaurant.com/) instead, which is just next door. For my money, the food and atmosphere were way better than customshop.

          1. re: concordcourtney

            I second Carpe Diem. It's a local gem and always wonderful.

            1. re: lynnlato

              I third Carpe Diem. Wonderful food, and a truly wonderful interior. We had them cater our last Christmas party.

      2. For your lunch near Billy Graham, if you go down Tryon towards downtown, you will come to an intersection with Clanton Road. Take a right and go up to the next light. Bedder, Bedder, & Moore is there and it's a great little lunch delicatessen place. Another good lunch place is Azteca Mexican Restaurant, very close to your BG Pkway/Tryon intersection. It's actually attached to a Days Inn but gets GREAT reviews.

        1. Lunch suggestions are perfect - thanks! Carpe Diem looks amazing on the website - the menu is impressive as well - perfect!!!

          1. I was in Charlotte last week and had an excellent meal at Blue Restaurant and Bar. It was a vendor sponsored event so I didn't see the check, but their menu is on-line at www.bluerestaurantandbar.com.

            5 Replies
            1. re: LabRat

              I did hear that Blue was worth a look - the live music catches my attention as much as the appetizer menu. I thought it might be nice for a light bite and a cocktail. Any other info on Blue?

              1. re: mommy3esq

                It's a very pretty restaurant, they certainly put a lot of work into it.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  Blue is alright. Nice/bustling scene, on my one visit the food was pricey, good but not mind-blowing. Other suggestions....

                  Uptown/close to your hotel:
                  SOUL FOOD: Simmons Fourth Ward a soul food/hole in the wall for delicious fried pork chops and charming staff. Or Merts Heart & Soul (closer to your hotel and less hole in the wall feel. Good spot for brunch)

                  ARPA, nice selection of Tapas. Right near Trade and Tryon in the heart of things.

                  COPPER, upscale Indian/fusion place in Dilworth (about 10 min. from uptown) on East Boulevard. Not super pricey compared to white table cloth scene but pricier than your local Indian spot. Excellent, creative food.

                  CARPE DIEM In Elizabeth, also close, less than 10 min.

                  FIG TREE in Elizabeth on 7th St., also less than 10 min. Good, fine dining a bit overpriced. But your husband could definitely get some meat -- maybe even elk as they had on the menu last time I was there. It's also in a lovely old house. Better than the uptown chains in charm and feel.

                  LULUs... about 10 min. away from uptown on Central Ave. in Plaza Midwood. Small French-ish bistro with delicious, extragavant burger and other nice plates. small place. Yummy for dinner or brunch.

                  Also good for brunch; Pewter Rose, on South Boulevard in Dilworth. Each brunch starts off with a hot butterscotch chip scone. Yummy yuppie spot with Southern eccentric touches.

                  1. re: keech6

                    Let me second LULU's. We enjoyed it so much on our first visit that we returned the next night and enjoyed it again.

                2. re: mommy3esq

                  I thought Blue had good food, but awful service. It took them 4 tries to get us the right bottle of wine. And though it was not crowded, we had to wait way too long at every stage of the meal for a server.I've only been once of course, but the food wasn't great enough for us to take another chance. Plenty of other good recs listed here to try.

              2. No one has mentioned Bonterra, so I will!

                I love this restaurant. It is an old converted church. Unique wine program and great food.


                1 Reply
                1. re: chickstein

                  I have been told Bonterra is not as good as it used to be. Now, hands down, my favorite special night out meal is at Barrington's, but it is not especially convenient to people staying downtown. It is near Southpark Mall on Fairview Road - probably 7 miles and a 20-25 minute drive from downtown - assuming you don't get lost!

                  If you want to venture to the upscale Southpark Mall area, then Barrington's would be my first choice, followed by Nobels and then Zebra. I have heard a mixed bag of reviews on the new M5 but the atmosphere is great - especially the patio. And I have heard good things about Jim Noble's humbler spot, Roosters.

                  As for Azteca Mexican restaurant on Woodlawn - this is more Tex-Mex than Mexican. I don't know where you live, but if it's a town with good Mexican food, skip Azteca.

                2. Gotta throw my two cents in:

                  For lunch near Billy Graham/S. Tryon - try Tres Pesos which is across the street from Azteca. Both are real good, but Tres Pesos is a little more authentic. I would second Bill Spoon's although its a little farther away.

                  For dinner on Friday I would suggest:

                  Copper on East Blvd. Very good Indian food in a neat old house.

                  Sole on East Blvd is awesome, as is Las Ramblas in Dilworth for tapas.

                  Greek Isles on Bland Street is good, authentic greek food. Much more than gyros - octopus is house special.

                  If you want a fun place that is very casual go to The Penguin or dish on Thomas Ave for dinner, then head across the street to Thomas St Tavern for drinks. This is on East Side of town...

                  Have fun!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: mcap

                    Wow!! I might need to extend the trip in order to taste all these great places. Two recommendations for Copper - sounds like I had better squeeze it in! I would love to hear more about Lulu's and Barringtons. Tres Pesos sounds tempting - we'll take a vote on lunch. I did read something on Roosters; since Blue sounds iffy I'll look into M5 - maybe for drinks after work on Friday??? Charlotte has an eclectic list of favorite spots - this will make things exciting. Thanks again for all the input - keep it coming as I still time to struggle with decisions. :-)

                    1. re: mommy3esq

                      It was probably my post you read about Rooster's and I stand by it as a good choice...especially if you want to check out the toney South Park area.

                      As someone said above, if you're from an area with decent Mexican food, skip Mexican here. Tres Pesos is OK, Azteca is OK but I wouldn't send someone there when there are so many other options.

                      Another brunch option that's fairly close to uptown is NOFO on Liz. It's super casual but I've always found the food to be really solid (www.nofo.com).

                      For your working lunch, I think you could make it to The Roasting Company in less than 10 minutes. It's a quirky place but has some really delicious rotisserie chicken and good sides and you can get in and out pretty fast. You order at the counter but there is plenty of table seating. The link is www.roastingco.com

                      Just a word of warning: I just saw a sign this morning that the Billy Graham Parkway will be closed near the airport from Nov. 2 to 5. I'm sure they'll have some detours set up but just wanted to give you the heads up since this will likely affect you.

                      1. re: HungryGrayCat

                        Oops. Messed up that NOFO link and the site's not letting me edit so here it is again...


                        (Though I suppose you would have figured that out anyway.)

                        1. re: HungryGrayCat

                          Thanks Hungry Gray Cat! It was your post that alerted me to Roosters - looks like a great spot. I think you are right that Mexican may not be the way to go - we'll checkout the Roasting Company. I am glad to have the heads up on the closure of Billy Graham Parkway-- that could cause some confusion. I will also lookup the NOFO website. Many Thanks!!!!

                          I just checked out NOFO's website - Yummm!!!! We may have to hit NOFO for at least one meal!!!

                        2. re: mommy3esq

                          Three recommendations for Copper! Love it!

                      2. This was over 5 years ago, but spent a weekend in Charlotte with some festive friends, and we ended up going to Mimosa Grill 2 nights in a row. Had an impromptu bourbon/whiskey tasting there. Had wonderful rabbit brochette and the BEST fried green tomato appetizer. If I remember correctly it was in a pretty prominent spot downtown, near a convention center maybe?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: charlesbois

                          Sure, the food at Mimosa is great. It is at Tryon and MLK (used to be 2nd Ave). I think the atmosphere is a bit predictable and nothing special, but the service is good. If someone were staying uptown and wanted fine food and white tablecloths in walking distance, it's a great choice. Though I recommend Ratcliffe on the Green first (already mentioned above), just one more block down on Tryon.

                          1. re: charlesbois

                            5 years ago I would have recommended it too but there have been so many great restaurants that have opened in Charlotte that I'd say leave MG to the suits from Wachovia.

                          2. Great suggestions from the board so just thought I'd give a rec for lunch near South Tryon Street. If you like southern/soul food, you may want to check out LaWan's in a little strip mall at the corner of S. Tryon and Arrowood. If you get the chance, I completely agree with Price's. The best fried chicken ever!

                            Carpe Diem is always a great experience and one of my favs. Recently went on third visits to LuLu's and Roosters and thought both were quite good. If checking out LuLu's for Sunday brunch, go early and bring your patience. Went a few weeks ago for Sunday brunch and they wouldn't take reservations for parties of less than six. Friendly servers made up for the somewhat slow service. If you don't want to venture too far from downtown on Sunday, there's always Mert's which is within walking distance from the Marriott. Enjoy!

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Carolinagirl71

                              I second that Rooster's is great if you're willing to head down to SouthPark. (Get the pan-fried corn as a side.) I like it better than Barrington's where I had one pricey but somewhat uninspired meal. Also I second the Penguin if you're looking for a place with some character and a good greazzzy burger (order it Southern style with slaw and chili for the real deal) and great fried pickles and sweet potato fries. Sometimes there's a wait but the people watching makes it worthwhile.

                              1. re: keech6

                                Penguin sounds like great fun - I also like Carolina girl's tip on Carpe Diem - I have heard a lot of good things about it on this board. I think we will have to try Ratcliffe on the Green because it seems an overwhelming favorite of everyones. Price's and LaWan's have my attention for lunch -hmmmm...decisions, decisions!!!

                                1. re: mommy3esq

                                  My SO and I are dining at Ratcliffe on the Green this Saturday. I spoke w/ the GM and they have a prix fixe tasting menu available at dinner. $55/five course or $70/seven courses. Add wine pairing for $25. I thought that was amazingly reasonable so we're doing it. This building housed Carpe Diem at it's first location 11 years ago (it's currently in it's 3rd location). It's a lovely old building... used to be a flower shop. Anyway, I'll post and let you know how we made out.

                                  P.S. The Penguin and Carpe Diem are fabulous!

                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    Wow... you will have to report back after dinner on Saturday at Ratcliffe on the Green. That is an amazing price for a tasting menu and $25 is very reasonable for wine!!! We are still up in the air about where to eat dinner on our second evening - there are so may great choices. Yeah!! Have a nice evening Saturday!

                                    1. re: mommy3esq

                                      I've posted my experience at Ratcliffe on the Green. You can catch it at: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/454966. The short of it is perfect service, lovely restaurant, good food & wines. But skip the tasting menu and order off their regular menu for more adventurous offerings! Bon appetito. :-)

                                      Oh and the wine pairing were maybe 2-2.5 oz pours. Not much for someone like moi :-). Particularly since they brought the pairing before the dish it is paired with and I had to have a couple sips before my dish arrived!

                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                        Fabulous tips!!!! I especially appreciate the wine pour info - definitely an insufficient pour - por moi aussi!!!

                                    2. re: lynnlato

                                      There are actually two levels of wine you can add to the prix fixe menu. I think the second tier is priced at $40 additional, which is still good.

                                      We ate at Ratcliffe a couple weeks ago, but ordered off the menu because there were things we really wanted to try there. That was our first visit as we are still fairly new to the area, but I look forward to visiting there every season to see how the local menu changes.

                                      1. re: concordcourtney

                                        The second tier wine sounds like it is still a bargain if one glass with every course!!