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Jan 18, 2008 08:44 AM

Fun atmosphere/good food Charlotte, NC

I've lived in Charlotte for almost a year and still haven't found many places with a fun, young atmosphere and good food where I feel comfortable (i.e--not cheesy or overly pretentious). I'm from New Orleans and have lived in Charleston, SC, and Manhattan, so I'm used to towns full of positive energy and an eclectic vibe. I'm a "young professional" looking for a "hip" place that's not overly trendy, a real (rather than fabricated and forced) atmosphere, and good food. So far I've found places I like here, but no where I love. Any suggestions?

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  1. There's an organization in Charlotte called CHOA (Charlotte Outdoor Adventure Club or something close). Some young, hip people I work with belong to it. It's kind of a singles club but they go to a lot of good restaurants and have dinners at each others' homes. I would definitely join if I were young and/or hip. The people I work with came to Charlotte knowing no one and have made lifelong friendships with people in this group. It's probably one of those things that's really hard to start going to but becomes easier each time you go. Reid's uptown has a wine-tasing on Wednesday nights that you might enjoy. Other than that, this isn't Charleston and it sure isn't New Orleans. Good luck!

    1. Try HOM on 5th street downtown. Lounge downstairs, restaurant on street level and techno/house DJ on top floor. Nights to go - Thurs. or Sat.

      Also, check out the Plaza-Midwood area - food and atmosphere is casual, but def. eclectic. Wine tastings at the Common Market. Great people watching at the Penguin, the later in the night, the better. Dish used to be the place to go on Wed. nights. Aso, plenty of places in NoDa. Check out their gallery crawls, every 1st & 3rd Fridays

      Haven't been to Loft 1523 on Elizabeth yet, but it's near Carpe Diem and Customshop, 2 great restaurants.

      I think that's it for the young, hipster crowd. Stick to the Dilworth or Ballantyne areas if your more comfortable with traditional, yuppie types. Not my thing, so no recs. for those areas.

      1. I understand what you mean. When we first arrived we lived in Matthews. Before we moved everything seemed to be new pretty and perfect. It felt rather plastic and soulless. Many wont know why that could be a problem, but it felt like Stepford for a while. I don’t know where you live but try exploring a bit. Try neighborhoods like Dilworth, Plaza Midwood, NODA and uptown. Try using the light rail it’s a lot of fun. Try fun funky places like Lupies, Merts Heart and Soul, Cabo Fish Taco, Smelly Cat Coffee House, Try Macs Speed Shop, Mckoy’s Smoke House, Vinnies Sardine, The penguin and most important explore, explore and explore. You have to look beneath the surface but charlotte does have a funky side.

        1. I would suggest dish, Penguin, and Thoms Street Tavern. They are all next to each other off Central Ave on the east side.

          Not sure if they qualify as "hip" in your book, but they are certainly real and not trendy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mcap

            These are all in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood - other places near by
            Petra's Piano Bar, LuLu, Very vintage looking Dairy Queen and Common Market.
            Try other hoods as well! R U down wit dat ? Man I'm so cool my street cred is on the rise

          2. M5 in South Park has that "hip" vibe you're looking for but it might be too much of a scene (i.e., too fabricated?) I just heard from my hair guy that the Nikko in the Arlington is the new "place". Sullivan's has that Thursday night happy hour that's pretty good.

            In the summer, check out the Whitewater Center for drinks after work (Fridays). It got kinda happening last season.

            Loft is hip and decent. My "young professional" friend met a really nice girl at The Grape in Ballantyne.

            1 Reply
            1. re: HungryGrayCat

              I got a gift certificate to Nikko for Christmas from a colleague. So we headed out there one Sunday a couple weeks ago. I didn't even know it had moved to its new location. It's really hip now...too hip for us really. We got there at 7 and got the last two top. By the time we left at almost 9, the lobby was slam packed with young beautiful people. If you're one of those, you'll fit right in. ;)