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Fun atmosphere/good food Charlotte, NC

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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 http://www.noda.org.

      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. ;)

            2. Here is a fun Idea for nest Sunday. It is always hip to be a nice person so this will be a great place to meet nice and hip people. Good for both the tummy and the soul :-)
              Soup on Sunday ladles it out for good cause
              Soup on Sunday, the annual spread of soups by area restaurants that raises money for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at Central Piedmont Community College's Main Campus (you'll see the signs). Restaurants (and their offerings, if declared): Bentley's on 27th (clam chowder), BrickTop's, Brio, Brixx (wood-roasted chicken and cheese tortilla soup), Cantina 1511 (posole), Ember Grille (white bean truffle puree with duck), Fenwick's (tomato bisque), Global (sweet potato soup), Harper's, Hotel Charlotte (she-crab), Katz New York (mushroom barley), Mama Ricotta's (pasta fagioli), Ratcliffe on the Green (N.C. black truffle and potato), Red Rocks (Southwestern white bean chicken chili), Santé (butternut squash) and Trio (mulligatawny). Cost is $25 and you get to sample all the soups you wish; there'll also be coffee and breads. For $35, you get to choose and keep a pottery bowl made by area artists. Pay at the door, or call 704-335-3536.

              1 Reply
              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                Great suggestion, GFL. I volunteer at this event every year w/ my daughter. It's an amazing event and there is a ton of fabulous soup to be had!

                1. re: martha cheves

                  I've heard nothing but bad stuff about this place. I went once and the service and food were both mediocre. It's kind of hard to screw up burgers and eggs, I know, but they did. Not to mention they've had several bad health inspections.

                2. I am from NJ/Philly and I LOVE Nikko's on South Blvd in the Arlington Building. The sushi is some of the best I have tasted and the vibe is very cool and hip. Feels like something you would find in Manhattan. It's full of young, cool people. Everyone comes dressed to dressy casual (which is missing from some Charlotte places, where I feel people are overly casual and at times bummy looking), they had a dj there on Saturday night. You can just hang at the bar/lounge area or get a table. It is definitely one of the coolest places I have been in Charlotte.

                  I also like HOM on 5th Street. 131 Main in Dilworth also has great food and is very cool.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: medleymp

                    Charlotte is growing and a really nice addition is that there's a Johnston and Wales here. So places will be popping up non-stop (hopefully). Regardless, two of my favorite places for food/atmosphere are The Customshop/300 East (although I admit I usually only go to either one for Sunday Brunch-awesome brunches). The Cajun Queen also on 7th street is a fun place to check out-although since you're from New Orleans the food might not compare. In Noda Cabo Fish Taco is a very casual place to grab a drink and some food. Just going to list a few other notable places (most have already been mentioned) Lulu's-great wine, french cuisine, Providence Cafe- not a huge fan but they have a nice patio to grab a drink after work with a friend, Zeda Jane's- an organic breakfast place although I think they started opening up for dinner as well, and I have to mention the Common Market for their deli/great drink selection. Good luck!

                    1. re: barbaroi

                      Sir Edmund Haley's- Brittish style pub. Hard to find in the Park road shopping center but I like the food and atmosphere.