Coming from SoCal to Charlotte, NC for business
I will be traveling next week to Charlotte, NC for two nights for business. I am looking for some recommendations on where to eat two dinners. I will be traveling alone and am female, so I'm looking for places where I won't feel uncomfortable dining alone (I'm happy to eat in the bar). Never having been to Charlotte, I'd love some recs for local Southern or bbq food. Also, if anyone has any recs on where to pick up a few good pastries for breakfast, I'd love that, too. I'm staying at the Westin in downtown Charlotte, so walking distance or a short cab ride would be preferable.
Just do a search on this site for anything Uptown in Charlotte. There is a lot of good info. I've never come across a restaurant in Charlotte where a woman eating alone would feel uncomfortable. I've heard good things about the restaurant at the Westin so you may want to make that one of your choices especially if it's cold. Mert's is within walking distance for local Southern food. I'm not a fan but have had my head bitten off on this site for saying so.
Southern food, go for Merts..pretty good soul food, which is uptown. Or short cab ride, Price Chicken Coop is fantastic Fried Chicken, but more of a grab and go type place. Pastries? :( Sorry to say not too many choices. I always like Dean and Deluca, but I"m sure someone will disagree with me. For dinner, I always recommend las ramblas... it's one of my favorites, and not too far from uptown, but def. a cab ride away. Uptown, go to Coco Osteria for fantastic Italian. (think they have a website?) I'm sure you'll get many rec's from several Charlottonians. :) so this is just one hounds opinion of course. :) Hope you enjoy Charlotte as much as we love living here!
It's not what you might think of when you think of "Southern" food, but if you're on an expense account, go to Ratcliffe's which is an easy walk from the Westin. Their focus is locally grown so it's a decent representation of what's growing in the area. I don't think they have much room to sit in the bar, but I wouldn't be uncomfortable alone in the dining room.
I would agree with the recommendation for Mert's, at least for lunch. It's not going to be amazing food, but it's a fair representation of soul food in Charlotte (for better or worse).
Pastries...uptown...that's a toughie.
Mert's is is Southern Style restaurant, but I will agree with Southern Italian that it has its hits and misses. As for good BBQ, well, sad to say, we don't have a star on that front.
Our fancy new light rail will take you to Price's Chicken Coop on Camden Ave. Get off at the Bland Street station and it's a short walk. This is an excellent fried chicken place that also serves fried fish. It's take out only, and they close in the evening by 7PM - or when they sell out of chicken. Closed on Mondays.
The Coffee Cup is a Charlotte institution that serves soul food. They have good fried chicken, excellent biscuits, mac-n-cheese, greens, grits, etc. The Cup lost some of its soul when it moved from it's original location to an office building at 301 McDowel. But, if you want grits and biscuits, this is the place: http://www.coffeecupsoul.com/
Many folks on this board wil recommend Mac's Speed Shop for BBQ. I have tried Mac's, and I am just not on the same page as other folks. Maybe it's b/c I am a native Texan and I really don't care for their bbq brisket. I also thought their banana pudding had an odd color and texture. But, Mac's has it's fans. ttp://www.macspeedshop.com/
Folks also seem to love Lupie's on Monroe Road. I have been many times, and Lupies, IMHO, is just okay. Their veggie plate (southern-style veggies, mind you) is pretty good and they serve their tea in mason jars, which is kitschy and fun. They do make a pretty darned good nanner puddin though.
My go-to place for BBQ is only open for lunch Mon-Fri - Bill Spoon's BBQ 5524 South Blvd. This is the closest thing to real, Lexington, NC style 'cue in Charlotte. Great hush puppies, too. This will be the longest cab ride and they take cash only.
For local food, but not necessarily Southern, go to Lulu's on Central Ave (French-inspired using many local products), or Dish http://www.eatatdish.com/entree.htm, for souther-inspired, simple fare and a laid-back atmosphere.
If you want authentic soul food, head to The United House of Prayer for All People on Beattie's Ford Road. The serve lunch daily - and for soul food, it's the real deal.
UHOP FAP” You must try this for lunch.
It is a charlotte experience.
I have been to the one on Mint for lunch many times. I don’t know much about them as a church except they have locations threw out charlotte and I believe there leader is called Sweet Daddy. All locations have a cafeteria. The food is not great but good. It is very wholesome, home-style fare. The collard green are excellent as is the Mac and cheese .I like the fried pork chops, but the fried chicken is nothing special. The meat loaf is superb. I refer to them as
"UHOP FAP"--- United house of prayer - For all people
Lynn, I'm sort of ashamed to say that I don't know exactly what their mission is. I assumed that the cafes were just one of the church's money-raising endeavors. I don't know if they employ the homeless, but there are a few people who work at the one on Mint who are ALWAYS there, and they are very kind people. One cool thing about eating at a church - no tax on the meal. :)
Personally, I think the food is great - perhaps mostly because it reminds me of my grandmother's cooking. There are a couple main dishes they serve everyday: Fried and Baked Chicken and Turkey Wings. Then everyday they have a couple specials as well. I could probably recite them, but I won't bore you. The line is often huge on Thursdays and Fridays when they have fried fish, but that's not my thing. I do have to limit how often I go because while it's healthy for your soul, it's not necessarily healthy for your body. :)
It's not just a Charlotte experience because there are UHOP churches in over 20 states and a great many of them do have the cafe. I've also eaten at one in Richmond.
Thanks, Courtney & GFL, for the info. I gotta check this place out. I know Kathleen Purvis has mentioned it several times. You've sparked my curiosity, so I went searchin' the web. Turns out the church was started in Mass. by some dude named Big Daddy. There are 20+ churches around the country most of which serve up food from their cafeteria to the public. Here's a clip from an article I found at gourmet.com:
As the church has grown and prospered, Daddy Grace’s personality has receded from the forefront, services have become less insular (if no less frenetic), and basement cafeterias that were once for members only have opened their doors to the public. The food served now differs from city to city and reflects the local cuisine: In rural Virginia, you’re likely to see pigs’ feet on the menu; in urban Pennsylvania, scrapple; along the coast of Georgia, red rice. Even within a city like Charlotte, offerings vary among the three churches that regularly serve lunch. The North Davidson Street cafeteria serves chitlins at Christmas, while the mother church on Beatties Ford Road serves little pork and forswears the use of salt. At the Mint Street cafeteria, only filleted whiting is fried. Everywhere else, general consensus has it that the sweeter meat is found closest to the bone.
At the United House of Prayer, the cafeterias serve up both sustentative and spiritual savories. While other denominations may operate soup kitchens as a form of good works, the United House of Prayer made a decision early on that, while the church would subsidize food service and keep prices artificially low, no one would eat for free. The five-bucks-a-pop, tough-love strategy has worked, at least in Charlotte. As one of the Sunday shift cooks put it: “Jesus fed the multitudes. And we plan on feeding all God’s children.”
Interesting stuff. :-)
Breakfast is limited so I'd say try Dean & DeLuca for your pastries. For dinner & BBQ, I do like Mac's and it's a short cab ride from The Westin. I really enjoyed their brisket, mac n' chs and they have a huge beer selection.
Another neat place close by would be 300 East. It has been around for quite a while, is in a restored craftsman style house and has an eclectic menu. Very laid back, bohemian-esque kind of vibe. This is a good summation: http://search.cityguide.aol.com/charl...
I 2nd another posters rec for Ratcliffe on the Green. Bldg once housed Ratcliffe's florist many moons ago. The chef's focus is on local foods. He makes every attempt to buy local cheeses, produce and meats. Wonderful service too. The tasting menu is a bargain.
For live jazz, a bit of a bar scene and good food, check out Blue at 5th & College Sts.
Although Price's is great, it's takeout only and only open 'til 6pm.
Enjoy your visit... I hope it warms up by then. It's chilly here now! ;-)