Visiting Charlotte a few nights
Hounds, the last travel advice to Charlotte visitors on this board is about a year old, so I'm re-asking. I'm going to be there three nights, central city and toward the airport. I'll have a car. BBQ recs? Head out to Lexington? Go to that Chicken Coop place? Or, conversely, any place for a good glass of wine? This is on me, not an expense account, and I'm a girl traveling alone, so nowhere where I have to bring a bodyguard please. ('Cause then I'd have to feed him.)
Many, many thanks!
So, reporting in post-trip (with HUGE thanks to all of you for the guidance. Because Charlotte may be the least-navigable city in the universe, and I've driven on several continents. C'mon, it's crazy.):
I ended up with more late work nights than I planned, which cut down on my fun food time. (File under Plans, Best Laid, etc.). But I made it to the Tailgate Farmers Market, where there were the cutest little sweet 100 cherry tomatoes in bags (car snack!) and the peaches were OFF THE HOOK; and of course down the street to Price's, which may be the deep-fried chicken of my dreams. The rendered fat under the crispy breast skin? OMG. (But, criticism, they clearly fry the wings up separately, because of my quarter white, the breast was fresh out of the fryer, the wing, not so much.)
I got to Ru-San's for sushi - not a creative choice but I know it from Atlanta and it was late, and it was as safe as the original, but their sake prices were good - and the Common Market for wine. (And got a lecture from a hippie chick about the chips I was buying. They were bad for me. Umm, I know that.)
My one bad experience was 300 East, which I was really looking forward to and wanted to love. I got there about 8.35p on a Thursday; it was busy but not in the weeds. I asked the hostess if there was room at the bar, because bar menus are usually interesting and when I'm alone in strange cities I'd rather talk to the bartender than take up a table and depress a waitron who thinks I won't tip well. (NB: Because I travel a lot, alone, I tip *very* well.) The hostess said there was room, but "room" turned out to be one remaining stool between two parties who clearly did not want to give up an inch of space; honestly, the hairgelled guy on one side deliberately extended his leg into the space where I was about to sit to keep me from wriggling in there. The hostess had gone off into the other room and the bartender was either distracted or not willing to take sides. The whole feeling was very much: This is our private club in our sleek little neighborhood, and if we don't know you, you can't join.
So I went up the street to Fuel and got some decent pizza and wine, but it wasn't what I planned. (And, nit: Fuel, while tasty, is not "NY style." It takes more than a thin crust to make pizza into NY pizza. Sorry, native New Yorker here.)
Many thanks again for all the great recommendations. I wish I'd been able to use more of them.
There is a great restaurant in Ballantyne called Salara Dessert Lounge & Bistro. Not a lot of people know about it yet but it really is great. If you like desserts then you will have to check this place out. Also, do not just go there for the desserts they have a fab savory menu too.
I have to say, my first visit to Salara was unimpressive. So-so desserts and bad wine pairing recommendations. But, subsequent visits have been much more pleasant. They have GREAT homemade sorbet and frozen yogurt, and they reduced their wine prices to retail. I wouldn't go out of my way to stop by, but if you happen to be in the area it's nice for an after-dinner hangout.
I attended a charity event last night uptown and Salara was one of the restaurant food sponsors. I'd been hesitant to try them, but they were GREAT! Wow... great key lime mousse (?) with blackberries and raspberries, and a flourless chocolate cake that was so rich and unbelievable. They had a good peach tart thing too and great chocolate chip cookies. Granted, I wasn't really paying for it (other than what I'd paid to attend the charity event) so I don't know the price tag, but I thought they had great stuff. There was another dessert place represented, and I thought Salara was far superior.
re: Chocolate Toe
Wow! Key lime mousse, chocolate cake, peach tart & chocolate chip cookies all in one evening? My blood sugar is rising just thinking about it! Good for you. ;-)
FYI, Leigh101 is an undercover employee or promoter for Salara so I'd take these couple of posts here w/ a grain of salt.
Well I myself am definitely no undercover promoter - I am not one to pay big bucks for tiny desserts!! But they were really good, at the event. It was awesome getting to try them all. And they were tiny portion size. I think Salara does a fair amount of charitable sponsorship like that. At least for the organization whose event I attended.
For cheap eats that represent our region, I would go for fried chicken at Prices Chicken Coop, barbecue at Bridges on HW 74 in Shelby (a 40 min. drive but worth it) and fried pickles at the Penguin.
For a white tablecloth experience that best combines regional food, decent wine list and good value, I would go for Ratcliffe on the Green (uptown), Barringtons on Fairview in SouthPark and Lulu on Central in Plaza Midwood
Enjoy your visit, and let us know what you thought!
Hope I'm not too late on this.
One place you could go to get a glass of wine and have a good meal at the bar would be Carpe Diem on Elizabeth Ave. It's just outside of downtown. It's not cheap, but it's not too expensive.
Alexander Michael's in Fourth Ward, which is a residential area downtown, would be a good place to get a bite to eat and something to drink. The atmosphere there is great, and it's tucked away in a nice little area. The bartender's a really nice guy as well.
Sir Edmund Halley's behind Park Road Shopping Center off of Park Rd. and Woodlawn Rd. is a British-style pub with good food that's fun to hang out at.
If you've got a big appetite, Mac's Speed Shop on South Blvd. is a very lively place serving good barbecue (not NC-style, though) and brisket.
Nolen Kitchen on Selwyn Ave. offers good food and a good wine selection. It has a nice bar you can sit at, or you can sit outside on the patio.
M5 in the SouthPark area could be a nice place to have a glass of wine. They have a nice patio that gets very lively at night.
Cabo Fish Taco in NoDa is a good place to get a fish taco and a cheap margarita. It's got a fun vibe to it.
Those are some options I'd recommend in addition to some that have already been recommended.
Charlotte is confusing to get around, do you have a GPS? Make sure you have a map at all times.
Grab a Creative Loafing first thing and look for things to do and drink specials. There are cheap drinks every night if you just have the info.
Streets that you should check out for restaurants, fun things to do and thrift stores and high end stores also..
Thomas Street- check out the Penguin, Charlotte Landmark
Elizabeth Street - Eat at NOFO on Liz at their Mexi cafe for reasonable drinks, cute shop also.
South Charlotte has South Park Mall, you can go to Dean and Deluca wine bar and check out their grocery store, across the street from each other..
There is also the Mint Museum for modern art. Daniel Stowe Botanical garden,
If I were travelling to Charlotte alone and wanted to dine out, I'd probably go for inexpensive, nice and safe/comfy. Some places just accentuate the fact that you're by yourself (dating rich places). I'd head for 300 East and sit on the patio out front. It's a nice neighborhood and the place is fabUlous. There's a great gift store a brief walk away that is fun to check out, Paper Skyscraper. Since you seem to be more wine than beer oriented, I'd also suggest the patio @ LuLu, as well. As for downtown drinks, I've been to Therapy on Tryon downtown and they have great martinis. Boudreax in NoDa is a good idea, too. They have great brunch and wonderful bisques/soups. Its in a neighborhood where it's easy to mix and plenty of peoplewatching potential.
It's summer, so I guess all of my recs involve hanging around outside w/ a pretty drink in your hand.
You might want to try Las Ramblas in Dilworth. They are about 3 miles from Center City, and feature great tapas and a decent wine list. Their sister restaurant, Bonterra, has one of the better wine lists near downtown, but I have not eaten there in years.
Also close to center city is Nikko's Sushi. Great atmosphere, and voted best sushi numerous times. I also like Ru Sans (also in Dilworth, not far from Las Ramblas) - I think the atmosphere is fun, but the sushi is not on the same level as Nikko's.
I think Prices Chicken Coop is definitely worth a light rail trip for lunch. They are closed Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday's from 4-7 and Saturdays from 9-1 you can combine a trip to Price's with a visit to Charlotte's Tailgate Market. It's across the street from Phat Burrito (another great lunch spot BTW). At the market, you can sample Goat Lady dairy cheeses and Leah's Middle Eastern cuisine.
Mari just a heads up as this trip is on your dime. Las Ramblas, Bonterra, and Nikko's are very nice. Las Ramblas and Bonterra are both great wine venues, however all three are in the very expensive category. Also if you elects to go to Prices Chicken Coop it would be important to note they are strictly a take out place. Happy hour at Sullivans on South Blvd. may be a fun idea.
I don't know if I would put Las Ramblas in the very expensive category - since it's tapas, you can order a few small a few small plates and be quite sattisfied. We went last night and they were offering all bottles of wine at 1/2 price.
Additionally, Zebra has announced they are extending their Charlotte Restaurant Week deal of three courses for $30 until August 2. You can view their menu here: http://charlotterestaurantweek.com/Re...
Zebra is not close to downtown (about 7 miles away) but it is in a very safe area across from Southpark Mall.
Oceanaire restaurant (this is a chain but a good one) is extending their $30 menu through July 25
GW Fins (seafood place uptown) is offering a $25 two-course dinner with non-alchoholic beverage for $25 from 5-6:30 nightly.
The Tailgate Market features all LOCAL farmers and purveyors of baked goods and more. This is it's thrid year in Charlotte, but it's first year in Dilworth, having moved from the Plaza Midwood area. Here's what's featured tomorrow per the email I get from Lynn Caldwell, the director:
Madd Mazz Food Co. - MADD MAZZ Food Co. was established in 2007 with a mission to produce sauces and other food products made from locally grown produce. We are now ready to present our first product – MADD MAZZ Tomato Gravy. In addition to supporting local farmers, we also support local business. Our packaging, artwork, and printing are all locally sourced. All ingredients are either natural or organic according to availability, and no pesticides or herbicides have been used on any of the crops. Our ultimate goal is for this “gravy” to be a source of joy for those involved in its production and consumption.
Groundswell Farm - Sara Fennell will wow us with lettuce, snap beans, fennel, broccoli raab, chard, Caribe and Russian Banana potatoes. She has quite a following, so get to the market early for the best pickin's!
Edwards' Farms – Todd and Greg Edwards farm together in Union county. Their acreage hosts produce and a nursery! This Saturday they will have several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, okra, purple hull pink eye peas, peppers… some zucchini… and who knows what else? I am TOTALLY excited about the peas. They are a bit of work, but worth every bit of the effort. I'm trying to dig up my pea cakes recipe from last season, but these are great simmered for awhile and served with a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
Felicitea - Offering a wide selection of handcrafted, all-natural designer loose teas, herbal pillows and other products. Each product offers a healing aspect, as well as moments of relaxation and opportunities to have a taste of happiness. Felicitea offers a couple teas for tasting, and she'll have prepared teas in bottles for all those who've been inquiring after them. She'll also be accepting order for the following weeks bottling, so if anyone wants a specific tea made for pick up the next market you can email her at email@example.com.
'N Thyme Farm - This week promises tomatoes, cucumbers, and two kinds of squash, as well as some potatoes and garlic. Yum! Bob grows skinny little Japanese cucumbers that are out of this world.
Robert Hildreth - Most markets have flowers, but not like these. Robert grows and harvests unique combinations of flowers and herbs that make the most beautiful arrangements I've seen. He has a special gift when it comes to putting arrangements together. Come and see him work!
Harmony Gardens - Saturday she'll have Malabar spinach, tomatoes, herbs- lime basil and thai basil, bay leaves, catnip, thyme, rosemary, eggs, and a few plants, like Cuban oregano.
Jesse and Karen Reich - Back this week with some of Cabarrus County's finest produce, including squash, eggplant, cucumbers (try the white ones!), tomatoes, and hot peppers. You must also try Karen's pickles, and check out her handmade goods.
Quench!Essentials - All natural bath products, laundry products... if you have empty containers of her laundry detergent, feel free to bring them back to recycle! Catherine has 14 "skinfully delicious" soaps, lotion bars, bath and masage oils, pre-treat stain sticks, soap decks, and gift bags. She'll also have Lemongrass w/Ginger Essential Oil soap, and by popular request, Lemongrass w/Bentonite Clay shaving soap (real nice for a smooooth shave).
Beverly's Gourmet Foods Inc. - Come grab a peach cobbler while the local peaches are fresh! Beverly will be at The Tailgate with Peach Cobblers, Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Cheese Quiches, Summer Squash Casseroles, Gazpacho, Pimento Cheese and Edamame Salad, plus more. If you want to get on her mailing list, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The Secret Chocolatier" - Bill Dietz and his Chocolate Truffles - feed your inner chocoholic. Seven flavors for you to sample and take home. Refreshing mint is back in stock!
Shawn Hammond - Massage Therapist extraordinaire. Even a few minutes will turn your crazy day around!
SkyeTurtle Designs - Artistic and thoughtful jewelry...many beautiful pieces for a range of tastes and budgets. Worth mentioning that SkyeTurtle donates a percentage of sales to environmental organizations.
For more info, visit: http://charlottetailgatemarket.com/ab...