new southern in charlotte, nc
I will be traveling with my boyfriend to Charlotte and Asheville NC in July. We will be in Charlotte for one night and Asheville for 4. I am hoping to get some advice on good southern/new southern cuisine restaurants... something interesting that I cannot get in San Francisco. I already tried Barringtons in Charlotte and they are closed the one night we are there. Also, in Charlotte we are planning to stay at the Ballantyne Resort... advice on if this is a good place to stay and a restaurant somewhat near by would be wonderful.
It's Ken and Tammy with Mix 96.5 in Asheville, NC. We do morning radio here. We saw your post and asked our listeners to recommend places for you to eat. Here's what they had to say:
Vegetarian: Laughing Seed, Wall Street, Downtown Asheville (great food - and I'm not a vegetarian!)
For great barbeque and ribs: 12 Bones. Pres. Obama visited here and had to make a run to 12 Bones. Awesome! (casual) River district.
Southern Fusion: Tupelo Honey, downtown Asheville (casual - fun people watching too!)
Good ole' Southern comfort food: Moose Cafe (casual - plus adjacent to the big farmers market)
High end steak dinner: Chop House, Four Points by Sheraton, Downtown Asheville.
Great breakfast food: HT Pappas in nearby Black Mountain, which is a must visit because of all of the great antique shops. Neat little town about 10 minutes from Asheville.
Good food with an incredible view: The Pisgah Inn on Blue Ridge Parkway
Fab place to have evening cocktails: the terrace of the Grove Park Inn. Also nice meals. (Upscale).
Greek Italian: Apollo Flame Bistro near Biltmore Village. (casual)
Refreshments while touring Biltmore Village: Chelsea's Tea Room; afternoon tea at 3:30 (awesome!) plus fun shopping.
Lunch in Biltmore Village: Fig Bistro (so good!)
Corner Kitchen (smart casual) - in Biltmore Village. Great for dinner or lunch.
Pizza and small town flavor: Blue Mountain Pizza in Weaverville. About 10 minutes from Asheville; fabulous little small town. Dessert at Well Bred Bakery just down the street.
Pizza and hometown brew in Downtown Asheville: Barley's Taproom
Microbrews are big here ... Asheville Pizza Company downtown Asheville is a good spot to sample as well as Barleys.
Hope this helps and you enjoy your visit!
Ken and Tammy
Being from San Francisco, let me offer some advice on food you can't easily get there:
Fried pickles - try these at Penguin.
Shrimp & grits - try this at Lulu.
NC-style BBQ - try this at Old Hickory House or for a hipper scene, Mac's BBQ -- get the pulled pork; this is the dish that's unique here, not the ribs or brisket.
Hotdogs or burgers with chili, onions and slaw - the burger at Penguin is good; ask for it Southern style. A good slaw dog is at Green's Lunch? I haven't been yet.
A BLT with fried green tomatoes - try this at Common House.
Fried chicken - try Price's or for a fancier dinner, the fried chicken breast at Carpe Diem is delicious.
Salt & pepper catfish - the only place I know for this is Vinnie's Raw Bar on South -- anyone else have an idea?
If you really want to get local, try some livermush for breakfast at John's Country Kitchen or some chili at Lupie's and wash it down with a Cheerwine.
I would avoid Vinnie's Raw Bar.
Lulu has a great fried green tomato & blt sanwich too. Mmmmm. But their Lulu burger is fabulous (pimento cheese, fried green tomato, jalapeno relish, brioche bun). Their lamb burger sliders w/ harissa and goat cheese mayo ROCK! I also love their mussels & frites too (especially the red curry broth if they have it).
OMG, how did I almost forget to mention NEW SOUTH KITCHEN & BAR in the Arboretum - DUH! This place is great and is chef-owned. It's in south charlotte, not too far from The Ballantyne Resort. Chef Chris Edwards and his wife run the place and he has been around town for a long, long time. Just about everything he does is delicious - the best shrimp & grits I've had in town. http://www.newsouthkitchen.com/ I think this best fits what you're looking for. It's got a bit of a "scene", small plates, southern influenced fare. NC trout, low country crab cakes, finger-lickin' fried chicken, etc. Plus good foie gras & fried oysters. Great wine list too. I
There is a new(er) restaurant on Central called "Common House". Its around the corner from those other suggestions, and I believe its "more southern for less money" than Lulu. Don't get me wrong, Lulu is great but is an occasional treat for me. Nobles and Roosters are good as well in a similar price point. Ratcliffe doesn't call itself "New Southern" but certainly serves some dishes I would describe that way. "New South Kitchen" is at the Arboretum and I think the name says enough. Will try to brainstorm some more on this...
You could stay in South Park and eat at either Noble's or Jim Noble's more casual place, Rooster's Kitchen. Then have drinks on the patio at M5. Wake up the next day and get a chicken biscuit for breakfast at the fanciest Bojangles around!
Or stay in Uptown and make the 10 minute drive/cab ride to Lulu for dinner, then hit (as Ickymettle suggested) Thomas St Tavern, Soul Gastrolounge and Thirsty Beaver.
HungryGrayCat has some great suggestions. As a matter of fact, my first recommendation now that I understand what you're looking fo may be Lulu to start your night. You could have dinner there and finish your night off with some drinks and a small plate at Soul Gastrolounge. In between, you could stop at Common Market for a bottle of wine. That may be the type of evening you're looking for and it will give you a real taste of Charlotte. If you do that you would want to stay uptown, which is a very short cab ride away.
The SouthPark suggestion is solid as well (and you've obviously been to that area if you've been to Noble's and Barrington's), and Rooster's is very good. SouthPark doesn't have the same character that Plaza-Midwood (where Lulu, etc. is) has, however.
Here are some links for you if you go the Lulu/Plaza-Midwood route:
And if you choose the SouthPark route:
Yes, IM & HGC have some great suggestions. Ballantyne Resort is in suburbia, and while it is a beautiful hotel where Tiger, Beyonce and others stay (ha), its surrounded by many chain establishments. I would stay at the Westin uptown (or Omni Hotel) and take a taxi to Lulu and hit the places they've suggested above.
If you stay at the Ballantyne Resort (too far to go to Lulu, etc) a great chef-owned resto is Global Restaurant (behind Earthfare just north of the hotel on Johnston Rd). Global is owned by a world-traveled French chef who dishes up some very creative food. I once had a truffled artichoke soup there that was to die for. Across the street from Earthfare there is a wine store/restaurant that has gotten some great reviews on their food - Vintage Wine Cellar.
If u head south on Johnston, cross Ballantyne Commons Pkwy and take your first right you'll head into Ballantyne Village. They have a great theatre that shows art & independent films (and serve adult beverages). Also in that complex is Village Bistro (good lobster rolls) and Salara Dessert Bar/Lounge.
Let us know how you make out. Have a great trip!
Hi, thanks for the replies! I guess I am not 100% what I mean by New Southern Cuisine... but it seems that restaurants like Barringtons and Noble's might fit the category.
I am looking for something lively and trendy... if the Ballantyne Resort is a more remote area, maybe a suggestion for a hotel in a better location?
Thanks so much for all the help!
Well, Noble's has shrimp and grits on the menu, and Barrington's has fried catfish, but I certainly wouldn't consider either menu an expression of southern cooking. I haven't eaten at either one, so I can't give an opinion on the quality of the food. Others have suggested LuLu and Common House (both of which I love), but again, neither of which is particularly southern...although you can get a pimento cheese burger at CH. Ratcliffe's recently underwent a major menu and concept change, and now bills itself as a "brasserie" with a menu that is french influenced, as you might expect. I'm probably too old to recognize, or appreciate, lively and trendy, so I guess I'm not much help. The only things I can think of in Charlotte that you couldn't get in SF are NC style bbq, or Price's Chicken Coop, but there's nothing trendy in that..
I assume you will be in Charlotte on Sunday night? Wherever you go, be sure and confirm that its open on Sunday. I don't think Noble's is; LuLu and Common House are.
You may not find much interesting around Ballantyne. Carolinadawg's suggestion of Dish is a good one, assuming you're not looking for anything upscale. You could have dinner there and spend the evening in the neighborhood, which has plenty to do. After dinner walk over to Common Market and have a bottle of wine and people watch. Then walk over to Penguin and share some fried pickles. Then go play ping pong on the deck of Thomas Street Tavern. After that, walk over to Soul Gastrolounge and relax and maybe have one more small dish to finish off your night.
It might be helpful if you could describe what you mean by southern/new southern cuisine. Also, what kind of ambiance.price range are you looking for? If you mean "traditional" southern food like fried chicken, etc., then 2 places to try in Uptown (which in Charlotte means downtown, and thats not near Ballantyne) are Mert's Heart and Soul and Simmons Fourth Ward Restaurant.. I haven't been to Dish, but I think it might be what you're looking for. The local independent newspaper (Creative Loafing) recently had a review of a relatively new place called Sadies' Soulful Southern Experience that sounds great. Its located at 5708 North Sharon Amity Road. I'm sorry, but I don't know much about the Ballantyne area. Hopefully others can chime in....good luck!