Help! Charlotte from Columbia (concert at Verizon Amphitheater)
Apologies for such short notice. My husband and I are driving from Columbia, SC to attend a concert tomorrow (06/21/2012) evening at the Verizon Amphitheater. I've done some general searching for a somewhat decent place to eat around that area, but I'm not having much luck. We're not entirely opposed to going into downtown to eat, but we'd much prefer to go somewhere either around the venue itself or along the way from Columbia to Charlotte. As we're attending a concert later that evening, we'd prefer a more casual atmosphere. We're very into craft beer and the like, so perhaps a nicer-than-normal pub?
I can't help much with suggestions near the amphitheater (sp?), but I have a couple of suggestions that are close to Uptown, not far off I-77 and with easy parking. One is a "gastro-pub" (whatever that means) called the Liberty. (www.thelibertycharlotte.com) When it first opened (a year or so ago) I thought the food was very average, but lately it has been much better.
My real recommendation is to go to the new World of Beer, just a few blocks from The Liberty. Its a cool place with an amazing beer selection. They don't serve food, but they have arrangements with several close-by restaurants to deliver food. The best option is Greek Isles, an excellent greek place right around the corner from WOB. Also, on Thursday nights there is usually a great food truck parked at WOB called Herban Legend. You can get an excellent meal from them and enjoy it in WOB.
VBGB would be a good pick for a good selection of craft beer (local and otherwise), good food and a casual setting. Maybe too casual for what you want? It's a really nice local version of a German beer garden. If you want a place to hang out, drink, and eat (as opposed to a restaurant for a table-service dinner) it would be a good choice.
The area around Verizon is pretty much food chain hell. Pub food of all sorts can be found just north of downtown (uptown) in an area called NoDa. Crepe Cellar has good beer and food (love their crepes and get the brussel sprouts in arugula pesto - yum). Next door to Crepe Cellar is Growlers Pub. They have good traditional pub food and a great selection of beers. Across the street is Cabo Fish Taco and you can get just what the name suggests - a good variety of fish tacos and beer. Enjoy!
I live 5 minutes from there. Concord Mills is a minute away if you want to check out the chain restaurants there (north on N. Tryon/highway 29), and a left on Bruton Smith Blvd).
If you go south on N. Tryon from the amphitheater, there are a couple more restaurants a mile or two down. Flying Saucer will be on the right in the first shopping center after crossing Mallard Creek Ch Rd; it's the closest decent pub in the area.
If you like jamaican food, Caribbean Hut is pretty good and in the same shopping center. If you make it to WT Harris Blvd, there are tons of restaurants. If you are up for trying Vietnamese food--which is very good--check out Pho Real in the shopping center that contains Walgreen's.
If you like Greek/Italian food, there are 2 very good family restaurants off of University City Blvd/Highway 49. Dino's Pizza & Subs is a Greek/italian family-run restaurant in Harrisburg; in the shopping center with Lowes Foods. Their pizza/calzones/strombolis are amazing, they also have one of the best Greek Salads I've had in Charlotte (they make their Greek dressing). If you want italian, Amalfi's is on 49 as well but in the opposite direction. It's a very small restaurant in the shopping center with Harris Teeter/Rite-Aid/Lifestyle Family Fitness (next to Subway). They have great pasta dishes and very good NY-style pizza.
Good luck on whatever you choose and enjoy the concert!
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! After much debate, we decided to play it safe and go to the Flying Saucer. We were very, very close to taking a detour and eating at Midwood Smokehouse, but, not knowing the area too well, we didn't want to risk running into traffic and arriving late to the concert.
ILike2EatMoar - if I had seen your post soon enough, we would've definitely eaten at one of the places you recommended in the same shopping center as the saucer before heading that way for a few drinks.
Again, thanks to all for the recommendations. We plan on heading to Charlotte again soon to try some of the places we missed this time around!