Today’s Charlotte City Guide Update comes from Charlotte resident Kendra Sands. Kendra has self-admitted obsessions with sweet potato fries, Carolina Panther football, unicorns, skateboard videos, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, her nieces and nephews and good coffee, as well as a sincere love of the city of Charlotte. Today she shares the best this North Carolina town has to offer. Thanks, Kendra, for a wonderful update! — Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump . . .
The South End neighborhood is actually called “Historic South End.” It’s filled with design centers and landmark eateries, as well as new favorites. Every weekend there is an event, whether it’s a gallery crawl, outdoor movie, or Food Truck Friday.
The Common Market: There are two locations for Common Market, but this one is my favorite. Inside is a small market with some food, candy, novelty items (think the hipster Cracker Barrel) a deli counter, and a huge wine and beer selection, including some beers on tap. Once you make your purchase, they offer to open your beverage for you, and you are able to drink at one of their indoor tables or outside on their patio. They have DJs or musicians there almost every night.
Prices Chicken Coop: This place is legendary. You could call it a Charlotte landmark. Price’s is a hole-in-the-wall chicken place. That’s it. But you will get some of the best fried chicken you’ve ever had.
Mr. K’s is almost as legendary as Price’s. Another tiny hole-in-the-wall place, but this is for soft serve and burgers. It’s one of the best and cheapest meals in town.
Pewter Rose: I once heard Pewter Rose described as “an eclectic gem. The perfect location for a Fern Gully brunch.”
Plaza Midwood is one of our most eclectic neighborhoods, one of those places where you can do some Saturday antiquing and then go next door to get a tattoo.
Zada Jane’s is the perfect brunch place in Charlotte. It’s bright, cheerful, and colorful. And they have coffee ready for you as you in mismatched thrift store mugs as you wait for your table. The food is perfectly southern (sweet potatoes, grits, biscuits & gravy) with great West Coast influences.
Penguin and the Diamond: There is a well-known feud behind these two restaurants. Brief history lesson: Penguin has been a local dive in Charlotte since 1954. It is known for its amazing greasy food and hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. There is always a line, which I blame on the Winky Dinky Dog (chili and pimento cheese hotdog). But then . . . oh . . . then the owner fired the manager. The manager left, and took the menu with him. He announced that he would open a new place within the year. And he did — next door to Penguin. He named it Diamond, and it is just as good as Penguin. Sometimes I think it is better. So the city of Charlotte is torn: Team Diamond vs. Team Penguin (I am team Diamond myself). If you are ever in the city, these two are a must. You need to choose your allegiance.
Common Market’s 2nd location
Boris and Natasha is a clothing boutique where you can find great high-end designers, as well as fantastic cheap sunglasses. It’s a wonderful balance.
Hong Kong Vintage is an amazing vintage shop. They have clothing ranging from the ’50s to the ’80s, all organized beautifully by color. There is also a great housewares collection with enough fondue pots, ashtrays and coffee serving sets to supply all of the cast members of Mad Men!
Lunch Box Records is my go-to record shop. I have never left disappointed. There is an excellent used collection, as well as every new album you can think of. The guys know their stuff, too. And an appreciative nod from the manager over your purchase is the icing on the cake.
John’s Country Kitchen has a good, cheap, greasy breakfast. It’s perfect for Saturday mornings.
North Davidson Street, or NoDa, runs from uptown into our art district and is filled with some of our favorite coffee shops, restaurants and galleries
Amelie’s is a 24-hour French bakery and cafe. I could just stop there; that is really enough. But in reality, Amelie’s is so much more! They make award-winning pastries. In fact, Pioneer Woman herself has become obsessed with their salted caramel brownie. All of these amazing pastries and coffees are served in the perfect shabby-chic, thrift-store treasure sitting area. Amelie’s is one of those places where you might find yourself sitting for 6 hours as you finish a book.
Growlers Pourhouse has a fantastic selection of local beer served with the perfect bar food. They’ll have you at the complimentary organic popcorn.
Cabo Fish Taco
Smelly Cat Coffeehouse named after Phoebe’s famous song from Friends, Smelly Cat is the perfect local coffee shop. It has great atmosphere, and you can find a drum circle outside on most weekends.
Evening Muse is our small coffee house-style music venue. Charlotte has a great local music scene, and you can see local bands there almost every night of the week.
Rat’s Nest is another vintage shop, but this one has an awesome southern flair. They have an entire wall lined with cowboy boots. The owner has searched far and wide working on his collection, and it’s the only place I know of where you can find a PBR lamp next to a 1970s prom dress.
Hart Witzen Gallery
Neighborhood Theater is our most beloved music venue in Charlotte. It was scheduled to be shut down a year ago, but locals banned together to keep its doors open.
Elizabeth is one of the most established neighborhoods in Charlotte, famous for its canopy-like tree-lined streets.
Sunflour Baking Company has the best cupcake in Charlotte. Their peanut butter chocolate cupcake is what dreams are made of. They have a modern setup with great coffee, sandwiches, and baked goods, including homemade pop tarts.
Philosopher’s Stone, affectionately called “P-Stone,” is your typical bar/pub. It’s perfect for getting a beer and wings and sitting on the patio while playing corn hole. It’s a local favorite because it isn’t fussy.
Not Just Coffee is one of Charlotte’s best surprises. Hidden in a market located in one of our uptown parking decks, it’s easy to walk past this place. I made that mistake my first visit. It is a stand-alone bar, with the best pour-over coffee you can find. And their espresso drinks are some of the best I’ve ever had. James is brilliant and a perfectionist. His lattes will make you cry tears of joy.
Pure Pizza is in the same market as Not Just Coffee. They have amazing organic, gluten-free, and dairy-free options for pizza. Their buckwheat crust is so good!
NC Music Factory is music venue that has a theater, amphitheater, beer garden, restaurants, clubs and bars all on one giant property.
Dilworth is just south of uptown and a local favorite. It boasts bike paths, beautiful homes, and some of the best parks and restaurants in the city.
Bad Daddy’s is the favorite burger bar here. Everyone is a regular, which makes sense with menu items like all-natural, grass-fed beef burgers, “grown-up” milkshakes, and homemade potato chips with pimento cheese.
Dolce Ristorante Italiano is famous for their gnocchi. Dolce is a favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant. Not fussy, but lovely.
Freedom Park is perfect for a nice walk or even a nap on the hill. It is a lovely spot to relax after a big lunch at any of these places.
Paper Skyscraper is the best gift shop in Charlotte. It’s one of those places where you end up spending way more than you planned, but it’s totally worth it.
Toast Cafe is another breakfast/brunch gem. They serve perfect southern food (try the raspberry walnut pancakes!), including cornbread as you wait.
Sir Edmund Hailey’s, or as we call it, Sir Ed’s, might be the best kept secret in Charlotte. It’s hidden behind a local shopping center, so it’s not the easiest to find. Sir Ed’s is the perfect pub, but perhaps most famous for its jerk chicken nachos. Definitely a Charlotte favorite!
- The Avett Brothers
- Angie Harmon (for all die-hard Law and Order fans like me)
- Emily Maynard, from everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure, The Bachelorette