The BF and I just got back from 3 days in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a really good weekend- and we got to explore a lot of the city (it’s pretty compact). We went with a big group of the BF’s coworkers and their plus one’s. One of my good friends from college, my sorority big, also lives there and it was her birthday weekend too! Can’t beat that timing.
We arrived super early Friday and explored the neighborhoods of NoDa and Plaza Midwood. NoDa is trying to be like SoHo- it’s Charlotte’s arts district with music venues and a few breweries. We got lunch at this unassuming bodega- but it had the most amazing sandwiches. We had heard about this London broil sandwich called the “G-Man G-Wich” which is only served on Fridays (lucky us!) and it did not disappoint.
Then we walked around the neighborhood (which didn’t take very long) but it was kind of dead since most people were at work. We walked from the main drag down a little bit and stopped at the famous Amelie’s bakery for dessert- a pecan pie tartlet and salted caramel brownie. The cafe itself is pretty crazy- it’s a mash-up of vintage French and Parisian finds hung up all over the walls. Definitely a must-visit even if the line is too long to get anything.
Then we hopped over to the Plaza Midwood area and walked around for a bit- popping into some open places like Moxie Mercantile, Common Market, soon-to-open Legion Brewing, and Workman’s Friend, a new bar. It’s a little bit more established than the NoDa area. We finished up with a couple beers at Pint Central (which also apparently has awesome cocktails).
That evening our group headed to the South End neighborhood which is just a light rail ride away from Uptown (what they call their Downtown). We took a shuttle to the Sycamore Brewery, which was pretty cool- a bonfire, live music, and lots of dogs inside and out. Also, for 6:30 on a Friday it was crazy busy! Definitely a happening spot in that area. After some time there, we headed to dinner at The Liberty Restaurant. Despite my decent entree, the appetizers were less than appealing. I think we would only return to try their burger which apparently is one of the best in the city. Afterwards, we headed over to two cool bars in Plaza Midwood- Twenty-Two (which is an art gallery/wine bar combo and very chill) and Soul Gastrolounge (much more upbeat and trendy- and the food smelled divine). We will definitely be returning for dinner there in the future.
Saturday morning, we started the day with a bus tour around Charlotte and explored a lot of the upscale neighborhoods as well as all throughout Uptown. Later in the afternoon, we checked out a couple of the breweries in NoDa (Heist Brewery which was very energetic with lots of brunchers and sports fans and Free Range which was very chill).
That night we headed out for a fancy dinner at 5Church in Uptown. We didn’t get cocktails, which they’re known for, but we did have fantastic wine and a great meal- we snacked on black bean hummus with crisps and mini thin crust bacon pizzas with fromage blanc. My three course meal started with tomato soup topped with crispy fried goat cheese, then filet mignon with potatoes and a shallot jus, and ended with a s’mores trifle that had the most decadent chocolate brownie you can imagine. I couldn’t even finish my entree, let alone my dessert!
Despite being so full, we soldiered on to check out a couple other cocktail bars in the city. The first was The Punch Room on top of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, home of the #1 mixologist in Charlotte. As soon as you walk in the hotel, you’re stunned by the beauty and swankiness, then you head up to the 15th floor. The bar has only 37 seats and no standing is allowed. It reminds you of country club’s cigar room- all leather and modern shapes. They brought us cups of their gin-based “punch of the day” then we ordered cocktails- I got a Pisco Sour (I had dozens when I studied abroad in Chile) and it came out very well. I can’t say the BF was thrilled with his Old Fashioned but his old roommate who joined us enjoyed his boozy choice. I do have to say the costs of the drinks are prohibitively expensive- I lived in New York for over three years and I have been to maybe one bar there that was on par with these prices. It’s fun for the experience once, but I can’t say we will be returning again, mostly because of the cost.
We headed over to the Hyatt for another rooftop cocktail bar- this one is called Fahrenheit. It was very crowded and due to a miscommunication between downstairs security and the bouncers upstairs, we waited for no reason down in the lobby for about 10 minutes. Once we finally got up there, it was a fight for the bartender’s attention. All three of us ordered cocktails, but he didn’t have all the ingredients to make the ones the guys had requested (strike 2). After we all had drinks in hand, we headed out to the terrace which gives a spectacular view of the skyline and also has a long gas fireplace strip to keep you warm.
We capped off the night meeting up with my old college friend who was having her birthday party at an Irish pub then headed over to Dandelion Market which apparently has good food, but eating was not on the agenda at that time. Avoid if you are averse to the college crowd and dancing like you’re back in high school, because that’s pretty much what that scene is. Even if you are out of your early 20s and composed, the bouncers and manager will still disrespect you like you are just another one of the rowdy post-grads.
Exhausted, we headed home. The next day we had time for brunch- a classic southern meal at The Asbury inside The Dunhill Hotel. We split homemade biscuits that came out in a little cast iron skillet and then I got the chicken and waffles and he got the chicken biscuit sandwich. We headed over to the other side of Uptown to check out his friend’s new apartment (which was awesome- the pool has private cabanas with TVs and refrigerators and overlooks the ballpark) then headed home!
We capped off the weekend with one last splurge meal at Santorini Cafe in Austin. I’m always in the mood for Greek and their gyros are the best I’ve had. They have a ton of outdoor seating as well as a ping pong table, cornhole, and even plastic bikes and ride-along toys for kids. Definitely going to go back with a group and get some wine to relax and hang out.
All in all, I definitely recommend checking out Charlotte- and since it’s such a growing city it’ll only get better with time. It can be easily explored in a few days and if you have longer you can venture outside the city limits to the mountains or beach. It was also a great time of year because we liked experiencing the fall foliage- something we don’t really get down here in Austin 🙂 Did I miss anything that we have to check out the next time we’re there? Let me know!