Charlotte is no longer a sleepy North Carolina town of yesteryear. With a growing business scene and metropolitan vibe, Queen City is developing into a must-see destination. Foodies, perhaps sensing the exposed brick décor and chalkboard menus, have rushed into the city en masse. Every few weeks a new eatery’s lights flicker on, and Instagram feeds flood with images of beautiful foods. Eaters, rejoice, because Restaurant Week in Charlotte is the perfect time to enjoy all these salty and sweet flavors making an impression on taste buds.
What to expect during Charlotte’s Restaurant Week
Charlotte has long lived in the shadow of its more boisterous cousin of Raleigh, but lately it’s snatched the spotlight. Blending together Southern favorites with local artisanal fare, the food scene now has country-wide recognition. This year, over 120 Charlotte restaurants are participating in the event, and displaying just how far North Carolina can push the limits of old-time flavors and local ingredients.
Bites between sights
Charlotte’s unique neighborhoods offer hints of where the city’s been and where it wants to be on the national scene. Unsurprisingly, each area’s surroundings influence the dishes on the menu. Start salivating for old-school fried chicken in Dilworth, brace your tongue for spice in North Davidson (NoDa), and get your trigger finger ready to snap a photo of your pretty dessert in Uptown. Are you ready to start sightseeing? If so, here are some of the top things to do in Charlotte between bites.
Start your morning by getting to know the feel of Charlotte in the neighborhood of Dilworth. This cozy part of town was largely known as an upscale residential area until galleries and eateries started turning on their welcome signs. Before buying some art, grab a bite at 300 East for the smoothest baked Vermont goat cheese you’ve ever had. You might also want to try Fran’s Filling Station, one of the best restaurants in Charlotte. Give your fork a treat with their picnic deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped tater tots, and summer vegetable gnocchi.
Viewfinder Tip: Fern is one of the most beloved vegetarian restaurants in the city, so try to book a table early.
Want lunch with a side of wacky? Then make your way to the NoDa neighborhood. Brightly colored shops with surreal murals give the area its quirky personality. After working up an appetite convincing yourself that yes, you do need a feather boa for your collection, wander into one of the more eclectic Charlotte restaurants, like Fern. Featuring an all-vegetarian menu, Fern doesn’t just serve plants; they grow them on the walls. Bite into the Portobello mushroom mousse, twirl the zucchini Bolognese, and spoon up the peaches and oats. Want more far out flavors? Follow the bunny trail to The Peculiar Rabbit. The castle-meets-pub-meets-art student building is home to a mix of tastes. Explore them all with the sweet tea wings, chicken and waffles, and fried Oreos for dessert.
You don’t need a brush to paint the town red in the Uptown neighborhood. Considered the city center, this is the place to enjoy museums like the Mint, exhibits like the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and concerts at the N.C. Music Factory. Fill up for the evening at hot spots like Fahrenheit, which recently won one of Charlotte Magazine’s 2015 Best New Restaurant awards. The eatery is located atop the Skye Condos, with prime views of the high-rises. The food itself raises expectations, with chorizo-stuffed dates, steak with trumpet mushrooms, and wild salmon served with wasabi mashed potatoes. For a more intimate meal, head into the Wooden Vine. Filled with enough wine to make Hoda and Kathie Lee clap in merriment, the restaurant also has a kitchen serving up favorites. Slice into the roast chicken with corn and okra, and later, make your spoon happy with some torn pistachio cake. How good is the food? You don’t even need the wine (but get it anyway).
The nitty gritty
Restaurant Week in Charlotte, NC takes place from July 17-26. Queen City has become a foodie destination in recent years, so be sure to grab your hotel in Charlotte before the hungry crowds arrive. Charlotte: Southern in its kindness, universal in its foodie appeal.