Going to Charlotte (NC) – the Queen City – was a big and positive surprise. I had no idea what to expect and didn’t really know anything about the city before going there. I thought it would be really cool to visit a city that shares my name! And then, what happened? Turned out that Charlotte in Charlotte was a perfect match!
Visiting Charlotte was a wonderful experience and the different parts of the city all had their own charm. But what really blew me away was all the good food. I seriously didn’t want to leave Charlotte just because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat all that good stuff for a while. The fish tacos, the grilled cheese sandwiches, the sweet stuff – it was unforgettable. Let me tell you all about it and give you some tips on what to explore in this colorful city!
Here are my TOP 10 Charlotte Do & Eats:
#1: The Fish Tacos in NoDa
The North Davidson Art District (short NoDa) was one of my absolute favorite parts of Charlotte. Here you’ll find street art, good food, concerts and lots of cultural things going on. Also the perfect place to get a tattoo, if that’s an option. In NoDa, I discovered the Cabo Fish Taco restaurant with its legendary food – a true culinary gem. This might sound weird with me being Norwegian, but I had never tried fish tacos before and I really didn’t know if I was going to like it (mostly since I truly love “normal” tacos). I LOVED IT! It’s the only way of expressing it. The coolest thing ever was that we sat down at the NoDa Company Store (like a bar with a nice outdoor area) because there was a band playing, and we were able to bring our tacos and just enjoy them there with the music. I thought that was pretty cool, since you normally (at least in Norway and Germany) can’t bring your own food to a bar or a restaurant. So we sat there, enjoyed the sunset, the music – and the incredible fish tacos. Unforgettable!
#2: 7th Street Public Market Uptown (First Ward)
Charlotte is divided into several different parts, among others into four wards named just like that. In the First Ward district, you will find for example the Charlotte Mecklenburg public library and the Center City campus of UNC Charlotte. But what you’ll also find is my second favorite food destination in Charlotte: the 7th Street Public Market. I’m not lying when I say that I would book a ticket to Charlotte just to go eat at this market and then go back:-) I had a yummy grilled cheese sandwich (with a secret sauce), the most amazing pecan pie and let’s not even get started on all the wine (and so much more). They offer local culinary products but also artisanal products along with a truly amazing atmosphere. It was not very big, but the high-quality products convinced me. So cozy! I generally love public markets, and this was my favorite ever! Directly next to the market, you’ll find the best photo spot in the city; the First Ward Park!
#3: Breakfast at Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe in Plaza Midwood
If you wanna go out in the evening and have good food or do some bar hopping, the Plaza Midwood district is a good alternative. I discovered it personally for it’s good breakfast at a place called Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe. The wait was long and the amount of visitors was crazy, but so was the food. Crazy good! I had an omelet, pancakes and some other things accompanied with bubbles (of course) and freshly pressed orange juice, and it was actually worth the wait. We were seated outside in a small, but cozy corner next to the street, but the cars did not seem disturbing. They serve breakfast all day, so that’s a dream come true for everyone who wants to sleep in. If you go here, you should bring an open mind and some patience, but most important – hunger!
#4: Seoul Food Meat Co. in South End
If you want to experience an explosion of taste and a strange mixture of BBQ and Korean Food, the Seoul Food Meat Co. in the South End district is the place to go. It was such a surreal experience for the palate (and the eyes!). I had some stuff that I can’t even pronounce (food and drink)! But one thing is for sure, they served the best damn chicken wings that have ever entered my mouth. I could write forever about those chicken wings (which almost led to a fight because everybody wanted the last one) – but you get the picture;-). If things are getting kind of boring after food, why not rent a private karaoke room for a wild, musical adventure (which I for sure didn’t do…hahaha). One thing I liked about some of the bars and restaurants I visited was that they had games and stuff to do outside (like for example the Cornhole Game, which I rocked as a first-timer. Totally killed it). This brings me to my #5 TOP spot, where I actually played this game for the first time.
#5: Hoppin’ in South End
In the same district, we also visited this really cool place called Hoppin’. Here, I really felt like a “farmer in the city” (as we say in Norway when something is totally new to you), because I had no idea how everything worked. But the System was genius. We got a wristband which we had with us all night. With this wristband, you could go get your own drinks (beer, wine and non-alcoholic options) from taps, serving as your own Barkeeper so to speak. You could even tap the wine (I was in paradise)!! At the end of the visit you just delivered the wristband to the reception and payed it all together. A brilliant and very “dangerous” system which I absolutely loved. Something else happened this night, too. Let`s just say, I am not a trivia virgin anymore (even though we didn’t win). And when you think it couldn’t get any better, they served free popcorn with two different flavors (I’m a Popcorn freak). Pure happiness!
#6: YUME Ramen Sushi & Bar in South End
We are still staying in South End but moving on to one of my #1 culinary topics: sushi! The YUME Ramen Sushi & Bar opened only last summer, so I was one of the very first customers able to have a taste of the magic. It was no only really good, but it was also affordable, which is a good fact to be able to say about sushi. I liked the interior design and the menu was full of sushi delicacies. I think it’s hard not to leave this place happy. If your consider the cocktails, too, this fact is confirmed.
#7: Sophia’s Lounge Uptown
Speaking of cocktails, this brings me to #7 of my TOP recommendations. One night, we really wanted to feel the pulse of the queen city, dress up a little and get our groove on. In search of a place to go dancing, we ended up at the Sophia’s Lounge to get drinks before going out (we ended up at a Latino disco right across the street and let’s not talk more about that, hehe). The Lounge is a part of the The Ivey’s Hotel, situated Uptown, meaning in the middle of Charlotte’s heart (oh wow, did you get it). I would describe the bar as classy and elegant with a touch of mystery because of the low lighting. The drinks were good and did their job, which was preparing us for some serious Latin moves! Charlotte really had fun in Charlotte!
#8: The Peculiar Rabbit in Plaza Midwood
Let’s move on with one more tip for cocktails (they also have food which looked very delicious, I just didn’t eat there that night); The Peculiar Rabbit in Plaza Midwood (same neighborhood as tip #3, remember?). The name is funny and the cocktails were good, but what I will never forget about this place is the wonderful view of Charlotte covered by a beautiful sunset. It was such a peaceful evening and I soaked in this beauty with all my senses. The Peculiar Rabbit also have live music and all sorts of events, but my tip is to go to the top floor and just have a drink enjoying the amazing view. Spot on!
#9: The Suárez Bakery and Freedom Park
So, let’s not forget about the really sweet stuff, which is of course my absolute top priority when visiting a new destination. Situated in the Charlotte’s Park Road Shopping Center (which was actually the first open air shopping center in Charlotte ever!), I found the Suárez Bakery. That was…hm…let me find the correct word….SWEET! If you follow me, you might know that I’m a hobby baker and I just love cakes and cupcakes (I have a sweet tooth, unfortunately). This bakery makes really cool cookies, delicious cupcakes (I chose the red velvet obviously, but they all looked yummy) and cakes. The coolest thing was that they showed the cake decorating process (just separated by a glass window) and it was so cool to see how they did it (ten times faster than I could ever decorate a cake, but I do it with more love;-). So, since this is a pretty small bakery with no seating opportunities, we brought our sweet, sweet purchases to a magical place called Freedom Park (a twenty-minute drive, but worth it). It was just beautiful. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
#10: Amélie’s French Bakery & Café
The French bakery Amèlie`s French Bakery & Café has it all; “real food” and sweet desserts, but mostly – surroundings that just stun you at first sight. Lamps and tables made out of all kinds of materials (forks, knives, pots & pans, macaroons, you name it!) and unforgettable interior design. I actually entered just because my friends wanted to buy coffee to go, but it made a huge impression on me and I definitely want to go back there. Their culinary offers are supposed to be legendary (it literally hurt leaving the bakery without buying the eclairs, but I had already bought a bunch of cupcakes at the Suárez Bakery and I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it all). But believe me, when I go back to Charlotte (because I really have to) – this place will be the first place to go revisit. Or at least one of the TOP 10!
Drinking craft beer in Charlotte
Charlotte is really famous for all the top-quality breweries. Since I don’t drink beer, I didn’t include them in this blog post (except for Hoppin’, where I only had wine). But the Charlotte Tourist Board has a good webpage (called charlottesgotalot, which I find really funny), and here you will find the TOP 10 Beer Bucket List. So if you are a beer drinker – check it out. They also have great tips on What to Do and Places to Stay!
Thank you to Hannah Weinreich for making this happen! I loved my “name sister” queen city as well as spending time with you:-)
“Dare to make your dreams come true. The journey starts with a single step!”
– Charlotte –
Some bonus impressions:
Thank you Feet Do Travel for letting me share!