Charlotte’s food scene is heating up. The North Carolina city has seen a slew of openings in recent months, with more on the way — including the massive Optimist Food Hall. And the city’s food story is no longer just about the staples of down-home comfort food; chefs are putting a new spin on Southern cuisine, taking local ingredients and using global, modern techniques to make them shine. Here are some best bets for a foodie foray into the Queen City.
Who says brunch is only for the weekend? The weekday brunch at Haberdish (closed Mondays; 3106 N. Davidson St., 704-817-1084, haberdish.com) weekday brunch pays homage to the area’s country roots with a Southern-inspired menu.
For a quick bite, stop by Amélie’s French Bakery & Café (multiple locations, ameliesfrenchbakery.com), which sells coffee, pastries and breakfast sandwiches. The salted caramel brownie is a can’t-miss.
Get a taste of the Low Country at the Gullah-inspired Mert’s Heart and Soul (214 N. College St., 704-342-4222, mertscharlotte.com), with signatures like salmon cakes and flaky, lightly fried whiting, as well as solid sides like stewed okra and macaroni and cheese.
Haymaker (225 S. Poplar St., 704-626-6116, haymakerclt.com) effuses a modern approach to Southern-style cooking methods (think pickling, canning and frying) for main dishes like roasted duck breast served over collard greens with a caramelized onion tart.
Head north of Charlotte to Kindred (closed Sundays and Mondays; 131 N. Main St., 980-231-5000, kindreddavidson.com), in the quaint town of Davidson, for an eclectic take on contemporary Southern cuisine. Appetizers like beef tartare with capers or mussels tartine pair well with the eatery’s cocktails, like the refreshing Pimm’s Cup on draft.
Visit 300 East (300 East Blvd., 704-332-6507, 300east.net) for a slice of the sweet potato blondie, served alongside goat’s milk frozen yogurt and maple toasted oats.
The hyperlocal approach at Stanley (1961 E. Seventh St., 980-299-2741, thestanleyclt.com) extends to its after-dinner offerings, like a trio of cheeses from North Carolina or Georgia plated with housemade mustard and pepper jelly.
GOOD TO KNOW
Getting there: All New York City area airports have direct flights to Charlotte, which is less than two hours away by plane. The city center is about a 15 minute drive from the airport.
Getting around: Charlotte’s Uptown neighborhood (its downtown) is walkable, but the city is spread out, so you’ll need a rental car or ride-share service like Uber or Lyft to get around.
Where to stay: The Charlotte Marriott City Center (100 W. Trade St., 704-333-9000, marriott.com) is the franchise’s first “live beta” hotel, where guests can test new products and services, like in-room Alexa smart speakers, before they roll out. Uptown’s Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel (303 S. Church St., 704-445-2626, tryonparkhotel.com) has amenities like a complimentary afternoon wine hour and a fitness center stocked with Peloton bikes.