Over the past nine years, big things have happened to Charlotte, North Carolina’s food scene. When I graduated university and left the city in 2005, there wasn’t one good coffee shop to be found. Brunch was scarce, too, and the most popular dinner restaurants were Olive Garden and The Cheesecake Factory. Case. In. Point.
During a recent trip, I not only discovered a “casual vegetarian/vegan restaurant” that rivals Vancouver’s best (thanks, Breeze!), but I found good coffee. Really good coffee. The times are changing in Charlotte.
Pig, however, is still an overarching favourite of the masses, with bacon and pulled pork being at the center of most Carolina menus. You’ll have to search elsewhere for these BBQ-centric recos, however, as I love the little oinkers too much to eat them.
Where to Eat & Drink in Charlotte, North Carolina
* = Recommended by a trusted source (as I wasn’t able to get there)
Not Just Coffee
Since this truly is one of the only spots to find good coffee in Charlotte, expect to wait. A latte can take up to 20 minutes. These guys roast their own beans and offer pourovers from a slow bar, too.
Sunflour Baking Company
American bakery serving a wide-variety of well-done classics and trends. Think chocolate bar-inspired cupcakes, earl grey cookies, big cinnamon buns, muffins and more. Sandwiches and light meals also on offer.
Paris’ best bakeries don’t see line-ups this long. Deemed a French bakery, this eclectically designed, 24-hour hotspot is a destination for wifi-seekers, night owls and college kids. Their Salted Caramel Brownie is all the rage.
Vegetarian / Vegan / Raw
Luna’s Living Kitchen
You might be shell-shocked to discover vegan heaven in the heart of the Carolinas (aka meat lovers paradise). Luna’s is the “Fresh Restaurants of the South” serving superfood smoothies, clean desserts and vegan raw entrees like tacos and lasagna. The high-ceilinged, brick-walled space screams cool.
Vegetarian done well (with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients) served in a small room with ferns sprouting from the walls. Eggplant and white bean “meat balls” were a hit, as was the Buddha Bowl.
Casual Dinner Restaurants
Charlotte’s most popular brunch spot serving breakfast all day. The menu is half (hormone free) meat and half vegetarian. While you wait for your table you can play shuffleboard out front.
Local Grocery Shopping
Healthy Home Market
Grocery and health store with a focus on local goods
Atherton Mill & Market
A high quality farmers market featuring a lively mix of local retailers.
7th Street Public Market
Cozy market filled with local vendors, a butcher shop, a breakfast joint and the best coffee in town (Not Just Coffee).
Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill
Boutique apple orchard where guests can pick apples and enjoy cider made on the property.
Where to Stay in Charlotte
The Duke Mansion
Top notch bed and breakfast with historic Southern decor and architecture.
Located at the epicenter of downtown Charlotte, you can’t get more central than this. Aloft’s rooms are delightfully modern, clean and spacious while charming staff goes above and beyond to satisfy guests.