I try to get to Charlotte, North Carolina at least once a year to check out their ever-growing food and beverage scene. It’s a crazy awesome city for a girls weekend, bachelor party, or romantic weekend getaway. My writer buddy and friend, Ruta Fox, tagged along this time for a Gap Creek Gourmet tour of the Queen City.
Smelly Cat Coffee House and Roastery (514 E 36th St, Charlotte)
Located in the NoDa district of Charlotte, Smelly Cat Coffee House and Roastery is a nod to the 90’s sitcom, Friends. Remember when Phoebe sang Smelly Cat in the cafe? Yes, I’ve seen ALLL the episodes. The coffee shop is a little folk art, a lot of cozy, making it the perfect spot to sit and plan your next stop. Try one of their tea lattes and grab a bag of coffee for the road.
King’s Kitchen (129 W Trade St, Charlotte)
King’s Kitchen is a restaurant on a mission. The nonprofit serves southern-inspired cuisine from Carolina farms and purveyors, while training and providing jobs for people who previously might have been unemployable. Established in 2010, The King’s Kitchen is managed by Jim Noble Restaurants and donates 100% of profits from sales to feed the poor in the Charlotte region. Additionally, The King’s Kitchen partners with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center and other local area ministries to provide job-training, life-skills training, social etiquette workshops, financial management guidance, and employment intern opportunities to Charlotteans in search of a new beginning.
Your belly will be happy with their meat-and-three menu, but you’ll also leave with a full heart. Why can’t this be a model for helping the homeless and needy in every city?
Bar Cocoa Charlotte (201 East Trade Street, Charlotte)
This girl will walk many miles for a French Macaron. I really do have a serious addiction. It’s like a cupcake and a cookie sandwich had a baby. Do not confuse these with the pile of coconut held together with basically what amounts to sweetened condensed milk (aka Macaroon). These little expensive sandwiches are like the sushi of cookies – colorful flavor bombs. Bar Cocoa’s macaron’s are heaven, and they didn’t make it out the door.
Coco and the Director (100 W Trade Street, Charlotte)
I am not even slightly over exaggerating when I say this is the coolest coffee shop and cafe I’ve ever visited. Their tricked-out, multi-level seating options makes choosing just one spot to work incredibly difficult. And the details! A collection of old typewriters. Stacks of magazines bound for purchase with proceeds going to local charities. Proceeds from baked goods that give back to the community. Locally made grocery items, handmade art, co-work lab, and so many more little details and pieces and parts that seriously make this place the coolest EVER. I can’t wait to get back, sample the menu (Pecan Pie Kronut!) and sit on the wooden steps and work for a while.
The Asbury at the Dunhill Hotel (235 N Tryon St, Charlotte)
Very seldom am I blown away by a meal. Left speechless. The spring menu at The Asbury did just that. Executive Chef Matthew Krenz uses hyper local ingredients, and meat from his own family farm, Krenz Ranch, to create a masterpiece on the plate. Described as uniquely Carolinian, modern but rustic, his dishes are thought provoking. Whether you’re there for lunch, dinner or brunch, see if they can whip you up some sticky biscuits with country ham and goat cheese icing. Even the simplest pleasures on the menu are eye-rolling delicious.
The Cellar at Duckworth’s (330 N Tryon St, Charlotte)
This underground bar in the heart of downtown Charlotte is flat out sexy. Guests are illuminated on menu options by ipads, and offered a peek into the beer cellar boasting more than 500 beer labels. Inspired by speakeasy bars of the early 1900’s, but with a modern gastropub, chef-driven menu, you’ll come for drinks, but wish you had planned to stay for dinner. You might want to make this an all night affair.