A weekender revolving around food? Yep, foodie friends: while there is plenty to do, see, and spend in Charlotte – you’d probably skip all of that content anyway, right? Let’s skip to the best part: the FOOD. We visited friends in the Queen City, who took us to all non-touristy local favorites. Here’s your Charlotte Foodie Weekend Guide with three cool, unexpected spots you should add to your weekend itinerary.
Optimist Hall for lunch
Like all big cities, Charlotte has all of the quirky, trendy spots that are fun to explore. Food Halls have sprung up all over the country, making old warehouses cool again. Charlotte’s Optimist Hall is everything you’d hope a Food Hall could be. It’s like a collection of cool food trucks, all in one covered, air-conditioned space.
Optimist Hall features more than 20 food vendors in a bright, open building with an outdoor courtyard in the middle. On a Saturday, you’ll find plenty of people but it doesn’t feel stuffy or uncomfortable. Just busy and bustling.
Our crew tried a few different spots:
- The Dumpling Lady: every dish comes with a spicy sauce, yum
- Papi Queso: grilled cheeses! and frosé!
- Kids had pizza, tacos, and barbecue
- Spindler Bar: wine, cocktails, craft beers, Bloody Mary’s
Aqua e Vino for dinner
Aqua e Vino is not your typical Italian restaurant. You won’t find a chicken parmesan or spaghetti with meatballs on the menu with your choice of a house or Caesar salad.
Be prepared for a dining experience. You can make a reservation for 5:45 or 8 pm.
You may or may not understand the wine list, but you can play it cool and try to locate “chianti” to order a familiar bottle. Our server recommended the Sangiovese and it was the absolute best choice.
Order the wine. Peruse the menu. Talk about a recent book you read. Take your time. Order a few courses at once, or one at a time.
A few notable dishes:
- FEGATINI – Chicken liver truffle paté, crostini
- TAJARIN – Fresh spaghettini, prosciutto di Parma, parmigiano fondue
(pictured above: the arugula with sausage special, which was incredible.)
Our server advised us to “eat too much, and drink too much.”
I’d say don’t argue with an Italian’s advice.
The Workman’s Friend for brunch
We took kids to a bar. Other people did, too. The Workman’s Friend is known as an after-work happy hour cocktail hot spot, but on the weekends the bar serves up an excellent brunch.
We stumbled into this place a tiny bit by accident: we didn’t make reservations at a spot around the corner, and wandered around the corner at the time they were opening the windows. I’d definitely choose this place again: a killer spicy Bloody Mary, Irish breakfast menu with a smoked salmon platter as an option, and you can order a burger at 10am.
Bon Appétit, foodie friends! Tag #goodtasteguide if you check out any of these spots in Charlotte!
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