I’m not one of those girls who’s ashamed to eat. I acknowledge when I’m hungry, I believe in dessert, and I unapologetically do not order the salad when what I really want is the burger. As a result, I’m no longer a size four, but my soul is nourished and my life is so much more flavorful.
One of my favorite things to do when friends and family come to visit us in Charlotte is go out to eat. I actually plan itineraries around food. I’m not sure if it’s because we don’t frequent restaurants in a typical week, or if it’s because I love the look of sleepy content on people’s faces with a full belly. But I love sharing my favorite meals with out-of-towners.
Here are my absolute favorite restaurants to take people in our South End neighborhood.
- Duck Donuts
Made-to-order doughnuts. Enough said. My favorites are the chocolate icing with coconut and the Oreo doughnut (vanilla icing with crushed Oreos and hot fudge drizzle). Another local favorite is the maple bacon, for obvious reasons.
- Crispy Crepe
Those on a diet need not enter this popular brunch spot. This is for when you want a rich, leisurely breakfast. They have a mix of sweet and savory crepes, waffles, and paninis. My favorite is the Nutella and strawberry crepe.
- Amélie’s French Bakery & Café
I love taking a stroll uptown and sitting outside this little cafe. They may be more known for their pastries and desserts, but their breakfast sandwiches are not to be missed. And of course, you can’t go to Amélie’s without trying one of their famous salted caramel brownies.
- Sunflour Baking Company
This is a new favorite spot of ours. It’s filled with decadent desserts, pastries, and an impressive menu of breakfast sandwiches and paninis. They also have a wide selection of loose-leaf teas, which this non-coffee-drinking gal loves. My advice? Go with a breakfast sandwich built on their cheddar biscuit (pictured above) and order a cupcake to go.
- Futo Buta
This is a great lunch spot. Light and filling, and something different. You can’t go wrong with a ramen bowl, but if your guests fear chopsticks, you can swap out the noddles for rice and eat it with a spoon. Save room for their homemade ice cream!
- The Liberty
This spot has the best burgers in Charlotte: hands down. They also have fantastic soft pretzels, so be sure to order those as an appetizer.
I wouldn’t call Bakersfield a typical Mexican restaurant with a huge menu and mounds of rice and beans, but it’s an awesome fusion of modern and authentic. For starters, order all of the dips (salsa, guacamole, and queso) and my pick from the regular menu is the tostada: a hard-shelled taco over a bed of salad.
- Tupelo Honey Cafe
Whether you head to Tupelo Honey Cafe for brunch or dinner, this restaurant is a real crowd pleaser. It’s a great way to introduce New Yorkers to some good, southern cooking. When in doubt, go for the fried chicken platter. (I couldn’t even resist grabbing a fork full of mashed potatoes before snapping this pic.)
I’m sure this list will evolve over time, but right now these are our go-tos.
Did I miss any of your South End staples?