Charlotte is a fast-growing city that sprawls way beyond the Uptown skyline, so it’s overwhelming to try to see all it has to offer in a single day. But it’s possible to drive (and eat) around, to get the gist. From starting the day with an artfully handcrafted cup of coffee to topping it all off with a speakeasy-style cocktail, here’s how to jump around town for the best variety of dining (and drinking) experiences.
8 a.m.— Not Just Coffee Dilworth (2230 Park Road)
Cozy to the point of getting cramped during the morning coffee rush, this location of the local coffee empire opened by Miracle and James Yoder offers a full menu, cocktails, beers and wines, in addition to their beloved espresso creations. Start with a hot batch brew coffee to warm up, and keep the heat going with the savory porridge, a concoction of steel-cut oats in a mushroom broth served with a soft egg and vegetables. Just get there early to grab a little table if bringing a laptop is part of the plan — the place opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays.
10 a.m. — Eddie’s Place
Slide into a booth at this understated neighborhood hangout and plan for a plate of all-day breakfast classics, from a traditional Benedict with ham, two eggs, and hollandaise sauce to two fluffy pancakes with a choice of meat and the option to add on a sweet hit like blueberries or raisins. But since the little nook opened in 1997 with New Orleans inspiration, guests can also find Cajun-style items like chicken and sausage gumbo, and red beans and rice. Let the server top off that steaming cup of coffee, too.
11:30 a.m. — Haberdish
Come ready to tuck into Southern comfort food (yes, fried chicken is a specialty here) in this casually elegant space that honors Charlotte’s textile mill history (hence the name’s play on the term “haberdashery”). Notice the booths made with denim, the exposed brick walls, and the 1940s-inspired dishware meant to be filled with shareable items from the weekday brunch menu, loaded with chicken and waffles, biscuits with fixings like sweet tea butter, and egg tartines. Don’t overlook that breakfast bellini, either.
1 p.m. — Yafo Kitchen in Plaza Midwood (1331 Central Ave. #101)
Get a hit of fast-casual creativity with build-your-own bowl options at this quickly expanding, Charlotte-made concept with ample vegan and vegetarian selections. The bright and colorful decor mirrors the Mediterranean-and-Middle-Eastern-inspired serving stations in the form of seasonal hummus, zaaluk, cabbage, roasted Brussels sprouts, and shug sauce. Pick a bowl, salad or wrap, pick a few spreads, toppings, and a protein choice like shawarma chicken and falafel, lop on a drizzle of tahini and there’s enough food to last two meals. Try the newest location in Plaza Midwood — it’s brand-new.
3 p.m. — Dilworth Tasting Room
Every afternoon deserves a decadent cheese board. Order an usual wine by the glass from Croatia and beyond in the building that used to be a beloved billiards club, and has since morphed into a sleek, New-York-style wine bar. The recently refined cocktail program is worth a peek, as is the new seasonal menu, with cheese and charcuterie board staples along with heartier options like pork belly, scallops and warm lentils with barrel-aged feta.
5 p.m. — The Waterman
This freshly-opened fish and oyster bar in the Sedgefield neighborhood comes from the makers of Uptown’s Sea Level restaurant. Enjoy a view of the city skyline from the rooftop bar as well as sustainably sourced seafood and North Carolina coast oysters. Fill up on lighter fare like tacos (blackened shrimp and crispy oysters both make the toppings list), or plates like the Lowcountry boil with shrimp, smoked sausage, oysters, corn, red potatoes, lemon butter, and Old Bay seasoning.
7 p.m. — Haymaker
Asheville chef William Dissen has planted an Appalachian-focused menu right beneath the city skyline at this handsome Uptown establishment. With small plates and main dishes alike, Haymaker (named for farmers and celebrations, both of which can be known as haymakers) is ideal for a light dinner or a heavy affair. From seasonal soups to heirloom cornmeal hush puppies spread with jalapeño sorghum butter, and duck confit to sunburst farm trout, there’s plenty to celebrate on this menu while taking in the view from the sweeping windows overlooking Romare Bearden Park.
10 p.m. — Backstage Lounge
This members-only speakeasy behind a Southern-California-style taco join in South End is mysteriously accessed via a backroom telephone booth. But the dark-lit, lounge-like space with decor celebrating old Charlotte music venues and nationally beloved performers has a sophisticated appeal that makes it a perfect spot to cap the night — with a night cap, of course. Sip on the complimentary house punch that will promptly arrive, and opt for a signature cocktail. Snackish? Skim the list of mezze samplers and carbohydrate bites.