Food & Drink

The 11 Best Deals to Take Advantage of During Charlotte's Restaurant Week

Published On 01/23/2018
Heirloom

Heirloom

Mountain Island Lake

Heirloom chef and owner, Clark Barlowe is as known for his foraging as he is for the dishes he creates. Barlowe and team source the lion’s share of ingredients from North Carolina farmers and/or artisan producers. Three courses for $35 include dishes such as Bermuda fish chowder made with North Carolina golden tilefish, pork Milanese with beet and sweet potato gnocchi, and duck fat funnel cake with mixed berry sauce for dessert. And since you could easily rack up a $100+ bill here, this deal is not to be overlooked. 

Carpe Diem

Elizabeth

Carpe Diem is a Charlotte staple, and if you haven’t eaten there yet this is your chance. Open since 1989, there is a reason Carpe Diem has succeeded while many Charlotte restaurants have folded, and for many, that reason is the fried chicken. For $35, diners can get a three-course experience including salad, entrée (including the aforementioned fried chicken, which is normally $21 alone), and a dessert. In addition to the fried chicken, the menu also includes their signature warm goat cheese salad, and the herb-braised pork chop.

Courtesy of 300 East

300 East

Dilworth

Known for a casual atmosphere and extremely friendly staff, 300 East brought their A-game for Queen’s Feast. For $35, patrons get three courses and a glass of wine. To put that into perspective, entrees usually run about $20 and a glass of wine averages about $10. With this deal, you’re getting three courses and a glass of wine for the price of an entree and a glass of Cabernet. Start with the pickled shrimp. Next order the bronzed sesame salmon with coconut brown basmati rice and sautéed spinach. End your night with the passion fruit tres leches cake created by pastry chef, Ashley Bivens Boyd.

Aqua e Vino

South Charlotte

Aqua e Vino is a relative newcomer to the Charlotte culinary scene, but has developed a strong following of regulars thanks to Italian-born and trained chef Gabriele Grigolon’s creations. Eating here will make you feel like you’ve been transported to Northern Italy without busting your wallet. Aqua e Vino is serving four courses for $35 for Queen’s Feast (the average entree price on the regular menu is about $25 per dish). Said food includes Spanish octopus a la plancha, slow-roasted North Carolina rabbit, and Salem Hills Farm chicken made in the style of chef Grigolon’s “Nonna”. And how can you possibly turn down grandma’s chicken?

Lumiere Restaurant

Lumiere French Kitchen

Eastover

Lumiere French Kitchen specializes in French cuisine, which is one good reason this should be on your “must eat.” Let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to a French restaurants in the greater Charlotte area, so this is the perfect time to get fancy. Located in Myers Park, Lumiere is offering three courses and an amuse-bouche to start for $35. Have you always wanted to try foie gras, escargot, or duck a l’orange -- which regularly total $63? Now is your chance to try, all for a fraction of the price.

Alton's Kitchen and Cocktails

Alton's Kitchen & Cocktails

Cornelius

Alton's Kitchen & Cocktails is offering three courses, including lobster bisque, lamb shank (normally $24) and white chocolate bread pudding for $35. In addition to their set Queen’s Feast menu items, the daily chef’s feature is also included as an option.  During the week, Alton’s is also offering drink specials including $24 bottles of house wine, half price bottles of wine ($75 and under) on Monday, and $4 draft beers on Tuesday.

The Pump House

Rock Hill

With breathtaking views of the Catawba River Bridge, The Pump House is a beautiful space (inside and out) that you would never expect once supplied the Celanese Corporation’s Celriver plant with water for its daily operations, hence the name. The $30 Queen’s Feast menu includes meatballs made in-house with ground tenderloin and pork, shrimp with Anson Mills grits, and the area-famous Cheerwine chocolate cake.

Fiamma Restaurant

Fiamma Restaurant

Dilworth

Fiamma’s menu is extensive, and for $35 diners can experience authentic Italian dining in an intimate setting. With fresh seafood and other ingredients delivered daily, the food served is of the highest quality. Sea scallops served with cauliflower puree, the Fiamma speciality veal ossobuco served with saffron rice, and branzino (a Mediterranean fish) served with fresh vegetables are all on the menu.

Upstream

SouthPark

With seafood so fresh the menu changes daily depending on the catch of the day, Upstream is the best seafood restaurant in Charlotte. Three courses for $35 makes what is typically considered an expensive restaurant now attainable. And we’ve got one word for you: lobster. Get it while you can at this crazy low price (it typically runs at market price, and that can be upwards of $40). 

Highland Avenue

Highland Avenue Restaurant

Hickory

Because of Highland Avenue Restaurant, Hickory is now known for more than being a furniture hub. Focused on locally sourced foods, working with farmers and purveyors from North Carolina, Highland Avenue serves simple yet delicious Appalachian cuisine. For $35, you can order from options such as curried butternut squash bisque, sorghum BBQ pork shoulder -- usually $23 by itself --  and a toffee brioche served with blood orange compote.

NoDa Brewing Company with the TIN Kitchen food truck

North End

NoDa Brewing has partnered with TIN Kitchen food truck to bring a unique $30 dining experience to Queen’s Feast. The dinner includes a beer flight specifically paired with each menu item. The TIN Kitchen has created dishes such as chipotle smoked beef tartare, braised beef short rib, and the vanilla honeycomb cheesecake with an Oreo crust. This option proves that you have more options than just wine to pair with a sophisticated dish.

Up Next
Kickstand Charlote Burgers N Bar | Laura Sumrak/Thrillist
Food & Drink

The Best Burgers in Charlotte, According to Our National Burger Critic

Published On 05/03/2017
C harlotte surprised me. I’ve been to Charlotte several times before, and I must admit I didn’t love it much in the past. Most of what I’d seen was new and sponsored by Bank of America -- the whole Downtown scene felt contrived and shaped out of some conventional vision of what a Downtown city should look like. And so I figured this would translate into some uninteresting cookie cutter burger joints. But man, I was very, very wrong.
In my 24 hours eating my way through Charlotte’s burger scene, I was able to see a huge range of classic places with long histories in beautiful areas I’d never ventured into. And that doesn’t even count my side trip to Davidson. After talking with chefs and food writers, I pared down a list to seven essential burgers.
In case you’re new to my rankings, here are some guidelines: If the restaurant had multiple burgers, I tried to order its signature burger, or if that was too outlandish and stunt-y, the closest to a classic cheeseburger. If it came with options, I always picked American cheese and grilled onions. If you think I missed a place, please hold up a poster detailing the names of the places at the next Charlotte Hornets game, and attempt to hand deliver it to center Frank Kaminsky afterwards. He knows where to find me. In the meantime, here are the seven best burgers in Charlotte:
Small Block Burger with Cheese "all the way" | Laura Sumrak/Thrillist

7. Small Block Burger w/ Cheese “all the way”

Diamond Restaurant

Address and Info

Plaza Midwood

You see the term “all the way” thrown around a lot in North Carolina burger joints, but as you’ll see later, it doesn’t always mean the same thing. Diamond, a sort of retro-refreshed diner that originally opened in 1945 and has been through three different ownership groups in the past 70 years, uses the term to mean “lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo, and pickles” on the burger.

My Small Block burger was good. The hand-formed, irregularly shaped patty had solid crust from the griddle and a pleasingly loose grind, but was overcooked and slightly under-salted. The composition of the toppings was balanced, but it lacked any sort oomph factor to move it higher. Still, if you’re starting with this burger at the bottom, you’re in pretty good shape.

Single Beef Burger | Laura Sumrak/Thrillist

6. Single beef burger w/ American, caramelized onion, and roasted garlic mayo on white bun

Kickstand Charlotte Burger Bar

Address and Info

Plaza Midwood

Poor Kickstand. There was construction right in front of the building when I drove up, and it took me two passes to figure out how to actually get into the restaurant. All of the signature burgers here were too stunty, so I opted to create my own. The flavor of the beef in the patty was good, the meat was cooked to a perfect, pink medium, and the roasted garlic mayo blended in with the American cheese. The meat gave the burger a solid balance, but there were a few issues: the bun, though well toasted, was too big and bulky for the size of the patty; and the caramelized onions were slightly underdone. Much like Diamond, the burger was good, but lacked an “it” factor to push it even higher.

jumbo cheeseburger | Laura Sumrak/Thrillist

5. Jumbo Cheeseburger

South 21 Drive-In

Address and Info

Elizabeth

Man, I loved coming to this spot.  As you drive up, you see a giant sign that says “serving Charlotte since 1955” in big red block letters. The billboards in the back of the restaurant alone are a reason to visit. Many of them hype the “Super Boy” burger, which is two patties, mustard, onions, lettuce, and tomato, but when I pushed the button to order, I opted for the Super Boy with cheese, which is sadly called the Jumbo Cheeseburger.

Post ordering, in one of the more meta moments of the trip I said, aloud to myself, “I missed my opportunity to say Super Boy aloud!”

As for the Super Boy with cheese, it is a very solid diner burger. The thin patties have great char, but not a ton of meat flavor. The main components you really taste are the mustard and onions, and that acid and tang could sometimes overwhelm the meat, but if you caught it just right, you’d get a delicious, salty, meaty balance, and feel pretty damn good about yourself. I am going to write Super Boy one more time just because it’s so enjoyable. Super Boy.

4. Skillet Burger

Kindred

Address and Info

Davidson

If you asked me to envision the most aesthetically pleasing neighborhood restaurant, it might not beat Davidson’s gloriously handsome Kindred. Long a darling of the national media, Kindred has all the instantly Instagrammable touches: beautiful leather on its bar chairs, a perfectly scuffed brick back wall, white tiles on the floor, and the sort of blue door you’d find in Bermuda.

I’d been here once before for dinner and knew the burger was only available on the lunch menu, so I made a point to stop into Davidson for lunch as I drove from Charlotte to Asheville. The Skillet Burger is a double burger, and though the two patties aren’t wide in diameter, they’re of a sort of middle width between a steakhouse burger and the diner version. The meat itself was victual glory -- salty, perfectly cooked, and buttery with a loose grind. The cheddar had some age and nuttiness to it as well, but there were a few small quibbles -- the aioli lacked a lot of flavor (it served more as a lubricant for the bun), and the “quick pickles” were too damn quick to provide suitable acid to combat that rich beef and cheese flavor. I think some slower pickles would go a long way here.

The Bang Bang Burger, single | Laura Sumrak/Thrillist

3. The Bang Bang Burger, single

Bang Bang Burgers

Address and Info

Elizabeth

I didn’t want to like Bang Bang. For one, it was in a strip mall that seemed designed to make it impossible to find parking. Second, its Black Angus beef is from NYC’s Pat LaFrieda, and that made me feel like it was a carpetbagger of sort (“Find some Carolina meat, dammit!” I shouted internally while looking at the menu, absentmindedly waving my fist).

But dammit if the burger wasn’t pretty damn delicious. The bun was perfectly griddled, toasted on the inside and soft on the outside, and the homemade pickle and “Bangburger” sauce had just the right amount of acid to balance the meat. I’ll be honest here, folks. There’s a reason LaFrieda is the most famous butcher and meat purveyor in the US: He knows what the hell he’s doing. That patty was seared up to a perfect medium, and the grind was spectacularly loose and salty and the beef flavor came through cleanly. Just a really, really solid burger. I just suggest you maybe walk there or something.

the zack's special | Laura Sumrak/Thrillist

2. The Zack’s Special

Zack’s Hamburgers

Address and Info

South End

Zack’s was the first place I went after getting off the plane from Charleston. I got there by 11:30am, and there was already a line snaking around the back of the restaurant, filled in equal measure with office workers and construction guys in neon vests. I sighed audibly and thought that this would mess with my finely tuned schedule, but somehow, after about 10 minutes of waiting in line, I got my Zack’s Special burger exactly seven minutes after ordering.

I sat under the red and white umbrellas outside and inhaled this burger, which tasted almost exactly like the homemade version of a Big Mac. Great grind on the patties, a well-toasted sesame seed bun that stayed the hell out of the way, shredded lettuce blending in with the sauce, hamburger dill pickles providing acid. Zack’s is a legend for a reason: It makes one of the truly great diner-style burgers in all of North Carolina.

Burger with cheese "all the way" | Laura Sumrak/Thrillist

1. Burger with cheese “all the way”

Brooks’ Sandwich House

Address and Info

NoDa

Have you been to Brooks’ Sandwich House, friends? Have you pulled up to a dusty red shack behind an overpass across from trendy developments on a patch of dirt and shrouded by trees, and looked at this little house with black bars on the windows and wondered just what sort of culinary witchcraft was happening inside? Did you see 20 people of every stripe -- hipsters and office workers and auto mechanics still in their jumpsuits -- all standing outside, patiently waiting for a specific number? Did you go inside and order the burger with cheese “all the way” and realize belatedly that this meant something different than you’d originally thought?

When you finally heard your number called, did you let out a cry of glee and retreat to the standing tables outside? Did you make weird audible groans of ecstasy as you bit into a burger with some of the best char you’ve ever seen mixed with the rich meaty flavor of a thick, subtly smoky chili, the crisp tang of diced white onions, and the acid from yellow mustard? Did you raise your hands in victory after you finished the burger and proclaim to yourself in your rental car that this was definitely the best burger in Carolina, and maybe one of the best in country?

Well then, it seems we shared similar experiences at Brooks’.

Matthew Hamilton | Unsplash
Sponsored

From Los Angeles to San Diego: Every Pit Stop You Need To Make Along The Way

Published On 08/13/2018
Food & Drink

Attention Charlotte: These Are the Best Places to Eat and Drink in Plaza Midwood, Right Now

Published On 01/31/2017