Food & Drink

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

Published On 01/31/2017

Best place to grab a sandwich

Common Market

Address and Info

This beer/wine/sandwich shop combo is a neighborhood hangout to fulfill all yearnings. Not only can you grab an alcoholic beverage of choice from the store’s coolers but Common Market’s deli options to pair with these sippers are some of the best in town. In fact, the Pimento Deluxe, a panini smothered with pimento cheese, jalapeños, bacon, and diced tomatoes, is one of our top 10 sandwiches in Charlotte. Or opt for the “Hot Mama,” another favorite complete with havarti cheese, tomato, red onion, red bell pepper, and baby spinach. Then head on out to the front patio to get a prime view of the neighborhood action.

Hattie's Tap & Tavern

Best place to drink with the locals

Hattie’s Tap & Tavern

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This dive bar sums up the eclectic charm that this neighborhood is known for, and probably holds host to some of most chill drinkers in all of Plaza Midwood. Hattie’s provides an artsy, mural-filled patio spread outside, and old-school arcade games and plenty of beers on tap inside. Karaoke and live music on the weekly schedule make this a local hangout to top your list. Plus, the fact that it’s dog-friendly adds an even bigger appeal so you can drink the day away alongside your furry friend without the time constraint.

Courtesy of Soul Gastrolounge

Best place for date night

Soul Gastrolounge

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You can expect a line any day of the week for this trendy dinner spot (it doesn’t take reservations), but we promise, the meal and atmosphere you’ll find here are definitely worth the wait. Plaza Midwood is an ideal location for the dark and intimate setting of Soul, with new and innovative offerings complementing the diverse and artistic aura of the community it calls home. Elaborate cocktail concoctions like the Absinthe fire-featuring display will set the mood, and creative small plates such as the acclaimed pork belly tacos with watermelon salsa will get the conversation juices flowing for the rest of the evening. Tip: You can get a text when your table is ready, so hit up one of the bars next door to ease the awkward in-between time while you wait to be seated.

Zada Jane's Corner Cafe

Best place to bask in breakfast all day

Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe

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Though Zada Jane’s serves lunch and dinner, it’s their breakfast menu you should be after. It’s offered all day and features customer favorites like Booker T’s East Side Hasher (a sweet potato hash topped with eggs frittata style, your choice of meat selection, and Cheddar cheese) and Bunny Rancheros (eggs over easy resting atop black beans, home fries, a protein choice, and then covered with queso, guac, salsa verde, and sour cream). In addition to the awesome meal, the funky decor, great people watching, and fair prices of the featured local ingredients presented here will have you coming back for more. Just be forewarned, if you’re trying to get in on a weekend morning, you may want to aim for early before the late sleepers in post-party mode head over in hoards.

Best place for a brunch buffet

Bistro La Bon

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You can catch a great brunch menu at Bistro La Bon on Saturdays, but to us, the buffet on Sundays is where it’s at. Positioned modestly at the corner of a Central Ave shopping center, this popular restaurant cooks up fabulous, locally sourced dishes amid its cute, shabby chic interior. Not to mention, its Sunday spread just happens to be on our list of best brunches in Charlotte. Twenty dollars on your visit will get you access to eggs, bacon, grits, house-made pastries, French toast, made-to-order waffles, and more from 10am to 2:30pm. Since the space is small, grab reservations to ensure your spot!

The Diamond

Best place for late-night indulgence

Diamond Restaurant

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The Diamond, a diner that has been in operation since 1945 (and sits steps from the neighborhood’s now-bar scene), is open until 4am Fridays and Saturdays -- making it the prime place to succumb to your late-night cravings. Though new owners have taken over the location, the same legendary small-town feel can be found at this area staple as well as the old favorites to feast on. Round out your beers by doing damage on some comfort food like Pig Wings, deep-fried pork shanks rubbed with cinnamon-chipotle spice; the raved-about fried pickles; or The Diamond in the Rough sandwich -- an early morning masterpiece featuring bacon, eggs, and cheese stacked between two waffles. If that won’t offer up complete satisfaction at the end of a drawn-out drinking sesh, we don’t know what will.

Best place for playing patio games

Thomas Street Tavern

Address and Info

Thomas Street Tavern is your destination for drinking entertainment, with everything to keep you going through a day of patio sippin’. The large outdoor setup includes table tennis, cornhole, and Jenga alongside plenty of tables, a Tiki bar, and firepit. You’ll find it full of friends catching up on a nice day, and when the weather isn’t up to par, you can just take it inside for some pool and foosball. Just don’t be surprised when you lose track of time amid the adult playground of activities.

Legion Brewing

Best place to get a beer flight

Legion Brewing

Address and Info

Legion Brewing, across the street from The Diamond, is Plaza Midwood’s first and only brewery. And it’s a great one at that. Sitting in the former Brodt Music Company building, clues to the former occupant remain in the form of music signs and a century-old piano. Use the brewery stop as an opportunity to sample a variety of Legion’s great seasonal beers like winter pale ale or cranberry-apple sour. Seven dollars will snag you four 4oz pours.

Best place to cozy up with an Irish coffee

The Workman’s Friend

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This Irish pub offers up the coziest atmosphere in Plaza Midwood with help from a roaring fireplace, tabletop candles, and vintage chandeliers. In truth, the ambiance is one that the neighborhood seemed to be lacking prior to Workman’s opening in 2015 and we welcomed its arrival with open arms. The quaint and inviting atmosphere is a great one for friends and family to sit back and relax with quality Irish offerings -- not just in drinks but in food as well. Workman’s Friend allows you to add a refreshing twist to the typical beer options found at Plaza Midwood bars with pints of perfectly poured Guinness, glasses of fancy Irish coffees, or your choice from over 20 Irish whiskeys. Just make sure to pair your selection with a plate of shepherd’s pie or fish & chips for an experience that makes you feel like you just popped in off the streets of Dublin.

Whiskey Warehouse

Best place for rooftop drinking  

Whiskey Warehouse

Address and Info

The rooftop bar at Whiskey Warehouse gives you a picture perfect view of the Charlotte city skyline to pair with your cocktails. Whether it’s a sunset sky you’re after come evening or some Carolina blue to coincide with your $2 mimosa on the weekend, the patio is where you’ll want to grab your day’s drinks when the weather is on your side. Split some wings with a pal and post up for an afternoon of fresh air, because let’s face it, you’ll feel less guilty about day drinking when you’re doing it outside.

Best place for Mexican food

Three Amigos Mexican Restaurant and Cantina

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Similar to its humble strip mall exterior, Three Amigos’ interior may not be anything fancy but that’s why we love it. This tiny establishment supplies some of the most authentic, no-frills Mexican food in Charlotte, it’s all served up in plentiful portions at a low price. Start with the house chips and salsa, share a huge helping of nachos, or opt to keep an enchiladas poblanos plate all to yourself. Complete the meal with a delicious (and huge) house margarita that is rumored to be the best in the city. (If you stop in on a Friday you can nab one for just $5, among other great weekly specials that are definitely worth checking out.)

Midwood Smokehouse (Plaza Midwood)

Best place for barbecue

Midwood Smokehouse

Address and Info

Midwood Smokehouse is one of Charlotte’s top barbecue restaurants with its mouthwatering lineup of beef brisket, hickory smoked pork, pulled chicken, and ribs. This joint mixes old style with new to provide an option for everyone’s tastes, so whether its Eastern NC vinegar style or SC mustard you’re after you’re in luck. A large selection of sides and NC draft beers accompany the entrees, and you can expect large portions when ordering up your plates. We recommend giving the Well-Fed combo platter a go to try a little of everything, or another favorite, the burnt ends -- a BBQ specialty this spot excels at. The food, of course, is great at all Midwood Smokehouse restaurants, but the Plaza Midwood location is certainly the one to visit. This original site founded in 2011 is full of character and personality to match that of the diverse neighborhood it resides in.

Pint Central

Best place to have your taste at over 30 taps

Pint Central

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This craft-beer bar and restaurant, which opened in 2016, is a welcome addition to the Plaza Midwood social scene that will satisfy even the pickiest of drinkers. Featuring a food menu of European-influenced cuisine until midnight and a bar that’s open until 2am, it will be hard to find a reason to leave among the constant company of 34 taps, over 40 bottled beers, custom cocktails, and wine. Stop in on Wednesday for $3.50 drafts, and come warmer weather make sure to hit up the patio with your pup and some pals for a long afternoon of leisure.

Best place to order a Bloody Mary

Moo & Brew

Address and Info

This newcomer to the community offers up the ultimate beer and burger combination. What we currently have our sights on, however, is its insanely monstrosity of a Bloody Mary. If you can’t narrow down a beer option from the 32 taps, this 20oz of pure hangover heaven should be your drink of choice. The “Large Marge” offered up on weekends for $18 is a meal in and of itself, complete with an Angus burger grilled cheese, fried green tomatoes, bacon, jalapeños, and more atop your morning vodka drink. Sunday Funday for the win, ladies and gentlemen!

Inferno Hot Chocolate | Courtesy of Central Coffee Co.

Best place for a cup of joe

Central Coffee Co.

Address and Info

Central Coffee Co. on Central Ave has been caffeinating Plaza Midwood since 2009. Brick walls, a fireplace, and chalkboard art provide an artsy interior for your morning java, and coffee beans from a local Dilworth Coffee give it an even homier feel. Order up the Central Shorty to kickstart your day -- a 6ozlatte made with espresso, vanilla, and steamed milk. Feeling bold? Try a Spicy Mocha that surprises you palate with chipotle powder for a little more oomph. Just don’t forget to snag some zucchini bread for the road, a definite among Central Coffee regulars.

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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’.