Food & Drink

The Definitive Guide to Eating and Drinking in NoDa

Published On 11/01/2016 Published On 11/01/2016
"Tiny Dog Mafia" | Courtesy of The Dog Bar

Best place to grab a beer with your pup: The Dog Bar

Want to go out and grab a beer, but don’t want to leave your fur baby at home? The Dog Bar is the place for both of you. Dogs are allowed off-leash to frolic and play while their owners can drink beer, wine, and cocktails. The bar doesn’t serve food, but has takeout menus on hand for you to order in. Word to the wise: watch your step, dogs will be underfoot.

Best place to order beer and oysters: Growlers Pourhouse

Focused on craft beer, Growlers Pourhouse has a regularly rotating beer list guaranteeing you will see something new each time you go. In addition to the beer selection, the food is not to be dismissed or missed. The oyster selection changes daily and is always fresh. Not sure what to drink with your oysters? Never fear! The bartenders will help you pair your oysters with just the right beer.

Best place to order nachos: Sabor Latin Street Grill

Sabor Latin Street Grill focuses on street food you would typically see in Latin American countries. You really can’t go wrong with anything you order here, but the nachos are on another level. There is the supreme -- which is a more standard order with guacamole, queso, pico de gallo, and choice of protein -- but the Dominican is for the more adventurous nacho connoisseur. Yuca fries smothered in shredded chicken, sautéed cabbage, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and rosada sauce make for an unforgettable experience.

Best place to order comfort in a cup: The Smelly Cat Coffeehouse & Roastery

Since 2000, Smelly Cat has provided caffeinated fuel to those who live in NoDa, as well as those who come from all over the city for a cuppa joe. Coffee (including the signature nitrogenated cold brew), tea, and fresh-baked goods can be found at this coffeehouse with a cult following. This quirky spot also has a shady outdoor patio and open mic/stand-up comedy nights, but is also quiet enough to stay and work or study.

The Crepe Cellar

Best restaurant for a date night: Crepe Cellar

Whether for a first date, a special occasion, or just a night out with your sweetie, Crepe Cellar is the perfect date spot in NoDa. A dimly lit interior with dark wood, wallpaper, and brick walls set the tone, while the food and drinks take the experience to the next level. Order one of the signature crepes, or another entree such as the steak and Guinness pie or the mussels. Order a bottle of wine or a signature cocktail from the impressive beverage list and let the night take you where it may.

Best place to grab a sandwich: NoDa Bodega

Featuring Boar's Head meats, a selection of cheeses, beer, wine, and other stop-and-grab goodies, the NoDa Bodega has a little something for everyone. Pick up some essentials or order a sandwich to go; if you’re a meat lover, the Italian Stallion with prosciutto, finocchiona, coppa, fresh mozzarella, and peppadew relish will nearly overfill your belly. Don’t forget the daily soup specials -- the Portuguese white bean soup is a treat when offered.

Jeff McElwee

Best place to get a waffle sandwich: FĹ«D at Salud

Didn’t know that you needed a waffle sandwich? Well, you definitely do. Nestled in Salud Beer Shop, FūD at Salud serves up delicious sandwiches, but the crowning glory is that you can have your sandwich served on waffles. The chicken & waffles with chicken salad, bacon, maple syrup, and candied walnuts is a crowd favorite, as are the specialty waffle of the week offerings.

Best place for an aggressively large slice of pizza: Benny Pennello's

Benny’s gave NoDa and Charlotte exactly what it needed, but never realized it needed -- a slice of pizza that requires two plates. If you have a small car, don’t even try to order a pizza to go or you may end up putting a 28in pie in the trunk. Pizza options range from standards like cheese and pepperoni, to more unique flavors like chorizo and queso, as well as specials that change monthly. Wash down that cheesy goodness with one of more than 25 craft brews.

Courtesy of Heist Brewery

Best brewery where you'd be an idiot not to order a cocktail: Heist Brewery

Yes, Heist serves its own delicious beers, but you also have one of the O.G. Charlotte bartenders making amazing cocktails. Stefan Huebner serves up classics like mojitos as well as new takes on classics, such as the pecan smoked Manhattan. Since it’s a brewery, there are even beer cocktails such as the Black Fog, which is made with Heist’s stout, blackberry puree, and Jim Beam Rye.

Best place to drink and swing: NoDa Company Store

Opened in the spring of 2016, NoDa Company Store features craft beer from the Carolinas in cans and on draft, as well as a thoughtful wine selection. If available, order one of the house-made sangrias or Bellinis. While the store is charming, take your drink outside on a nice day. There are picnic tables set up, but the real draw is the swingset. Sip and swing your afternoon away solo, with your special person, or with friends.

Brooks Sandwich House

Best place to grab a burger: Brooks' Sandwich House

Brooks’ Sandwich House has served Charlotteans breakfast and lunch for more than 40 years. At this family-owned institution, patrons can order a cheeseburger “all the way” with mustard, onions, and thick homemade chili for $3.75. Extra napkins will be needed.

Best place to grab some gumbo: Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen

Serving Cajun and seafood dishes, Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen is a great spot for something different. The gumbo is the star of the menu, but you can’t go wrong with any of the Cajun classic dishes, especially the mulatte, tilapia topped with rice and etouffee.

Courtesy of The Blind Pig

Best place for late-night Skee-Ball: The Blind Pig

The Blind Pig is where the big kids go to play. You could spend hours playing your favorite old games such as Skee-Ball, Jenga, foosball, and the claw (just try getting a stuffed animal after a couple drinks). This is a watering hole through and through, with a craft beer tap to match. There is a $1 annual membership fee because it doesn’t serve food, but with all the other restaurants within walking distance, we know that you won’t go hungry.  

Best restaurant to cure a hangover: JackBeagle's

If you had a little too much fun in NoDa the night before (it happens to the best of us), head to JackBeagle's. If it’s the weekend, order the Bucho’s breakfast hoagie, which was created specifically to fix your hangover. Seriously, it says so on the menu. Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, and breakfast taters served on a foot-long Italian hoagie will cure all that ails ya… or it may just make matters worse.  

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1. the Dog Bar 3307 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

The Dog Bar in NoDa is Charlotte’s original off-leash bar. Thanks to cooling misters in the summer and tents and heaters in the fall, the bar’s outdoor space is available year-round, meaning your pet will have plenty of space to frolic both inside and outside. With live music and specials on beer, liquor, and wine, you and your furry friend will have a ball. Though there’s no food served at The Dog Bar, you’re encouraged to order from nearby restaurants.

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2. Growlers Pourhouse 3120 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

What it lacks in size, this corner bar makes up for in character. Order a local beer (many of the offerings are from breweries just down the street like Birdsong Brewing or NoDa Brewing Co.) and dig into the complimentary popcorn, or order a round of oysters on the half shell. And while it’s bustling on weekends, its flat screen TVs and laid-back setting make it a favorite spot to catch the game.

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3. Sabor Latin Street Grill 415 Hawthorne Ln, Charlotte, NC 28204

Dominican-owned Sabor is bringing joy to those craving Latin street food in Charlotte with hand-held tacos on corn tortillas, arepas stuffed with hot, melty cheese and Dominican nachos (Yuca fries topped with shredded chicken, cabbage, and Sabor pink sauce, aka ketchup and mayo mixed together) — let's not forget the affordable specialty margaritas, too. Order at the counter and then pick your poison at the hot sauce bar before your meal hits the table.

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4. Smelly Cat Coffeehouse 514 E 36th St, Charlotte, NC 28205

This award-winning coffee shop and roasting company has been a local favorite since it opened in 2000. A colorful and well-loved space (think reclaimed furniture, local artwork, and shelves full of board games), this NoDa coffeehouse's warm brick-walled interior is perfect for getting cozy with a latte or a signature nitrogenated cold brew. Smelly Cat roasts its own coffee, ethically sourced and direct from the farmers, meaning that patrons can enjoy their espresso guilt-free. A shady outdoor patio opens up in the warmer months, and the cafe regularly hosts open mike and stand-up comedy nights to further the neighborhood hangout atmosphere of this welcoming cafe.

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5. Crepe Cellar 3116 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

Located in NoDa's arts district, this cozy gastropub offers Euro-inspired cuisine that ranges from crepes and steak frites to pesto pasta and pan-seared Scottish salmon. You'll want to go for one of the savory buckwheat crepes (they're in the restaurant's name, after all), which come in varieties like ham & gruyere, spinach & wild mushroom, and turkey apple brie. The Crepe Cellar burger is a favorite, too, served on a soft potato bun, smothered in creamy garlic aioli, and topped with melted gruyere cheese and some onion straws for crunch. When it comes to beverages, you can expect a rotating list of craft beer, seasonal cocktails, French press coffee, and tea.

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6. NoDa Bodega 800 E 35th St, Charlotte, NC 28205

This bodega/sandwich shop has an artsy chalkboard with all the sandwiches named after locals, the best of which is “G-man’s G-wich” (named after a guy named Greg), it's a fiery sandwich layered with London broil, caramelized onions, melted pepper colby Jack cheese, and jalapeño bacon.

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7. FuD At Salud 3306 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

Fud at Salud is a small sandwich shop tucked away inside of Salud Beer Shop where slices of bread are ditched for waffles, and “sandwich” transcends savory connotations. The menu’s “Waffle-wiches” include the cult-favorite chicken and waffles, which places creamy chicken salad mixed in with candied walnuts and bacon smack dab in the middle of two fluffy waffles. For sugar cravings, sink your teeth into the You’re Killin’ Me, S’mores, with marshmallows, graham crackers, and nutella. Hang out at the long picnic table or head to Salud Beer Shop to pair your waffles with some beer.

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8. Benny Pennello's 2909 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

This Virginia-based pizza concept boasts 28-inch pies with slices that warrant not one but two plates to carry a single piece. Benny Pennello's, in the NoDa neighborhood, is a great casual late-night and pizza-by-the-slice spot amidst Charlotte's bar scene, and it has more than 25 brews on hand so you’ll never go thirsty. Every month the pizza specials change so be sure to check online before you go to see what the month's special is, unless you're going for a little pizza adventure.

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9. Heist Brewery 2909 N Davidson St, Ste 200, Charlotte, NC 28205

Housed in an old cotton mill, this triple threat is part brewery, part cocktail bar, and part restaurant -- and the whole is greater than the sum of those parts. Despite the ample seating, this is the kind of place you’re likely to have to squeeze into the bar, or wait for a table on the weekends, especially during its next-level Sunday brunch. The small batch beers change frequently and are especially tasty when mixed in one of the beer cocktails like The Black Fog made with Heist stout, rye whiskey, and blackberry puree.

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10. NoDa Company Store , Charlotte, NC

The NoDa Company Store is a clubhouse for grownups, complete with an art gallery and boozy beverages courtesy of the fully stocked, 12-tap beer and wine bar. With a front and back porch, outdoor picnic tables, and an interior bar and tables, the Company Store will beg you to stay for hours to gaze at its rotating art installations, jam to live music performances (varying from local DJs to music festivals), and spend some time in the sunshine. Highlights include the zen garden (adults only!) and the porch swing, both spots ideal for enjoying your SO.

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11. Brooks' Sandwich House 2710 N Brevard St, Charlotte, NC 28205

Brooks' Sandwich House is a rundown red shack on the side of the railroad tracks, but the line of hungry customers trailing into the dirt parking lot should be enough confirmation that you're in the right place for a good burger. The “All the Way” version includes mustard, onions, and a homemade chili so thick it’s as meaty as the patty. The burger is the show-stealer here, but if you come before the lunch rush, you can get your hand on a highly underrated gooey egg sandwich for breakfast.

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12. Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen 501 E 36th St, Charlotte, NC 28205

A casual and colorful neighborhood spot in NoDa, Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen is serving up top-notch Cajun and seafood dishes, which aren't always easy to come by in Charlotte. You'll want to go for the hearty and authentic gumbo, which is the true star of the menu, but any of the Cajun classic dishes are worth your time, particularly the mulatte: blackened tilapia served on rice with shrimp & crawfish etouffee.

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13. The Blind Pig 453 E 36th St, Charlotte, NC 28205

At this neighborhood watering hole in NoDa, you get to be a kid again with Skee Ball, Jenga, foosball, and the claw all at your disposal -- not to mention a craft beer tap, which arguably makes all of those games (except maybe the claw) better than when you were a kid. A couple of things to note: there's a $1 annual membership fee, and the Blind Pig doesn't serve food. But with plenty of restaurants within walking distance, you have lots of options for pre- or post-drinks snacking.

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14. JackBeagle's 3213 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

This neighborhood bar in NoDa is a great local watering hole with real good grub. They've got burgers, dogs, cheesesteaks, wings, and more. Try the Jack-Mac, which is their version of mac-and-cheese with a garlicky buffalo sauce.