Food & Drink

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

Plaza Midwood may be the last place out-of-towners picture when they think about the second-largest banking center in the United States. It’s quaint, artsy, laid-back, and casual, and that’s exactly the appeal of this beloved community resting just a mile northeast of Uptown. With incredible restaurants such as Soul Gastrolounge that have helped define the Charlotte dining scene, brand-new drinking establishments like Legion Brewing joining the ranks, and longtime institutions like the Diamond standing strong -- all within walking distance from each other -- the smaller confines of this historic district continue to draw more and more Queen City residents searching for a unique and diverse neighborhood experience. From young artists to families to established businessmen, city-goers are moving here in packs to switch up their daily routine and experience an eclectic mix of what makes the city of Charlotte so great.

Best place to grab a sandwich

Common Market

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.

Best place to drink with the locals

Hattie’s Tap & Tavern

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.

Soul Gastrolounge
Courtesy of Soul Gastrolounge

Best place for date night

Soul Gastrolounge

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.

Best place to bask in breakfast all day

Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe

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

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!

Best place for late-night indulgence

Diamond Restaurant

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

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.

Best place to get a beer flight

Legion Brewing

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

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.

Best place for rooftop drinking  

Whiskey Warehouse

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

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.)

Best place for barbecue

Midwood Smokehouse

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.

Best place to have your taste at over 30 taps

Pint Central

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

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!

central coffee co.
Inferno Hot Chocolate | Courtesy of Central Coffee Co.

Best place for a cup of joe

Central Coffee Co.

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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Courtney Matinata is a freelance writer for Thrillist, who may just claim Soul’s pork belly tacos as her very favorite dish in all of Charlotte.