Pimento cheese: you can eat it hot, you can eat it cold, but as long as you’re in the South, it’s got to be eaten. Luckily this town has more than enough of this sharply flavored spread to go around. Whether it’s served straight-up on a sandwich, sprinkled atop a hot dog, or spooned into a bowl and scooped up with crackers, here are some of the best ways to get your pimento cheese fix in Charlotte.
Common Market is known to put out some damn good sandwiches but the pimento deluxe takes the cake. The award-winning pimento cheese is made with up to nine types of cheeses, from cheddar to pepper Jack and whatever else is around, and then tweaked with some delicious pickled jalapeños. Served on fresh-baked Golden Grains sourdough bread and topped with a generous heaping of bacon strips, this aptly named sandwich is equal parts cheesy and savory with a just-right bacon crunch.
The best part about hot dogs is that you can tailor them to suit your taste buds and in these parts, we like to add a little extra flair by way of melted pimento cheese and chili. The Diamond’s Winky Dinky dog does just that, creating an all-American classic with a heaping helping of Southern charm.
Pimento cheese is versatile, meaning you can eat it on almost any occasion during anytime of day (including breakfast). Leroy’s serves it accordingly, during brunch, and melts it over a fried chicken and egg croissant that’s topped with mayo and applewood bacon. This sandwich will make you question all of the meals you can make better with pimento.
Earl’s perfectly prepared house-made pimento cheese is topped with roasted overnight tomatoes, bringing out a smoky flavor that’s so on point. Smeared over Texas toast and grilled to perfection, this sophisticated take on pimento cheese does the classic right.
Leave it to Soul to take a classic staple and put a unique spin on it. Its take on nachos: crispy fried chicken skins topped with a creamy pimento cheese fondue and sprinkled with jalapeños for a slight kick.
Sure, pimento cheese is a great sandwich topper but let us not forget that this stuff can stand alone just fine. Made with red pepper spread and olives, this cold dip serves a bit like tapenade, making it a good starter that’s not quite as gut-filling as some other varieties. It’s served with house-made crostini and pita chips for a good balance of crisp and creamy.
Waffle fries: they’re good with ketchup, honey mustard, and, hell, they’re even good alone. But why do that to yourself when you have the option of Pinky’s Pimp’n Fries. Seasoned waffle fries are served with melted homemade pimento cheese and if you choose, topped with homemade chili and bacon.
An old-fashioned soda shop is where you’d expect to find a classic like a pimento cheese sandwich, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. The grilled pimento is just like those ones mom used to make, except better. The homemade recipe is heavy on the sharp cheddar and includes green olive pieces, creating a perfectly tangy, slightly salty bite. Served on buttered, pillowy Texas toast and grilled, you’ll never want to eat a regular old grilled cheese again.
1. Common Market2007 Commonwealth Ave, Charlotte
2. Diamond Restaurant1901 Commonwealth Ave, Charlotte
3. Leroy Fox705 S Sharon Amity Rd, Charlotte
4. Earl's Grocery1609 Elizabeth Ave, Charlotte
5. Soul Gastrolounge1500 1/2 Central Ave, Charlotte
6. Nan and Byron's1714 South Blvd, Charlotte
7. Pinky's Westside Grill1600 W Morehead St, Charlotte
8. Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop1930 Camden Rd, Charlotte
This aptly named eatery is an eclectic common ground for locals -- a coffee shop, an all-day dining room, a bar, and a general store, all under the same roof. Offering cuisine for all hours, the market boasts a full service coffee station, a sandwich counter, and a lengthy menu for beer & wine. Browse through trinkets, T-shirts, and vinyl collections while you sip one of the bar's 13 brews on tap, or stop by for some live music on the weekends.
Designed to resemble a classic, old-school diner, this Charlotte favorite is lined with vinyl-backed booths, formica tabletops, and a jukebox. Originally opened in 1945, the historic red-brick space is a Commonwealth mainstay, with a dedicated local following. Breakfast is served all day, the creative house burger and hot dog selections are impressive, and the restaurant is open until 4am on the weekends -- there is no time of day ill-suited to the famous Diamond "Pig Wings" (deep-fried pork shanks covered in cinnamon-chipotle sauce). The daily specials are reliably satisfying, the home made deserts are remarkable, and if you make enough appearances, the affable wait staff will surely start to greet you by name.
One of the few late night spots in the neighborhood, Leroy Fox serves ups its eclectic menu after midnight. Try the hot pretzels, which come with honey mustard and ranch dressing. They are perfect for after dinner snacking.
This hip grocery is a place to be seen... at lunchtime, at least. Earl's has all sorts of amazing eats like hot bowls of ramen and steak tacos, plus daily features. The real winner, though, is the turkey sandwich. Yes, you heard that right, stacks of deli turkey with smoked Gouda, sun-dried tomato aioli, and avocado stuffed between two slices of lightly grilled wheat bread. It's simple perfection.
For regulars at Soul, Mondays are always a treat -- the evening's soundtrack is crafted purely of R&B and soul on vinyl, hand selected from the restaurant owner's very own collection. The small-plate lounge is notorious for tasty, inventive house cocktails and upscale snacks like Asian glazed pork belly tacos to match. The no reservations bar is small and fills quickly, so get here early if you're looking to eat, while there's plenty of standing room for drinkers. The constantly rotating cocktail menu features (potent) libations like a Celery Spritz made with gin, Cointreau, house-made celery-lemon seltzer, and olive oil, and each night of the week, Soul hosts a different DJ, so patrons at this dimly-lit craft-cocktail-haven never run out of reasons to keep coming back.
Nan & Byron’s is a Charlotte staple for good food that’s creative but doesn’t overthink it. They've also got the incredible G’Night Moon cocktail concocted with moonshine, soda water, sprite, mint, lime and simple syrup that's refreshing and smooth.
Honey-cilantro slaw, crunchy peanut butter and spicy Sriracha piled together on a burger might sound weird, but once you've had a bite of Pinky's Ding Dong Style Burger in Charlotte's Ashley Park, you'll know you've just got to trust them. And that's only one item on its incredibly diverse menu (it's not every day you see ginger tuna salad and korean pork tacos sharing a menu with reuben hot dogs and greek-style pita sandwiches). No matter what corner of the globe your meal is inspired by, it'll go perfectly with a custom margarita or one of their many quirky house cocktails.