Food & Drink

The Thrillist Awards: Charlotte's Best New Food & Drink of 2015

Published On 12/30/2015 Published On 12/30/2015
Courtesy of Kindred: Blake Pope (edited)

This year Charlotte grew like weeds -- not only the approximately 10,000 apartment complexes that opened up or broke ground, but a fleet of brand new bars and restaurants. Your new favorite eating and drinking destinations might just be among the class of 2015.

Courtesy of Punch Room

Best new cocktail bar

Punch Room

Address and Info

Uptown

This concept from the Ritz-Carlton continues to conjure up the best of craft cocktails. The Gatsby-esque space is straight out of a movie, the drinks are wild, and the eclectic small plates are the ideal complement to the booze. You’re guaranteed to have a more enjoyable punch bowl experience than that juice and sherbert concoction you had at junior prom.

Kindred Restaurant

Best new restaurant

Kindred

Address and Info

Davidson

Boasting one of the trendiest atmospheres in the area and doing the whole chef-driven thing (the chefs actually deliver food to tables), the husband and wife duo behind the acclaimed Kindred have nailed it across all fronts. The menu rotates, but the squid ink conchiglie and crispy oysters will reward you for coming sooner rather than later. The nostalgic chocolate birthday cake dessert will have you dreaming of your childhood birthdays gone by, the good ones of course.

Best new brewery

Free Range Brewing

Address and Info

NoDa

A garage-turned-brewery, this industrial space is the ideal setting for a laid-back brewhouse. The solid beer lineup includes a classic farmhouse-style ale, a rich cream ale and even a bold 9.5 percent IPA, so there’s a pint for every palate that walks through the doors. Frequent food truck visits, cornhole, a sweet outdoor patio, and a kid-friendly atmosphere make this place even better.

Benny Pennello's

Best new pizza

Benny Pennello’s

Address and Info

NoDa

A straight up godsend for the land of PBR aplenty, this pizza joint is home to the so-called “Virginia Slice” (just go with it). The slices are huge, about two cardboard plates long, the crust is crispy, and the beer selection includes a hefty list of local cans. Open until 3am on weekends and served by the slice or the pie, this is just the thing NoDa -- and the city -- needed.

Foxcroft Wine Co.

Best new wine shop

Foxcroft Wine Co.

Address and Info

Dilworth

Wine shops can be pretentious, this one is pretty chill. Not only do you have 40 wines available by the glass, there’s also donuts with caramel and chocolate dipping sauces. Aside from the stacks on stacks of wine bottles from around the world, another bonus is the local beer taps so even your beer-loving pals have an excuse to attend Wine Wednesday.

Birdsong Brewing Co.

Best new canned beer

Birdsong Brewing Co.’s Jalapeño pale ale
NoDa
Brewed with, you guessed it: fresh, hot jalapeños, this beer has been a much-loved selection at Birdsong. Now, the spicy-yet-refreshing sip can be at your fingertips for any occasion you deem appropriate: tailgates, pool parties, winter nights by the fire, and...  breakfast? Why not.

Duck Donuts

Best new donut

Duck Donuts

Address and Info

Dilworth

Churning out the most Instagrammed donut in the city, this NC franchise does fried dough right. Warm, delicious, and made to order, there are few things more satisfying than a Duck donut. With all sorts of icings -- maple, lemon, peanut butter, vanilla, etc. -- and toppings -- sprinkles, coconut, peanuts, and bacon -- you’ll never run out of flavor combinations.

FuD at Salud

Best new deli

FĹ«d at Salud

Address and Info

NoDa

An extension of Salud Beer Shop, FĹ«d serves up some tasty beer-centric food. Whether you grab a soft pretzel and beer cheese (made with Birdsong’s Jalapeño pale ale) or opt for a waffle-wich like the Jason Gi-ham-brie (made with SC peaches, brie, and ham) you’re bound to enjoy whichever beer and munchie pairing you go for.

The Workman's Friend

Best new pub

The Workman’s Friend

Address and Info

Plaza Midwood

Once you get past the charming bicycle prop outside of this corner spot's doors, you'll feel like you stepped into a cozy, dimly lit Irish pub. Its outdoor beer garden even has a fireplace. The local beer selection is on point, the Guinness is better than ever, and the fish and chips go great with everything.

CO Charlotte

Best new Asian food

CO

Address and Info

Park Road

This brand new joint is the product of a bunch of Asian cuisines marrying and having delicious offspring in the form of sushi, banh mi, thai noodles, pho, and more. The communal tables offer a laid-back vibe while the abstract interior keeps it cool and modern.

Renaissance Pâtisserie

Best new French bakery

Renaissance Pâtisserie

Address and Info

Sedgefield

Manned by a classically trained French chef who has worked for celebs like Oprah Winfrey and Sharon Stone, this place is the real deal. Though it's tucked away in an unassuming and not-very-French strip mall, this gem will lure you in with its delectable smells of fresh-baked croissants, tarts, turnovers, and macaroons.

Queen City Beer & Chili - QCBC

Best new beer bar

Queen City Beer & Chili

Address and Info

French Quarter

This place does two things right: craft beer and small batch chili. It's a pretty simple concept. The ever-changing tap handles feature mostly local brews, and the chili can basically be put on anything you want -- from hot dogs and burgers to nachos and fries. Have a few pints and stay awhile or fill up your growler and take the goods home with you.

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Lauren Blake enjoys writing about restaurants and bars just as much as she likes frequenting them. Well, almost as much. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @palieblake.

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1. The Punch Room 201 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202 (Uptown)

When a bar is on the 15th floor of The Ritz-Carlton and features gold accents, plush leather seating, and skyline views, you expect it to be good. When that spot also includes Bob Peters, an enthusiastic bartender whose creations make him more magician than mixologist, it's safe to expect greatness. Sample the daily punch, but bring your sense of adventure for one of the inventive elixirs like Carbonated Aviation, an effervescent twist on the classic, or Strange Brew made with smoked bourbon, hazelnut milk, and a coffee ice cube.

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2. Kindred Restaurant 131 Main Street, Davidson, NC 28036 (Davidson)

Nestled in historic Davidson, this family-owned and chef-driven restaurant never disappoints with its modern takes on Southern cuisine. Like many new American-style restaurants, this chic eatery cooks with local ingredients, rotates their menus seasonally, sticks to small portions and stuns with elegant presentation. The home-made milk break, duck fat potatoes and crispy oysters are all must-haves at dinner — order one of each and share the wealth with your entire table, that's the best way to get a little bit of everything.

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3. Free Range Brewing 2320 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205 (Noda)

At Free Range Brewing, small batch is the name of the game. In addition to a rotating selection of amazing beers, it's got a chill vibe, cold brew coffee, and farm-fresh sodas on tap, making this a spot for the whole family to kick back and enjoy a drink.

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4. Benny Pennello's 2909 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205 (Noda)

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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5. Duck Donuts 1710 Kenilworth Ave, # 220, Charlotte, NC 28203

With locations all over the Northeast, Duck Donuts serves up hot, fresh, creative pastries. The fried dough selections might look to be on the petite side, but topping choices like shredded coconut and chopped peanuts and bacon, as well as "coating" options like peanut butter and strawberry icing, will make your single treat a carbo load to last the whole day. Pair the maple frosting and bacon topping, and you've tasted heaven.

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6. Salud Beer Shop 3306B N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

Salud has over 600 beers from around the world and a thoughtful, rotating selection of beers on tap.

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7. The Workman's Friend 1531 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205 (Plaza Midwood)

This Irish pub was inspired by a Flann O’Brien poem, an excerpt of which you can find hand-painted on its outer brick wall. The cozy gathering place has 16 Irish and local beers on tap, a solid selection of Irish whiskey, traditional Irish pub fare (like shepard's pie, burgers, fish and chips) and friendly bartenders who have all mastered the art of the Guinness pour. If the weather's nice, head straight for the backyard beer garden and patio, or cozy up to the brick fireplace on chilly evenings.

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8. CO 4201 Park Road, Charlotte, NC

The Vietnamese word for "feast," CO offers a plethora on dishes you'll want to go HAM on. The pan-Asian fare covers all the bases: rice dishes, ceviche, makimono, banh mi, and pho.

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9. Renaissance Pâtisserie 2809 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28217 (South End)

Napoleons, tarts, and croissants on fleek at this French bakery, helmed by classically trained chef Sylvain Rivet, who has served the likes of Oprah... How's that for street cred?

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10. Queen City Beer & Chili 135 Brevard Court, Charlotte, NC (Uptown)

Beer and chili (you guessed it) rule the menu at this Uptown brewpub. Get these hearty faves on the cheap-- nothing on the menu costs more than $10.

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