Monday, August 13, 2012

Charlotte – A Few of Our Favorite Places to Eat

On returning to Charlotte for a visit, I knew I had to take advantage of eating at some of my favorite places. Who knows when we will be back. Since most of his meals were provided by the conference Daniel was limited on how many meals he would be able to share with me in the Queen City. Following are a list of the places we ate at and then I will finish out with a list of places I wish we had had time for.

We arrived in Charlotte on Sunday with just enough time to check in to our hotel, drop off our luggage and get Sophie settled in before running across town to Cotswold to meet old friends at Salsaritas Fresh Cantina.

Salsaritas is a franchise found in a good portion of the U.S. It would have been nice to go somewhere a little more local, but it is a great place to meet with friends when there are a ton of kids in tow – I think between all of us there were 8 children {18 people total}. Since most of the kiddos were over the age of 4, they ate in two booths while the adults and babies commandeered a long row of tables so that we could visit. It wasn't too loud, the food was fast, cheap and good. We even managed to get a picture of the adults before we parted for the evening. We are finding that  Jack does pretty well with Cantina food. He had rice and black beans and was pretty happy.

Monday morning, I walked to Dean & Deluca for breakfast. It was about a mile {round trip} from our hotel to the uptown location of this cafe. Again, this is a chain, but in my opinion they brew the best coffee. When we lived in South Charlotte and I worked next to Phillips Place, I would get a coffee and a bagel there EVERY MORNING on my way in to work. It cost me about $3 per day and probably contributed to me putting on some weight at the time, but it was so good. I still love their coffee.

Monday for lunch, I drove to CookOut on Freedom Drive. You can find CookOut's throughout North Carolina and I believe there are a handful in South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. CookOut has the best value in that you can purchase a combo that includes a burger, two sides and a giant sweet tea for about $5. CookOut is the only place I know of that considers chicken nuggets and corndogs to be sides {along with more traditional fries, onion rings, hush puppies, chili and slaw}. One combo can easily feed two people. They also have ridiculously good shakes.

Monday for dinner I resorted to eating at the restaurant in the lobby of the Westin – The Ember Grille and Terrace. Daniel had a social event to attend and the thought of trying to go somewhere with just Jack seemed like too much of a pain. Initially I thought we would take advantage of eating outdoors, but the entire time we were in Charlotte the humidity was ridiculously high. Also smoking was permitted on the terrace and I didn't want to expose Jack. 

The restaurant had a special of 7 appetizers between the time of 5-7pm for $7. I chose the Barbeque Chicken Flatbread. It was good, but I was a bit disappointed in the size. It was rather small, especially if you purchased it at it's regular price. I shared part of the flatbread and chicken with Jack. This dish had jalapeños on it {which I didn't immediately realize}. Based on Jack's expression at one point during the meal, I am pretty sure that he got a small dose of jalapeño flavor that must have been lingering on a bit of chicken. This restaurant was good in terms of convenience, but I wouldn't necessarily go back.

Tuesday for breakfast, I met a client of mine for coffee from the Starbucks in the lobby of the Westin. After working with them for the last year+, it was nice to finally meet some of the team from the Council for Children's Rights in person.

Tuesday lunch – I grabbed a quick bite at Chick-fil-A in the University area before heading over to IKEA for some shopping.

For dinner Tuesday, we went out with a group of Daniel's colleagues from TVA. After much discussion, it was decided that we would eat at McCormick and Schmicks. We enjoyed the walk to the restaurant, but later got caught in a monsoon. Due to lack of a good nap, Jack was extra fussy during the meal and Daniel and I had to take turns sitting with him outside so we would not completely disrupt dinner.

I have no idea why Daniel and I never ate here before. We really enjoyed the food. We split appetizers with the group, including Shrimp Kisses {you can't go wrong with anything that is wrapped in bacon}, crab cake and Margherita Flat Bread. I had the clam chowder followed by the Ultimate Mixed Grill. The scallops were to die for. Daniel tried the Almond Crusted Rainbow Trout. It was all delicious. We will definitely be visiting McCormick and Schmicks in the future.

Wednesday morning I stuck with Starbucks for breakfast again. On this trip I really struggled with my ability to get Jack naps and my desire to get out and shop/do something fun/eat good food. Staying in a hotel with a baby and dog was definitely a challenging experience.

Wednesday for lunch, I went to Amelie's French Bakery in NoDa where I indulged in the Sandwich au Jambon and a Caramel Salted Brownie. Both were amazing. I also picked up some French Macaroons to take to my old co-workers {I saved a few for me and Daniel}. I wish I had known about Amelie's when we lived in Charlotte, I would have gone there. All.The.Time.

Wednesday dinner, we met friends at the Brixx Wood Fired Pizza at Foxcroft in South Charlotte. Brixx was one of the very first restaurants we went to when Daniel was interviewing for his job in Charlotte. We split our favorite: Chicken Florentine Pizza.

After saying goodbye to friends, we headed over to the Dairy Queen in Cotswold. For YEARS, this particular DQ had a guy that worked there who made the best blizzards. EVER. He would add tons of toppings. He was so good that if you saw him behind the counter, you would purposefully wait in line until you could be sure he was going to make your blizzard. Sadly he wasn't behind the counter when we stopped by.

Thursday breakfast was Starbucks again. 

Thanks to Jack napping through lunch, I ended up having a late lunch/early dinner of Cobb Salad from Dean & Deluca.

Friday morning I met a friend at the Original Pancake House in Midtown for brunch. Daniel and I used to go to OPH once a week. We loved it that much. 

Friday dinner, Daniel and I went to Wolfman Pizza in Cotswold. This was a staple for us when we lived in South Charlotte. 

So much so that at the time the servers knew us by name. We would always have the Led Zeppelin or the Big Bad Wolf. We had good pizza on this visit, but sadly, the service was seriously lacking –– no drink refills, they barely cleared our table and we had to request the check.

After dinner, we indulged in a Peanut Butter Fudge Shake from Cookout in Matthews. If you live near a CookOut and have never tried their shakes, go do it. Now.

Saturday morning, we packed up and made a last stop at the Original Pancake House so that Daniel could have a taste of our favorite breakfast foods before we hit the road.

If we had had more time, we would have been sure to visit Rock Bottom Brewery, 131 Main, Cabo Fish Taco, Big Daddy's Burger Bar {which is evidently now called Bad Daddy's}, Al Mikes, Phat Burrito and maybe Cantina 1511, Price's Chicken Coop and Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop.

We were spoiled with so many good places to eat when we lived in Charlotte.

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