So here’s the deal. Charlotte’s got a lot. That’s what they tell you anyway, at the uptown information center. And it’s true. Charlotte does have a lot… of restaurants. No matter how good your college’s food is, you’re going to get bored of it, or you’re going to want to go on a date (and maybe embrace some gender stereotypes by letting someone else pay for you…hey, we’re broke college ladies, no shame). Over this past summer I have eaten. And eaten. And nibbled. And eaten. And here’s a starter guide to good eats in Charlotte.
Mac’s is some of the best accessible barbecue in Charlotte. They make their own sauces in which you can douse your affordable assortment of meats (or a veggie burger!). They have fantastic side options from sweet potato fries to beans to mac and cheese – all of the staples. I’ve never had room for dessert there because I ALWAYS make sure to request the free hushpuppies as an appetizer (you do have to ask), but the options here are basically endless. Make sure you try the Hog’s wing and the Texas sausauge at some point. They might sound strange to the BBQ rookies, but they’re fantastic.
Soul food. ‘Nuff said. Mert’s is known for salmon cakes and cornbread and Soul Roll… and, well, everything. I would stick to these classics, though their fried chicken is kind of to die for (it’s greasy, but incredibly crispy) and their yams. Oh, their yams. Sweet and syrupy and fresh as can be. Everything here is fresh. My mom and I got cornbread STILL WARM FROM THE OVEN with (yes) honey butter. You’re welcome. It is key, KEY, I TELL YOU, to save room for cake, however. You’ll see the options as you walk in, and they are many and delicious. My personal favorite is the moist and spicy-sweet sweet potato cake with cream cheese frosting. Oh, Lord.
3. Bad Daddy’s
Want a burger? Want a salad? Want the best peanut butter/chocolate pie you’ve ever had? Their appetizers are creative and their basics are sound (probably some of the best sweet potato fries around) and their sauces are HEAVENLY. The options are also endless because you can create your own burger and salad (which I love because sometimes people are in the moods for all of the different meal options and Bad Daddy’s has you covered). I highly recommend trying their different patties (the bean burger is AMAZING) and their milkshakes if you still have room (don’t lie to yourself… you’ll want to save room for the Elvis shake).
If you want great wings, go to Fuel. They’re a chain pizza joint, but their wings are killer. The Honey BBQ is probably my favorite sauce, but that’s only when I’m with people who order traditional pizza (so I can steal a bite and not miss out). Their combos are creative and their calzones are massive. Bonus: if you’re lactose intolerant (or lactose-annoyed like me), they have dairy-free Daiya cheese and it actually (I promise) works with the flavors.
5. Terrace Café
Probably the best waffle I’ve ever had was here (yeah, sorry Waffle House). They have a couple of locations, but I’m sure combining banana, pecan, and a little powdered sugar would be good at both. They have extensive, creative sweet options: I’ve tried and loved the lemon poppy seed French toast but have yet to try the intriguing red velvet waffle. They also have insanely delicious coffee options and some classic Southern savory breakfasts. Their biscuits and gravy are perfection.
So go put on your eating pants and explore some of what Charlotte’s got to offer your taste buds!