Charlotte has a hugely dense population in the city during the week thanks to some of our heavy hitting companies such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Ally Bank and trust me - many many many more! With all these hard working, life changing people, at the end of the day they need to unwind with friends and colleagues with a great happy hour. To me “Happy Hour” is not just the drinks, it’s the food and atmosphere too. With that being said, here is my list of some fantastic spots to hit up after work in the city.
1) Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
This spot is known as the all-you-can-eat meat spot for a gorgeous dinner. It may feature high prices on the dinner menu but the happy hour is great! This is a perfect spot for taking your out-of-town boss somewhere that will impress the socks off of them. The atmosphere is laid back, intimate (but not too intimate) with casual upbeat music and comfortable décor and seating. This little unknown spot offers bites all under $10 and cocktail specials every night of the week. Make sure you get there between 5pm – 7pm to get the deals. They change often so check them out and impress your colleagues you know a thing or two about the city they didn’t!
2) McCormick and Schmick’s
This seafood centric spot also adorns high prices that may turn those looking for a deal away. Fair not! During happy hour, 5pm – 7pm, they have $5 bites and even $5 drinks! Another spot to feel classy while sipping a martini and eating grilled shrimp. This is a hot spot for big wig corporate employees to hang out and play, so make nice – you’ll never know who you’ll meet!
3) Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
I have deep connections with Flemings since I used to work in the same building and as I’m sure you could imagine, frequented quite often. The bar is small and cozy, just the way it should be. The bar tenders are friendly and the seats are comfortable. Don’t be fooled by the fancy steakhouse décor and the allure of Fleming’s cost – this happy hour is phenomenal. From 5pm until 7pm they offer $6 bites which include filet mignon sandwich bites, grilled streak trio, wedge salads and the tuna tartar tacos. The drink menu is great too with draft, wine and cocktail specials. Of course you can go to a dive bar and eat, drink cheaper but the opportunity to eat food like this for that prize is one not to be missed.
4) Ri Ra’s Irish Pub
I love Ri Ra’s starting from lunch to late night drinking on the roof. Some of the best things about Ri Ra’s are their loyalty program – if you’re not a member it’s worth it – they’re beer list, and their food. What makes them even better is during Happy Hour they have ½ off appetizers from 5pm – 7pm! If that wasn’t enough for you, stop by specifically on a Monday night to get half off select burgers (with a side) AND ½ apps! Just be sure to get there early because you will be waiting. Just grab a perfectly poured Guinness while you wait.
On a Sunday afternoon, Andrea and I headed to Tupelo Honey Café in Southend for the Charlotte Bloggers “Take On Tyler Throwdown”. The event concept was simple: learn to make specialty cocktails and bring an intriguing ingredient to try and stump mixologist Tyler. As a prior bartender and mixologist in a past career/life, I couldn’t help but be excited about this event.
If you haven’t been to Southend’s Tupelo Honey Café, you are greatly missing out. Their website describes their menu as “Creativity rules in our kitchen where our larder is filled with scratch-made, inventive goodness. We ratchet up our flavors so they’re on par with the farm-fresh produce we love. And we serve it all with a healthy measure of fun – with our heartfelt promise of delivering an experience worthy of the memories that tend to be made around our table.”
They aren’t kidding. From the minute you enter the welcoming atmosphere of Tupelo Honey, you are invited into a “scratch made, inventive goodness”; starting with homemade biscuits and sweet blueberry jam. Each restaurant celebrates their city through their décor. Each city’s menu uses local produce and seasonal fresh ingredients. Tupelo Honey is one of those places that when you go, you know you’re going to leave with your belly full and a smile.
So when we went to the Mixology event, I wasn’t surprised to find the tables decorated with local and seasonal accents. Autumnal Black-Eyed-Susans, fresh mint, signature Tupelo Honey appetizers (such as their delicious “Southern Popcorn”), and cocktail recipe cards laid out each blogger’s place setting.
The first drink was Ramos’ Gin Fizz. As a previous NYC Bartender, this drink is burned in the back of my mind. Tyler not only explained the cocktail and the background, but gave insight to the flavorful orange flower water, and allowed us to add more or less of the drops depending on our tastes. For those of you who haven’t had a Ramos’ Gin Fizz, its sweet taste from the orange flower water, tart accents from the gin, and frothiness from the excessive shaking that the Gin Fizz is known for gives it the consistency reminiscent creamsicle.
The next drink was the “Brandy Apple Boom”. Made with hard apple cider and brandy, this simple cocktail is both fruity and tart. It was an easy crowd favorite.
Our last drink Tyler taught us to make was the classic Mint Julep. With simple syrup, fresh mint, and whiskey, this easy cocktail is perfect for all seasons.
After our cocktail tutorial, everyone started to bring out their ingredients, Andrea’s lemon and my fresh blueberries seemed plain in comparison. Muddling both together, Tyler made a refreshing blueberry lemonade mixer. Some of the challenging ingredients included fish jerky (seriously!) and ghost pepper. Using fresh lime juice, Tyler turned two unseeingly cocktail ingredients into a spicy margarita.
In all, we bloggers failed at stumping Master Mixologist Tyler. However, we learned about a few of Tupelo Honey’s signature cocktails, and enjoyed previewing some of their fall additions. On Tuesdays, they offer a special menu of $3 Martinis. Seriously, only three dollars!
For those of you who haven’t been, stop in and check out their extensive cocktail list and delicious dishes. From their Shoo Grilled Cheese to their Goat cheese grits, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the comfort food goodness. It’s no surprise why Tupelo Honey Café is one of Southend’s best-kept secrets.
Charlotte has some of the best restaurants in the country to eat at whether it’s southern comfort food, celebrity chef restaurants, or international cuisine. So my big question is always, “What about the best place to eat dessert?” I happen to have to huge sweet tooth and after an incredible savory meal I want something that is going to end the night off right. Most restaurants have a dessert menu but not all have a GREAT dessert menu. Here is my list of the top 5 Best Desserts in the City for the next time you’re craving something sweet.
1) 1) Crave Dessert Bar - Bailey’s Bread Pudding
Crave does happen to be known for their desserts, but this one “takes the cake” if you will. Their decadent Bailey’s® Irish cream, artisan bread with brandy caramel bread pudding is absolutely to die for. I am a huge fan of bread pudding but the reason this is one of the best desserts in the city is its perfect flavoring to pair with a gorgeous cocktail. You can’t end the night on just dessert, adding a sweet cocktail to the mix really boosts your endorphins and your night will get that much better. Trust me.
2) 2) George’s Brasserie – Vanilla Panna Cotta
This one was difficult for me to choose between their classic Crème Brûlée and the Panna cotta because I LOVE Crème Brûlée. The reason George’s Panna Cotta trumped the Brûlée for me was their addition of passion fruit curd, blueberry compote, and brown sugar wafer. The flavors are killer! It’s a pure explosion of sweet, tart, creamy and crunchy. Everything you could ask for in a classic French dessert. George’s also features great French wine and after dinner liquors that will pair perfectly for a night cap.
3) 3) Amelie’s French Bakery – Salted Caramel Brownie
For those of you who have lived in Charlotte for over a month have been to Amelie’s at least once. The original location in NODA is 24 hours and essential to everyday life. Their colorful and delicious display case encompasses some of the best handmade desserts in Charlotte, but for me the Salted Caramel Brownie is a go-to classic during a craving. Of course their macaroons are no match in the scale but give me a rich dark chocolate brownie with a crunchy buttery crust, a sweet caramelized top, and a touch of salt to tame the taste buds and I’m in heaven.
4) 4) Cupcake Delirium – Velvet Bottom Cupcake
For the cupcake lovers of the world, Cupcake Delirium food truck is honestly the best of the best. Don’t believe me? Ask the people who literally voted it “Best of the Best!” Their handmade, love infused cupcakes make this food truck one to be sought after. Once you've located where this truck is going to be, buy the Velvet Bottom Cupcake. Red velvet fans may faint over the gooey amazingness that is this cupcake. It features the red velvet cupcake with a chocolate chip cheesecake center. With plenty of other options to choose from after you buy and engulf this cupcake, your taste buds will never get bored.
5) 5) Pike’s Soda Shop – The Black Cow
This iconic diner encompasses the feeling of a classic American Diner with great food and even better milkshakes. Located in the heart of South End, when you enter Pike’s Soda Shop you feel like you’re taken back to a better, simpler life where everyone would hang out at the Soda Shop and listen to the juke box. The feeling isn't even the best part about being there, it’s their Black Cow Ice Cream Float. Nothing makes me feel more like a kid again than an ice cream float and this one is perfect for sharing a straw with your dream boat guy or gal. The drink features root beer syrup layered between three scoops of vanilla ice cream and soda water and takes more than one person to drink. No need to have an excuse to come here, any time of day is perfect for an Ice Cream Float!
Rí Rá Charlotte will hold a Wine and Small Plate Tasting on the 8th August 2014 from 6pm. It will be a special tasting of wine from the Irish owned Concannon vineyard, located along California’s central coast. The tasting will comprise several different wines from the region paired with some delicious small plates developed to compliment these wines, capping the evening off with a tasting of Concannon Irish Whiskey.
The Concannon Winery, the first ever Irish -American winery, was built by James Concannon in 1865, when he sailed from the rocky coast of Ireland’s Aran Islands for America’s fertile shores in search of a better life. Nearly 150 years later, his family returned to Ireland to craft Concannon Irish Whiskey. They teamed up with Ireland’s Cooley’s Distillery to craft this special whiskey which is distilled then aged for a minimum of 4 years and finished in Concannon’ s wine casks to impart rich and complex flavors. Places for this tasting are limited and tickets can be purchased from the pub.
Rí Rá Charlotte is known for its live music and the month of August has a great lineup including Jared Allen, Scot Moody Band, Mr. Pink Duo, Crash Box, Matt Stratfors, Wicked Powers, 19th Street Band, Heroes At Last and Uphonik. Entertainment continues throughout the week with the Jettison 5 on Thursdays and Sundays host an Open Mic Night.
One of my favorite places to visit in Southend is the Atherton Mill Market. Known for its organic spread of local businesses, Atherton Mill Market is a great way to spend a Saturday. Not only is it great for the Southend community, it’s a community within its own walls.Whether purchasing produce or dry goods, this Farmer’s Market is easy to get to, reasonably priced, and has a large array of options.
This past Saturday, after the Fireman’s Pancake Breakfast, the market celebrated Queen City Pantry’s one year anniversary. Tasty treats such as pulled pork sliders were shared. For those of you who haven’t been, Queen City Pantry sells dry goods from Anson Mills, including their popcorn, sea island peas and several different grains.
New and old vendors come together, (such as my personal favorite because of their “Eat Pasta, Run Fasta slogan) Pasta and Provisions, on the weekends to offer a family friendly market. Carolina Artisan offers loaves and generous samples of their famous line of sourdough-based bread. Not Just Coffee, served both at Atherton and the 7th Street Market in Uptown, takes their coffee seriously. Watch them perform a work of art with their milk foam on top of a latte. You almost don’t want to drink it!
We’ve moved things around, so if you show up at the market and don’t find what you are looking for, just ask! With more seating (indoors and out, family and dog friendly areas, the Atherton Mill is something you have to explore.
No one likes that middle of the night text message begging for you to come over but everyone likes the hookup phone call for fast and amazing food delivery. Foodie call is a convenient way to get the food you actual want delivered straight to your door and makes it incredibly easy to order. The best part is you don’t have to settle for just pizza and lo mein, you can find a huge list of participating restaurants from Thai to Italian and Mexican to American food.
Once you’re ready to make that foodie call you can go online to www.makeafoodiecall.com and order within your zip code, it’s as easy as that! Want food from more than one restaurant? No problem! They will get your food for you and bring it just in time to fork.
I’m sure you’re reading this right now and starting to get hungry, thankfully their drivers deliver Sunday-Thursday from 11am – 9:30pm and Friday-Saturday from 11am – 10pm. And if you know you’ll need a big order catered afterhours just give them 48 hours notice and make that order over $150.
So whatever the reason you don’t want to go out or you don’t want to cook, make a foodie call and get a fresh amazing meal delivered right to your door.