As a New Yorker, I appreciate a good dozen of wings while watching football. There's nothing like the smell of buffalo wing sauce and a cold beer while watching your favorite team dominate the opponent. When I first moved here, I was worried I wouldn't have the same atmosphere down South. Immediately, I was proven wrong. For all of the newbies in Charlotte, here's a list we've compiled of the best wings in Charlotte:
Mac's Speed Shop-Southend
If you're looking for size and flavor, head over to Southend and order the wings at Mac's Speed Shop. The wings are different than the usual fryer simply because they are smoked and then grilled...rather than fried. Not only is the smoky flavor prevalent, but the sauces seem to absorb better!
The Roasting Co.-South Park
If you're looking for tasty and inexpensive, you have found your mecca. The Roasting Co. offers a large array of all delicious things chicken. If you're all about the spice, try the Nuclear or Evil sauces for a little extra kick. There's also a giant assortment of beer, so your palette can sing.
DD Peckers Wing Shack-Ballantyne
DD Peckers Wing Shack makes traveling to Ballantyne worth the highway hassle. For the indecisive type, you can order a 5-flavor sample. Don’t be deterred by the dive bar exterior. I recommend trying the Honey Hot or Hot Gold wings that are my sticky sweet favorites of the bunch.
Our friends over at Sugar Creek Brewing Company have announced that they will be opening their doors this upcoming weekend, September 19th at 4pm, followed by a Grand Opening Celebration to be held on the weekend of Friday, October 10th and Saturday, October 11th.
The brewery is located in historic Southend, located at the old side of Olde Mecklenberg Brewery. Festivities during the Grand Opening Celebration will include fresh craft beer, live music, barbecue, outdoor games, and tours of the newly renovated facility.
“Belgian brewers make the world’s best beer because they are never afraid to challenge the status quo. They do this while always being sure to maintain the highest standards of quality. We hope to maintain the same level of commitment to excellence for Charlotte’s beer lovers.”-CEO Joe Vogelbacher
Prior to its Grand Opening, Sugar Creek will offer patrons a chance to preview its beer and taproom via a soft opening on September 19th at 4pm. The brewery will then be open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until October 10th. After the official Grand Opening, the brewery will follow normal operation hours.
I love the start of football. Besides the start of fall, fantasy team drafts, buffalo chicken everything, and of course Sunday Funday all come to mind when football gets into gear. There wouldn't be a true Sunday Funday without cocktails...Am I right?
For those early tailgating in preparation for those 1pm games, I've compiled a list of the best Bloody Mary options in the Charlotte area.
1. Tupelo Honey-With their "farm fresh" approach, Tupelo Honey focuses on creative menu options and the freshest ingredients. Their menus have a seasonal focus around the produce and their flavors. Their cocktail menu is just as creative, and their bloody mary options mark as my favorites in Charlotte. Yes, I said options. From their traditional Bloody Mary made with vodka to their "Moonswine Mary" that offers bacon, pimento cheese-stuffed olives, and a bacon salt rim, you'll be happy you stopped over in Southend. However, that's not even my favorite Tupelo Honey Bloody Mary. The Queen Mary is 20 ounces of "over the top" deliciousness, that even the most traditional Bloody Mary enjoyers can respect. Made with roasted yellow tomatoes, moonshine, and a large array of tasty options (Maple Bacon, Pickled Jalapenos, Grilled Shrimp, etc), this cocktail is the Queen of Bloody Marys.
2. The Thirsy Beaver-This dive bar is your perfect neighborhood honkytonk bar. The crowd and bartenders are friendly. The jukebox is filled with tunes. The PBR tallboys is cheap. For those of you who haven't tried the Bloody Marys at The Thirsy Beaver...it's a hidden novelty that needs to be on your list. It's salty, it's vodka is heavily poured, and the hint of spice at the end makes you need the next sip. Sold.
3. Dandelion Market-For the Uptown crowd, Dandelion Market is the place to go when you want to dance the night away upstairs, and then recover heavily over brunch and their Bloody Mary bar. Their Bloody Mary bar is for those that want options. You want alot of bacon? You got it. Want to add gin instead of vodka? Go ahead, you crazy kid.
4. Tavern On the Tracks-If you want to watch Football and drink your Bloody Mary too, this bar is the place to be. TVs line surround the bar area, making the chances of your game being on very likely. Their food menu has alot of great sandwiches, wraps, and wings to accompany your salty beverage, and their drink menu keeps everyone happy.
5. Whiskey Warehouse-Ballin' on a Budget? Whiskey Warehouse is the place for you. With large TVs, a roofttop bar, and spacious seating, sit back and relax while you're watching football. On Sundays, they offer $2 Mimosas and $3 Bloody Mary bar. Your wallet can take a sigh of relief.
A truck devoted solely to all thinks bacon?
Yep, it's real.
If you haven't headed over to Food Truck Friday in Historic Southend, you're missing out. The best of Charlotte's food trucks gather together on Friday nights in an empty lot to celebrate. From the Bacon Response Unit, Tin Kitchen, Herban Legend, Papi Queso, to Roots Down and more, the food trucks make it easy for you to try anything you have been missing out on by gathering at one place during one time frame. Family time, friend gatherings, people with dogs, and dates occur all around you as you waft in the savory and sweet flavors from the trucks while waiting in line. What a better way to start your weekend off then with a giant picnic?
I went with a group of friends this past to Food Truck Friday. We were able tp beat some of the traffic by getting their early, and still had time to grab a few drinks at Common Market. For those of you who are newbies to Food Truck Friday, here are some tips to help you out:
-You can bring your pets, but make sure they are on a leash
-Be sure to get their before 7:30pm, as the place becomes crowded, and parking is limited.
-Food Truck Friday is BYOB, but Common Market next to the lot sells a large array of bottled beer/wine
-Seating is limited, but you can bring lawn chairs!
-This is a family friendly event. Bring your dog, but ignore their begging. I had a golden retriever giving me sad eyes over my Chrome Toaster fried potatoes. No, I did not share.
-The later you arrive, the more likely the food trucks are to run out of something.
-Parking is sparse so use the light rail or walk if you can!
Check out Food Truck Friday this weekend! The weather is hot and the food will be ready! Who wants to cook after a long weekend?
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.