Charlotte’s Best Bites is a collaborative dining guide featuring people who love Charlotte writing about the places they love in Charlotte. This week, my friend and fellow blogger, Alyssa, shares some of her favorite places to brunch, wine, and dine (and to two take out spots!) in the Queen City.
Hi, I’m Alyssa! I moved to Charlotte five years ago from Michigan and have loved every minute of exploring the delicious and ever growing food scene here. As someone of Mexican and Italian heritage (aka The Mexitalian), I love food from around the globe, and Charlotte offers a huge variety. I honestly had a tough time making this list because I have so many favorites! I included some of the places I’m always sure to take friends and family when they visit Charlotte. I hope you love some of these spots as much as I do, or even better try something new.
Underrated Brunch Spot: Cantina 1511
Charlotte has not shortage of great brunch spots, from buffets to plated meals, sweet to savory. Brunch happens to be my favorite, there is something so relaxing about a late morning, early afternoon meal that tends to be a bit indulgent. On every best brunch list I’ve seen for Charlotte, Cantina 1511 never makes the list. Their brunch is affordable, delicious, and you get chips and salsa. Talk about a win to start your brunch. They also serve brunch on Saturday, in case you need to double down on your weekend brunch game, and they never seem to be super busy for brunch. They serve a variety of food from more typical breakfast omelettes to Mexican-inspired dishes. My go-to is the Avocado bake, two citrus poached eggs atop an entire halved avocado and topped with cheese, a spicy crema, plus a smoky potato hash. Seriously, try Cantina for brunch.
Sweet Tooth Fix: Suarez Bakery and Va Da Vie
About three years ago I moved to a house within walking distance of Park Road Shopping Center. It didn’t take me long to discover one of my favorite spots in town for a sweet treat, Suarez Bakery. Suarez is a family bakery that makes gorgeous specialty cakes. I like to stop in for a cupcake, cookie, or donut. Their gorgeous decorated cookies also make great little gifts for friends. But we can’t forget specialty donut Saturday, when they make really fun and unique cake and yeasted donuts, sure to please every donut fan. I’ve tried flavors such as peanut butter banana and olive oil black pepper and have never been disappointed. To add to the sweetness at Park Road Shopping Center, my other favorite spot Va Da Vie Gelato is just across the parking lot. Another family business, they make the freshest and most authentic gelato with local and seasonal ingredients. I may be hit both Suarez and Va Da Vie on the same day once or twice, but if I walk there calories don’t count right?
Guilty Pleasure: Sabor Latin Street Grill Supreme Nachos
Sabor is one of my favorite places in Charlotte. It’s quick, it’s inexpensive, and it is consistently good. It’s one of the places (along with Viva Chicken) that I kick myself for not discovering sooner, I missed out on years of indulging in nachos! I love Sabor’s tacos, empanadas, arepas, burrito bowl- Latina American food that you can’t find everywhere, but if I’m being honest their nachos are my number one guilty pleasure. They are HUGE! A mound of chips topped with queso, beans (I liked refried), lettuce, queso fresco- the crumbly white cheese, guacamole, and I like to get the veggies, chopped zucchini and squash, instead of meat. At least they have veggies! The nachos are less than $7 and I can’t even finish them myself-usually.
Healthy Weeknight Take Out: Yafo Kitchen
Since opening in South Park last summer, Yafo has been a regular spot for my husband and me. It’s something we can genuinely feel good about eating when we are too tired or too low on groceries to make dinner. We usually go for the half hummus and half salad bowls, with all the toppings- olives, cabbage slaw, tabbouli, marinated chickpeas, tomato and cucumber salad, and baba gannoush. I get falafel on top of my bowl with a good helping of the herb dressing and spicy shug, and my husband usually gets chicken. I really like the idea that you can also grab one of their delicious rotisserie chickens with a selection of mezze, or sides, to feed the whole family. Such a nice healthy and affordable option for weeknight take-out. Hint: If you end up with extra shug it goes great on top of an egg for breakfast!
Frugal and Filling Lunch: Passage to India
When I lived in University City I honestly didn’t eat out much. It was a hike to get to some of my favorite restaurants in town and the selection of local places is just not as large as many other neighborhoods. However, I think the best lunch deal in town can be found at Passage to India on University City Blvd just north of UNCC. $4.99 and you get a huge vegetarian lunch box ($5.99 for chicken) with two curries, rice, and naan. You can call ahead and let them surprise you with your curry selection or go and and pick two from the buffet. Their curry is always flavorful and they have different options every time I go. Days when I’m in the neighborhood at lunch and don’t make it to grab one of those lunch boxes are always sad days.
Saturday Morning Spot for Food Lovers: Atherton Mill Market
Atherton Mill Market is my Saturday morning happy place. I go just about every single weekend I’m in town. I love the routine of working out, then heading to the market for a coffee and a bag full or produce. Not Just Coffee makes my favorite latte in town, their vanilla sugar latte with almond milk makes my heart happy. Though I will say their plain latte is pretty darn good too if you’re trying to limit your sugar intake. In the summer, an iced caramel latte makes my day. Cup of coffee in hand I like to walk around the market, maybe trying some samples, or grabbing a loaf of bread (try the focaccia) from Carolina Artisan Bread, and making my way to the Bell’s Best stand in the back corner of the market. This spring is my third year doing a CSA with Bell’s Best. Almost every Saturday from April through December I stop by and pick up my bag of pre-paid produce and chat with the farmers, Jay and Robin. They usually have a great table of herbs and extra goodies that CSA members are welcome too so I try to stock up, as well as try new things such as chocolate mint- yes that’s an herb! If you love good food, good coffee, and local produce you need to check out Atherton Mill Market on Saturday morning.
Alyssa and Chrissie met through the Charlotte Food Bloggers in the spring of 2016. She shares her recipes and travel experiences on her own blog, The Mexitalian. She loves trying new foods, getting her hands dirty in the kitchen, and traveling to new places. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.