Hi Everyone! I’m Chrissie, and I blog about Charlotte restaurants and events over at Off the Eaten Path. Sometimes the best way to explore a new restaurant or new cuisine is with a significant other; it’s a new adventure the two of you can share together. Dining out also is a great excuse to get dressed up, get out of the house, and have a few peaceful hours connecting with your loved one. I’ve compiled a (non-exhaustive) list of some of my favorite date spots in Charlotte. Cheers!
7 Don’t Miss Charlotte Date Night Spots
Soul Gastrolounge, http://soulgastrolounge.com/
I think Soul is in the running for my favorite restaurant in Charlotte. Perched at the corner of Central and Pecan, Soul definitely serves up good food, cold drinks and sweet tunes.
Soul is smartly decorated; with dark wood and cool décor it really gives off a relaxed, intimate, lounge vibe. The food concept at Soul is small bites, along with paninis, sushi, and craft cocktails. The menu is creative, adventurous and eclectic and sharing is encouraged (that way you get to try all of the tasty offerings!). My favorites include the bone marrow, the Asian glazed pork belly tacos, the flatbread (with truffle whipped goat cheese, pistachio pesto, honey braised garlic and fresh arugula), the Soul Roll and the Sushi Fondue Roll. They have tasty specials too!
The one downside is that they don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait if you are going on a weekend night (I’ve waited up to an hour and a half before). The good news is that they will take your cell number and text you when your table is ready and you can grab a bottle of wine at Gallery Twenty Two downstairs or a drink next door at Snug Harbor.
The Fig Tree, http://www.charlottefigtree.com/
No list of best date spots in Charlotte is complete without a shout out to The Fig Tree, a small chef owned and operated restaurant in a renovated Elizabeth bungalow. Dining at Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to treat yourself to a good meal, The Fig Tree is a unique, romantic, intimate, one of a kind experience (be prepared to shell out some money, but it’s definitely worth it!). The Fig Tree showcases a seasonal French and Italian inspired menu, an extensive wine list, and incredible, knowledgeable service. I highly recommend the escargot—the sauce is drool worthy!
Food Truck Friday, http://www.historicsouthend.com/events/food-truck-friday/
If you’re looking for something more casual, grab a six pack of your favorite beer at Common Market in South End and head next door to the lot at the corner of Camden Rd. to get your pick of fresh, delicious food served off of some of Charlotte’s favorite food trucks. My two favorite trucks, Papi Queso and The Tin Kitchen, can often be found at Food Truck Fridays in South End, and they’re always a popular choice for dinner. Papi Queso, a gourmet grilled cheese truck, has a lot of great, creative flavor combinations. The Tin Kitchen serves up creative, high quality delicious dishes, presented in the form of tacos (but also sliders and quesadillas and other things too!). Food Truck Friday is a great way to enjoy Charlotte’s long, summer evenings…but get there early, Food Truck Friday has become super popular and the trucks often run out of their goodies!
Fahrenheit is celebrity chef Rocco Walen’s (you may know him from the Food Network) new concept in Uptown. Grabbing a cocktail around sunset is a sure fire way to spark romance; high atop the recently opened Skye Condos on Caldwell Street, Fahrenheit gives incredible, panoramic views of the Queen City. Fahrenheit’s focus is on inventive, new American, regional cuisine, which means fresh, local ingredients starring in unique dishes.
I love Heirloom’s warm ambiance; while it is a large space, the restaurant is welcoming with touches that remind me of an old, cozy farmhouse. Its clear Heirloom’s focus is not just on the food (which was excellent), but also on the experience (also excellent).
Everything served at Heirloom is from North Carolina–the vegetables, meat, seafood, fruit are all from North Carolina Even the beverages–the wine is from North Carolina wineries, the liquor is distilled in North Carolina, and the beers are all local to Charlotte (except for the coffee, which is ground in North Carolina, but the North Carolina climate isn’t the best for growing coffee). On top of sourcing everything locally, everything that can be baked is baked in house–bread, pasta, gnocchi, pastries. At Heirloom, the emphasis is definitely fresh, local and delicious. No two visits to Heirloom will be the same; Heirloom’s menu changes daily based on local and fresh ingredients (check out the daily menu on Twitter before your visit). Every night, they offer a seven course tasting menu for $65, and on certain weekdays, they offer a 3 course tasting menu and a glass of wine for $30. The tasting menu was tasty and fun—I really enjoyed trying smaller portions of several different things.
There’s something about the warmth and ambiance that makes Amelie’s so comforting and welcoming. It’s like coming home to your own eclectic French living room–mixing and matching vintage chairs, comfortable couches, colorful tables, 50 of your closest (or not so closest) friends and all the warm, delicious coffee you can drink and your choice of any of the sweet, satisfying baked goods you want. Plus, Amelie’s is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, an added bonus!
There are so, so many choices in the bakery cases, I can never make up my mind. Amelie’s signature (and famous) dessert, the salted caramel brownie, is a must, I also really like the creme brulee and the assortment of fruit tarts. Don’t forget to grab one of Amelie’s famous macarons, available in almost every color of the rainbow.
Here’s an insider’s tip—if you’re beer people (like my boyfriend and I are) head over to NoDa Brewing or Birdsong Brewing first for a tour and a couple pints of local beer, then hop across the street to Amelie’s for dessert!
Bistro La Bon, http://www.bistrolabon.com/
Don’t let Bistro La Bon’s location fool you (I honestly wasn’t expecting much from a place squeezed in at the end of a shabby, Family Dollar strip mall and spitting distance from a pawn shop). They’ve done the place up with planters, patio tables, chalkboard menus–and that’s just the exterior. The bar space and dining area (which recently got a facelift and makeover) transports you out of a tacky shopping mall and into a place full of people who care about good food (and good wine and cocktails for that matter too). The bar area is sleek, rustic and modern at the same time, with wooden high top tables, a smooth wooden bar, flowers, candles and dim, friendly lighting. The dining room is friendly and intimate, and tableside windows provide for good people watching up and down Central Ave. and some glimpses of the Uptown skyline I’ve enjoyed every single thing I’ve ever eaten at Bistro La Bon–from bar bites, to brunch to fancy date night dinners, everything.
Looking for something other than dinner? What about brunch? My personal favorite is their Sunday Smorgasboard–an all-you-can-eat-brunch with a wide selection of delicious eats for you to load your plate with as many times as you want. Take major advantage of brioche French toast, chocolate waffles and bacon and eggs that your waiter brings to your table family style. The French toast comes out swimming in maple syrup, and adorned with powdered sugar and whipped cream. It’s crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and there are hints of cinnamon in each bite.
Feeling more like dinner? The bar bites menu is unique and delicious, and the bites pair perfectly with Bistro La Bon’s signature martinis ($6 on Wednesdays!). The entrees are well thought out and delicious, the wine list is extensive, and I can’t stop dreaming about the mussels in saffron broth
Bistro La Bon is truly a diamond in the rough–and while its pawn shop proximity may cause folks to overlook it, I urge you to stop by. It’s totally worth it
Want to know more of my Queen City favorites? Head over to my blog Off the Eaten Path, where I love to write about what I’m eating. I’m a lawyer by day, but about a year ago, became a blogger by night to use up some creative energy and chronicle my experiences as I explore the Queen City. Charlotte has an unique and vibrant culinary scene–a blend of retro diners, Southern cooking, barbecue, farm-to-table establishments and new and growing hot spots.
You can find me on Facebook (Off the Eaten Path CLT) and Twitter (@chrissie_beth) or just invite me to brunch (I love brunch). On top of upcoming brunch plans, I’m also looking forward to some upcoming date nights at Upstream in South Park, 5 Church in Uptown, and maybe throwing a cooking class into the mix with Chef Alyssa’s kitchen in South End. I’m always looking for new places to try, so let me know…Where’s your favorite Charlotte date night spot?