Vinyl All Day Long

Lunchbox Records moved into their new space on Central Avenue and it is fantastic.

IMG_2710Much larger than the old spot which means more room for records. There’s also more room for DJs or bands to perform in the new location.

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Out of all the Charlotte record stores, Lunchbox is my favorite. They have the best finds and the best prices.

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You could literally spend hours in Lunchbox Records perusing through all of the titles and collections they have. I love that everything is organized in a logical way (new, genre and alphabetical order, used, genre and alphabetical order). It makes it that much easier if you have something specific you are searching for in the store.

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I recommend going during the week, as the parking lot gets quite packed on the weekends. However, since the space is larger, once you’re inside, you won’t have to worry about squeezing by other patrons as you browse.

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And just in case you’re wondering, anyone can use the bathroom there. High five to you, Lunchbox Records.

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Beer & Donuts

Last night, I went to Salud Beer Shop in NoDa to try some beers and stuff my face with Joe’s Doughs donuts. Central Coffee was also there to provide coffee along side the beer.

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We got to sample four beers, all stouts and porters from Stone Brewing Company, Highland Brewing, Bells Brewery and Founders Brewing. As you can see, they were pretty small pours – similar to what you’d get in a flight at a local brewery (maybe even less).

Donuts were passed around and we each got ONE. Now, it was delicious because everything Joe makes is completely amazing but I was prepared to fill up on donuts. Actually, I kind of thought that since it was a “pairing” that we’d get either a small donut to try with each beer or pieces of donuts and not just one regular sized donut to ration out though the tasting (you don’t ration with Joe’s. You gobble.).

Central Coffee provided a cup for everyone and there was plenty for seconds. The event started at 7 PM though, so I wasn’t really trying to get hopped up on caffeine just to try to go to sleep in three hours. I sipped about half of mine and left the rest. The part I drank was very good. If I lived in Plaza Midwood, I’d go there often. There are also several local breweries that use Central Coffee’s coffee in their specialty brews.

The beer, coffee and donuts were all delicious. I was a little surprised that the event cost $10 to get those four small pours and just one donut. I think moving to an actual pairing type event would make it better in the future, especially if they could get mini-donuts from Joe’s to accompany the beers. Otherwise, I say buy your own milk stouts and stake out the next time Joe is doing a pop-up and grab your donuts then.

If you haven’t checked out Salud and Fud at Salud, you should. The beer selection is abundant and the food is quick and tasty. While last night’s event was fun but somewhat disappointing, I’d definitely give it another shot.

Viva Las Chicken

I had an impromptu dinner date with a friend at Viva Chicken, and it was so good, I went back the following week for lunch with another friend. Ordering at the counter isn’t my favorite type of restaurant, but for Peruvian roasted chicken and fried plantains, I’ll do it.

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From their website: “Our chicken is 100% natural, free range” and also, “Our plates, silverware, straws, cups and are 100% biodegradable which means less trees being cut down!” What’s better than an eco-friendly, natural food restaurant with reasonable prices and delicious sauces? (Not much, in my opinion!).

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On my first venture, I got the Viva Chicken salad, which was good, but a little on the light side. My friend got the Quinoa Stuffed Avocado and I had dinner envy. Seriously, it looked so amazingly delicious.

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I had the Herbal Lemonade (House made lemonade infused with basil, rosemary and mint) to drink and it was fantastic. I only drank half because I imagine it was filled with a fair amount of sugar.
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On my second visit, I got The Great wrap, and it was great. Seriously, it was SO great.

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I added avocado to it and opted for the medium and hot sauces on the side versus the mild that comes with it. I got the fried plantains as my side and they were the perfect amount of crispy and soft. Also, you only get 4-5 of them, so it’s a very reasonable portion.

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The food is quick and delicious. The staff is friendly and helpful. And if you’re nosey like me, you can watch them pulling the roasted chickens out of the oven and they will get out of your way for pictures.

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Side note: they get quite busy at lunch time but do a good job of getting tables cleaned off as soon as someone leaves. They also have a really adorable covered outdoor area that’s pleasant to sit in on nice days.

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If you’re in the Elizabeth neighborhood, I recommending stopping in for lunch, or even a to-go order. Also, while you’re in Elizabeth, you should grab some dessert from Elizabeth Creamery, then you’ll have the best day/meal ever. Cheers!

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Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Charlotte’s greenway system is one of the greatest things about the city – at least for active / outdoorsy individuals. The greenways offer trails and asphalt for running/walking, allow pets, and give you the feel of nature while still being in the city.

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Yesterday, I took a easy three-mile run on Little Sugar Creek Greenway, which goes behind the Metropolitan shopping center near 7th street. This is urban hiking at it’s finest.

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The city was in view for most of my trek, and the greenway felt safe and open. I passed at least 25-30 other walkers/runners, including people with dogs and kids. There were a few underpasses which I feel the need to call out for single ladies who might run solo – you could see through them all the way and they weren’t long, but it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings.

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There are a few water fountains strategically placed on the greenway, and restrooms, too (although, the doors were locked to the restrooms yesterday!). The greenway runs along side a creek, which adds some nice scenery to the run. But Springtime in Charlotte is pretty scenic on it’s own.

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The trail is wide and well maintained. This particular greenway goes by CPCC and all the way through to NoDa. You can really add up the miles if you go from start to finish and back again.

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For anyone not looking for a strenuous “hike” but wanting to get outside and walk, I HIGHLY recommend checking out the greenways and exploring our city. The greenways offer some of the best views of the city (unless you’re pulling over on the side of the Hawthorne bridge!).

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I was pleasantly surprised with this greenway and definitely plan to explore it more in the future. All of the greenways that I’ve been on have been fantastic and offer an exciting option compared to running/walking sidewalks. Plus, when you’re done with the greenway, you can head over to the Metropolitan shopping area and have something to eat at Hickory Tavern, Zoe’s Kitchen, Pisces, La Paz, Smoothie King, or Cherry Jerry. It’s all so convenient!

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Would love to hear what your favorite greenway is (and why!). Feel free to share in the comments!

Tap Some Ass Clown

Finding Ass Clown Brewery in Cornelius was trickier than I thought. It’s in an industrial area that almost looks like an empty strip mall. The inside is a different story. It’s decorated beautifully (for a brewery) and is welcoming once inside.

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There’s a seating area to the left when you walk in, another to the right and then a bar. We chose to sit at the bar when we arrived (it was not crowded when we got there around 2 PM on a Saturday).

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The bartender was exceptionally friendly and pleasantly answered all of my questions (I had more and more questions as I got closer to finishing my flight). Apparently the name was thought up after the owner attended a beer festival and thought to himself that the brewery names needed to be more clever so people remembered them the next day when they sobered up. Makes sense, right?

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Once inside this brewery, there’s no way you’re forgetting the name. Ass Clown is plastered EVERYWHERE. There were about 20 beers to choose from. I mostly stuck with stouts the first time, and one orange IPA. My husband, the adventurous one, picked a little bit of everything. My favorites were the Orange Spice IPA, Coffee Coconut Stout and the Simcoe.

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There are SO many flavor options to choose from. This is when apps like UnTappd come in handy.

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While there are at least 5 breweries closer to my home, I’m glad we stopped in at Ass Clown. D-9 is just around the corner but we didn’t make it there. Two in one day is too much for this light weight. Highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the North Charlotte/Cornelius area.

PS – pick up a glass when you’re there so you can always have the reminder to “drink one, don’t be one.”

A cow and a fish had a baby…

Located right by Southpark Mall is Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. I would say it’s the perfect place to go after a day of shopping, but you have to time it right or you’ll wait forever. If you’re lucky and have a small party, you might be able to find seats at the bar.

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This is one of the only places where you can satisfy both of your cravings, for sushi and burgers; and it works perfectly if you and your partner have different cravings.

IMG_5952The menu is extensive, and even that might be an understatement. You have every choice from edamame to parmesan truffle fries to burgers with jalapeño cream cheese to lamb burgers to your favorite traditional or specialty sushi role and even “burgushi” which is as it sounds, a combination of burgers and sushi.

IMG_5954I tend to get burgers when we go, and usually the biggest one I can find. Our waitress last time recommended ordering the trio of sliders which can be made into any of the specialty burgers (great tip for next time). I LOVE the jalapeño popper show stopper which is full of spice and a 1/2 pound of beefy goodness. Also? The sweet and spicy cucumber side is a MUST!

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My husband is a sushi lover and has it at least once a week. He always ventures out and orders the most creative roll he can find, and this one was no exception.

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Surprisingly, even though they are always slam packed, the service doesn’t suffer. Even when the bar is completely full, your drinks keep coming, and trust me, you want to try a few cocktails or craft beers.

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The bar also extends around to the sushi bar. So fun to sit there and watch all the specialty rolls being created. Not only does the restaurant have indoor seating and lots of bar space, they have a patio area that’s open in the summer and covered and heated in the winter. Cowfish has done a great job with their decor, keeping everything bright and popping.

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I highly recommend checking out this special place, but go for a late lunch. 2:00 PM is a great time and the wait is usually short, if at all. You’ll definitely be met with a delicious meal and fun dining experience!

Shop til you drop!

Shoppers all over Charlotte are rejoicing in the fact that they no longer have to go to Concord Mills to get deals, now that the Charlotte Premium Outlets are open just outside of Steele Creek. IMG_6258While the outlets aren’t quite as large as Concord Mills, they offer an openess and feel that cannot be matched by indoor mall shopping. While there are open areas, most are covered so even on rainy days you can shop til you drop.

IMG_5980If you’re looking for high-end, Kate Spade, Coach and Saks Off 5th are top of the list. Your regular outlet stores like J Crew, Banana Republic, LOFT, Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, Nike, Adidas, Under Armor and Gap are all present, too. I even stumbled across an Old Navy outlet (surprising, since Old Navy’s prices resemble outlet prices anyway).

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The food court is not robust, but there are typically food trucks out front where snacks can be grabbed. Get your coffee before you go though, the line for Starbucks is ALWAYS long. And by long, I mean not-worth-waiting-in long.

IMG_6262Since the outlets are still pretty new, you can find even better deals than normal. The parking lot is relatively small, so you might have to circle around a few times to find a space. If you’re heading out for the holidays, be prepared for an extra crowded shopping experience. No doubt people will be piling in to get their gifts.

IMG_6263If you get a wild hair to go shopping, head on 485 straight to the Charlotte Premium Outlets and see what kind of deals you can walk away with. I’ll say that I’ve been pleased with my purchases to this point!

PS – If you stay until sunset, you’re bound to see a gorgeous sight!

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