Saluting Salud

The craft beer scene has exploded in Charlotte, but you don’t have to go to a brewery to get a fresh pour. Most of our local brews can be found in grocery stores, but if you’re looking for a wider selection, venturing over to Salud in NoDa is worth it.

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Bottles, cans and even a bar await you inside the neon green store. You can buy your beer and drink it while still in the store (and then buy another!). The selection goes well beyond local NC beers, although they do carry most of them.

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Creating your own six pack is an option if you’re not looking to get six of the same brews. Watch the prices on the individual beers though, it can add up quickly. The larger bottles can especially be expensive, but mostly because those are your higher octane beers.

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If you’re just looking to hang out, that’s alright, too. Plop down at the bar and order up your choice draft. Or, order a beer and go sit by the windows and play some old school Nintendo.

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Shopping local is the way to go! Buy your beer from Salud or Good Bottle Company and support the little guys.

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Even if you’re not stocking up on beer, it’s worth stopping in Salud and checking out their selection. You’re certain to find something to make your tastebuds happy!

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BBQ at the Q

Queen City Q is one of Charlotte’s newest barbeque spots. Located off 7th street, with a convenient parking deck attached. The light rail also runs right beside of the restaurant so if you don’t need to drive, that’s an excellent choice for transportation.

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They have all the delicious choices of most BBQ places, including mac n’ cheese, collards, fried okra and two types of slaw. The barbeque is good, as is the Cuban sandwich and the wings. You really can’t go wrong with your choices. (I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take a picture before digging in!).

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They also have a wide selection of beers, including many local craft beers. Their draft selection is extensive and provides options for any taste…. from jalapeno beers to pumpkin to peach to chocolate stouts. Flights are a good option too, you can try 4 oz. pours for a small price to determine which one you’d like to have in a pint.

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There are two bars in the place, along with high top tables in the bar area, so there’s plenty of seating if you’re looking to hang out or watch a game. The dining area is also fairly large, but requires being seated by a hostess, and on certain nights, you may encounter a wait (such as concerts or sporting events).

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It can be a little loud in the restaurant, but is otherwise family friendly.

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Overall, it has a great atmosphere. The food is quick and good, and most of the time the service matches. Compared to local staple Mac’s Speed Shop, I’d personally say it falls below but is definitely a quality place to go. I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list in Charlotte. And here’s a tip, if you’re needing your parking validated while going uptown, it’s the perfect place to start out!

 

1,000 Point Dinner

I wrote about Nan & Byron’s once before, after having dined there during Queen’s Feast and having a pretty tasty PB&J for dessert. We both loved the environment, the service and the food.

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Last night, we decided to go back and see what dinner tastes like on a regular night. Oh, and we racked up 1,000 Open Table points for our 5:45 (early bird) special. IMG_6275I ordered the Dancing Cranberries (prosecco) and my husband ordered a Re-Fashioned. Both were so delicious we drank those glasses dry.

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We hopped right into dinner but not before munching on popcorn that was brought out. Why is it so hard to resist popcorn??

IMG_6267There were several dishes that got my taste buds buzzing, but I settled on the scallops with brussels sprouts. I was SUPER close to choosing the pork chop with fried jalapenos and pineapple…. next time, definitely next time. IMG_6271My husband chose the tuna with tofu and edamame. While I didn’t try the tuna, I did take a bite of his tofu which was delicious.

IMG_6270I was surprisingly full after dinner and passed on dessert (a rare occasion in my life). We both really enjoyed our dinners but agreed the scallop dish was the better of the two. Overall, we greatly enjoyed our second experience at Nan & Byron’s and will definitely be back! You should check it out for a fun date night!

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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I’ve got Soul but I’m not a soldier

Looking for a little soul in Charlotte? You can find it right in the heart of Plaza Midwood, at Soul Gastrolounge. The restaurant is upstairs and has an indoor/outdoor seating option. They don’t take reservations so going on the weekends may land you with a lengthy wait time (it’s INCREDIBLY popular) or you may be able to find a seat at the bar a little quicker.

IMG_5567We grabbed the last two seats at the bar and were immediately impressed with the beer and cocktail selections. All of the food is tapas style and they recommend 2-3 choices per person.

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The options are so creative and inventive, it was hard to narrow it down to just a few. I’m thinking we’ll go back with a party of 8 next time and order one of everything.

IMG_5563Since it’s tapas style, everything comes out at different times (meaning you should share or one person will be eating while the other drools and waits). We ordered the greenbeans, pork belly and watermelon tacos, a salmon and avocado sushi roll and proscuitto bruschetta. IMG_5556IMG_5558IMG_5561IMG_5560

Everything was delicious but the pork belly tacos took the cake. They were perfectly sized, 3-bite tacos and while they look plain with just the pork and watermelon, the flavor was out of this world. The sushi was a bit large for our liking. It was hard to eat the pieces without them falling apart or spilling out of my mouth. But the flavor was good.

IMG_5553Since we weren’t starving, we stopped with just four items. I might suggest ordering one or two more on a night that you’re feeling a little hungrier – it also depends on the food choices you make, some are obviously more filling than others.

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We were more than pleased with our first experience at Soul Gastrolounge and cannot wait to return. I highly recommend adding this to your Charlotte restaurant bucket list, especially if you have out-of-towners coming in and you want to wow them and their tastebuds.

When you can’t get to Vietnam…

Lang Van is your next best bet when you can’t get to Vietnam and you’re craving Vietnamese food. Located in Eastland and not looking fancy from the outside, you (and your tastebuds!) will be pleasantly surprised upon entering the building.

IMG_3941It was packed on the night we went (and I’ve heard this is common), so we had about a 5-10 minute wait (not bad!). We were seated in a comfy booth, immediately greeted and provided with water. One thing you can be sure of at Lang Van is that you will never go without water.

IMG_3944We ordered a summer roll appetizer which came quickly and was delicious. You could tell it was freshly made because the shrimp inside it were warm.

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I ordered beef Pho and my husband ventured out to get a hot pot.

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IMG_3949IMG_3946We both asked for medium spices and the dishes were definitely spicy. I was grateful for the always-full water glass. We didn’t save room for dessert, but we were presented with treats anyway when the check came.

IMG_3950While my favorite Vietnamese restaurant has been Viet-Thai Noodle House in Pineville for the past several years, Lang Van definitely gives it a run for it’s money and is also closer to my home. Very pleased with the food and service, we’ll definitely return!

Birdsong Brewing

NoDa quickly became the spot to find craft beer after NoDa, Birdsong and Heist set up shop. Birdsong found it’s fame with it’s jalapeno pale ale, which is offered at bars and restaurants around the city.

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Birdsong has a laid back atmosphere with it’s open porch area for sitting and inside which is small but rarely feels cramped.

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Even though they don’t serve food, or even have food trucks come like NoDa, they are always busy with folks hanging out having a beer or picking up a growler to go. Occasionally, they’ll have a local artist playing music inside.

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Feel free to ride your bike to Birdsong, as parking is limited in the area (especially when there are events or run club at NoDa). They have bike racks out front for safe keeping.

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As much of NoDa is, Birdsong is dog friendly, so your pooch can come hang out while you try some of their signature brews like the Jalapeno Pale Ale, Doin’ Thyme, Lazy Bird Brown Ale or Higher Ground IPA, these are all available year round, in addition to their seasonal releases.

birdsong3Be sure to check out Birdsong in their current location, they’ll be moving closer to the city (still off of N. Davidson) in the near future! Make a day of it and grab some food from the food truck that’s usually at NoDa Brewing and then grab a natural popsicle from King of Pops!