Forget the weight-loss resolutions and ring in the New Year with a refreshing roster of new restaurants, breweries and fun for foodies. Here’s a quick sampling of new eats and treats to crave in the Queen City in 2014.
1) Dine like royalty during Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week. This 10-day eating extravaganza showcases the best of Charlotte’s ever-evolving restaurant scene from Lake Norman to Fort Mill with a variety of $30 three-course meals.
2) Take a culinary expedition through Charlotte on a local food tour. Discover the charming character of one of the city’s beloved neighborhoods on Feast Food Tours’ new Dives to Dining Plaza Midwood Tour. You’ll sample and sip your way through Historic Plaza Midwood and its architecture, art and culinary artisans.
3) Satisfy your chocolate craving on a private, customized Dessert Tour with Tour De Food. Explore the sweet side of Charlotte at several savory shops serving wine, coffee, chocolates and other decadent delights.
4) Tantalize your taste buds with Nan and Byron’s meatloaf topped with spicy Sriracha ketchup. Serving up traditional American cuisine with a southern twist, the concept for the recently-opened Nan and Byron’s came from Grant Wood’s well-known 1930 “American Gothic” painting of the man and woman (Nan and Byron) holding a pitchfork in front of a farm.
5) Experience the exotic flavors of Baku’s trendy take on Japanese cuisine. In true Japanese fashion, try a shared plate of Kurobota Pork Belly or Tea Brined Duck Breast or stop by for late-night to enjoy a Japanese Pear or Lotus Blossom specialty cocktail.
6) Jam out to live music at Tin Roof at the EpiCentre as you savor the sweet flavors of The Tin Roof sandwich made with grilled chicken, peanut butter and honey. The laid-back, live music joint serves up a full menu of “ain’t no bar food” bites like quesadillas, pizzas, sandwiches, make-your-own nachos and more as well as an extensive drink menu.
7) Get a real down-home experience at Tupelo Honey Cafe. Start with Tupelo’s Encore Cheesy Grit Cakes, enjoy the Southern Fried Chicken Saltimbocca with Country Ham and Mushroom Marsala, and wash it all down with a Jalapeno Bacon Moonshine cocktail. The Asheville-based restaurant opened a new store in Charlotte in December offering up a fresh interpretation of traditional southern eats.
8) Escape to northern Italy with rich, homemade Italian cuisine at La Tagliatella at the EpiCentre. European-based La Tagliatella sources more than 30 percent of its ingredients straight from northern Italy. Try a traditional pizza or one of the 400 combinations of pasta and sauces. Finish it off with an Italian wine and homemade tiramisu.
9) Enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline at Charlotte’s first open-air rooftop restaurant and bar—Fahrenheit Charlotte. The hot, new culinary concept from Food Network star Rocco Whalen features American regional cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian accents.
10) Show your adventurous side at Unknown Brewing Co. in South End, just three blocks south of Bank of America Stadium. Charlotte’s newest craft brewery opened in November with the mission of creating exceptional beer and a beer culture that motivates craft beer lovers to live without boundaries. Try one of their three signature craft beers: Over the Edge USPA, Head First Pale Ale or No Shame Wheat.
11) Quench your thirst at one of Charlotte’s newest and hoppiest hotspots—the Craft Beer Garden at Time Warner Cable Arena. Before, after or during the next show or game you attend, be sure to try one of the nine North Carolina craft beers, including four from Charlotte, offered on tap.
12) Experience the raw, fresh taste of kombucha, an effervescent fermented tea, at Lenny Boy Kombucha in South End. Originally founded in 2011, Lenny Boy Kombucha closed for renovations through most of 2013 and reopened October 2013 offering a new product—kombucha beer. The certified organic kombucha and wild ale brewery is the first in the Southeast and one of the only kombucha breweries in the country.
13) Let your taste buds roam at Free Range Brewing. Brothers Jason and Jeff Alexander plan to open a 3.5-barrel brewery in the Historic NoDa Arts District in 2014 with a small kitchen for seasonal, farm-to-fork dishes. Named N.C. Brewer of the Year at the 2013 N.C. Brewers and Music Festival, Free Range Brewing’s farmhouse brewing approach incorporates local fruits, vegetables and herbs resulting in award-winning, flavorful brews.
14) Ride the LYNX Light Rail to Sycamore Brewing in South End in late spring 2014 to experience the fresh ingredients and all-natural brews handcrafted by husband-and-wife team Justin and Sarah Brigham. Expect classic styles, seasonals and creative, experimental recipes on tap at this 15-barrel brewery.