Eat & Drink

Now Trending in Charlotte: Pickled

Pickled foods were a culinary trend in Charlotte before it swept five-star kitchens across the country.

Pickled Vegetables

For those of you unfamiliar with the art of pickling, it goes something like this: pickling is the process of preserving a food by either immersing it in vinegar or using anaerobic fermentation in brine. As long as humans have farmed (and owned mason jars), there’s been pickling.

To be clear, a pickled food is not a pickle, although they both taste pretty great. You can pickle pretty much anything—fruits, veggies, meat, even eggs—but here in Charlotte, we don’t pickle just to pickle. It’s all about food pairings and flavor profiles and, quite simply, what tastes the best. Here are a few of our favorite pickled foods and where to find them in and around the Queen City.

Pickled Tomatoes

Pickled Tomatoes

At the charming breakfast and lunch spot Little Spoon, pickled tomatoes hold their own against the crispy breading of a fried chicken sandwich. If you aren’t afraid of heat, or for a leisurely drive just north of Charlotte in Davidson, head to The Bradford Store to pick up Hiatt’s hot green tomato pickles.

Tip: At the Bradford Store, you can also try pickled sweet Brussels sprouts—yet another reason to love the comeback food of the century.

Pickled Onions

Pickled Onions

Like peanut butter and jelly, street tacos and pickled onions are made for each other. Find this pairing at Babalu Tapas & Tacos. Pickled onions adorn the flash fried chicken taco, braised beef short rib taco, carnitas taco and the lamb sliders. Also at Little Spoon (this place loves the pickled goods), the chicken meatloaf arrives at your table topped with pickled onions.

Tip: Try the classic deviled eggs, which also get the pickled veggie treatment at Little Spoon, along with bacon and cilantro.

The Dirty South Nachos at Soul Gastrolounge - Photo by Justin Smith Studio Photography/Soul Gastrolounge

Pickled Okra

Step 1: Go to Soul Gastrolounge. Step 2: Order the Dirty South Nachos. Step 3: Die happy. This tower of fried chicken skin chips is covered with pimento cheese fondue and jalapeño pickled okra. For a lighter nosh of pickled okra, visit Reid’s Fine Foods. This gourmet food market, established in 1928, offers a weekly selection of pickled goods, plus nuts, cheeses and charcuterie.

Tip: You’ll get your pickled food fill at Reid’s, where you can score pickled asparagus and watermelon rind pickles.

JJ's Red Hots Hot Dog - Photo courtesy of JJ's Red Hot

Pickled Jalapeños

No one does toppings better than JJ’s Red Hot’s. This retro-hip place serves hot dogs and sausages, aka vehicles for cheese and condiments—and pickled jalapeños. While it’s true that pickled cucumbers do show up on the restaurant’s smoked salmon sliders, the real winner is the Borracho nachos: pickled jalapeños top a mound of housemade chips, borracho beans, queso and salsa. Atherton Mill and Market showcases the wares from some of the best artisans in the region. Allow time to peruse the vendor stalls but make a special stop at Pickleville. You can’t go wrong with any of their pickled goods, but the jalapeños are to die for.

Tip: Pickling takes the edge off garlic but keeps the flavor intact. Snag some pickled garlic from Pickleville’s varied offerings.