South End Eats
By Caroline Sessoms
Posted: Thursday, Aug. 01, 2013
Just minutes from Uptown and smack dab on the LYNX light rail line, location alone justifies South Ends rapid growthbut a quick commute isnt all thats stirring up this neighborhood. Beyond its historic vibe and established arts scene lies a fast-growing food culture. Weve found the top destinations for lunch, trend-setting dining, and iconic eating, as well as soon-to-open spots to keep your eye on. Now all you have to do is make reservations.
Let's Do Lunch
Although Phat Burrito has not yet reached the venerable status of its fried chicken-hawking neighbor, Prices, this Tex-Mex joint in the heart of South End is a Charlotte classic in its own right, with a loyal lunch crowd willing to wait in out-the-door lines for one of its infamous 7x3 Phat Burritos. In addition to its namesake burrito, the restaurant also offers tacos, quesadillas, and salads, all in an Im too cool to care dive atmosphere. www.phatburrito.comThe Liberty
Sure, you could go for the more upscale pub fare like the chicken and dumplings made with tender orbs of ricotta gnocchi or the pan-roasted Scottish salmon featuring flavorful bites of the fish alongside mushrooms and carrots. But for lunch at this beer-centric restaurant, Chef Tom Condrons burgers are nearly impossible to resist. Made with thick patties and piled high with indulgent ingredients like pimento cheese and house made chips, these decadent versions are perfect for pairing with one of the casual gastropubs craft brews. www.thelibertycharlotte.comSauceman's
It may not look like much from the outside, but this casual spot features unbelievably tender authentic Lexington-style barbecue slow smoked over hickory and white oak by the resident pitmaster. Lunch crowds include everyone from crowds off of one of SouthEnds many ongoing construction sites to suited uptown bankers looking for a bite. Seeking something other than the typical plate of chopped cue? Order up one of the create sandwiches like the Dixie Cuban featuring tender brisket, pimento cheese, and fried pickles, and then wash it down with a sweet house-made Arnold Palmer. www.saucemans.com
Since opening in 2010, Atherton Market has become a locavores paradise. The open-air farmers market offers a variety of fresh food and produce, along with other non-food goodsall of which are locally sourced. Though all of the markets merchants are top-notch, Saturday morning lines reveal that Pickleville, Beverlys Gourmet Foods, and the newly opened second outpost of Not Just Coffee are fan favorites. Looking to add a little extra flavor to your fresh fare? Once youve filled your basket, step around the corner to the neighboring Savory Spice Shop for the perfect seasonings for your purchases. www.athertonmillandmarket.comFood Truck Friday
Bring a blanket and your appetite for what has become South Ends signature event. Each week nearly a dozen of the citys mobile eateries gather on the grassy lawn at the cross-section of Camden and Park to serve their jazzed up versions of familiar favorites, like Papi Quesos Little Green Muenster, a grilled cheese filled with muenster, avocado, spinach, and wasabi horseradish sauce. Theres something for every palatal preference, but no matter what you choose, be prepared to wait in line with the crowds at this popular gathering. www.facebook.com/foodtruckfridayLunas Living Kitchen
Lunas Living Kitchen opened in 2010 and is built around a commitment to serving organic, mostly raw foods that are free of refined sugars, preservatives, and animal products, like meat, dairy, and eggs. For the average omnivore, the concept sounds awfully esoteric, but Lunas transforms the intimidating world of vegan eating into something that is both approachable and appetizing with its inviting interior, friendly staff, and understandable menu. On the go? Grab one of their signature juices in flavors like Pura Vida featuring carrots, apples, oranges, and lemons. www.lunaslivingkitchen.com
Prices Chicken Coop
Ordered in three-word utterances Quarter white, pleaseand served to-go in a cardboard box filled to capacity with tater rounds, coleslaw, hushpuppies, and a roll, eating fried chicken from Prices Chicken Coop is a signature Charlotte experience and has been since the Price family opened shop back in 1962. Since then, nothing much has changed. The South End icon is still serving up hearty, quality meals at an affordable price to folks from around town, and judging by the long lines, Prices wont be stopping any time soon. www.priceschickencoop.comMac's Speed Shop
Located in a former transmission shop, Macs is a bonafide biker bar, but you can enjoy the joints authentic atmosphere, bevy of brews, and award-winning barbeque, no Harley required. A favorite of visiting chefs (Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller have both made stops here), the Big Pig barbecue sandwich is a must-order. Opt for a side of the crispy onion rings and wash it all down with one of their craft beers, and youll understand why this local favorite is almost always packed. www.macspeedshop.comCommon Market
Common Market is cool, personified. Part bodega, part bar, this Charlotte starlet boasts a deli, an array of gourmet foodstuffs (celery bitters, anyone?), an impressive collection of beer and winesold by the bottle and the glass plus, a picture-perfect patio. Keep an eye on its Facebook page for upcoming events like beer or wine samplings, or live music to really get a taste of the neighborhood. www.commonmarketisgood.com
Nan and Byrons
This highly anticipated new restaurant, which opens this month in the former Vinnies Raw Bar space, is from the creators of uptowns ultra popular 5 Church. While Chef Jamie Lynchs breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus are casual (think meatloaf, chicken wings, and hot dogs), the drink list here is packed with craft cocktails like a jalapeno-infused margarita. An interior featuring early 20th century design with reclaimed barn wood and Edison light bulbs offers a cozy feel, while an upbeat soundtrack with tunes from Marvin Gaye and George Harrison are set to keep it lively. www.nanandbyrons.comTupelo Honey Café
The city mourned when 25-year-old favorite Pewter Rose Bistro closed. Known for its tasty scones and eclectic interior, the restaurant had long been a top brunch spot in town. But the anticipated arrival of this Asheville outpost in its former location has helped ease the pain. Known for its sweet potato pancakes, fried chicken, and family-friendly vibe, the bistro is a popular stop in the mountain town. Its second-story South End location is still in the renovation stages though so locals will have to wait awhileor take a trip westto indulge in its famed biscuits. www.tupelohoneycafe.comThe Unknown Brewing Co.
With its industrial chic mill buildings and young neighborhoods, South End has long been a hub for Charlotte breweries. The latest one to set up shop has plans to open this fall in the 22,500-square-foot former South End Fieldhouse building on Mint Streetjust down the road from Bank of America Stadium. Owner Brad Shell, who has worked for known names like SweetWater Brewing Co. and Terrapin Beer Co., is anticipating an October opening for the new brewerys taproom. Craft lovers can look for brews like a Hefeweizen and a West Coast-style IPA, all just in time for football season. www.facebook.com/unknownbrewingThere are more than just great restaurants stirring up the scene in South End - check out these great bars, breweries, and bottle shops.