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The SouthPark neighborhood: Much more than a mall

By Page Leggett
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    The Mountainbrook neighborhood: My go-to walking route runs through this friendly, picturesque enclave, with its midcentury modern homes straight out of “Mad Men” and its steep hills – which offer a great workout. If you’re lucky, you may catch the cast and crew of Showtime TV series “Homeland” filming in the ’hood.

    The Wine Shop (7824 Fairview Road): Opened in 2004 as just a wine shop, it became a must-visit when it added a food menu. Truffle fries with a side of aioli? Yes, please. There are also flatbread pizzas, housemade pastas, steak frites, plus sugared doughnuts with dipping sauces for dessert. www.foxcroftwine.com.

    Our Place (6700 Fairview Road): At this women’s boutique, you can get a chic new outfit – from designers such as Chan Luu, Yansi Fugel, Elizabeth & James – without selling plasma. The mother/daughter team that runs the place gives it the feel of a neighborhood gathering spot; it’s high end, but never haughty. www.our-place.us.



The upscale mall that has given SouthPark its name is far from the only reason to love this area. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful that anthropologie, The Container Store and Nordstrom’s shoe department are nearby. But there’s more to the 28210 than our ballyhooed shopping Mecca.

Over the years, I’ve considered moving, but then I realize how much I’d miss SouthPark. (The neighborhood; not the mall.)

I’d have to say goodbye to my famous neighbor, “Homeland” actor Mandy Patinkin, who I’ve spotted at Whole Foods, at Harris Teeter, and at the Morrocroft Library.

I’d have to find a new YMCA – and I’d rather not. While some prefer the see-and-be-seen nature of the big gyms in town, I’ll take my little Y Express in Piedmont Town Center, where it’s generally easy to find parking and I’m one of a dozen or so people in my deep stretch and relaxation yoga classes.

I’d also have to find a new Chinese take-out place (and they know my regular order at Bao Ding) and a new sushi place. The owner and sushi chefs at YAMA know me by face, if not by name. They anticipate the mild, spicy sauce (on the side) I’m going to ask for, and they add it to my order.

SouthPark is generally thought of as high-end, especially when it comes to dining. And it is. (Hello, Dean & Deluca and Del Frisco’s.) But not everyone eating out around these parts is a big spender. Some of us are getting big bargains.

The Wine Shop has a large selection of wines priced under $10. Harper’s and Village Tavern have built loyal followings with consistent and moderately priced food. We even have fast food, although the SouthPark McDonald’s is two stories and about as tony as a fast food joint gets.

And while SouthPark is synonymous with shopping, there are retailers beyond the mall. Restoration Hardware and Luna at Phillips Place, tiny Paper Twist and the venerable Talbot’s at Specialty Shops, and the sophisticated home and accessories emporium B.D. Jeffries at Morrison are all outside the posh confines of the mall.

As far as grocery shopping goes, we may be the envy of the Queen City. Our luxe Harris Teeter was the first to spoil us. Next came Earth Fare. And last year (cue the choir of angels) brought us Whole Foods, with its expensive-but-well-worth-it spinach lemonade.

SouthPark may not enjoy the historical significance of Dilworth or Elizabeth, but we do have Sharon Presbyterian Church (built in 1831) and its peaceful, archaic cemetery.

The ‘hood I call home looks at first like it might be pretentious. Parts of it are. But take a closer look. There are modest homes along with the mansions. Neiman Marcus is my neighbor, but so is the nonsensical, free-standing food court with a Bojangles’ and Dairy Queen. SouthPark is much more eclectic and less conspicuous-consumption-y than one might think at first glance.

After all, my favorite thing about SouthPark – my hill-acious walking route through the Mountainbrook neighborhood – doesn’t cost a thing.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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