Forget breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. It sounds cute, but take it from an actual mother – it was a myth invented by the companies that make stain removers. No mother really wants to eat scorched pancakes on her 300-thread-count sheets before she’s brushed her teeth. You’re going to have to do better than that to celebrate Mother’s Day with style.Instead, we have an idea that gets you two gifts in one: Take your mother out for lunch. And a museum.Charlotte is bursting with museum dining opportunities. Between the newly completed Levine Center of the Arts campus on South Tryon Street and old favorites with good lunch choices nearby, this city is gallery-crawling with places to eat, drink and be cultural.There’s more to come – Emeril Lagasse has announced plans to add a restaurant to the Levine complex, and the old Reid’s Fine Foods next to the Levine Museum of the New South may hold a food market by mid-summer. In the meantime, there is enough variety of museums and dining choices to fit any taste and wallet. In all cases, museum admission isn’t required to reach these eateries.
Mint Museum Uptown and Gantt Center for African American Art + Culture;Halcyon Flavors of the Earth
There’s a gem nestled in the center of this beautiful space. Halcyon, located behind the big windows at the top of the soaring steps, features natural surfaces of wood and stone. The menu matches, with mostly local ingredients in artful presentations by executive chef Marc Jacksina. The brunch menu is featured on Sundays, but we can’t tell you exactly what’s on it: The restaurant takes its seasonal mandate seriously, so dishes change often according to what ingredients are available. We can promise you this, though: It will be both beautiful and tasty. Mint Museum: 500 S. Tryon St., 704-337-2000, www.mintmuseum.org. Gantt Center: 551 S. Tryon St., 704-547-3700, www.ganttcenter.org.Halcyon: www.halcyonflavors.com. Reservations suggested. Brunch prices: $5 to $14. 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Museum admission: $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, $5 for 5-17.
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art;Bechtler Cafe
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The small, sunny cafe on the ground floor is a favorite with uptown workers during the week. Unfortunately, the cafe currently isn’t serving lunch on Sundays (it may return in the future), but it is open on Saturdays and every other weekday except Tuesday. The lunch menu is short but adequate, with several sandwiches, a couple of excellent salads and at least one daily soup. Our favorite: The arugula salad topped with oil-cured tuna, capers, eggs and slices of fingerling potato with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Top it off with the Rueblitorte, based on the Bechtler family recipe for carrot cake.
Bechtler and Bechtler Cafe: 420 S. Tryon St., www.bechtler.org. Prices: $7.50 for sandwiches, $8 and $9 for salads, $4 for soup, $2 to $4 for desserts. Museum admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors; not required to reach the cafe. Saturday cafe hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Levine Museum of the New South;Villa Francesca
If you’re willing to stop two blocks before the museum, we suggest Villa Francesca. Since it faces Caldwell Street, it’s easy to overlook when you’re driving up 7th. But it’s worth discovering: It’s a warm and friendly pizzeria, complete with Sinatra on the soundtrack and a big Italian mural on the wall. You could choose from salads or pastas – most of the classics are there, from clam sauce to Penne ala Vodka – but a fitting pick for the occasion is the meatless Grandma Pizza, available by the slice. It’s square and crisped with olive oil before it goes in the brick oven, topped with a tomato sauce that’s so flavorful, it doesn’t need pepperoni. A slice of that with a salad would make your mother proud.
Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. 7th St., 704-333-1887, www.museumofthenewsouth.org, $6 for adults, $5 for children and seniors. Sunday hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Villa Francesca, 321 N. Caldwell St. at 7th Street; parking is free behind the building. 704-333-7447; www.villafrancescacharlotte.com. Sundays: Noon to 10 p.m. Prices: $6.99 to $12.
Charlotte Museum of HistoryLang Van or Foskoskie’s
If the weather is nice, you can pack a picnic and enjoy it on the grounds of the lovely history museum on Shamrock, near the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Homesite. But if sitting on grass isn’t your mother’s scene, you have a couple of good restaurants very close by.For mothers with more exotic tastes, Lang Van is one of the city’s most popular Vietnamese restaurants. Don’t be intimidated by the huge menu. Most regulars just tell the servers what they want – rice or noodles, lots of vegetables, shrimp, beef or chicken – and they make something to order. It keeps things simple.If your mother’s style is homier, go about 1/2 mile up Shamrock to Foskoskie’s, in the old Pike’s Pharmacy. It’s a family place with lots of character and an extensive Sunday brunch menu, ranging from Chesapeake Eggs (eggs Benedict with crab cakes and asparagus) and County Eggs Benedict (buttermilk biscuits topped Grateful Growers ham and sausage gravy).
Charlotte Museum of History, 3500 Shamrock Drive, 704-568-1774, www.charlottemuseum.org. 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $6 adults, $5 students and seniors, $3 children 6-12.Lang Van, 3019 Shamrock Drive, 704-531-9525. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. Prices: $8.95 to $10.95. Foskoskie’s, 2121 Shamrock Drive, 704-535-2220. www.foskoskies.com. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sundays. Brunch prices: $7 to $14. NASCAR Hall of Fame;Buffalo Wild Wings
There are only two Sundays a year when NASCAR doesn’t hold a race - Easter and Mother’s Day. If your mother is a sports fan (or she raised one), that makes it a fitting occasion to take her to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Buffalo Wild Wings is the restaurant attached to the hall. It has a serious sports-bar vibe, with a full beer and cocktail list (plenty of margaritas for mama). The place is loaded with big-screen TVs, so you don’t have to miss your Sunday sports, or you can opt out of the noise and sit in the pleasant outdoor dining area. The food is mostly wings, naturally, in several flavors, including Buffalo, Thai Curry and Jalapeno. Show your mom how smart you are: Download the game SCVNGR on your iPhone or Android and get $5 off on a $25 order.
NASCAR Hall of Fame, 400 E. Martin Luther King Blvd., between South Brevard and South Caldwell streets, www.nascarhall.com. Sunday hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.Buffalo Wild Wings, next to the museum. 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Sundays. Lunch prices: $8 to $16.