Headed to a show or performance? You'll want a few ideas on places you can pop into, either before or after your event, and tips on how to navigate the landscape.

First hint: Eat light. You want to concentrate on the work you're about to experience, not your bloated belly. And you don't want to get stuck waiting for multiple courses that will make you late.

Second verse, same as the first: Think appetizers, shared tapas-style, no matter where you go. This lets you get your order in, offers more variety than the usual lineup of entrees – and first plates often hit the table more quickly.

Third, if you're going afterward, don't stand around at the venue rehashing what you just saw. Get to the restaurant, then go into Reviewer Mode; most uptown places just don't stay open late enough for you to meander in.

So for some suggestions:


Coco Osteria (214 N. Tryon St.) offers platters of cheeses and salumi (cured meats) that can hit the table practically instantly.

With drinks like the I Think I'm Cured cocktail, how can one go wrong at Therapy Cafe (401 N. Tryon St.) Yes, there's food, too, and on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the place stays open until 2 a.m.

At Arpa (129 W. Trade St.), you won't have to do tapas-style, you can just do tapas. Choose two or three of these small plates for each person and you'll be in and out in plenty of time.

LaVecchia's Seafood Grille (225 E. Sixth St.) boasts seafoods both quick and slow.

A dessert menu and cheese options make Aquavina (435 S. Tryon St.) worth a look.


Choose among easy noshes, from sandwiches to spreads to sushi, plus wines, at Press (333 W. Trade St.).

Alexander Michael's (401 W. Ninth St.) provides pubby presence – and fried pickles.

Salads fare well, as do upscale pies, at Brixx Woodfired Pizza (225 E. Sixth St.).

Jolina Tex Mex BBQ offers a range, and a refreshing walk, at 500 S. College St.

Get some fine Southern offerings (especially good when you're hosting out-of-towners) at Mert's Heart & Soul (214 N. College St.).

Soho Bistro (214 N. Tryon St.) has little competition uptown for Chinese cooking.


There's a theater menu at Ratcliffe on The Green (435 S. Tryon St.). There's also Greg's Eight-Piece Quail Bucket appetizer (for one, y'all).

GW Fins (525 N. Tryon St.) offers handsome yet playful surroundings and daily fish specials.

When you've got time enough for a little stroll, try Ember Grille (601 S. College St.) at the Westin, with a spacious room, bar area and pork belly BLTs on the menu.

Seriously fast

Pita Pit (214 N. Tryon St.) gets special stars for staying open until 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights.