Feel the Uptown Funk with Your Kids

Vapiano is a great spot to take the kids to eat in Uptown Charlotte....It’s noisy and busy, which is perfect to mask the noise of children.
Vapiano is a great spot to take the kids to eat in Uptown Charlotte....It’s noisy and busy, which is perfect to mask the noise of children.

Even though I’ve worked in uptown for years, I rarely take my kids there. Which is a mistake, because it’s a great day out. I love the bustle of the professional crowd during the week, and so do my boys. It’s an adventure outside of our suburban day-to-day.

When we do go, we might hit some of the bigger attractions, like Discovery Place or ImaginOn, but often we just walk around, hit a park or two and then eat lunch. Here are three great spots for a kid-friendly lunch where you won’t drive the bankers bonkers:


Located: Right on Tryon Street, between Dean & Deluca and JA Biztown, 201 S. Tryon.

Vibe: Vapiano describes itself as “Euro-chic,” and it is, but it’s also “cafeteria style,” so exhale a sigh of relief. Basically, it works like this: You get a plastic card when you arrive. You go up to the counter of your choice - pizza, pasta, salads - and order with a chef. You tap your card on some gizmo and you’re charged for that order. You then get a pager and wait for the chef to make your food on the spot! It’s a bit confusing at first, but you get the hang of it.

The room is wide open with long wood tables that easily sit 6-8 people. A few smaller tables are on the patio fronting Tryon. It’s noisy and busy, which is perfect to mask the noise of children.

Food: First, everything is made fresh at ordering. No heat lamps here. The pizzas are big enough for two people and are of the crusty, wood-fired variety. There’s a kids menu, but my boys always order adult pastas, which come with bread. The salads are great, as are the appetizers, especially the bruschetta. We’re all always stuffed.

Fun fact: As you pay, there’s a dispenser of FREE gummy bears. I think it’s gross to eat a lot of gummy bears after stuffing myself with pizza and salad, but the boys dive in and leave with a big fistful (which is gross in another way).


Located: Across the street from the NASCAR Hall of Fame, 300 S. Brevard St.

Vibe: This is a meat and three vegetables sort of place, so think cafeteria style and utilitarian tables. Always busy.

Food: Love this stuff. I often get a veggie plate with greens, black eyed peas and cabbage. Boy No. 2 loves the fried chicken (and I love sneaking bites). The chicken and dumplings is particularly wonderful. There’s also a grill with burgers and grilled cheeses and salads, if that’s more your style.

Not-so-fun fact: Get to Lola’s while you can. The restaurant will have to move soon as its building owner raises the rent. Bummer.


Located: Third floor of Founders Hall in the Bank of America Corporate Center, 100 N. Tryon St.

Vibe: Again, cafeteria style ordering, but more upscale than a Lola's. This is meant for the working crowd looking for a $10 salad or fresh sandwich. Plenty of tables on third and fourth levels.

Food: Pick your station and order fresh. I always get the caprese sandwich, made on a baguette, but there’s often a special at the hot station that is particularly exotic. Everything is so well made here. And your kids can order to spec.

Fun fact: Sit on the patio outside the fourth floor seating area. You’re nestled amid several of uptown’s taller buildings, giving you that full city experience.