Reid's Fine Foods
225 E. Seventh St.; 704-377-1312. Breakfast hours: 7 to 10 a.m. Monday to Friday; 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday. Hot bar hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; grocery hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
If you're looking for a good uptown lunch spot, visit Reid's Fine Foods, which celebrates its 80th birthday and its 10th year at its Seventh Street Station location this year. Reid's is known as a high-end retailer with a fantastic wine selection, but it also offers a wide selection of made-to-order foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its made-to-order sandwich station, salad bar and hot bar deserve some attention. It's not uncommon to see owner Chuck Richards behind the counter hard at work. Don't let the grocer's uptown location scare you away – the light rail stops right in front of the store, and there's complimentary valet parking for customers.
THE SCENE: Reid's is not a formal restaurant. It's a specialty grocery store where butchers cut meat to order. Reid's also has items that many stores lack (including local brands such as Goodness Gracies and Immaculate Baking). Reid's is usually bustling with activity during lunchtime hours, as many uptown workers stop by for a sandwich or a salad. Just to the left of the front door, there is a small seating area with about 12 tables, which are usually full during lunch. Ahead, you'll see a sandwich and salad counter and a hot bar with selections that change daily. The entire left wing of the store is devoted to groceries and wine. Outside, tables with bright yellow umbrellas wrap around the store.
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THE MENU: Don't expect anyone to hand you a menu when you walk in. Reid's prepares everything you want just the way you want it. The only exception is the hot bar menu, which changes daily (you can visit the Web site to see the menu items for that week). Items on the hot bar menu range from chicken pot pie and Caribbean jerk pork to beef and broccoli or barbecue. Sandwiches are made just the way you like them – you can choose from a huge selection of meats, cheeses, condiments and breads. You can also pick up fresh-made pasta salad nearby. Bottled drinks and a soda fountain machine are in the seating area. Richards makes sure his customers are satisfied – he was behind the counter helping to make sandwiches during my visit, and later sat down to talk with a family in the dining area.
THE CROWD: Because of the grocer's long history, most Charlotteans are familiar with it and many will drive out of their way to visit. The lunchtime crowd is filled with mostly uptown workers (the store is within walking distance of most uptown businesses). You'll find people shopping for wine, picking up groceries and fresh meats, and people stopping in for a sandwich.
WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Reid's is known to have one of the best wine selections in Charlotte (and they often have wine tasting each week). Reid's also offers cooking classes. It's a great lunchtime option if you live or work uptown – you can get your food in less than 10 minutes. Reid's also serves delicious breakfast sandwiches until 10 a.m.
THE CHECK: Almost everything you'll want for lunch is less than $10. The hot bar menu is $7.99 for all regular entrees (which are served with a choice of two side items). You can get $1 off with a Reid's Reward Card.
CASH OR CHECK: Cash, Visa and MasterCard.
VEGETARIAN ENTREES: Most of the hot bar side items are vegetables, and a few sandwich options might be available. You can have a salad created a salad to specifications.
KID-FRIENDLY: Moms are often pushing strollers down the aisles, but there are not a lot of menu items for kids if you're eating in the store.
FOR HERE OR TO GO? It's fast, so can take it back to your desk and eat it at work if you need to. It's nice to sit outside if the weather is comfortable. Reid's catering service also offers on- and off-site cooking, beverage service and complete event coordination.
SMOKING, SMOKE-FREE? Smoke-free.