Thirty thousand attendees and scores of Obama-philes will descend on the city of Charlotte in September for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. If you plan on joining the crowd, weâ€™ve prepared a cheat sheet to get the most from the host city, which has quietly become a culturally rich Southern haven. Here are the must-see, must-visit, must-eat-at destinations. Best part: All are within five miles of the Center City action.
This restaurant row of trendy eateries is guaranteed to have something for everyone, no matter your budget or if your outfit is suit chic or sneaker casual. Enjoy picante Mexican cuisine at La Paz (a local favorite since 1979), aquatic delights at Pisces, modern Italian at Vivace, American fare at Dresslers, and the best bar food at Hickory Tavern. The city skyline frames each of these locations, adding instant ambiance to your meal.Â
French Bakery (NoDa)
Finally, a meeting place for those with a penchant for salted caramel brownies and twice-baked croissants. The laid-back â€œshabby chicâ€ environs attract locals from all over the city looking for good food and good company 24 hours a day.
Bonterra Dining & Wine
Bonterra was voted one of the hottest new wine bars by Wine Spectator. The fried lobster tail gets top marks, as does the selection of more than 200 wines by the glass. This bar is located inside a 110-year-old renovated church.
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
Bright pop art makes you feel like youâ€™re in a gallery at this temple of surf and turf. Carnivorous adventurers will appreciate the Filet Oscar Roll and other red-meat-themed mash-ups on the Burgushi menu. Traditionalists will be tempted by the sashimi and specialty rolls or the Angus beef burgers. Dessert â€”in cocktail formâ€”makes for a sweet ending: think Chocolate Dipped Fortune Cookie and German Chocolate Cake martinis.
Red velvet waffles and banana pecan French toast keep this airy, twostory eatery a popular breakfast option among Charlotteâ€™s cognoscenti. Beyond breakfast, there are plenty of savory gems on the lunch and dinner menus that make it worth a repeat visit at any hour of the day.
Bistro La Bon (Plaza
With exposed brick walls and an intimate atmosphere, this resto has gained a well-deserved rep as one of the best. Locally grown fresh produce, organic meats, and farm-raised fish keep locavores happy, as does Chef Majid Amoorpourâ€™s melt-in-your-mouth bourbon brioche bread pudding.