A Facebook friend recently posted a list of his top 5 favorite things about living in Charlotte, North Carolina. I decided to do my own list… but 5 became 10, 10 became 15, and 15 became 20. You know how it goes.
And so, without further ado… my 20 favorite things about Charlotte!
20) RICHARDS’ BP – OK, so a “good mechanic” isn’t just a Charlotte thing. But here in Belmont we’ve got this independent little garage that’s AWESOME. If there’s a problem with your car, and one possible fix costs $20 and the other $200, they’ll ALWAYS go the $20 route, unless there’s a good reason not to. They also trust us: “just drive it for a few days and see if the fix we tried works. If not, come back and we’ll try something else. If it does, stop by and pay us whenever”. I’ve been to dozens of repair shops in my life, and this truly is the only one I’ve ever trusted.
19) PRICE’S CHICKEN COOP (link) - No joke: it’s the best fried chicken in the whole world. There are a couple of downsides though. The main one is that it’s take-out only. If you want the hottest, freshest chicken goodness, you have to eat it in your car… especially if you like the potato rounds they give you as a side; they’re not very good after they cool off. Also, they’re cash-only, which is weird in 2014, especially since this place seems to be so big on feeding entire offices.
18) BRING BACK THE BUZZ (link) – The people of Charlotte loved the Hornets… but they really didn’t like the owner, George Shinn. So there were mixed emotions when Shinn moved the Hornets to New Orleans: happiness that the son-of-a-bitch Shinn was gone, but broken hearts that the Hornets were no more. But then Charlotte got a new NBA team, the Bobcats. But their owner, Bob Johnson, was kind of a jerk, too. Fans wanted the old team back… they wanted the Hornets. So a small but passionate group of fans began a campaign to bring back the name (and if you wonder why Charlotte loves the “Hornets” name so much, read this story on my History Blog). They Facebooked and Tweeted. They hassled the local media about it and made themselves hoarse by going to Bobcats games and chanting “CHAR-LOTTE HOR-NETS!” as loud as they could for as long as they could. And, in the end, they won.
17) MIDWOOD SMOKEHOUSE (link) – There’s this “thing” about barbecue places: fans are always looking for “authentic”, and in the case of barbecue that often means an 80 year-old lean-to located well away from a city, preferably run by an old black man named Gus who’s ornery as hell and only open two days a week. But if you want a normal barbecue restaurant, this is the place. The pork’s pretty good, but the brisket’s divine. The bacon wrapped smoked jalapenos might be the best appetizer I’ve ever eaten, and this is the one place where I always get dessert: warm pecan cobbler! They also have lots of local beers and not a lot of attitude: you don’t have to be “this cool” to eat there.
16) ACCENTS – Heel or Hill? Still or Steel? Pen or Pin? I lived here for two years before I found out that a city in the western part of the state is “Blowing Rock”, not “Boiling Rock”.
15) LOCAL BREWERIES – Truth be told, I’m growing weary of bars with beer menus the size of phone books, or beers that take longer for the waitress to describe than for me to actually drink. But a healthy local brewing scene is good for everybody. I really like NoDa Brewing and Birdsong… but in a lot of cases, I Just need a Guinness or a Natty Greene to be happy.
14) NODA (link) – Not the NoDa neighborhood itself. I mean, NoDa is cool and all, and it reminds me of a slightly rough around the edges Virginia Highland circa 1984. But what I really mean is “Sunday Funday in NoDa”: hanging out with my friends… eating tots at Solstice… playing games at The Blind Pig before all the douchebags show up. It’s a great day!
13) THE GERMAN BURGER AT SOLSTICE TAVERN - Truly the most underrated burger in the city. It’s Solstice’s standard beef patty, topped with bacon, sauerkraut and a homemade beer cheese sauce, and served on a pretzel bun. Now if you don’t like that sort of thing, you’re not going to like this. But if what I just described sounds delicious… yes, yes it is! Add some tots on the side and you’ve got a hell of a meal!