by Michelle Boudin
Not all of us are gourmet cooks — and that’s OK, thanks to some great specialty-food shops around town. Need a fancy meal that looks like it came straight from your oven? Sweet and savory bites for a cocktail party that will earn rave reviews? A well-rounded meal to feed your family that just requires re-heating? Or how about a hostess gift for the friend who has everything? Charlotte’s markets have what you need. Some are old staples, and others are new on the scene, but all are worth a visit.
This European-style market and bakery located behind Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen in SouthPark is one of the latest offerings from restaurateur Jim Noble. Copain opened in July 2020 and quickly became known for its fresh-baked bread. “We use ancient grains to make our signature Copain sourdough and rye breads, and we have gluten free brioche that is to die for,” says Creative Director Sarah Wrenn. The market offers weekly meal kits, with dishes like rosemary-brined pork loin with creamy grits, Swiss chard and cider jus; sliced flank steak; and falafel with preserved lemon yogurt and grain salad.
6601 Morrison Blvd.; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 704-440-5050, copaingatherings.com
Meredith Mullins (friends call her Mere) decided at 40 she wanted to ditch medical-device sales and finally open the shop she’d dreamed about for years. So in 2018, Mere’s opened in Dilworth, offering a highly curated selection of wine and cheese — you won’t find any of the cheeses here in grocery stores, and you might not recognize most of the wine labels. The goal is to help customers expand their palates, so grab a seat at the counter where you can sample any of Mere’s cheeses. Mere’s also offers gift baskets, “Mongers” cheese and charcuterie boards, and wine and cheese club memberships.
2400 Park Rd., Suite H; open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. 704-472-5513, meresclt.com
The Butler’s Pantry
This newcomer opened in Cotswold Village this summer after former private equity banker Andrew King decided to return to his passion. King grew up just four blocks from the shop and recalls walking to the former Cotswold Mall as a child. He previously owned High Cotton Catering, helped create The Community Table Bistro at Goodwill Industries and once worked as the executive chef at The Lodge on Lake Lure. This gourmet takeaway boutique has everything from casseroles to cakes, all made in-house (even the ice cream!). According to King, The Butler’s Pantry has everything you need for a cocktail party or a weeknight dinner with the kids. Don’t miss the Trailer Park Casserole (chicken, chiles, cheese and corn tortillas), Cold Oven Pound Cake (“a culinary walk down memory lane,” the website says) or cocktail ham biscuits. The store also offers indoor and outdoor seating if you want to grab a glass of wine and an appetizer.
274 S. Sharon Amity Rd.; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. cltbutlerspantry.com
Pasta & Provisions
Charlotte’s only fresh pasta shop has been around since Thanksgiving weekend 1992. Owner Tommy George worked for an Italian cheese and butcher shop in Boston before relocating to the Queen City with his wife, Debbie, and their three young sons nearly three decades ago. The couple’s middle son, Dylan, was just 2 years old at the time; he’s now the general manager and will take over the family-owned business someday. Pasta & Provisions offers more than 15 varieties of pasta, including its signature ravioli and pomodoro sauce, along with prepared meals, soups, spreads, dry goods and more at its three locations.
Shop for take-home goods or dine in at 1600 S. Mint St. or 4700 Park Rd., where patio seating is available. The original location at 1528 Providence Rd. is take-home only. pastaprovisions.com
Reid’s Fine Foods
The OG specialty-food shop in Charlotte, Arthur Reid opened the first Reid’s on Morehead Street in 1928. The second, more iconic location opened on Providence Road in 1931. New owners bought Reid’s in 2010 and expanded the brand to include five stores: Myers Park, SouthPark, two uptown locations, and downtown Greenville, S.C. In the beginning, the market was known for its expert butcher shop, gourmet foods and grocery delivery (in the early years, delivery was by bicycle). The stores now focus on fresh prepared meals, gift baskets and catering, with a wine bar and dine-in seating (menus vary according to location). Reid’s is packed with its own line of signature items, from chocolate-chip cookie jars to cheese straws, marinades to barbecue sauces, along with its well-known steak burgers — enjoy one at half price on Tuesdays.
Hours vary by location. reids.com
The Loyalist Market
The Loyalist opened four years ago in downtown Matthews, offering more than 60 artisan cheeses and curated meats. The market calls itself a gourmet sandwich shop by day and a cheese bar at night — salads and shareable snacks are also on the dine-in menu.
The Loyalist highlights Southern producers and works to keep everything as fresh as possible — cheese is cut to order. Board selections change daily, and workers here pride themselves on helping guests with flavor profiles and pairings. Don’t miss Mac & Cheese night every Tuesday, or their dine-in deal: $20 cheese and charcuterie boards every Tuesday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.
A tornado took down their sign, so if you’re having trouble finding the shop, look for the colorful 31-foot mural by artist Osiris Rain on The Loyalist’s patio wall.
435 N. Trade St., Unit 102, Matthews; noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. theloyalistmarket.com
Prefer eating out? Check out our list of local restaurants offering special holiday menus. SP