Julie Eiselt’s preferred way to explore the Queen City is on two wheels. “Peddling through the city can lead to some great little surprises in the form of restaurants, shops and unique urban spaces that are little pockets of organic development,” says Charlotte’s Mayor Pro Tem. Here are a few of the Wisconsin native’s favorite spots.
Comments were edited for brevity and clarity.
The Gold District
One of the best kept secrets in Charlotte is near uptown, bordered by Morehead, Summit, Church and Graham streets. The Gold District is a collection of original and repurposed warehouses that sit on top of three mines that date to the early 1800s. Thanks to a group of local businesses, the district has been preserved (yes, some things in Charlotte are preserved!) with repurposed buildings and walkable streets. This place is starting to pop with bars and restaurants, art galleries and other small businesses that intentionally honor the city’s Gold Rush heritage. From the fun and funky Magnolia Emporium (below) to Craft Growler Shop and Tasting Room to the great murals on walls and alleyways, there is something new to experience every time I visit.
My guilty confession is that I am not a huge “foodie.” The food needs to be good, but it’s more about the atmosphere and experience for me. Given my crazy city council hours, I often eat by myself. Reid’s Fine Foods on Selwyn (below) is my go-to. It’s the kind of place where you can comfortably dine alone while reading a book, chat with other diners at the bar or share an intimate meal with a group of friends. The food is great and the service attentive. Get there early on Tuesdays for half-price burger night!
Also, I hate seeing the original no-frills Charlotte eateries disappear, so I am a bit protective of Art’s BBQ and Deli. Great down-home simple breakfast and lunch on paper plates. Who needs china when you have good food and great people watching? The who’s who of Charlotte just might be working deals or catching up on the latest news on any given morning.
Having a thriving arts community was a key criterion to get my husband and me to move our young family here 21 years ago. In 1998, it was a bit of a shock coming from Miami and previously London, but we could see the cultural scene was changing and growing. A strong arts and cultural community brings people together: young, old, rich, poor. Nick Napoletano’s murals (below) are a great example of the home-grown artistry that we need to support and nurture in Charlotte. A great arts scene attracts people of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
Probably the best example of that I’ve seen in my years here was the recent Charlotte SHOUT! festival (below). This past spring, for two weeks at venues throughout uptown, Charlotteans and visitors took in some of the best art, music, curated performances and thought leaders from around the world — almost entirely for free. On a Saturday night, [my husband] Tom and I munched on pizza and sat in the middle of 3rd St. with 2,500 of our closest friends, watching acrobats “dance” down the side of the Government Center to an incredible light and music show. At 11 p.m., the streets were still filled with a wonderfully diverse mix of people and families.
I’ll go anywhere for a truly great margarita. In Charlotte, it’s on Central Avenue at Three Amigos Mexican Grill and Cantina. Hands down the best salsa as well — and great food — if you can get a table at this cozy authentic cantina.
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and I still appreciate a good brew. My favorite Charlotte beer is What He’s Having at Wooden Robot (above). But to hang out, see friends and listen to music, my husband Tom and I head to the biergarten at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. I love that the beer gardens in Charlotte are becoming more like those of Europe, where the seating is communal and families are welcomed with food, games and nonalcoholic drinks. In this age of social media and political division, any place that brings people together just for fun is a much-needed escape.
Charlotte Squawks, because you have to be able to laugh at yourself, Charlotte!
Spot you go to buy something, and end
up with things you don’t need:
Blackhawk Hardware at Park Road Shopping Center
Open Streets 704. Three times a year, the city and county map out a 5-mile street festival in a different part of town. Great way to bike or walk and get to know Charlotte!
Store to find something for anyone:
Tie between Paper Skyscraper in Dilworth or CLTCH in Plaza Midwood
Your Mom’s Donuts
Spot to meet your neighbors:
Common Market on Monroe Road
Literally any show at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte — no matter your age! SP
compiled by Whitley Adkins Hamlin
Know of a Charlotte tastemaker or person of interest we should feature here? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.