Like many metropolitan areas, Charlotte has some trendy, some may say hipster, neighborhoods where you will find locally-owned restaurants, music venues, art galleries and other small businesses. One of my favorite neighborhoods is NODA or the North Davidson Arts District (conveniently located at the end of N. Davidson St.). This area includes numerous businesses that bring a ton of character and entertainment to this mixed income neighborhood. Below are some of my favorite stops there but only a visit to the area will really do it justice. Also, the first Friday night of each month, there is a gallery crawl and street art expo. Just find a parking space and spend the evening in the galleries, browsing local merchants' artwork and jewelry, or enjoying free admission to the music venues.
Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen / Sanctuary / The Mill: traditional and modern Cajun cuisine; visit this one of a kind location on any given Sunday between 12:30 and 2 and you are bound to find me and friends taking advantage of the half priced Bloody Mary bar and their amazing brunch
Smelly Cat Coffee Shop: locally owned and operated coffee shop that also has ice cream, wine and desserts
Crepe Cellar / Growlers: owned and operated by Jeff Tonidandel (Davidson College grad) and Paul Manley, owner of Damian Dining, the restaurant features modern spins on French and American food favorites and the bar serves craft beers
Amelie’s French Bakery: has a full array of pastries and sweets as well as savory lunch-type offerings, serves Dilworth Coffee and employ some chefs from local Johnson and Wales University
Revolution Pizza: fantastic pizza and a surprising dessert menu including several flavors of gelato
Neighborhood Theater: large music venue that hosts acts ranging from Robert Earl Keen to Sara Bareilles (they have much more than that but those are two big acts I've seen there recently)
Evening Muse: smaller music venue that has a more listening room feel, they host a weekly open mic night on Mondays
Cabo Fish Taco: somewhat tourist-y but very popular Baja Mexican restaurant
Tasty Yo: tart yogurt (fat- and gluten-free!), perfect for a light dessert after a heavy dinner at the Crepe Celler!
Again, those are only the places I like a lot but there are several other restaurants and bars that are popular with locals and visitors alike. This is the type of neighborhood that both supports and thrives on local ingredients, local ownership and local patronage so much of the money you spend there stays there.
Don't live in Charlotte? So many cities have neighborhoods just like NODA - look in your local cultural magazine for these places and patronize the establishments that serve or support local options!