Common Market is Plaza Midwood’s neighborhood hangout. JEFF WILLHELM jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com
Common Market is Plaza Midwood’s neighborhood hangout. JEFF WILLHELM jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com

Living Here Guide

An insider’s guide to Plaza Midwood: What to eat, drink and do

By Alicia Thomas

September 07, 2017 10:14 AM

You may know Plaza Midwood as the quirky cousin to NoDa, or as Elizabeth’s eccentric neighbor. A vibrant and diverse neighborhood just northeast of Charlotte’s center city, Plaza Midwood was originally established in the 1920s as a “streetcar suburb” designed around a trolley line that ran to and from Uptown.

Formally declared a Charlotte neighborhood in 1973, Plaza Midwood’s borders are strictly defined by Hawthorne Lane on the west, Central Avenue on the south, and The Plaza and Parkwood Avenue on the north.

In Plaza Midwood, massive trees shade residential streets lined with craftsman-style bungalows and cottages. Then there’s the heartbeat of the neighborhood, right between Central Avenue and Commonwealth: an amalgam of eclectic storefronts, bars, and restaurants, each with a unique vibe all its own.

A stone-trimmed marker designates the Plaza Midwood neighborhood.
David T. Foster, III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

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Eat

Soul Gastrolounge

1500 Central Ave., Charlotte. http://www.soulgastrolounge.com/. 704-348-1848.

This hip and cozy spot features small plates from around the world and is known for offering a variety of sushi rolls as well as an ever-changing craft cocktail list.

Pro tip: Soul doesn’t take reservations, but you can download the NoWait app to put your name on the list before you arrive.

Midwood Smokehouse

1401 Central Ave., Charlotte. midwoodsmokehouse.com. 704-295-4227.

Though there are several other Midwood Smokehouse locations in the Charlotte area, this BBQ joint still offers a quintessentially Plaza Midwood feel. (You can also smell it from down the street. In a good way.)

Pro tip: Get the bacon-wrapped jalapenos and thank us later.

Bistro La Bon

1322 Central Ave., Charlotte. http://www.bistrolabon.com/. 704-333-4646.

Don’t let the strip mall façade fool you: You’ll find some of the best international small plates in Charlotte at this sophisticated spot on Central.

Pro tip: Stop by for a la carte brunch on Saturdays or all-you-can-eat brunch on Sundays.

Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe

1601 Central Ave., Charlotte. zadajanes.com. 704-332-3663.

This funky café is a neighborhood hot spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Offering local, organic, sustainable food, you’ll often find a line out the door at Zada Jane’s (particularly if you stop by for brunch on the weekend).

Pro tip: Whether you’re there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, get the Bunny Rancheros. They’re a crowd favorite for a reason.

The Diamond Restaurant

1901 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte. diamondcharlotte.com. 704-375-8959.

Since 1945, The Diamond Restaurant has been a glowing neon beacon of Plaza Midwood culture. Stop by this staple neighborhood diner for Italian, Greek and Southern-inspired comfort food.

Pro tip: Make this your last stop after a weekend night out – it’s open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Common Market

2007 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte. commonmarketisgood.com. 704-334-6209.

Open 365 days a year, Common Market is a local hub that brings all types of people together. With a delicious deli, a wide variety of drinks (both bottled and on draft), plenty of snacks, and a large patio, it’s the neighborhood’s hangout spot of choice for good reason.

Pro tip: Build your own breakfast sandwich at the deli any day of the week, then pair it with a cup of Sexy Power coffee.

Comida

1205 Thomas Ave., Charlotte. comidaclt.com. 980-498-6576.

Located in what used to be the Penguin, Comida features contemporary Mexican fare and creative craft cocktails in a sophisticated setting.

Pro tip: The homemade guacamole is a must-order.

Dish

1220 Thomas Ave., Charlotte. http://www.eatatdish.com/. 704-344-0343.

Visit Dish for creative comfort food: Southern cuisine with both Mexican and Cajun flair. A favorite spot for locals (and Charlotte natives in particular), you can stop by for breakfast food, late-night food, and everything in between.

Pro tip: Get the chicken and dumplings for a “just like mama used to make it” comfort food experience.

The Pizza Peel & Taproom

1600 Central Ave., Charlotte. tapandpeel.com. 704-790-7335.

If you’re looking for a relaxed, comfortable place to enjoy good pizza, wings and beer (not to mention salad, tacos, sandwiches, and more on their menu), then this is the spot for you.

Pro tip: Stop by from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. any weekday to take advantage of the lunch buffet.

Akahana Asian Bistro

1308 The Plaza, Charlotte. http://www.akahanaasianbistro.com/. 704-817-9365.

From pho to buy-one-get-one-free sushi rolls (yes, all the time) and beyond, Akahana has your Asian cuisine needs covered.

Pro tip: Try one of the creative seasonal sake bombs featuring local beers.

Peculiar Rabbit

1212 Pecan Ave., Charlotte. http://www.therabbitspot.com/peculiar-rabbit/. 704-333-9197.

This gastropub infuses traditional English fare with Southern ingredients to create a multicultural fusion. Don’t miss out on their wide variety of Moscow Mules and other craft cocktails while you’re there.

Pro tip: There’s a gorgeous view of the city skyline from the rooftop patio.

Mama’s Caribbean Grill & Bar

1504 Central Ave. mamacaribbeangrill.webs.com. 704-375-8414.

Craving Caribbean? Get Jamaican meat and seafood meals from this laidback spot on Central, where you’ll often get the chance to enjoy live music along with your meal.

Pro tip: Order the jerk chicken for a spicy, tender dish that will make your mouth water.

Moo & Brew

1300 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.mooandbrew.com. 980-585-4148.

Burgers and beer – what more could you ask for? With a large patio and plenty of indoor seating, this is exactly where you should go when you’re craving local brews and a juicy burger.

Pro tip: Order the Large Marge with Sunday brunch (or any other time) for one of the craziest Bloody Mary experiences in Charlotte.

Nova’s Bakery & Coffee Shop

1511 Central Ave., Charlotte. novasbakery.com. 704-333-5566.

If you’re looking for baked goods and a tasty cup of coffee, Nova’s is the place for you. This café offers plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and has its own parking lot (a rarity in Plaza Midwood).

Pro tip: If you’re looking for something sweet, definitely try the cheesecake. It’s phenomenal.

Sammy’s Deli Restaurant

1113 Pecan Ave., Charlotte. 704-376-1956.

Open for both breakfast and lunch, Sammy’s is a no-frills restaurant that offers tons of options for unpretentious and affordable food.

Pro tip: If you’re hungover, a breakfast platter from Sammy’s is the solution. Just trust us on this one.

Whiskey Warehouse

1221 The Plaza, Charlotte. www.whiskeywarehouse.com. 704-334-7005.

Delicious wings, plenty of appetizer options, drink specials and a rooftop patio – if you’re looking for somewhere to host your next happy hour, Whiskey Warehouse is it.

Pro tip: Don’t miss out on Sunday brunch, served until 3 p.m. every week.

Pure Pizza

1911 Central Ave., Charlotte. http://purepizzaclt.com/. 980-430-1701.

Also located in the 7th St. Public Market, Pure Pizza offers pies made with locally sourced ingredients. As the owners put it, they’re “farm-loving pizza freaks,” and you can practically taste their passion in the pizza.

Pro tip: Every Tuesday, when you buy one pizza, you can get one free.

Krazy Fish

2501 Central Ave., Charlotte. krazyfish.com. 704-332-1004.

Plastered with a painting of Guy Fieri’s face to commemorate its appearance on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” in 2015, Krazy Fish is an eclectic seafood restaurant featuring a tiki bar and quirky décor.

Pro tip: The blackened tuna tacos are incredible, as are the cheesy jalapeno grits.

Note: The next three spots are technically just outside of Plaza Midwood, but worth including nonetheless.

Three Amigos

2917 A Central Ave., Charlotte. http://www.threeamigoscharlotte.com/. 704-536-1851.

This spot is more than just your standard Mexican grill and cantina. Alongside traditional fare like enchiladas, tacos and arroz con pollo, you’ll find Dominican street food like Yaro (smothered fries) and Chimichurri (Dominican hamburger).

Pro tip: Start with the Queso Fundido – melted cheese with onion and chorizo.

Soul Central

2903-C Central Ave., Charlotte. soulcentralfood.com. 980-349-4015.

The mind behind now-closed Lola’s on Brevard opened this soul food spot on Central. Get a meat, two sides, corn bread and sweet tea for about $10.

Pro tip: Never say no to banana pudding.

Two Scoops Creamery

913 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.twoscoopscreamery.com. 704-900-5792.

Why have one scoop when you can have two? This ice cream shop offers up a rotation of unique, homemade flavors like Cookies by the Sea, Dabba Dooo and Bulwinkle Tracks.

Pro tip: Take a photo of your cone in front of the ice cream mural on the side of the building. Because if it’s not in Instagram, did it really happen?

Drink

Legion Brewing

1906 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte. legionbrewing.com. 844-467-5683.

Legion adds an innovative twist to traditional German-style brewing. With their popular tagline, “Friends And Beer,” it’s no wonder that you can see so many people enjoying good beer with friends at Legion every day of the week.

Pro tip: Try the Carolina Sparkle Party with one of the “dressings” offered to turn the sour Berliner Weisse into a sweet beverage.

Legion Brewing is known for touting “Friends And Beer,” and it shows.
John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Workman’s Friend

1531 Central Ave., Charlotte. theworkmansfriend.com. 980-224-8234.

This Irish gastropub features a variety of craft cocktails, plenty of local and international beer to choose from, an extensive whiskey list, and delicious pub fare.

Pro tip: Warm up by the fireplace in the winter months, or enjoy the outdoor patio when it’s warm out.

Resident Culture Brewing

2101 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.residentculture.com.

A brand new brewery opening soon in the neighborhood! In their words, Resident Culture will brew “hop forward IPAs and pale ales, lagers, barrel aged beers, and wild and spontaneously fermented ales.”

Pro tip: The covered patio and biergarten will be ideal for outdoor drinking when the weather is nice.

The Hop Shop

818 Lamar Ave., Charlotte. www.thehopshopbeer.com. 980-859-7549.

Self-defined as “a coffee shop for craft beer,” The Hop Shop is a laid-back place to enjoy both local and imported craft beer, in bottles or on draft. Grab your beer to go or grab a seat on one of the indoor porch swings and hang out for a while.

Pro tip: Though The Hop Shop’s focus is on beer, it also has a wide selection of wines to choose from.

The Thirsty Beaver Saloon

1225 Central Ave., Charlotte. 704-332-3612.

Don’t be fooled: Although this honky-tonk inspired saloon may be small, it’s got a big ol’ list of drinks for you to choose from.

Pro tip: This is a dive bar. Don’t expect any frills. And don’t forget money for the jukebox.

Snug Harbor

1228 Gordon St., Charlotte. www.snugrock.com.

If you’re looking for a live music venue where you can drink and dance the night away, Snug Harbor is the place for you. This nautically themed bar hosts local and regional rock acts on a nightly basis, along with the occasional drag show.

Pro tip: Stop by Sunday nights for karaoke, and get ready for a few show-stoppers.

Thomas Street Tavern

1218 Thomas Ave., Charlotte. 704-376-1622.

Pub fare, good drinks and a patio, all in one place. Locals often stop by Thomas Street Tavern (which is actually located on Thomas Avenue) for a few drinks and enjoy live music on the patio.

Pro tip: Challenge your friends to a few games of ping pong. Loser buys the next round.

Pint Central

1226 Central Ave., Charlotte. pint-central.com. 980-237-9108.

The full bar at Pint Central boasts 34 taps, more than 40 bottled beers, wine, and custom cocktails. You can also get Argentinian, American, and European-influenced tapas and sandwiches while you’re there.

Pro tip: Make your way here on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. for trivia and $3.50 beers.

Midwood Country Club

2123 Central Ave. 704-503-9159.

Marking the border between Plaza Midwood and Country Club Heights, this is anything but a stuffy country club. This is a laidback place with pool tables, dart boards, and a juke box for you to enjoy along with your drinks.

Pro tip: Sports are always on the TVs, so if you’ve been looking for a good place to watch your favorite team play, this is it.

Petra’s Bar

1919 Commonwealth Ave. petrasbar.com. 704-332-6608.

Featuring signature martinis and live performances of all kinds, Petra’s is a relaxed and welcoming bar for all walks of life.

Pro tip: Keep an eye on their calendar for events like open mic nights, karaoke, buzzed spelling bees and more.

Note: The next three spots are technically just outside of Plaza Midwood, but worth including nonetheless.

Central Coffee

719 Louise Ave., Charlotte. www.facebook.com/CentralCoffeeCo. 704-335-7288.

Central is Plaza Midwood’s neighborhood, corner coffee shop. It serves and brews North Carolina-based beans by artisan coffee roaster Joe Van Gogh. Pastries and food are prepared and baked in house each day.

Pro tip: Order something frothy, with latte art.

Hatties Tap and Tavern

2918 The Plaza, Charlotte. hattiescharlotte.com. 980-938-6228.

This little pub tucked between Plaza Midwood and NoDa is dog friendly and has a sweet patio out back. And while you’re more than welcome to throw back a PBR, this funky bar has a surprisingly good craft beer selection.

Pro tip: In addition to live music and karaoke, Hattie’s also has bingo nights and has been known to host “Game of Thrones” viewing parties.

Shop

Book Buyers

1306 The Plaza, Charlotte. www.facebook.com/bookbuyersclt. 704-344-8611.

This used bookstore specializes in books about history, art and architecture, classic literature and fiction.

Pro tip: They often have kittens in the store available for adoption.

Buffalo Exchange

1521 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.buffaloexchange.com. 704-372-2300.

Buy, sell or trade trendy clothing and accessories at this quirky consignment shop on Central. You can find Buffalo Exchange shops in other locations, too, but this store’s vintage vibe still feels uniquely Plaza Midwood.

Pro tip: If you’re selling, you have the option to sell for cash or to trade clothing for store credit.

High Life Smoke Shop

1525 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.highlifesmokes.com. 704-379-1400.

You can hit up High Life Smoke Shop for vaporizers, hookahs, electronic cigarettes, and all of your other smoking paraphernalia needs.

Pro tip: The staff here really knows their stuff, so if you have questions about what you’re purchasing, don’t hesitate to ask for their input.

CLTCH

1512 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.facebook.com/cltch. 704-375-2444.

This eclectic boutique (pronounced “Clutch”) is the ideal place to shop for jewelry, accessories and gifts – for both women and men.

Pro tip: They’ve got gifts for every budget, so don’t be scared off by the idea of boutique pricing.

Moxie Mercantile

2008 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte. http://www.moxiemercantile.com/. 704-877-7879.

Visit this lifestyle boutique for home and personal accessories, from home décor to jewelry to linens to leather goods to plants and beyond.

Pro tip: To learn where individual products at this boutique came from and who they were made by, be sure to follow Moxie Mercantile on Facebook.

Gumbo Goods

1916 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte. gumbogoods.com/gumbo. 704-999-6630.

Attached to Okra Yoga, Gumbo Goods is a store “focused on the enhancement and support a lifestyle of wellness and wholeness.” You can find yoga mats, activewear, essential oils, beauty products and more here.

Pro tip: Check out its Instagram before going to see if the store has any sales going on.

Boris + Natasha Clothing Boutique

1214 Thomas Ave., Charlotte. 704-375-0079.

A funky, full-service boutique where you can find clothing for men and women, shoes, accessories and jewelry.

Pro tip: This shop is owned and operated by fashion and music veteran Hope Nicholls, and Hope and her staff will always be happy to help you find pieces you love.

Stash Pad

1216 Thomas Ave., Charlotte. stashpadvintage.com. 980-224-7321.

If you’re looking for vintage clothing and accessories, costumes, wigs, or cosmetics, Stash Pad can help you out.

Pro tip: They also offer party packages for bachelorette parties, glamour shots, and more.

Black Sheep Skate Shop

830 Lamar Ave. www.blacksheepnc.com. 704-333-1423.

This skate shop (formerly located in South End) sells limited edition footwear, apparel, and skateboards.

Pro tip: Black Sheep specializes in selling hard-to-find shoes and apparel, so if you’ve been struggling to find a certain brand or product, check them out.

ARMADA Skate Shop

1200 The Plaza, Charlotte. www.facebook.com/ArmadaSkate. 704-243-9758.

Calling all skateboarders: You can visit ARMADA Skate Shop to find all your skating needs, including clothing, shoes, boards, skateboard parts and longboards.

Pro tip: Check out the Facebook to find skateboarding events the store participates in around the Queen City.

Reggae Central

1506 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.reggaecentralstore.com. 704-377-2782.

A Reggae specialty shop offering a wide selection of reggae music, art, clothing and other reggae-lia.

Pro tip: Reggae Central has been around for 15 years, so the folks there know their stuff. Feel free to ask questions as you browse.

Slate Interiors

1401 Central Ave., Charlotte. shopslateinteriors.com. 704-930-7890.

Visit Slate Interiors the next time you’re looking for high end, one-of-a-kind home furnishings, accessories, lighting or original art.

Pro tip: Items are unique and tend to go quickly, so if you see something you want, buy it before it’s gone.

Social Status

1519 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.socialstatuspgh.com. 704-632-9902.

This men’s sneaker and apparel boutique has locations in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, as well as in Pittsburgh.

Pro tip: If you’re looking to stay on top of trends in the male fashion world, Social Status is the right place to go.

Fifteen Ten Antiques & Consignments

1510 Central Ave. www.facebook.com/1510antiques. 704-342-9005.

This antique store and gift shop is the perfect place to find unique home décor and vintage items that are one of a kind.

Pro tip: It’s closed Wednesdays and Thursdays, so be sure to double check your calendar before visiting.

Century Vintage

1508 Central Ave. 704-806-8986.

Offering a wide variety of authentic vintage goods, hand-crafted items and original works by local artists, Century Vintage specializes in authentic period furniture, décor and clothing.

Pro tip: This isn’t a store you can just stop by – if you’re interested in seeing any of their items, you can contact them to set up an appointment.

Tip Top Daily Market

2902 The Plaza, Charlotte. tiptop.market. 980-299-4151.

You might miss this bottle shop/bar/specialty foods shop/grocery just outside of Plaza Midwood if you’re not paying attention. It shares a parking lot with Hattie’s Tap and Tavern.

Pro tip: Stop and play some of the arcade games, like pinball, inside.

See

Twenty-Two

1500 Central Ave., Charlotte.www.facebook.com/gallerytwentytwoCLT. 980-498-7625.

This art-gallery-slash-swanky-bar is the perfect spot for those seeking a little culture. Enjoy wine, craft beer, or sake as you appreciate the latest art exhibit.

Pro tip: The curated exhibits rotate monthly, so if there’s a piece you’re in love with, snatch it up before the next exhibit takes its place.

The Rabbit Hole

1801 Commonwealth Ave. http://www.therabbitspot.com/rabbit-hole/. 704-333-9197 Ext. 2.

This neighborhood music venue hosts local and regional artists of all kinds, from funk to punk and everything in between.

Pro tip: It also offers a special event room for holiday parties, birthdays and private parties with catering provided by The Peculiar Rabbit, if you’re looking to host an event.

The Station

2131 Central Ave., Charlotte. www.facebook.com/thestationclt. 704-313-4430.

If you’re looking for good, cheap drinks and good, cheap music, look no further than The Station. This bar and music venue hosts a variety of music acts every weekend.

Pro tip: This is a dive bar and music venue all in one, so get ready for a good beer selection and great local bands in an intimate yet laidback atmosphere.

Play

Midwood Park

2100 Wilhelmina Ave., Charlotte.

This neighborhood park offers plenty of shaded, grassy space to relax and play, as well as two playgrounds (one for younger children, one for older children), a tennis court, basketball court, soccer field and a stage for festivals and performances.

Pro tip: The pavilion here is perfect for picnics and parties, but it fills up quickly. Be sure to get there early to snag a spot if you’re planning a get-together.

What did we miss? Tell us your favorite Plaza Midwood spot in the comments or shoot an email to charlottefive@charlottefive.com.