An aerial view of SouthPark. TODD SUMLIN tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
An aerial view of SouthPark. TODD SUMLIN tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Living Here Guide

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

By Michael J. Solender

September 08, 2017 11:17 AM

Charlotte’s SouthPark neighborhood is more than just a mall – it’s one of the region’s fastest growing areas.

Creative local restaurants, inspiring entertainment, a dense concentration of fashionable retail and easy access to uptown Charlotte all make SouthPark a destination to explore again and again.

Here are some of SouthPark’s best options for dining, libations, shopping and playing.

Eat

Be the first to know.

No one covers what is happening in our community better than we do. And with a digital subscription, you'll never miss a local story.

Aqua e Vino

Chef Gabriele Grigolon’s tiny Northern Italian bistro is a glimmering gemstone in SouthPark’s dining scene. Grigolon lets the freshest ingredients speak for themselves with only a touch of coaxing, garnering big flavors from dishes like Spanish octopus a la plancha, marinated artichokes, peppers and crispy capers and Veal tenderloin in padella, fresh porcini with vegetables giardinetto.

Pro tip: Tuesday and Wednesday evenings feature special three-course offerings for only $40.

4219 Providence Road #3

Café Monte

Step inside this authentic French cafe and you’re transported to a sidewalk in Paris. Edith Piaf croons in the background and the menu is studded with classics like Salade Nicoise, Escargot Traditionnel, Beef Short Rib Bourguignonne and Trout Amandine.

Pro tip: Café Monte serves breakfast seven days a week, opening daily at 9 a.m.

6700 Fairview Road

Ilios Noche

Mediterranean soul food is the star at this Quail Corners little sister to the original Ballantyne location. The menu has a heavenly Greek influence with saganaki, moussaka and lamb burgers true standouts. Flatbread pizzas are among the best in the city and homemade pastas – like the Crazy Lasagna – are deeply satisfying.

Pro tip: The zucchini and eggplant chips with lemon yogurt dip are highly addictive.

8426 Park Road

Terrace Cafe

This upscale café delivers on its mission of Southern cuisine with a twist. From their fabled Red Velvet Waffle at breakfast to Cajun Shrimp and Grits all day long, Terrace is big on flavor, service and menu choices for all.

Pro tip: Vegans find good choices here, especially at breakfast. Try the Vegan chicken or chorizo grilled tomatoes, hash browns and waffle.

4625 Piedmont Row Drive, Suite 105

Upstream

The Pan-Asian, seafood-centric menu attracts a wide swath of local celebs to this Phillips Place stalwart. A-listers of all types enjoy creative bento-box lunches, expertly prepared sushi (the super-crunch roll is the best in the city, in my opinion) and delicacies like Sake Marinated Black Sea Bass and Togarashi Dusted Ahi Tuna.

Pro tip: This is a great venue for a power lunch or date with your sweetie, lingering in a lush booth over the Black Iron Mussel Pot with a glass of wine.

6902 Phillips Place

Sake marinated sea bass at Upstream.
Greg Getz

Yafo Kitchen

Bold, aromatic Middle Eastern flavors abound in this fast-casual addition to SouthPark’s dining scene. Vegetarian-friendly fare such as spiced hummus bowls, pickled vegetables and fresh salads compliment beautifully grilled and roasted meats featured in shawarmas, kebabs and pita-wraps.

Pro tip: Don’t be intimidated by the lines during weekday lunch hours – they move quickly.

720 Gov. Morrison St.

Drink

Baku

The lounge here is a stunner with lacquered red and black accents flanking the white-marble bar delivering a polished and stylized Japanese feel. Specialty cocktails like the Manchurian Mule, Tokyo New Fashion and the Sake Colada bring a taste of the Orient to the SouthPark bar-scene.

The sushi is pretty darn good, too.

Pro tip: Go for the sake. Proprietor Birdie Yang brings extensive sake knowledge to the forefront here and offers patrons one of the largest sake selections in the Southeast with more than 75 to choose from.

4515 Sharon Road

Corkbuzz

This chic, NYC-style wine studio offers more than 40 wines by the glass and over 200 curated selections by the bottle. Master sommelier Laura Maniec is dead serious about eliminating the intimidation factor and brings the true joy of unique wines from around the globe right to your glass. A full kitchen offers noshes to complete meals set in a comfy atmosphere.

Pro tip: Wine classes like “Italy: North to South,” are offered monthly to explore wine at a beyond-the-basic level.

4905 Ashley Park Lane, Suite J

The Cowfish

Don’t overlook the bar at SouthPark’s home of “Burgushi,” a mashup of burgers and sushi. The Cowfish’s patio is one of SouthPark’s largest and offers great after-work people watching. The martini menu is kicking and features ’tinis like the Itsy Bitsy Tini-Weenie Fresh and Berry Great Martini, and The Jamhattan, Japanese Whiskey with POM juice and F.R.O.G. (fig, raspberry, orange, ginger) jam.

Pro tip: Drive into the SouthPark Mall ramp just north of Sharon Road off Morrison Boulevard and park at the top level for direct access to the Cowfish across the lot.

4310 Sharon Road

The Cowfish
Charlotte Observer file photo

Dogwood Southern Table & Bar

In-the-know-locals revere the cocktail stylings of Dogwood mixologist Brian Lorusso, whose house-made infused syrups, shrubs and mixes serve as the backbone of classic cocktails and his own creations. Dogwood’s bar jumps after work, though Lorusso and his team always have time for a recommendation.

Pro tip: There’s an expanded selection of local beers on tap here with IPAs, sours, ales and seasonal all taking up residence.

4905 Ashley Park Lane, Suite D

Dogwood Southern Table & Bar mixologist Brian Lorusso.
Justin Driscoll JUSTINdPHOTOS.com

FABO Coffee Art Bar

Tucked away in Quail Corners, this hip coffee/wine/beer bar offers baked treats, smoothies and snacks in a cool gallery setting. Locally made art, jewelry and crafts are available for purchase.

Pro tip: Art party evening classes offered by local artists include materials and a glass of wine to help get you off to a good start on your own artistic creation.

8428 Park Road

Foxcroft Wine Co.

Find a large selection of diverse and hard-to-find wines from every wine producing region of the world. Dedicated and knowledgeable staff to help choose the perfect bottle for every occasion.

Pro tip: Sip wines by the glass and enjoy their top-notch eats after choosing your bottle.

7824 Fairview Road

Shop

The Mole Hole

Cards, jewelry, clothes, and a wide variety games and puzzles to keep the kids busy are found in this Colony Place boutique.

Pro tip: Let the staff know who you’re shopping for and they’ll come up with perfect suggestions.

7741 Colony Road #A3

Our Place Boutique

Find the latest styles and chic accessories at this charming women’s clothing boutique.

Pro tip: These ladies know fashion – let them style you for that upcoming party.

6700 Fairview Road

Perry’s Fine Antique & Estate Jewelry

Perry's is one of the most comprehensive collections of estate, antique and vintage jewelry in the city. Staff gemologists are available for appraisals and advice.

Pro tip: Watches and jewelry are repaired in house.

6525 Morrison Blvd. #115

Play

Morrison Regional Library

After an extensive multi-million-dollar remodel, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library has created a prototype library of the future. This community hub has multiple study rooms, conference rooms, Wi-Fi, a coffee hub, dedicated teen space and large outdoor patio. (It's currently closed until Fall 2017 for renovations.)

Pro tip: Morrison has a large computer lab – take advantage of technology classes in a true classroom setting.

7015 Morrison Blvd.

Marion Diehl Park Multi-Generational Playground

Mecklenburg’s park and recreation department created this unique cross-generational outdoor playground with state-of-the-art fitness equipment including cardio and resistance machines. Fun for all ages.

Pro tip: Great venue for grandkids and grandparents.

2219 Tyvola Road

Park Road Park

Picnic facilities, an 11-acre lake, walking trails, volleyball, baseball/softball fields, basketball courts and plenty of parking make this one of the area’s most-loved area recreation sites.

Pro tip: Be sure to explore the new memorial playground dedicated to the children from the Sandy Hook school tragedy. The park is a special kid-centric celebration of active play and joyful expression.

6220 Park Road

Retail rebirth: One of Charlotte’s oldest shopping centers is now one of the hottest spots in town.

Park Road Shopping Center is Charlotte’s first open-air retail center and has been around for more than 60 years. In 2011, Edens bought it for a cool $82 million, and the shopping center has undergone some major changes over the past few years, including the addition of an entertainment hub known as the Backlot.

Local favorites like Amelie’s French Bakery and Midwood Smokehouse have popped up in the backlot alongside new concepts like Dot Dot Dot, a cocktail-inspired speakeasy and Stella G’s, a contemporary art gallery.

And the changes keep coming. Flourshop, which will serve fresh pasta, noodles, bread, roasted meats and more, is scheduled to open this fall and.popular burger joint Shake Shack is also joining the Park Road Shopping Center family and at the end of 2017.

– Sallie Funderburk