After spending the first 18 years of my life just 30 miles outside of New York City, I moved my pizza-slinging-Yankee self to the (way) other side of the Mason Dixon to attend Gardner-Webb University. I experienced my first, “You’re not on Long Island anymore,” moment in just the first week of college on the home cooking line.
“I’ll have some string beans and mashed potatoes,” I said as my finger touched the glass barrier that separated me from John The Server.
John The Server scooped some string beans onto the plastic yellow plate and then stopped as he got to the mashed potatoes. He hovered the plate over the steaming steel bin and looked at me – confused. He raised his eyebrows.
“The mashed potatoes,” I said, this time much louder and slower – touching the glass again.
Still, no response.
“I’ll have the mashed potatoes!” I said and furiously tapped the glass in front of the mashed potatoes.
“These aren’t mashed potatoes, honey. They’re grits.”
“Oh. Okay, I’ll have – wait. What are grits?”
I now regularly indulge in creamy, dreamy white cheddar grits (from Flying Biscuit Café)… but I spent 18 years not even knowing what grits were. EIGHTEEN YEARS, YOU GUYS!
After graduation, I moved back to New York for just two years before quickly realizing that Charlotte was – for whatever reason – where I needed to be. And now, two years into being an official Charlotte resident, I wouldn’t change a thing.
If you’re one of the kagillion New York expats (#StrongIsland) who’s moseyed on down to the Queen City – here are 10 things you need to know immediately upon entering Charlotte City Limits.
(1) Grits are a delicious anytime concoction, commonly served with breakfast… or shrimp. They are a cornmeal-based porridge, look like mashed potatoes and, in my opinion, are an excellent vehicle for butter, cheese and more butter.
(2) Save honking for when you really need it. And I mean like, REALLY need it. It’s not really a thing here and it’s actually kind of nice to peacefully coexist with other drivers.
(3) I know what you’ve been taught, but it’s actually pronounced ah-puh-latch-in. Our teachers were wrong.
(4) Macaroni and Cheese is considered a vegetable side at most restaurants. Don’t ruin this for everyone by questioning it. We all know it isn’t a vegetable – but we want to pretend it is and feel good about it, okay?
Our Mac made it into @yelpcharlotte’s “Weekly #Yelp”… Because… MAC N CHEESE! Link in bio! A photo posted by Rooster’s Uptown CLT (@roostersuptown) on
(5) Sure, rooftop bars in New York City are all the rage. But the patio scene in Charlotte? It’s kind of unbeatable. You’re going to want to take a trip down Montford Drive and stop at Brazwells and Angry Ale’s or head Uptown and walk through Latta Arcade. (Still need some urban rooftop action? Take the elevator up to Fahrenheit.)
Sunday funday with the bro from Turkey! 👊🏼🍻 #angryales #montford #charlotte #imback A photo posted by Renato Herrlein 😜 (@natowh) on
A photo posted by @jotone on
(6) Don’t knock chicken and waffles until you try them. (And you’re going to want to try them – especially at The Peculiar Rabbit.)
Yum #brunch A photo posted by Brittany (@rainy_day_love) on
(7) Technically speaking, you need to get a North Carolina license within 60-days of establishing a permanent residence here. The fine for not doing so is way more than it costs to actually make the switch – so don’t be stubborn about this one and just get it done. (Don’t worry, they let you keep your bendy hologram New York license!)
(8) People are going to wave at you when you walk down the street. You should wave back.
(9) Yes, three inches of snow is a big deal here. Don’t get all huffy about it – just take the snow day, binge watch HGTV and be happy about it.
(10) No one doesn’t like you just because you’re from New York. People will not like you if you’re rude, talk about how much better New York is than anywhere ever and spend your entire life complaining about the pizza. Just be nice and bloom where you’re planted, okay? Charlotte’s got a lot to offer – so grab a slice at Fuel, walk to the park and give it a chance.
A photo posted by Andrea Dunn (@dunna91) on