The bustling rail-adjacent district just south of Uptown is packed with craft breweries, restaurants and more apartments than we ever thought one stretch of road could reasonably accommodate. Here’s what to explore right now in South End.
Sip pineapple soju on the patio at Seoul Food Meat Co.
The popular Korean-inspired barbecue restaurant is the perfect backyard day party destination with a huge U-shaped bar, beer pong tables, lawn games (like cornhole and human-sized billiards) and even a fenced dog park out back.
Turn heads with an order of soju, a Korean liquor served resort-style in your choice of a melon or pineapple with a ladle for sharing — or a straw if you’re really here to party.
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Bonus: Get your fill next door at Seoul Food’s all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant Let’s Meat. Looking for more international food? Eat your way through affordable street food inspired by hawker stalls throughout Southeast Asia at Hawkers.
Test your cheese pull skills at Superica.
The trendy Tex-Mex restaurant is slammed at all hours — from brunch post-dinner margaritas.
Every meal should start with the queso fundido, a bubbly hot blend of real broiled Monterrey Jack and Chihuahua cheeses served with warm tortillas. Ted and I once brought a tape measure to see who could stretch the cheese the farthest. I lost.
Agenda Guide: 10 quick takeaways from my first trip to Superica
Bonus: Snap a photo in front of Evelyn Henson’s famous Confetti Hearts wall mural in the alley behind Superica’s courtyard patio.
Take a self-guided beer tour.
South End is a craft beer hub is home to a ton of popular breweries and bottle shops. Soak up the sun on the patio at The Suffolk Punch, eat Bosshog mac & cheese egg rolls from Twisted Eats at Wooden Robot, hit up Food Truck Friday at Sycamore, grab a Passport Dough & Co. pizza at Unknown Brewing and be your own bartender at Hoppin’.
Bonus: Stock up on your craft beer favorites at shops like Bulldog Beer & Wine, Craft Tasting Room & Growler Shop, Good Bottle Co. and Pop the Top. Don’t miss $6 cheese plates every Wednesday and seasonal outdoor movies every Friday at Craft.
Stock up on local gear at boutique retailers.
Check out local boutiques like Girl Tribe, 704 Shop, Fit Atelier and Magnolia Emporium or head to Atherton Mill where you’ll find major national retailers like Free People, Anthropologie and Warby Parker as well as the Atherton Farmers Market open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Chef Michael Noll of Bardo and chef Vince Giancarlo of Zeppelin are both pushing the boundaries with inventive small plate menus in intimate restaurants. Both are ideal date night destinations.
Bonus: You can’t talk about South End without noting chef Michael Shortino’s impact on the food scene with Futo Buta, a tiny ramen house right on the Rail Trail, and Lincoln’s Haberdashery, a bakery and urban grocery with unique gifts and provisions. His third concept, an as-of-yet unnamed pizza restaurant, is coming to South End’s Gold District directly across the street from Seoul Food.
Grab a scooter and hit the Rail Trail.
The 3.5-mile paved urban trail runs along the Blue Line light rail track into Uptown and is filled with joggers, dog walkers and cyclists. The “magic carpet” murals by Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn are prime photo ops.
Bonus: Scale the walls at Inner Peaks, an indoor climbing facility with tracks for all skill levels from beginner to advanced.
Get rowdy at South End Station.
It’s home to game-day destination All American Pub, late-night club Oak Room, party pool hall Slate and Hot Taco, a casual Mexican restaurant with great drink specials. Keep it basic with Slate’s La Croix Becky Buckets made with Ketel One Botanicals and your choice of three different La Croix flavors — Pamplemousse, Peach-Pear or Lime. Basic, just like you.
Bonus: Hit up Rosemont for playful, gimmicky cocktails built for Instagram like Soccer Mom Special cocktail pouches, boozy milkshakes with over-the-top garnishes and Cheerwine slushies spiked with Captain Morgan.
Catch south side skyline views from Topside, The Waterman’s rooftop bar.
The seafood restaurant’s 80-seat rooftop bar is an unexpected hangout in a grocery store strip mall. Stop by for boat cocktails, frozen drinks and draft cocktails. The rooftop is open Thursday-Friday 6 p.m. to close and Saturday-Sunday noon to close.
Bonus: Looking for more unique bar experiences? Head two blocks down the street to SouthBound where you’ll find BackStage Lounge, a speakeasy you access by picking up a payphone by the door. Just look for the green light outside.
Share paella and sip wine at Barcelona Wine Bar.
The Spanish-inspired restaurant and wine bar is an ideal date spot with a menu of small plate tapas, customizable charcuterie and cheese plates and two-person entrees designed for sharing.
Bonus: Wrap up your meal with a scoop from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. No patience for the never-ending line that winds down the block? Head to local favorite Golden Cow Creamery to try their famous salted Oreo or Dunkaroos flavors.
Cap off a long night with shrimp & grits and chicken & waffles Midnight Diner.
The retro diner is open 24 hours a day and its proximity to Uptown, South End and landmark strip club Uptown Cabaret makes it a popular draw for drunk people of all walks seeking late-night sustenance.
Bonus: Speaking of Southern comfort food, you’ll want to weigh in on the neighborhood fried chicken debate. Price’s Chicken Coop, an iconic fried chicken shack serving Charlotte since 1962, is the OG. But the fried chicken from the Shell gas station on South Boulevard won in an Agenda blind taste test. And of course Leroy Fox ruffled some feathers when it opened a few doors down from Price’s.