I like to pretend that I’m good at exploring Charlotte. But the truth is, I tend to stick to my regular haunts. If I want Italian, I go to Portofino’s. If I want Mexican, I go to Cantina. If I want to feel terrible about myself, I go to Outback. I have a food bubble and I really don’t venture outside of it as much as I should.
That’s why I was pretty excited when I received two tickets to the Charlotte Feast Food Tour for my birthday.
Feast Food Tours is run by a fellow advertising girl, Kristie Martin. She offers five different food tours in Plaza Midwood, South End, South Uptown, NoDa and Uptown.
Although each tour is unique, they all follow a similar structure: They stop at six locally owned restaurants, the owner or chef talks about their food and Kristie offers some historical tidbits along the way.
My boyfriend and I chose the Plaza Midwood tour since this is our least traveled area of Charlotte besides Uptown. (The Uptown Chic tickets were $30 extra so we were like NAH, too bougie.)
As promised, here are 10 interesting things I learned on our food tour of Plaza Midwood:
(1) Pizza Peel has a secret menu.
It includes a pizza called “Are you high?” with chicken, pineapple and bacon. Let’s be real, this sounds amazing even when you’re sober.
Tour pro-tip: You will have a chance to eat two slices of pizza, but go easy. There’s a lot more to come.
(2) The crust at Pizza Peel is darker because it’s made with molasses.
Using molasses instead of sugar and a mix of wheat and white flour gives their crust a unique flavor. I’m still partial to Pure Pizza, but that may just be due to their addicting honey.
(3) The burgers at The Diamond use the same recipe as The Penguin.
They shared ownership as well as the idea of using fresh chuck for every burger.
So if you miss The Penguin, go to the Diamond, order a burger and close your eyes. It will be like you’re there.
4. The owner of Dish opened her restaurant in Plaza Midwood because it was close to musicians that she used to work with.
Penny used to work in the music industry and Dish attracted a lot of her prior contacts.
Tour pro-tip: My boyfriend and I decided to Uber to the tour in case there would be a lot of alcohol. But by the end of the three-hour tour we had only consumed ½ pint of beer, a taste of wine and an alcoholic cupcake. Most normal-sized humans can drive after that.
(5) Guy Fieri’s show is more staged than you think.
First of all, he doesn’t actually drive that red car around. When he filmed at Dish he apparently only drove the car 100 feet down Thomas Avenue just to get it filmed. Also, when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives shows plates being put down on a table, that’s not done by a waitress. They have someone on set whose entire job is to put down plates. Penny says the poor woman had to do it over 30 times until the lighting was just right.
(6) Not everyone who works at fern, flavors from the garden is a vegetarian.
I just assumed they all had to be non-meat-eaters to get hired. Turns out, only the chef and a line cook are full-time veggies. Can I call them veggies? Is that offensive? If so, I’m sorry.
Tour pro-tip: If Kristie asks the group if the buffalo tofu tastes like chicken don’t loudly blurt out “NO, NOT AT ALL.” It will be awkward.
(7) The world’s best latte artist (yes there was a championship) lives in Charlotte.
He works part-time at Not Just Coffee in 7th Street Market. I don’t know why this came up, but it did.
(8) The man who runs the kitchen at Bistro la Bon originally started working there for free.
He wanted to work for them so bad that he did four months of unpaid work in the kitchen. His plan obviously paid off because now he’s a fancy chef.
(9) If you ask for a red velvet cupcake at FuManChuCupcakes you’ll be given an untoasted Pop-Tart.
The owner, Andy, has Red Velvet Pop-Tarts on display specifically for this purpose. In his words, “We do not have [bad word that starts with an ‘f’] red velvet cupcakes here. Ever.”
But who needs red velvet when you get a margarita cupcake with a half shot of tequila inside?
(10) FuManChuCupcakes has a cupcake named after the police code for a DUI.
Impaired drivers and this cupcake are both referred to as 10-55. This bad boy is made with Ten FIDY Imperial Stout, which has a ridiculous 10.5 percent alcohol content.
By the way, I needed two of these sheets for all my notes. The people on the tour thought I was a total psycho.