The Charlotte restaurant scene is going to have a breakout year in 2016. Some remarkable concepts are about to hit your mouth.
(1) Loft & Cellar
Concept: Tapas and Argentine steakhouse style restaurant from Nicolas Daniels (previously at The Wooden Vine). The Loft will have a Louisiana speakeasy feel. The Cellar will have a chef’s tasting table for private dinners and tastings.
Location: Third Ward, Uptown
Food: Dishes to look out for: Mac & Cheese, Empanadas and Duck Brunswick Gyoza.
Beverages: Cocktails will be prohibition era style and there will be BUTTER BEER (Harry Potter fans rejoice).
Other: Live music will be New Orleans style jazz and blues.
(2) Kid Cashew
Concept: Mediterranean smokehouse.
Location: Dilworth. Next to Showmars and across the street from Summit Room (1608 East Boulevard). 100+ seat patio will have a 100-inch projection screen for big games, but there are no TVs inside.
Food: Serving grilled and wood-fired dishes like pork, lamb, chicken, seafood, calamari and grilled vegetables. That said, the menu will be salad heavy, and low on meat.
Beverages: The wine list will be relatively small (read: curated) and include more off-the-beaten-path selections. Glass pours will also be 4 ounces instead of the typical 5 or 6, and the price will reflect that. The idea is not to force people to feel like they’re making a major decision. The cocktail menu will be divided into two sections: “Living Libations” will include modern drinks infused with herbs like mint, thyme and rosemary that are meant to be refreshing. There will also be a classics menu including dirty martinis and sidecars.
Other: The signature drink is called “Breast Milk” and made with the Greek liqueur ouzo and lemonade. Will be sold in pitchers over the summer.
Timing: Training right now, should be within the next few weeks.
(3) 204 North
Timing: Target date is 6 weeks from now, but dependent on construction/permitting.
Location: Uptown. Going in the unoccupied space next to Ri Ra (204 North Tryon).
Menu: New American Food. Chef Franke Jones wants to create a menu full of “approachable, creative food to speak to the Charlotte crowd.” Price points: $9-$11.
Beverages: 30 taps, a vast majority being local craft beers, craft cocktails on tap, beer infusion towers. Neighborhood inspired cocktails (you’ll see what we mean soon).
Other: Two levels. The second floor will have a more “lounge-y” feel at night, while the first floor will act as more of a “hangout” gathering and eating atmosphere. The place is HUGE, with seating for 250 people. Investing heavily in service and people – should be outstanding.
Concept: Middle Eastern street food (expect meals in the $8 to $14 range).
Location: SouthPark. Located across the street from Earth Fare in the old Arooji’s space at Morrison and is slated to open in January or February.
Food: A few items…
- Schug – a spicy green hot sauce traditionally made with parsley, cilantro and jalapenos
- Pickled cauliflower – made with amba, a tangy mango-based pickle condiment
- Israeli salad – diced tomato and cucumber dressed with lemon juice and olive oil
- Braised local beets – with whipped goat cheese
- Hummus – chickpea puree topped with olive oil and pine nuts
- Baba ganoush – eggplant puree
- Green tahini – an herbaceous sesame paste tinted green with mint and parsley
- Quinoa salad – with chickpeas and house-made preserved lemon
- Falafel – fried chickpea balls
- Lafah – a pita-like flatbread without a pouch
Other: The team worked with renowned American baker Peter Reinhart on the recipe for the lafah and tapped Chef Einat Admony, owner of Balaboosta in New York City, for the co-creation of about half of the 70 recipes on the menu.
Timing: Late winter.
(5) Meat & Fish Co
Concept: Love the way they describe themselves: “Wholesale processing and distributor of ‘Day Boat’ quality seafood, heritage pork, poultry, and wild game.” Street level retail with a ton of display cases, cutting room, walk-in facilities for chefs and a deli open seven days a week.
Location: Dilworth. White brick building across from the Dilworth Neighborhood Grill.
Food: Grab-and-go lunch options. Lots of local options including farms in Mooresville and Cherryville.
Other: Meat & Fish Co. was one of the founding tenants of the 7th Street Public Market in 2011.
Timing: Likely February. Sales team and equipment have moved into the building.
(6) Sea Level
Concept: Raw Bar
Timing: February 5.
Location: Plans call for this to be a raw bar concept going in the old City Tavern space inside Hearst Tower.
Other: This project is coming from the folks at Damian Dining who are behind Crepe Cellar and Growlers Pourhouse in NoDa.
CA Story: Updated – 5th Street improvements (another story coming tomorrow).
(7) Seoul Food Meat Co
Concept: Korean BBQ. Think American cuts with Korean taste.
Location: South End. Intersection of Church and Bland.
Food: Fusion of American BBQ meat cuts combined with Korean flavors to deliver a truly unique taste. The goal is to be as healthy as possible for BBQ, keeping sugars low and using healthy oils. Half of the menu will be focused on BBQ and the other half on Korean fried chicken.
Beverage: Full bar and a bar menu inspired by Asian cocktails (don’t worry there will be some local craft beer, too).
Other: 600-square-foot patio at the corner. Owner told us that you need to have the beef ribs with Korean flavors.
Location: Thomas Ave., Plaza Midwood. Location that used to house the Penguin (RIP).
Food: Tacos, small plates and homemade tortillas.
Beverage: Tequilas, craft cocktails.
Other: Restaurateur is Alesha Sin Vanata, the brains behind littleSpoon in Myers Park. She’s got a big LA influence, so expect a similar investment in vibe at Comida.
Timing: Late February.
(9) Fourth Ward Bread Co.
Concept: Cool coffee shop and bakery that had a fire and is looking to reopen soon.
Location: Fourth Ward.
Food: Croissants, breakfast sandwiches, cupcakes and lunch items.
Beverage: Coffee and teas.
Other: Going to be the comeback story of the year.
Timing: In November, ownership said, “Construction is underway! Hopefully we can be serving you again soon! We have some exciting new concepts we can’t wait to share with you all.”
Concept: Bar & Bistro.
Location: Uptown. Trade & Tryon (Located at the bottom of the Omni Hotel) – finally bringing active use space to the most important intersection in town. Quirky design will set this place apart from other “high end” establishments.
Food: International cuisine with “bistro sized” meals.
Beverage: Extensive and creative cocktail menu using recipes with flavors from all over the world.
Other: Patio will be the best people watching in the city.
Honorable Mentions (couldn’t include because they’re not fully developed — yet)
Whatever the Marriott does with James Beard Winning-Chef R.J Cooper.
(+) Artisinal: Charlotte Version
Whatever the Artisinal people do in SouthPark.
Concept: Bar/Arcade. Okay, this isn’t a restaurant, but we’re still including it.
Timing: February/March. Final inspections and ABC permitting are taking place.
Location: Villa Heights neighborhood, adjacent to NoDa and just outside of Uptown (1721 N. Davidson St.).
Beverages: Full bar with local beers on tap, never-ending PBR, and a fun cocktail menu featuring “drinks for the girlfriends.”
Menu: No kitchen, but looking to partner with local food trucks and delivery services.
Other: Abari will feature about 24 arcade games and 7 pinball machines Arcade games will go for $0.25 and pinball $0.50. On Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. Abari will be open to all ages (with adult supervision) but will otherwise be 21+. Occasionally they’ll have “free play” nights scheduled where you can pay a cover – estimated $5 – and enjoy free play on the arcade games. “Private club” with annual membership of $1 (think Jeff’s Bucket Shop).