Welcome to Charlotte, y’all

My friend Anil calls himself a “foodie.” And he’s coming to visit Charlotte for the first time in a few weeks. The only issue with both of those pieces of information is that he’s only coming for three days – and it’s up to me to narrow down all of our excellent food choices into just 3 days worth of meals.

Jason and Sarah just moved to Charlotte from Orlando. Jason is an old friend of Jeff’s and they’re staying here for a few weeks until they find a house to rent. They’ve been here for two weeks now and they are looking for the best neighborhoods/schools/place to raise a family. The challenge here is to show them enough of Charlotte that they feel they can make a decision on an area of town to live in, yet not overwhelm them with information.

So, I’ll tell you first what we’ve shown Jason and Sarah in the two weeks they’ve been here (which hasn’t been much, due to work and job hunts and other busy activities):

Amelie's Bakery

= Petra’s. The question was asked, “Where’s the gay karaoke bar?” Petras it is! We had a blast hanging out and singing (badly) the first weekend they were in town.
= Boudreaux’s. Sarah had never had a mojito, so Boudreaux had to be an immediate stop. I was actually disappointed with the mojito that night; it was too sweet for me, but she liked it. They still haven’t had the yummy food there, though.
= Macs. Jason mentioned loving barbecue, so off we went. I’m not a barbecue fan but I will say Macs has awesome food in general.
= The Peach Stand. Call me biased, but when someone asks for a good place to raise kids in the Charlotte area, of course I think of Fort Mill. It’s my hometown, and I turned out just fine … (shut up). We did a drive-through of the town and didn’t get the chance to show them the Anne Springs Close Greenway or the Complex, but we did drive through downtown and Baxter and we had to stop at the Peach Stand to show them how Fort Mill does gas stations.
= The Penguin. Cheap, greasy, dive bar food? Fried pickles, grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches, corn dogs? We’re there.  This restaurant is even famous, featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
= Park Place. You can’t take someone to Park Place without telling them the story about how it used to be known as Courtneys until the owner faked his own kidnapping and had the city looking for him for several days. That fiasco meant the end of Courtneys but I think Park Place tastes even better!
= Smelly Cat.  Well, technically it was closed when we got there so they didn’t get to have the coffee, but we sat outside for a few minutes and enjoyed the patio before going to …
= Amelie’s. The awesomest bakery in town. And that it’s 24 hours is even awesomer. Everyone needs to go here.

Now, back to Anil. He’ll be in town for three days only. Here’s the list of places so far I’d like to show him:

Boudreaux’s. He loves cajun food and we had some yummy mojitos in Phoenix last month so of course I’d like to take him there!
= Flying Biscuit. He’s never had grits. I repeat: He’s never had grits. I told him I’d make him some homemade but Flying Biscuit is going to beat mine, hands-down.
= Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Gotta show him some local brews, and OMB is conveniently located on the light rail. For the record, he’s staying the first night at my house; then everything after that has to be light-rail or cab or foot accessible.
= The Epicentre. We’re planning to party Uptown; even have reservations at the Aloft hotel for the after party. Speaking of Uptown, I’m thinking Cosmos for sushi and martinis; Crave for a dessert bar experience;  Cabo Fish Taco and other NoDa areas to show off the arts district, and Landmark or  for a middle-of-the-night meal. Of course, Mert’s for breakfast … or Pike’s.
= NASCAR hall of fame. This was his idea. I haven’t been here myself but I’m all about giving him the Southern experience; bring it!
= Lake Norman. A boat rental and a day on the lake – sounds like a great way to recharge before going back Uptown.
= Whitewater Center. I’m putting this on the list even though I’m guessing there won’t be time for it this trip; just means he will have to come back! Same with Crowders Mountain and the greenways. He’s thinking of running Thunder Road in December with me so I’ll have to point out the parts of the marathon route that he’ll be running …

Ok, so what am I forgetting to show my friends? What makes Charlotte Charlotte to you?