Although we moved to Charlotte seven months ago, my husband and I are still finding our way around and exploring new neighborhoods. Last Christmas, my Aunt and Uncle gave us a gift certificate for a Charlotte restaurant tour. And since the weather is nice now, we decided to cash it in last Saturday over the long weekend. FEAST Food Tours offers a variety of Charlotte-area walking food tours. The tours last 3 hours, include about six stops and highlight various cuisines offered in a specific area. We signed up for the Dives to Dining tour in Plaza Midwood.
Our first stop was Pizza Peel, where we met the rest of our tour group and our guides. Kristi Martin, who left her corporate job to start the company, gave a brief introduction and an overall rundown of the afternoon. Most of the group headed to the bar for a selection of local, craft beers. This pregnant lady (me) and my support person (my husband) opted for iced tea. The pizzas were quickly served to the table. We had a variety of slices to choose from—a Thai chicken, supreme, pesto and tomato, and roasted veggie. I tried the pesto and veggie—the toppings were fresh and the crust was crispy, both were very tasty. The restaurant’s menu is packed with unique pizza creations. They even have a secret menu (shhhhhh!) with 20 additional pizzas to chose from.
Up next was The Diamond, a family-run restaurant, offering home cooking, that originally opened in 1945. The restaurant’s owners greeted us to give us the history of the place and the food they serve. It has a great traditional diner feel, without being overly kitschy. I especially loved the vintage wallpaper, light fixtures and jukebox. We sampled Southern Style burgers, which were topped with chili and slaw, fried pickles with ranch dressing and Cheerwine, a cherry flavored soda made in North Carolina. The fried pickles were the highlight for me.
Just down the street, we stopped next at Dish for some southern comfort food. This restaurant was featured on an episode of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, so the owner had some great stories to share. We tried the chicken and dumplings and fried green tomatoes served with a delicious horseradish sauce. At this point I was starting to feel full, but we were only half way through the tour. Kristi mentioned that her number one feedback from this tour is that people say it’s a lot of food. But, I appreciated that. You don’t always expect to get such generous servings on a food tour.
Our fourth stop was Fern, Flavors from the Garden, a vegetarian restaurant. I could tell my husband was a little apprehensive about this place—especially when they mentioned we would be sampling a deconstructed, jerk tofu kabob. It was his first (and probably last) experience with tofu. The flavors were great though and I enjoyed it. It certainly makes a difference when tofu is properly marinated and prepared—and Fern certainly has that mastered. The restaurants head chef came out to explain their menu, highlight their weekend brunch, and give some history on how he became a vegetarian.
And just when I needed it, a sweet treat was up next! FuManChu Cupcakes is not your average bakery. The walls are covered with works from local artists and the seating area has a coffee shop feel. It has an edgier feel than your typical cupcake spot. Some of their cupcake flavors are modeled after popular cocktails and contain alcohol. We tried the salted caramel topped with bacon and the strawberry lemonade. The filling and icing were definitely the stars of these treats.
Then it was time for the last stop on the tour. The most upscale spot we stopped at, Bistro La Bon—known for their tapas and small plates. The executive chef, Majid Amoorpour, came to the table to share his inspiration for some of the dishes on the menu. There we tasted a Swedish meatball and a goat cheese stuffed peppadew drizzled with honey balsamic.
Whether you live in Charlotte or are just visiting, I really recommend checking out FEAST Food Tours. It’s a great way to try new restaurants and foods and learn a little history about a neighborhood. Actually, that’s a great travel tip too, if you’re planning a trip to a new city, see if there are local food tour companies in the area. You’ll get to try a broader variety of food—all while being guided by a knowledgeable local.
See you next Friday! xx, Devon