Charlotte Restaurants: Healthy, Casual, Lunch, Juice Bars, Caterer

I haven’t had time to post many new recipes lately, but I am providing more restaurant reviews and ideas around Charlotte!  All opinions are my own, and nothing is sponsored.  Because I record almost everything I eat, including when we go to restaurants, I want to share my eating-out recommendations.  I posted some fancier, foodie options last week.  Today, however, I am switching gears and giving a list of healthy, casual places.  And I am also including a catering company that I have worked with and personally recommend.

best restaurants in Charlotte

Luna’s Living Kitchen.  Todd took me here for my birthday lunch last year.  It is plant-based, organic, local, mostly raw food in a bright and pretty setting.  The atmosphere and food were both great.  I had an almond milk chai latte that was really really tasty.  It has been awhile since eating there, and I’m ready to go back soon!

best restaurants in Charlotte; Luna's Living Kitchen

Juice Bar.  Charlotte has 2 locations, one on Providence and one in Park Rd shopping center.  I have personally only been to the one on Park Rd, but I am sure they are both equally great!  I am a healthy eater, but for some reason I was scared to try fresh green juice.  But now I wish I had tried it sooner!  And I especially wish one of those locations was right down the street from my house!  I have had the Sweet Greens, the Orange You Glad, and the Sniffle Stopper shot – all fantastic. They also offer spring rolls, salads, smoothies, and other snacks.

best green juice in Charlotte

Juice Bar; Orange You Glad

Viva Chicken.  Unfortunately I always forget to snap a picture when we eat Viva Chicken!  We all love this restaurant, which is a huge bonus as a parent.  We typically order the Peruvian rotisserie chicken with sides (their green beans are my favorite) and get plenty of the dipping sauces.  If you only need one reason to try this place, let that reason be the sauces!  We also love the Quinoa Stuffed Avocado.  And most recently we tried their salads.  The Andina Quinoa Salad was amazing.  The Herbal Limeade was another hit – it is fresh and has lime, mint, rosemary, and basil!

Chop’t.  Todd and I ate lunch at Chop’t in New York when we were there a couple of years ago.  One just recently opened very close to our house and we couldn’t wait to go!  On a recent day when we were having a bunch of work done on our house, and Davis was in school, we took a little salad lunch break to get away from the chaos.  We were very impressed by the service and the food.  I love their salad concept – they toss all of the ingredients together, then chop them up as finely as you prefer.  Everything is evenly mixed and you don’t have huge pieces of lettuce hanging from your fork!  Todd tried one of their Hot-Top Salads, the Braised Greek (spicy Greek chicken and quinoa, millet, lentils; served hot over feta, olives, pita chips, kale, spinach, and cabbage). I made my own salad and included kale/leafy greens/cabbage mix, broccoli, tomato, cucumber, dried cranberries, blue cheese, chicken, and some kind of nuts.  So good!  Oh, and don’t forget to check out their creative wallpaper!

best salad place in Charlotte; lunch restaurants in Charlotte; healthy food in Charlotte

Reid’s.  Changing gears a bit and discussing a wonderful catering option in Charlotte!  Reid’s Fine Foods has been around Charlotte for years, but they have expanded their brand.  I have worked with their catering division on two events recently, and I was very pleased both times!  The food, service, and presentation were all wonderful.  I wanted to post it here in case anyone needs a suggestion for an upcoming event, work function, or wedding.  If you’d like my contact person, I will be happy to share!  Here are a couple of the photos of food they did for the recent CURATEclt gathering.

Reid's Fine Foods Catering, Charlotte NC; catering companies in Charlotte, NC

Reid's Fine Foods Catering in Charlotte, NCReid's Fine Foods Catering in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte Restaurant Review: For Foodies and Date Nights

best restaurants in Charlotte

Food, recipes, ideas of what to cook, what to eat, etc etc takes up a large majority of my brain space…possibly too much!  Thankfully, my husband and family love food as well, and trying new places to eat is something we all enjoy.  Todd and I try to go on date nights once a month, and we like to branch out and visit new-to-us restaurants.

I tend to post sporadically on here or on instagram if we try a different restaurant in Charlotte.  But I wanted to put together a more cohesive post…that will hopefully turn into a type of series.  Here are some of the restaurants we have enjoyed in the last 6 or so months.  This post is more focused on the nicer restaurants.  These spots are perfect for date nights, foodies, and those looking for a focus on atmosphere.  In the future I will write about more casual places, great lunch spots, juice bars, caterers, etc!  I have drafts planned for the next couple of weeks.  I wanted to break it up because this post is already too long.

This is not sponsored!  These are my personal and honest opinions. And please excuse some of the poor picture quality.  Most of these photos were taken in dark lighting. 

If you’re visiting our city, or you live here and are looking for some restaurant recommendations, check out this list!  I hope this is helpful!

Rooster’s.  We ate here for the first time with my cousin and her husband for her 30th.  The food is elevated comfort food, and we really enjoyed it!  It is heavier than the food I typically eat, but we still had a great time and loved the flavors.  It’s a great location uptown as well.

best restaurants in Charlotte

Fahrenheit.  Todd took me to dinner here for our 9th anniversary.  The food was delicious, and the views are fantastic!  We went back for drinks before eating at Rooster’s for Sarah‘s birthday.  It is a perfect spot to just have a drink as well.  If you haven’t been, you absolutely should.

best restaurants and bars in Charlotte

Fahrenheit Restaurant in Charlotte

CO.  We tried this recently for a last-minute date night.  We love Asian food, but I was craving something other than sushi.  This hit the spot and I’m dying to go back! CO is not really fancy, but I included it in this list, because of the atmosphere, and the food is a little more adventurous. Bonus – they have an entirely separate gluten free menu!  That is difficult to find, especially in Asian restaurants.  The food is Vietnamese, it is fresh, and the atmosphere and decor are excellent.  I had the Shrimp Spring Rolls and Beef Pho.  Todd had Pork Belly Steamed Buns and a Ramen Bowl.

best Vietnamese restaurant in Charlotte; pho restaurant in Charlotte

CO Charlotte Noodles and Sushi

CO Charlotte noodles and Sushi restaurant

OGGI.  My family went here for Mother’s Day lunch.  It was mine and Todd’s first time, but we had a wonderful experience.  The service was the best we’ve had in a restaurant in a while. I basically never eat pasta (gluten free), but I ordered one of their specials of the day.  It was pasta with a red fra diavolo clam sauce, calamari, shrimp, mussels, and clams. I enjoyed it!  The rest of the pasta is homemade, and everyone at the table seemed to enjoy each dish!  Todd had the lasagna, which is their second best seller.  My brother had crab ravioli, which is their top seller.

nice Italian restaurant in Charlotte; OGGI

lasagna from nice Italian restaurant in Charlotte, OGGI

Kid Cashew.  This place isn’t fancy, but it is foodie friendly.  My mom and I ate here for lunch recently, and we had a great experience!  It is located right in Dilworth, and has a really cool look.  If it had been a little warmer, we would have eaten outside on the patio.  The food is elevated, but homey and Southern, and delicious.  We shared the pork shoulder with a cilantro yogurt dipping sauce; their white beans braised with grape tomatoes; their beet salad; and their roasted brussels sprouts.  We did not order drinks, but we’ll have to go back after October, because I have heard great things about their fresh cocktails.

list of best restaurants in Charlotte; Kid Cashew for lunch

Kindred.  This place has become so famous, and I believe it deserves the fame.  Todd and I ate here on a date night in February, and we had a wonderful time.  The interior of the restaurant is beautiful and the look of the bar is so cool (I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of pictures on instagram!).  The vibe is not stuffy or snooty at all, even though the food and flavors are incredibly well thought-out.  Our servers were very kind, and they happily worked with my gluten intolerance.  We ate every crumb on our plates, and I would love to go back there soon!  Worth the drive to Davidson for sure.

best restaurants in Charlotte

beef tartare and bartender's selection cocktail; best restaurants in Charlotte

best restaurants in Charlotte

Heirloom.  This is another restaurant that is a bit of a drive.  But worth it!  We experienced impeccable service and delicious food!  We ate here (unknowingly) during Restaurant Week, so we ate off the the prix fixe menu.  But they also sent out an additional course of charcuterie that was fantastic!  Everything – at least 95% – of the restaurant, not just the food, is sourced locally.  Salt from the Outer Banks, etc.  The passion for local ingredients is admirable and easily noticed when dining at Heirloom.

best restaurants in Charlotte

best restaurants in Charlotte

best restaurants in Charlotte

best restaurants in Charlotte

…And now I’m starving. ;) 

 

Some others we’ve tried and enjoyed: 5 Church, The Summit Room, Good Food on Montford…We haven’t been to those places in the last 6 months, so I didn’t include them.  But if we go again, I will try to take pictures and write a mini review! 

Charlotte offers a plethora of culinary adventures!  I love living in a city with such a variety of restaurants, and I am excited to try some others soon!

 

 

Burrata Caprese Salad over Mixed Greens

I tend to be a tad over-dramatic when it comes to food.  Just ask my husband!  It is nearly impossible for me to make a simple turkey sandwich or anything plain – dishes can always be better.  I think it drives him crazy sometimes, but at least our meals are rarely boring!

When I tried burrata for the first time recently – WHY did it take me so long to try this life-changing cheese?!?!  I really must get out more! – I knew I needed more and I needed it a.s.a.p.  (ahem, drama)!  Anyway, we had it at a restaurant recently with some prosciutto and I was hooked.  I found some at the grocery store, and while we were at the beach last weekend I incorporated it into a caprese salad.  I may never again make a caprese salad with plain old mozzarella. Burrata is the way to go!

My attempt to eat less dairy is futile when burrata cheese is available.  It is a type of mozzarella with a creamy center.  If you haven’t tried it, do not hesitate!  In Italian it means “buttery” or “buttered.”  The outside is like mozzarella and the inside is creamy, so when you cut it open, the texture is divine.  This article from The Kitchn tells the difference between mozzarella and burrata, in case you aren’t familiar. Next time you see it on a menu, you should definitely order it.  I’m going to stop gushing now, and get on with the recipe. 

I put together a simple, yet pretty and delicious caprese salad.  It really was straightforward, but it presents well, and would be beautiful to serve next time you have guests over for a meal!

I did not have a pretty platter to serve this on at the beach house, but a”vintage” Pyrex dish did the trick.

Caprese Salad with Burrata over Mixed Greens

Burrata Caprese Salad

Yields 4 (generous) servings

  • mixed greens
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 pound burrata (2 small balls), cut into “slices” (p.s. do not leave the creamy center on the cutting board!  include that as well)
  • 20-24 fresh basil leaves
  • high quality balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • freshly ground sea salt

Place a generous layer of mixed greens on the bottom of the platter.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, balsamic, and some salt and pepper.  Layer the tomato slices, leaving room in between the slices for the basil and cheese.  Add the basil leaves between the tomato.  Then add the burrata next to the basil, under the next tomato slice.  Tomato – Basil – Burrata. Drizzle the salad with a little more olive oil, and some balsamic.  Crack some black pepper and sea salt over the top.  Serve and enjoy!  (This is best served right away or within a couple of hours).

Caprese Salad with Burrata instead of Mozzarella

Caprese Salad with Burrata instead of mozzarella

I also made this quick dinner for Todd and I one night, using the leftover burrata.  Scrambled eggs with spinach, served over sliced tomato and avocado with himalayan pink sea salt.  (You could use regular salt!)  We added the burrata on top.  so.dang.good.  Brunch for dinner!

eggs with spinach, tomato, avocado and burrata

 

Five on Friday

I hope you all have had a great week!

Today I am linking up with April, Natasha, and Christina; Karli; Erika, Narci, and Andrea for Five on Friday, Oh Hey Friday!, and Friday Favorites.

ONE: Back to Topsail this weekend!  With the Honor Roll Designs crew and our little boys!  Thank you to our awesome employee/brother-in-law, Seth, for holding down the fort while we’re gone!

Last year we took a big trip to the Caribbean, but with babies on the way for both of us, we at least wanted to fit in one weekend away together before the newborn stage.  Love these 3 people so much!

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TWO: I posted 2 new recipes this week: Sparkling Pineapple Mint Meyer Lemonade and Apple Rosemary Grilled Pork Tenderloin.  If you missed them, you should check them out!  They are both perfect for entertaining.

sparkling pineapple lemonade with fun fruit strawsapple rosemary grilled pork tenderloin

THREE: Self-tanner review!  I posted about the Fake Bake Flawless tanning system a few weeks ago.  (The link takes you to a seller on Amazon…Prime eligible and only $15!).  You can also find it here and probably find a discount code, if you aren’t a fan of Amazon.

I used it once after I bought it and immediately loved it.  Then I used it again this week, and I am still loving it.  If you’re looking for an inexpensive, at-home tan, this is the way to go!  Without a doubt. It comes with the mitt, so don’t worry about getting it all over your hands! I do have to say – this time I put on clothes and got in bed soon after applying…I woke up with a streak on my arm and my leg, BUT, the streaks came right off with a quick rinse in the shower.  Next time I will be sure to let it completely like I did the first time.  And it is washable from your sheets and clothes. 

FOUR: If you’re in an area, such as Charlotte, Fort Mill, Charleston or Nashville, with a Juice Bar, I highly recommend trying it!  Last week I got their Sweet Greens juice, and it is unbelievably good – and healthy!  And I really am not a big green juice person.  If this spot was closer to my neighborhood, I might be there every day.  Juice > Starbucks…yeah?!

best green juice in Charlotte

By the way, my aunt and my mom introduced me to Essie Ladylike (on my nails in the picture above) and it is definitely on my to-purchase list.

pretty nei

FIVE: Goals for this weekend.  Yes, yes, and yes! (source + a great instagram account to follow)

quote from harley quinn and co.

Happy weekend to you all!  Thank you for visiting this random space of mine that I enjoy so much!  I love and appreciate all of the comments and feedback and friendships made from blogging.

Friday Favorites graphicFive on Friday linkup graphic

 

 

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Apple Rosemary Grilled Pork Tenderloin

A while ago, I asked my mom to send me her pork tenderloin marinade recipe.  She sent me a copy of 3 different recipes written on the same piece of paper.  When she is trying something new, she likes to take bits and pieces from several recipes and combine them.  This method works, and her food is always delicious, but it’s a bummer when you want to make the same thing twice!

I made this pork tenderloin for Easter, then I made it again for a dinner party last weekend.  After making this twice recently, I finally wrote down the marinade recipe – my interpretation of my mom’s ideas.

The combination of apple cider, whole grain mustard, apple cider and balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and garlic and rosemary – is ideal.  We love this recipe, and it is perfect if you’re hosting a crowd!

apple rosemary grilled pork tenderloin

If you’ve never cooked pork tenderloin, you should absolutely try it!  The only prep is to cut off the silver skin (it’s connective tissue, you’ll see it), and marinate it!  Then it is so simple to grill.

I do recommend buying a digital thermometer.  I use one any time I grill or even when I cook meat or fish in the oven to prevent over-cooking. These two are great options.

meat thermometermeat thermometer

Pork tenderloin can also be roasted or seared on the stove then finished in the oven.

The ideal internal temperature is between 137-145 degrees.  To keep it tender, do not let it cook longer than that! It may be a tiny bit pink in the inside, but that is okay.

Apple Rosemary Grilled Pork Tenderloin

This makes 4 (2 packs) of pork tenderloin and serves 12 people.
  • 1  1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp stone ground (whole grain) mustard
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Prepare the marinade.  Trim the silver skin from the pork tenderloin.  (It is easiest if you use a boning, or a very sharp knife).

Pour some of the marinade in a casserole dish.  Add the pork, then pour the remainder of the marinade on top.  Refrigerate and leave in the marinade for at least 4 hours.  Closer to 8 hours would be better!

An hour before serving, remove from the refrigerator.  Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before grilling.  Preheat the grill to medium.  Grill for several minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches between 137-145 degrees.

After removing from the grill, let rest for at least 15 minutes.  Then slice with a serrated or boning knife.  Slice at a diagonal instead of straight down.

We love to serve this with sides such as mashed cauliflower or roasted sweet potatoes, maple dijon green beans, and a salad of mixed greens, balsamic dressing, sliced apples, bacon, pecans, gorgonzola, etc.

Five on Friday

Happy weekend, everyone!

Today I am linking up with April, Natasha, and Christina; Karli; Erika, Narci, and Andrea for Five on Friday, Oh Hey Friday!, and Friday Favorites.

ONE: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who commented on my blog and on instagram, and sent me texts and emails after we shared our news yesterday!  We are thrilled and feel beyond blessed and grateful!  I seriously could not have been happier yesterday!  We should find out whether we are having a boy or a girl in a little over a month, and we will definitely share!  Either way, I can’t wait to see our sweet Davis become a big brother!

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TWO: Speaking of Davis, sort of, do you all like country music?  If you love it like I do, or even if it’s not your favorite, you should listen to Tim McGraw’s new song “Humble and Kind.”  We heard it in the car the other day, and I just can’t help but pray those things for our children.  It’s a great message, and I don’t know if it’s my pregnancy hormones, or just because I’m a mom, but it about makes me teary every time I hear it!

new Ray Bans sunglasses

Also….I finally bought some Ray Bans!  They have been on my wish list for a very long time, but since I have never owned nice sunglasses, I was hesitant to purchase.  I saved up gift cards from Christmas and my birthday, and bought this pair!  I love them! PLUS, they are currently on SALE!

Don’t worry – my car was completely stopped when I took this. 

THREE: Todd and I are working on eating closer to a paleo diet, and I wanted something new for dinner this week.  We are not doing it strictly by any means, and we are adjusting to no grains/sugar/dairy slowly.  I do have to say, not eating dairy the past few days has been great!  We will “cheat” every now and then, and if I feel like I need to eat something off the ‘diet’ I will!  I just want to eat much cleaner.  Anyway, I made a version of these turkey sweet potato burgers from Dashing Dish, and they were delicious!  My changes:  I added about 1 Tbsp worcestershire, and left out the garlic powder.  I grilled them, served them over baby spinach, topped them with tomato and avocado mashed with salt and lime.  Davis loved them as well!!

paleo meal; sweet potato turkey burger

P.S. Costco sells organic ground turkey!

FOUR: Honor Roll Designs has some new looks!!! One is dedicated to the Summer Olympics, specifically the gymnastics team!  When you all were younger, did you watch the Olympics?  I remember that Sarah and I were so into watching gymnastics!  Remember these names from the 1996 USA Gymnastics team?…Kerri Strug, Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, Jaycie Phelps, Dominique Moceanu!  This shirt is in honor of them!  Also, I recently bought the Gap shorts pictured (in a size up) for the warmer weather.

Olympics gymnasticsSummer Olympics gymnastics shirt; Magnificent 7 shirt

FIVE: We were able to go down to Topsail Island last week with some of our family.  It was a weekend dedicated to improving and cleaning my grandparents’ beach house, but we also had a little fun on the beach.  Davis LOVES the beach, and it makes my heart so so happy!

Topsail Beach, NC

Also, if you need any more convincing to visit my favorite place, read this article by my cousin, Allie!  9 Reasons Why Topsail is the Best Beach in NC

 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Thank you again for all of the amazing support!

 

 

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Winter Vegetable & Falafel Bowl

My favorite thing to eat, currently, (besides popcorn) is a bowl full of greens, roasted winter vegetables, and some kind of sauce or dressing.  And adding goat cheese doesn’t hurt!  Including some meat or an egg is fine, as well, but I’m really okay with keeping it vegetarian.

winter vegetable bowl with hummus

While Todd was gone one week, I made a big batch of roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower, and I couldn’t wait for dinner each night.  To make the cauliflower, toss with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme and minced garlic.  Toss the chopped sweet potatoes (or butternut squash) in extra virgin olive oil, turmeric, salt and pepper.  Lay each vegetable on a pan lined with parchment paper.  Roast at 375 until they are soft in the middle and browned on the edges.

roasted cauliflower and sweet potato

For the Winter bowl, you can use any vegetables you like: cauliflower, butternut squash, sweet potato, broccoli, mushroom, grape tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, etc!  Pick your favorite herbs and spices, and season like I did in the above paragraph.  Roast them all on individual pans, because some of the veggies take longer than others.  THESE CAN ALL BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME!  Just keep them in the fridge, and enjoy Winter vegetable bowls all week long!

roasted vegetables, falafel, kale, goat cheese

For the falafel, I used Pinch of Yum’s Baked Falafel recipe.  These call for cooked lentils, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, jalapeño, lemon, salt, pepper, and a little flour (I used GF).  Mine were a tad dry, but I think it’s because I didn’t put enough herbs and olive oil.  I would absolutely make this recipe again, though.  These would also be fabulous on a Greek salad. 

If you’d rather, just add cooked lentils to your winter bowl!  I cook mine in chicken stock, white wine, Everyday Seasoning mix from TJs, and salt and pepper.

roasted vegetables and lentil falafel

Winter Vegetable & Falafel Bowl (this is more of a guideline than a recipe :))

  • 3 baked falafel (use the recipe from Pinch of Yum)
  • baby kale (or your favorite green) as the base
  • roasted sweet potato or butternut squash (see directions above)
  • roasted cauliflower and/or broccoli (see directions above)
  • roasted zucchini and/or mushrooms and/or grape tomatoes
  • goat cheese
  • hummus
  • balsamic vinaigrette, or just a squeeze of lemon juice

I realize this is more of a concept than a formal recipe, but I hoped this would inspire you to try a winter bowl, with your preferred vegetables!  Talk about a bowl full of nutrients!  This is it!

homemade falafel, roasted vegetables, kale

Even though I am counting down the days until Spring, I think I’ll be enjoying similar meals to this on warm days as well!