I love living in Florida…except when it’s Fall. Fall is the season I miss the most…the leaves changing, the crisp air…no matter how many pumpkin flavored things I treat myself to, Fall is just not the same in Florida.
So when my friend Ashley said she was planning a weekend trip to visit friends in Charlotte, North Carolina, I unabashedly asked if I could tag along. It’s been awhile since my last vacation and I was yearning for a getaway. And to get a taste of real Fall!
We got up super early on a Thursday morning (like 5 a.m.) to catch an early flight. We were in Charlotte by 9 a.m. and after a nap we were ready to explore.
Our first order of business? FOOD. Ashley had gone to this place called Chopt during her last visit that she raved about so we hit that up.
Oh…my…goodness…Chopt needs a location in St. Pete, like, yesterday. It is SO good you guys!
So think salad bowls Chipotle style. They have about a million different salads and bowls you can choose from. Or you can create your own. I went with the Smoky Spanish Cesar, which was one of their featured salads.
They mix in all the ingredients in a big bowl (everything is super fresh and there’s a focus on all-natural). The bowl moves down the line to the person who…you guessed it…chops everything up.
After that they bring the bowl up to your eye level and you watch them squeeze the dressing on top so you can have as much or as little as you’d like. Then it gets tossed again and is ready for devouring!
After our bellies were full we walked around a bit in search of coffee. I spotted a juice place and picked up a yummy juice with beets and ginger. Made me feel like a new person after the plane ride!
We explored downtown Charlotte, which reminded me of downtown Tampa…mostly businesses. Not a lot to do or see, but I did get to hug a cute bear.
We also popped into 7th Street Public Market, which I was excited to check out. However, we were a little disappointed. Not nearly as big and grand as we pictured it. But still a cool place to check out. They had a nice variety of wines, cheese, imported Italian foods and local goodies.
For dinner that night our friend, Corinna, took us to a local Italian restaurant, Mama Ricotta’s. It was perfect weather to dine outside and we enjoyed good wine and pasta. I went with their Rigatoni and Meat Sauce, which was topped with a dollop of ricotta.
Day 2 our friend Morgan drove up from Columbia to spend the day with us.
After a late morning shopping trip we grabbed lunch at The Mayobird, which was easily my favorite spot from the whole trip.
Their specialty is different variations of chicken salad. Doesn’t it all look amazing?
And they had the cutest atmosphere.
We took our orders to go and walked a few blocks down to Freedom Park to have a scenic picnic.
I ended up with the Italian, which had pesto and sundried tomatoes (yum!). The broccoli salad on the side had a light mayo dressing with red onion, bacon and golden raisins. I want it all day, everyday.
After lunch we tapped into our inner child and had fun around the park.
Really wanted to climb on this, but the pegs were way too small.
Later that night we had a lovely girl’s dinner at Block & Grinder, a local farm to table restaurant.
We started with the Deviled Eggs as an appetizer and they were the best deviled eggs of my life. The piece of prosciutto on top was a perfect addition!
And for my entree I had the Chicken Confit, which was served with smoked cabbage and cornbread stuffing. The chicken was some of the most perfect chicken I’ve had at a restaurant. The meat was super moist and fell off the bone. It was also really flavorful. The gravy on top was light and I wish there had been more to swirl the stuffing through. The stuffing was not too dry, not too moist and had great flavors of sweet pepper and herbs. The cabbage was almost too smokey for me, but went with the dish very well.
After dinner, Corinna took us to the spot for dessert, Amelie’s Bakery. This place was packed!
They offer a wide variety of pastries and desserts, as well as sandwiches, soups and salads. They’re open 24 hours and even serve wine and beer!
Loved their funky French chic decor.
The line moved fast and I didn’t really have a lot of time to look at everything. I pointed to this lovely looking specimen and asked what it was. I heard “caramel, apple and pecan” and was sold. It was quite tasty! Baked apples lay in the middle and the cake was very light and fluffy.
Stay tuned for Part 2!