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EVERYONE knows that. But now is that time of year when, despite the heat, we Charlotteans like to turn it up a few notches. Festivals, 5ks, brewery bashes and backyard soireés. And just in time for Panther football season we have one big reason to celebrate. The “Brunch Law” Has Passed. And that means drinking at 10am instead of 12pm on Sundays. Hallelujah! We’re ready for Sundays—come see us game day at Charlotte’s Best GAME DAY Pitstop on Mint Street near Bank of America Stadium. Hot, fresh food, cold beer, wine, Fireball shots, lemon drops and creative alcohol concotions. Games, prizes, giveaways and it’s open to the public with free admission. All ABC permits. The Pitstop is on Facebook! Follow us: Charlotte’s Best GAME DAY Pitstop
BEST BETS PEOPLE, PLACES AND EVENTS NOT TO MISS
charlotte’s best chili? YOU’LL FIND IT AND SOMe SAVORY NEXT BESTS AT OUR FAV EVENT, THE DILWORTH SOUTH END CHILI COOK-OFF OCTOBER 15, 2017 Sometimes the simple ideas are best. Our friends with the Dilworth South End Chili Cook-Off certainly prove that point. Each Autumn, as a part of the Taste of the NFL, Melanie and her gracious group of volunteers organize teams to enter their homemade brand of chili to compete for the title of Best Charlotte Chili. Teams come from every walk of life and the flavors come from some serious crockpot and kettle know-how and some big imaginations. We’re always surprised at the diversity of flavors. Guests receive a handful of beans and a free
pass to try all of the chili you like. Sample cups are granted at each tent and if you like the chili from a vendor, you can cast your vote with beans in their jar. At the end of the event, the team with the most beans..wins. And their is also a celebrity round of judging to give some learned second opinions. We imagine Coach Ron Rivera has been around a tailgate or two— so we always like to hear which chili he favors. Why not sign-up for a team yourself? These are some serious bragging rights on the line here, guys. DSEchilicookoff.org. Nom, Nom, Nom.
Photos by “CHARLOTTE” CHARLIE ROSS
We just love the energy and smiling faces at the Dilworth Chili Cook-Off. It’s a great day of gourment food bites, raffles, games, live music, dog (and people) watching. Celebrity guests include Homer the Dragon, Blue the Hound, Sir Purr, and the BMOC of Charlotte himself, Carolina Panthers Head Coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera as a celebrity chili judge. You’ll also bump into Charlotte’s Fire Department heroes and it all goes down under an enormous, gently flapping flag—our own stars and stripes. hoisted on one huge boom courtesy of CFD. Love, love, love.
NEW ZEALAND CAFÉ continues
Midwood Smokehouse, Central Avenue. We could go on and on about the BBQ and the sides at this venerable and on-the-move powerhouse, but if you live in Charlotte, there’s likely one nearby or building. We’ll limit this recommendation to dessert. We’ve settled the battle between the salty-sweet Pecan Pie and the savory flavor of the best darn Banana Pudding we’ve found outside of Mom’s kitchen. We LOVE the Banana Pudding—and we think you will, too. www.MidwoodSmokehouse.com
PRE-SEASON 2017 Carolina Panthers vs Houston Texans Carolina Panthers AT Tennessee Titans Carolina Panthers AT Jacksonville Jaguars Carolina Panthers vs Pittsburgh Steelers REGULAR SEASON Carolina Panthers AT San Francisco 49ers Carolina Panthers vs Buffalo Bills Carolina Panthers vs New Orleans Saints Carolina Panthers AT New England Patriots Carolina Panthers AT Detroit Lions Carolina Panthers vs Philadelphia Eagles Carolina Panthers AT Chicago Bears Carolina Panthers AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons BYE WEEK No Game Carolina Panthers AT New York Jets Carolina Panthers AT New Orleans Saints Carolina Panthers vs Minnesota Vikings Carolina Panthers vs Green Bay Packers Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carolina Panthers AT Atlanta Falcons
Wednesday Saturday Thursday Thursday
August 9 August 19 August 24 August 31
7:30pm 3:00pm 7:30pm 7:30pm
Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday Thursday Sunday Sunday Sunday
September 10 September 17 September 24 October 1 October 8 October 12 October 22 October 22 November 5
4:25pm 1pm 1pm 1pm 1pm 8:25pm 1pm 1pm 1pm
Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
November 26 December 3 December 10 December 17 December 24 December 31
1pm 1pm 1pm 1pm 1pm 1pm
Want to join the Panthers Takeover for away games? Join our friends from Roaring Riot and sit with fellow panther fans, gather at the best tailgate and support our team. For more infomation visit RoaringRiot.com. For best results, JOIN!
IN SUMMER TRAVELS across the Carolinas we Charlotte’s Best types savor a certain Motown-like soundtrack that can only come from the CEOs of beach music themselves, the Chairmen of the Board. Imagine our delight when we recently hooked up with Ken Knox, crooner and leader of the band for the Charlotte’s Best Interview and an update on the latest string of successes for these Carolina boys done oh-so- good.
CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
Ken it’s great to chat with you again and I see there’s something big going on with you and the band... KEN KNOX
Yes! The Chairmen of the Board name is back and man, it just feels right. It was time. In General Johnson’s honor, when he passed, we decided to put the name on the shelf. And now it’s time to bring the full fan experience back. Our fans are behind us 100%. CBM
Everyone here in the Carolinas associates summer and beach trips with your catalog of hits—including, of course—“Carolina Girls” and another favorite “Give Me Just A Little More Time.” I’ve been told that something big is going on with Chairmen of the Board across the pond?
It’s truly amazing. We toured the UK in September of 2016 where we found fans who’ve been listening to COB for 42 years. In fact, the Northern Soul Circuit, in Manchester, is very similar to the US beach music circuit. And the fans... the fans begged us to stay. We had two records on the charts in 2016 and our release Reach To Me rose all the way up to #5 on the UK soul charts. At that’s it...the soul at the base of our favorite beach music. It feels so natural, beckons us to dance, to relax, and let loose. A natural fit for summer. Tell us more about that sound? KEN KNOX
Actually, I just returned from Motown, Detroit working with producers McKinley Jackson and writers Melvin and Mervin Steals who penned the classic “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” recorded byThe Spinners CBM
Oh? What project are you working on there? KEN KNOX
An upcoming album—a September release for for Chairmen of the Board, just in time for S.O. S. . So
big for us and our fans. And the producer on the record is McKinley Jackson, who was Marvin Gaye’s last musical director. CBM
How soon can we hear it? What’s out there first? KEN KNOX
“All I Need Is You Tonight” is the single, coming out on vinyl—the next big thing—available on UK iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and other platforms everywhere in September of 2017. CBM
This has been a huge tour year for you.We’ve seen some amazing performances—Circle K Speed Street in uptown Charlotte, Concerts in the Park at Romare Bearden Park and around the Carolinas at festivals and concert series.Where can all of your fans catch you live late summer? KEN KNOX
We’re still going strong for summer 2017. Fans can catch us at (see our live schedule below). CBM
A shout out to the band? KEN KNOX
Of course, here’s who we are:
R A N DY ST I M P SO N
CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD
Ken Knox Thomas Hunter Brandon Stevens
Jerry D. Washington Jerry Midas Hardison Jerome Joseph John Page Rod McCoy Doug Burns (Original Trumpet on “Carolina Girls”) Doug McVey MANAGEMENT
Sam Luxton Stephanie Hodge Tazz Cole Thanks to the Shoe Show family and
Shining Starz Jewelry for their ongoing support. UPCOMING SHOWS Thursday August 17th, 2017 Gastonia, NC Friday, September 1st, 2017 Matthews Alive! Matthews, NC Saturday, September 9th 2017 Beach Music Festival 2017 Mooresville, NC Monday, September 18th, 2017 Fun Monday 2017 North Myrtle Beach, SC
Saturday, September 30th, 2017 Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival Emerald Isle, NC MORE ABOUT CHAIRMEN For newcomers to the Carolinas who haven’t caught the beach music bug just yet, we’re reprinting a feature from a previous edition with the full backstory on the Chairmen of the Board on the following page. This piece ran in 2015 and coincided with the Carolina Beach Blast held at the Avix Exchange Music Factory in uptown Charlotte, NC. Enjoy.
CAROLINA GIRLS CAROLINA GIRLS (CAROLINA GIRLS) BEST IN THE WORLD YOU’RE SO FINE GIRL, YOU’RE ONE OF A KIND SWEET CAROLINA GIRLS CAROLINA GIRLS (CAROLINA GIRLS) SWEET SOUTHERN PEARLS YOU’RE SURE ENOUGH TUFF GIRL, I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SWEET CAROLINA GIRLS I LOVE THE WAY YOU WALK (WALK THAT WALK) I LOVE THE WAY YOU TALK (TALK THAT TALK) YOU’RE SO FINE GIRL, YOU’RE ONE OF A KIND SWEET CAROLINA GIRLS CALIFORNIA GIRLS ARE SEXY AND NEW YORK GIRLS ARE TOO BUT CAROLINA GIRLS GOT GOOD LOOKS AND SWEET PERSONALITY TOO CAROLINA GIRLS (CAROLINA GIRLS) SWEET SOUTHERN PEARLS YOU’RE SO FINE GIRL, YOU’RE ONE OF A KIND SWEET CAROLINA GIRLS YOU MAKE ME SAY WOOO (CAROLINA…..NOTHING FINER) WITH THE THINGS YOU DO (CAROLINA…..NOTHING FINER) SWEETER THAN CANDY HOTTER THAN HEAT MORE PRECIOUS THAN DIAMONDS GIRL YOU CAN’T BE BEAT CALIFORNIA GIRLS ARE SEXY AND NEW YORK GIRLS ARE TOO BUT CAROLINA GIRLS GOT GOOD LOOKS AND SWEET PERSONALITY TOO CAROLINA GIRLS (CAROLINA GIRLS) SWEET SOUTHERN PEARLS YOU’RE SURE ENOUGH TUFF GIRL, I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SWEET CAROLINA GIRLS (CAROLINA GIRLS) BEST IN THE WORLD YOU’RE SO FINE GIRL, YOU’RE ONE OF A KIND SWEET CAROLINA GIRLS
THE SOUND OF SUMMER IS BORN Ken Knox, long-time saxophone player and vocalist with the Chairmen of the Board headed by the legendary General Johnson, remembers well the moment he got his marching orders for the rest of his life. “We didn’t even know how sick General was then, that he wouldn’t be getting better,” Knox says. “He looked at me and said, ‘Go out and give the best show you can give and continue our legacy.’ General passed me the baton and I will keep on playing our songs.” Meeting General Johnson in the mid1970s was a life-changing moment in young Ken’s life. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan with music all around—Boots Randolph, Motown, Fats Waller were early influences. “You couldn’t help but pick up the music,” he says. “My friends would be singing down at the end of the block. My brother had a sax so when I was 11 or 12 I taught myself to play.” His fledgling musical career led to the night when Danny Woods, longtime vocalist with General Johnson, walked into the club where Ken’s band was playing. Ken and the band’s horn section ended up dancing on the bar with Danny that night. Woods happened to be auditioning musicians for an upcoming tour. “We clicked!” Ken says. “He told me, be ready next Wednesday.” Ken was 21 years old. That week, Knox found himself on stage with General Johnson playing a Detroit concert with the Supremes. The same night he boarded a private Lear jet for a concert in Madison Square Garden with the Stylistics. Next it was New Orleans for a concert with Earth, Wind and Fire.
“It was a life of limos and Lear jets,” Knox remembers. “I was hooked.” For the next 38 years, Knox lived the dream, touring as a member of the Chairmen of the Board and producing recordings. The group relocated to North Carolina when the Invictus label folded in 1978. “General said to me that they had this thing called Beach Music down south, so we moved down here and founded Surfside Records,” Knox says. Studio East on Monroe Road in Charlotte became the band’s home base. It was there, in 1980, that the group recorded one of Beach Music’s most beloved songs, “Carolina Girls.” “You were always hearing about California girls back then,” Knox recalls. “We wanted to give Carolina girls some respect.” The song became a regional hit and is still played frequently at shag clubs across the south. General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board were inducted into both the North Carolina and South Carolina Music Halls of Fame, and were members of the 1995 inaugural class of the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame. CNN dubbed them the “Kings of Beach Music.” General Johnson died unexpectedly in 2010, after a pain in his knee turned out to be lung cancer that had spread. Ken Knox and the band toured as the Chairmen of the Board for a few years, then decided to retire the name to an honored position “on the mantle” as the Chairmen went their separate ways and Ken’s own career evolved. He now tours as Ken Knox and Company (KCO) with Thomas Hunter and the Executives, the
same group that backed General Johnson for decades. The group played the DNC National Convention, the Carolina Panthers halftime show and Governor Pat McCrory’s inaugural ball. General Johnson was the group’s major songwriter and composer, but in the years since his death, Ken Knox has begun to feel his own creativity rise. “Sometimes I feel like the General is sitting right there next to me,” Knox says. “And then I’ll feel a song coming. I never wrote songs before, but it’s like the General is right there with me.” Knox’s first songwriting effort, “You,” was a hit, rising to No. 1 in many regional markets and making a splash in the UK. “Carolina Shuffle” followed and Ken’s latest, “I’m Ready Willin’ and Able” is climbing the charts. A new album “Out of the Shadows” is due out later this year. But that doesn’t mean he’s forgetting his roots. Fans will still get to party to those great good time songs the Chairmen made famous, including “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “On the Beach,” “Gone Fishin,” and of course “Carolina Girls,” whenever Ken Knox and Company take the stage. EDITOR’S NOTE: As we now know, fans are treated once again to the full Chairman of the Board experience and the songs play on for new generations of fans around the world. For the full effect of summer, be sure to catch at least one show and sing along. Loudly. It’s a Carolina tradition.
Lynn served 14 years
on The Charlotte City Council and as Mayor Pro Tempore; chairing both the Council’s Economic Development and Planning Committee and the Budget Committee for ten years. Prior to her election she served as Vice Chairman of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Planning Commission. Wheeler also has a background in broadcast and print journalism. Her journalism work has included a regular segment of the Pete Kaliner Show on WBT-Am and as a political analyst and reporter for WBTV. She has written Columns for the Business Journal, Charlotte’s Best Magazine and QCityMetro.com. Lynn was awarded the Women in History award in 2014, the Fifty Most Influential Women in Charlotte in 2014, Charlotte’s Best Charlotte ‘Business Power 25”, Charlottes Best Woman of the Year and the Convention and Visitors Bureau Crowning Achieving Award in 1999. Also the Martin Luther King, Jr., Keeper of the Dream Honor Roll. She is currently President of Wheeler Communication Group, LLC.. Lynn Wheeler as a frequent contributor to Charlotte’s Best Magazine.
LYNN WHEELER KNOWS BEST I have lived in Charlotte since 1978 and I’ve seen a myriad of things come and go in that time, Charlotte has grown by leaps and bounds and is replete now with infinite choices to dine and obtain top level services. Each recommendation below I have personally experienced and returned over and over again. I highly endorse the following. You can’t go wrong.
RESTAURANTS Best Mexican Restaurant Cantina 1511 Best Uptown Restaurant Luce Best Hamburgers/Craft Beer The Liberty Best Martinis and Ambiance Del Friscos Best Upscale Restaurants Lumiere and Dressler’s Best South Park Restaurant Treehouse Whiskey and Fork PRODUCTS/SERVICES Best Furniture + Home Decor Madison on Main Best Dog Groomer The Blue Velvet
Best Hardware Store Blackhawk Hardware
Best Chamber President Bob Morgan
Best Nail Salon Polished, Providence Road
Best Print Journalists Jim Morrill Steve Harrison The Charlotte Observer
Best Alterations Annas Alterations Best Cleaning Service Molly Maid Best Computer Service Computer Doc Best Body Shop Dee Gaineys Body Shop LEADERSHIP/JOURNALISM Best Charlotte City Councilmembers Kenny Smith LaWana Mayfield Best Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour
Erik Spanberg The Business Journal Best Local News WSOC-TV Channel 9 Best Radio Show WBTV Morning Show with Bo Thompson
Each month we’ll invite some of Charlotte’s most interesting, active and notable people to join us in our ongoing quest to identify the very best of our fine, shining city.
Owner AUGSTO CONTE’s uptown LUCE is a great place to relax in the atmosphere of Murano chandeliers, venetian plaster walls and travertine floors. For family gatherings, Italian wine dinners, romantic dates, and business dining—Luce will delight you and your guests. TREEHOUSE WHISKEY AND FORK’s whimsical
atmosphere will take you back to your childhood. Rustic cedar walls, vintage tables, and reclaimed wood from Kentucky Whiskey cellars offer a warm environment. The enormous patio is an ideal place to enjoy dining with your friends. Chef Alek has perfected an eclectic and scrumptious menu described as, “A new take on BBQ and New American Style cooking”. There are 28+ top shelf whiskies, 30 beers on tap, and artisan cocktails awaiting you—just what South Park (and you) needed. THE LIBERTY is locally owned and operated by MATTHEW PERA and CHEF TOM CONDRON
(see Tom on TV!). My FAVORITE lunch spot—soon to be featured in my ongoing online column Lunch with Lynn.
BLACKHAWK HARDWARE has been Charlotte’s favorite locally owned (and mismanaged) ACE hardware store since 1977. Located in the heart of Dilworth in PARK ROAD SHOPPING CENTER you can find any hardware and garden essentials as well as boatloads of niche odds and ends for your home and garden. This is the Mecca of home goods.
WE’VE KNOWN SMITTY FOR OVER 20 YEARS and when we catch up to him from time to time, we don’t necessarily have to see him to know he’s there. We can hear him. We can feel the vibe that laces the air when DJ That Guy Smitty is near. So we thought we’d let our readers listen in as we get within earshot. CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
DJ THAT GUY SMITTY
Vinyl is back! And huge. Give us your thoughts on that…
My ideal gig is at a medium size venue (100-200 folks), intimate vibe, plenty of dance floor, and way too much sound for the room! Playing house music for house-heads…but, I really enjoy all my gigs, and playing all kinds of tunes! My favorite gig recently was for my friend, and fellow DJ, George Ramirez (Mal Funk Shun), at SERJ Nightclub on Central Ave in the Plaza-Midhood. It’s pretty much what I described as my ideal setting. I like the underground. I also love what the cats are doing at Morehead Tavern as well as Dilworth Tavern…Quality, non-commercial-EDM, proper, dance music.
DJ THAT GUY SMITTY
I’m all about vinyl…for personal and critical listening. When I started out, there was no digital DJing, it was all wax! At one point I amassed close to 8,000 records!!! As far as playing it out in clubs again goes, I’d love to do a monthly event, maybe two, where I got to play vinyl, but not 3 - 4 nights a weeks like my schedule sometimes demands. In that regard, I think digital is far better and more versatile and durable. CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
What’s your first memory of wanting to be a DJ? DJ THAT GUY SMITTY
I grew up seeing great DJ’s here in Charlotte. Namely Andy Kastanas and Lin Benfield. Then I graduated and went into the Air Force. Two of my best friends during my time in service were DJ’s (thanks Eli & Baron!), and spending my last 2 years stationed in the U.K. (‘92-‘94) I was exposed to the London Underground scene which was all about the DJ and the dance floor! But, the defining moment for me was at this mega-rave in ’96 called, “Beyond 4”…It was at the Millennium Center in Winston Salem! At about 3am, in the dark recesses of the basement, DJ Mark Farina took the decks…he was a true artist on the 1’s & 2’s…his music was funky and hypnotic, his mixes were smooth like the butter. Blew my mind and changed my life. I bought a pair of Technics 1200 turntables the very next week! CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
You’ve played clubs, festivals, lounges, private parties and events coast-to-coast. What’s your ideal gig? Favorite in recent years?
CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
We lost a big one this past year. Your musical appreciation for Prince runs deep. Tell us about that and your recent tribute show. DJ THAT GUY SMITTY
It was an incredible night. His music was the soundtrack to my life growing up. I have a deep personal relationship with each of his first 12 albums…so, I really didn’t plan anything…I just played the first track and just let the rest flow out like jazz.
2am…but, you could stay open and party until whenever! All the clubs are now basically top40 rap, pop, & edm (whatever that is). CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
And what new spots should our readers check out? What’s your upcoming schedule? DJ THAT GUY SMITTY
Because I’m not really a commercial/radio DJ, I rarely get to play in any of the new clubs these days. I mostly do open-format (musically) type gigs at lounges, breweries, and restaurants. Plus, I do a ton of private, corporate and non-profit gigs! Occasionally, I’ll get to rock out a dance floor at SERJ, or one of the Bassment or Release Parties. I’ve got a monthly gig the 4th Friday of each month a Camp North End which is actually THE MOST interesting new/old thing in Charlotte! It’s an incredible space! If you haven’t checked it out you really need to go see it for yourself!!! I can still be found at Soul Gastrolounge on most Wednesday nights from 9pm-12am, at Common Market in Plaza-Midwood on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month, Birdsong Brewery the 1st Thursday monthly, Heist Brewery the 2nd Friday
CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
Charlotte’s nightlife has exploded in recent years. Hit us up with some Smitty history—your favorites from years past—gone but not forgotten?
CHARLOTTE’S BEST MAGAZINE
How about a few of your personal favorites for Best of Charlotte (can be anything— restaurant, services, or individuals) to see us off?
DJ THAT GUY SMITTY
Mythos, The Pterodactyl, Tutto Mondos, HOM, Liquid Lounge, Club Mix, Tonic, Pravda Lounge Dharma Lounge, and plenty of other places that have gone away. There will probably never be a nightlife scene like we enjoyed in Charlotte during the late 80’s - the end of the 90’s. It was the time before the crappy cabaret laws. You still had to stop serving alcohol at
DJ THAT GUY SMITTY
I would just say go out and explore all of the different neighborhoods that make up this great city! They all have something special to offer. Great food, breweries, parks you name it…this city has it all. But, more importantly, the people in Charlotte really make it special. I was born and raised here. There’s no place like it.
by RENÃ‰E WRIGHT with RANDY STIMPSON
Best of CLT Our editorial team at Charlotte’s Best Magazine has been covering the Queen City since waaaaayyy back in 1991—when the population was a mere quarter of the now near 1 million residents. Our writers, photographers, designers and staffers have produced over 800 editions reaching millions of readers around the Carolinas and across the US. This month we celebrate with you as we launch into our 25th year covering the very Best of the Carolinas and release the May issue of Charlotte’s Best Magazine with equal parts thankfulness, pride and joy. Charlotte, North Carolina is a beautiful place to be. And full of amazing people doing amazing things. Together we stumble, grow and lead the modern world through bad times and good. And right now... what better time to show the world our best? THANK YOU to all of our award winners for your contribution to our great city. We couldn’t be more determined in our efforts than we are right now—recognizing Charlotte’s Best. Now, let’s wade into this, with more to come in each issue of Charlotte’s Best Magazine. (AND STILL!) BEST AFTERNOON DRIVE TIME RADIO SHOW Matt & Ramona, 107.9, The Link
We dare you not to laugh. This crew had chemistry from day one and we’ve been addicted ever since. Listen in and you’ll feel like a guest at the table with old friends sharing light-hearted discussions that always tickle your funny bone. BEST PLACE TO WATCH RACES (besides the Speedway) NASCAR Hall of Fame
The NASCAR Hall of Fame broadcasts many of the top races of the season on its 64-foot-wide, curved
projection screen with surround sound. In-car video feeds from two drivers give a direct-from-track experience. Bonus: beer, wine and food are available for sale. (www. nascarhall.com) BEST FASHION AMBASSADOR William Wilson, Clothier
While Charlotte’s impact on fashion remains to be determined, there is one individual who is determined to make sure that we are in the conversation. Morning. Noon. Night. Each and every day. Our friend William Wilson never stops and his brand begins here in the Queen City and travels with a who’s who of professionals and celebrities to the biggest venues around the world. Have a look and share in our amazement and pride at his commitment to make us all look like the bestdressed celebs on the red carpet. (www.williamwilsonclothing.com) Thank you, Mr. Wilson for making us all look good. BEST WOMEN’S SPORTS TEAM
The Prime Meridian of South End, All-American Pub has to top any relevant list of hot spots in Charlotte. It’s big, loud and loaded with TVs. Every game is on, every seat is a good one and it’s all smiles here. What’s not to love? Craft beers, cocktails and a pub full of sexy people. The adjoining Oak Room offers billiards and gaming in a clublike environment—the ideal mix of entertainment and eye contact with the beautiful people of South End. BEST FOOTBALL BAR Draught
This oaken, sprawling, wildly-popular gastro pub was once Hartigan’s Pub. It sits in the immediate shadow of Bank of America Stadium and is the collaboration of successful promoters and restaurateurs. This crafty spot will remain a great bet any night of the week well into the future. The nearby tailgate of the Queen City Riot at Cedar Station makes Draught a must-stop en route to watch our beloved Carolina Panthers home game days.
Charlotte Roller Girls
Not just an all-female team, they are some of the toughest athletes in town. Catch the All-Stars in action at the Grady Cole Center and see what the buzz is all about. (charlotterollergirls.com)
DINING + NIGHTLIFE BEST MEGA-BAR
Piedmont Social House
Piedmont Social House, in Southwest Charlotte’s Ayrsley Town Center, has everything you need for a fun afternoon - bowling lanes, pool tables, ping pong, darts, arcade games, corn hole and more, plus a huge covered patio for watching the game and some of the best fried chicken and waffles in town. (www. piedmontsocial.com) BEST SUNDAY FUNDAY
All-American Pub/The Oak Room
CHARLOTTE “CHEERS” AWARD Dilworth Grille
This award is many wrapped into one. In our humble opinion, this is one of the highest accolades we have to bestow to a bar/restaurant owner and staff, and in truth, it’s a wellknown and accepted fact that simply needed pointing out right here. Great food, cold drinks and always a friendly face at the bar (both sides). BEST HOTEL COCKTAIL LOUNGE The Punch Room, Ritz-Carlton
The Punch Room, high up on the 15th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, introduced a new, speakeasy elegance to imbibing in the Queen City. Master mixologist Bob Peters, our pick for Best Bartender this year, draws on his bag of custom tricks to craft cocktails both fascinating and delicious. www.ritzcarlton.com.
BEST OYSTER BAR RockSalt
RockSalt, located behind Park Road Shopping Center, stocks the freshest, juiciest, sweetest oysters you’ll ever taste, direct from the sustainable Rappahannock Oysters farms in the Chesapeake Bay. No problem with supply: Travis Croxton who owns RockSalt, is a member of the family of oystermen who own Rappahannock. While you’re there, don’t miss the Lamb & Clams stew, our pick for Best Winter Comfort Food. www.rocksaltrestaurants.com BEST PATIO CROWD Mac’s Speed Shop
Beer, BBQ, babes and practically everyone you know. That’s the attraction to an afternoon stop-in at Mac’s. It’s an age-old formula, really. But Mac’s makes it a touch cooler in ways you can only experience if you join the crowd. BEST HOTEL STEAKHOUSE Evoke Steakhouse
Evoke Steakhouse established itself as Charlotte’s best big splurge when it introduced its 16-oz. 21-day dry aged NY Strip at the new Le Meridien Hotel this year. The creative seasonal menu excels at housemade pastas, raw fish crudos, and hand-crafted cocktails as well. www. evokerestaurant.com BEST QUICK UPTOWN LUNCH Earl’s Grocery
Earl’s Grocery on Elizabeth offers a food-truck style menu as well as its array of gourmet take-aways. Plus it’s located on the (free!) new Gold Line Trolley, another great 2015 Charlotte innovation. (earlsgrocery. com) BEST NEIGHBORHOOD WINE BAR CorkBuzz
Corkbuzz, new in the South Park neighborhood, is a real big-city score for Charlotte. Sister establishments are in New York City’s Union
Square and Chelsea neighborhoods. Founder Laura Maniec, one of the few women and the youngest ever to earn the Master Sommelier designation, makes sure Corkbuzz remains a center dedicated to the knowledge and appreciation of fine wine. corkbuzz.com BEST COUPLES DANCE VENUE Lynn’s Dance Club
Lynn’s Dance Club, on South Tryon near the Billy Graham, schedules regular evenings of tango, shag, swing and other styles of music, plus it has one of the grandest dance floors in town. (thelynnsdanceclub. com) BEST SMALL MUSIC VENUE The Visulite
The Visulite on Elizabeth occupies the Goldilocks zone among Charlotte live music spots - not too little, not too big. Plus seats (!) and a huge bar. (www.visulite.com) BEST HAPPY HOUR Brio Tuscan Grille
Brio Tuscan Grille goes the extra mile for happy hour, with huge appetizers at cut rate prices from 3:30 to 6:30 and 9 to close Monday through Friday, and a list of inexpensive cocktails, including a $5 martini, available all day in the bar on the same days. Along the way, Brio has made Piedmont Town Center the foodie place to go for happy hour, with Georges Brasserie and AZN both offering discount apps every day of the week. (brioitalian. com) BEST RESTAURANT REBOOT Zebra SouthPark
Zebra, across from the SouthPark Mall, has always been Charlotte’s go-to choice for fine French dining. Now under new ownership, it’s better than ever, with expanded dining options including breakfast, afternoon tea and a nice selection of small plates. The wonderful courtyard patio is better than ever too,
with a cozy fireplace and heaters for all-season enjoyment. (zebrarestaurant.net) BEST FUN NIGHT
Twin Peaks, Concord Mills
If it feels like Hooters 2.0, well—it should. Founding family spun off from the Hooters chain and, with deep, deep pockets, followed their wildest dreams. The result is Twin Peaks. A suggestively-name, massive fun facility that is at once a sports pub with exceptional food, a taphouse with an exhaustive beer selection, and an ideal game watching destination with more TVs than we have ever seen in any sports bar, anywhere. Name aside, we love everything about this Concord Mills powerhouse. BEST GRUB DESTINATION Fuel Pizza
Hand-picked locations serving award-winning, hand-tossed pizza and wings, perfectly seasoned and cooked—at all hours. It’s your time at Fuel. Fuel up and get back out there. We suggest the garlic knots— but only if you’re heading home alone. These guys are also a favorite with families and kids. BEST SOUTHERN APPETIZER Fried Pickled Okra
Fried Pickled Okra at the Workman’s Friend, in Plaza-Midwood, gives the classic a delicious new twist. (theworkmansfriend.com) BEST FOOD COMPETITION Competition Dining Series
The annual Competition Dining Series, sponsored by the NC Dept. of Agriculture, is a brilliant local adaptation of the chef cook-off concept so popular on cable TV. Pairs of chefs compete mano-a-mano creating three courses each featuring NC products. Diners get to sample each and vote for the winner on a phone app (that works!). It’s a great way to get to know the hottest chefs and newest restaurants in town. (And
beyond - the series hosts competitions all over the state with winners meeting for a final Battle of Champions.) It doesn’t hurt that all our local battles are held in Bonterra, literally the city’s Chapel of Food. (www.competitiondining.com) BEST VEGETARIAN FINE DINING Asbury, The Dunhill Hotel Uptown
We aren’t personally of the vegetarian persuasion, but even to an omnivore, the 5-course Chef’s Vegetarian Tasting Menu, offered by the Asbury in the Dunhill Hotel, sounds really delicious. And intriguing: One recent course involved sweet potato cake with ginger custard. While offerings change with the season, Executive Chef Chris Coleman has a well-deserved reputation for creating unique, yet tasty, dishes from locally sourced products. (www. theasbury.com) BEST NEW FOOD CONCEPT modPALEO
Locally based modPALEO will deliver meals right to your door. Recipes based on the gluten-free Paleo diet are cooked in small batches, using the healthiest, most sustainable foods available. Love its motto: We hunt. We gather. You eat. (www. modpaleo.com) BEST FOOD TOUR Taste of the World
The annual Taste of the World bus tour, sponsored by Charlotte East every October, takes guests on a food adventure into the most diverse
neighborhood in the city. The tour visits a selection of restaurants along the Central Avenue/Albemarle Road corridor, with cuisine ranging from Middle Eastern, to South American, to Far Eastern, to American Southern… and more. We just wish they’d have tours more often. Meanwhile, you can download a list of this year’s restaurants and design your own tour at charlotteeast.com. BEST NEW FOOD TREND Japanese Street Food
Japanese street food, including Ramen noodles and Izakaya (those little skewers of grilled food), perfectly fit Charlotte’s love affair with easy to eat, relatively inexpensive casual food, available with vegetarian options. Notable new venues entering the field in 2015 included Yama Izakaya in Plaza-Midwood, and Futo Buta uptown. (www.yamaizakaya. com; www.futobuta.com)
D9 Brewing’s Ancient Sour Series includes Viking Fraoch Scottish Sour is based on a 4,000 year old recipe for Viking heather flower ale. Sour beer doubters, try this one. It’s good! (www.d9brewing.com) BEST HOTEL REBOOT Le Meridien
Le Meridien, the world-wide hotel family begun by Air France, brings a stylish new vibe to the venerable (and convenient) Adam’s Mark Midtown location, complete with
BEST BEVERAGE TREND Local Distilleries
Local distilleries are springing up all over. Muddy River, over in Belmont, is making Carolina rum; Doc Porter’s in the South End makes vodka from Carolina wheat; Great Wagon Road, also in the South End, has an aged Single Malt whiskey and vodka made with mash from OMB. All offer tours with tastings. (muddyriverdistillery.com; docporters.com; gwrdistilling.com)
a 24-hour curated soundtrack by cutting edge French producers, art exhibitions, cocktail hours, key cards that are good for free admission to the Mint Museum and more. (www. lemeridiencharlotte.com) BEST MENU TREND
Food Truck Handhelds
BEST INTRIGUING LOCAL TAP Ancient Sour Series-D9
BEST NEW SPORTS NIGHT OUT The Charlotte Checkers
Throw your puck in the rink and join your Charlotte Checkers, the Checkmate Cheerleaders and of course, Chubby Checker for a budget-friendly, past-paced night out at the Bojangles Arena. It’s not just for hockey fans—it’s fun and affordable entertainment for families and we’re pumped that
“Food Truck” menus are showing up on tables around town (Hickory our ice-riding rough guys are in the Playoffs and rocking the competition so dominantly. It’s appropriate timing for the recent return to the East Side with so much excitement surrounding the area. Look for Charlotte Checkers games to be all the rage well into the future as the Oakwald, Plaza Midwood and Elizabeth neighborhoods continue to expand and capture the attention of would-be Charlotteans and natives alike.
ROLLIN’ ALL AROUND THIS TOWN BALLS OUT You must check out the Charlotte Roller Girls, risking life and limb for our entertainment., full pads and in-the-round. Nothing like pairing a 70’s throwback with the rise of the dominant female athlete. Nothing.
CHARLOTTE’S CHEERS A familiar sign welcomes all and makes us feel at home. Of course, we’re at Dilworth Grille. Smiling faces, iced cold beer, games on the big screen. GAME ON The mega-sports bar has arrived—it’s Piedmont Social House. With downright tasty fare and well-equipped game rooms, we can’t wait to spend our next day off here.
PUNCH DRUNK: TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN Cocktails that are garden-to-glass and poured with exceptional care—The Punch Room, Ritz-Carlton. WINNING SEASONS—POSSIBLY A DYNASTY The folks at Draught in oh-so-timely fashion built the Dream Home for a new generation of Panther fans on the door step of BOA Stadium. Touché.
DRINK We all know this one. The Mule slays thirst and strong-arms our problems. Conveniently available at a bar near you.
Tavern , et. al.), as restaurants seek to satisfy customers’ clear preference for convenient, easy to eat food and as more and more chefs take their show on the road. BEST HOT NEIGHBORHOOD Plaza-Midwood (still!)
Plaza-Midwood is in the midst of a building boom, with numerous new apartment buildings on the horizon. The coming population increase has inspired many restaurants and eclectic shops to open their doors, often in renovated buildings, while roof-top bars high above the street provide bird’s-eye views of the action. (www.plazamidwood.com) BEST EMERGING NEIGHBORHOOD
Ayrsley, Southwest Charlotte
Ayrsley in Southwest Charlotte is on the make, now that it’s so easy to reach via the newly completed I-485. Ayrsley Town Center, on South Tryon just off the interstate, makes a convenient spot to start your explorations. (www.ayrsley.com)
BEST FAMILY FUN BEST FAMILY/KIDS GETAWAY The Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge is like a major theme park, all under one roof, with a resort staff to keep the young ones busy. In addition to a huge indoor waterpark, kids can enjoy MagicQuest (a kind of treasure hunt involving Harry Potter-style wands), the Wolf Walk eco-tour, live shows, crafts, storytime, a ropes course, dedicated kid’s spa that specializes in creating princesses and more. Parental units can experience a relaxing getaway of their own in the a full-service lounge, with free wifi and windows overlooking the waterpark. No worries if your pack of cubs has food allergies. Great Wolf can take care of any and every special request. (www.greatwolf.com)
BEST PARK FOR A DAY AWAY Historic Rural Hill, Huntersville
Rural Hill, the historic estate turned public park in Huntersville, is one our favorite spots to get away from the city sidewalks. Visitors can explore several historic buildings, take nature trails through the property and meet the incredibly cute Highland cattle (aka “hairy coos”) who live here. Rural Hill had a hard 2015, with the drought wreaking havoc on its annual Corn Maze and several other events rained out, so consider making a donation, large or small, at its Go Fund Me site to help preserve this unique piece of local history. (www.ruralhill.net) BEST NEW ATTRACTION
ler and Gantt, now offer visitors a discount ticket good for 48-hour admission to all three (actually four, since both Mint locations are included), The $20 tickets are available only online through CarolinaTix. Find a link on the Bechtler Museum website (www.bechtler.org). BEST STREET ART
CPCC Wall Poems Project
The Wall Poems of Charlotte project, decorating exterior walls around town with the words of NC writers, aims to bring poetry to the people. The project is carried out by CPCC students. (www.wallpoems.com) BEST LANDMARK RESCUE VBGB JFG SiGN RESCUE
The new Fury 325 at Carowinds is a great fit for Charlotte with its hornets theme. The giga coaster, tallest, fastest and longest in the world, won 2015’s prestigious Best New Ride Golden Ticket award from Amusement Today. www.carowinds.com
Ever wonder what happened to the JFG Coffee sign? It’s moved to the rear patio of the VBGB Beer Hall at the NC Music Factory, where it’s clearly visible from Brookshire Freeway. It provides spectacular lighting for the beer garden. Thanks, VBGB, for saving a Charlotte Treasure! (www.vbgbuptown.com)
URBAn SCENE BESTS
BEST LOCAL THEATRE
Fury 325 at Carowinds
BEST SKYLINE/ROOFTOP Skye Condos Uptown
The 21-story Skye Condo building took almost forever to open, but it was so worth it. The rooftop Fahrenheit Restaurant offers open air dining way up above the crowds, and the light show up top makes a decorative addition to the city’s skyscape. (www.skyecondos.com; www. chefroccowhalen.com) BEST MUSEUM EXHIBITS The Mint Museum
The Mint Museum continues its run as one of the South’s top art museums.(www.mintmuseum.org ) BEST MUSEUM OUTING/DEAL Uptown Combo Pass
Three Levine Center for the Arts museums, the Mint, the Becht-
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte has accomplished the impossible. For one thing, this professional company has survived over 25 years without relying on old chestnuts, tired musicals or children’s dumb-downs. All of the plays on the Actor’s Theatre schedule are innovative new works for mature audiences, daring stuff you won’t see elsewhere. And the annual nuVoices festival of new works is spreading the theater’s fame across the country. (www.atcharlotte.org) BEST CELEBRITY EVENT Mad Monster Party
The Mad Monster Party, the Carolina’s very own horror convention, features guest appearances by fan favorites from cult movies, TV shows and more. The connection with Joe Moe and Forrest J. Ackerman makes it extra special. For a surreal celebri-
ty star-struck experience, bring your brood to the Mad Monster Party. (www.madmonster.com) BEST HOME TOUR Homearama
Charlotteans love to see how other folks live, and there’s no better manifestation of the obsession than the annual Homearama which provides access to a new neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes each year, decorated by top interior designers. No expense spared. (www.charlottehomearama.com) BEST NEW ART GALLERY LaCa Projects
LaCa Projects, a gallery dedicated to Latin American contemporary art, mounts some of the most mind-expanding exhibitions we’ve seen in Charlotte. The exhibit opening parties are epic as well, featuring music, dance and food with Latin American flair. (www.lacaprojects.com) BEST FASHION SHOWS Charlotte SEEN
Charlotte Seen, helmed by event planner extraordinaire Rita Miles, presents two multi-day events annually, Passport to Fashion in the Spring and Charlotte Fashion Week in the Fall. Both take place at lovely venues, and proceeds go to worthy charities. We especially like the fashions made with recycled materials. (www.charlotteseen.com) BEST FILM COMPETITION The 48 Hours Film Project
The 48 Hours Film Project, an international competition in which filmmakers get 48 hours to create a film from scratch, is going strong in Charlotte, thanks to the work of local organizer Will Fisher. The Night of Screenings at the end of the competition is one of the most interesting evenings we’ve spent watching short films. (48hourfilm. com)
BEST SPA EXPERIENCE
BEST ROCK SHOW
The Spa at Ballantyne, in the Ballantyne Hotel, is open to the public and a great spot to spend a dreary winter day, enjoying the indoor pools, whirlpool and other facilities. Day spa passes are available for a fee, or schedule a mani/pedi or other spa service and enjoy access to everything for free. (theballantynehotel. com)
Nothing but a good time. Rock fans found themselves at the back-ofthe-line and in the bargain bin in recent years. Rebellion promoters bravely gathered hair-raisers for a barn-burner which has progressively turned into all things those with rock in their blood could ask for with the announcement of the 2017 line-up. Bang your pretty, little head. www.carolinarebellion.com
The Spa at Ballantyne
BEST FESTIVAL REBOOT Charlotte Film Festival
The Charlotte Film Festival returned from hiatus with a strong schedule of independent films, including several U.S. premieres and Oscar nominees. (www.facebook. com/CharlotteFilmFest)
BEST EVENTS BEST AFTER WORK DESTINATION Alive After 5-Roof Top 210
“All Good Things Must Come To An End”? Garbage. The once-epic Alive After 5, held on the upper level parking deck of the Adam’s Mark, now the Sheraton on McDowell, bit the dust temporarily but has been revived at Roof Top 210 at The Epicentre. Bigger. Better. Louder. Get there after work to kick-off springthrough-fall weekends. BEST MUSIC FESTIVAL Country Music Festival
The Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach+) gained fame with beach music, shag dancing and amusement attractions that appealed to Carolinians of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Fast-forward to the 21st century and well-heeled promoters from CLT have defined the next decades by giving the people what they want: country music, wide open spaces for girls in bikinis and cowboy hats to dance on the beach — and beer. Lots of it. Wow. Our kind of party.
BEST SOUTH END GATHERING SOUTH END WINE FESTIVAL
Boots on the ground! This new-ish twin to the South End Beer Festival, also held on the corner of Carson and Mint, brought out throngs of beautiful girls wrapped cozily in infinity scarves, their best dark jeans and boutique boots. A fantastic selection of wine, local music and a kind late-winter forecast make this a special day. Make plans for next year. Are you listening guys? BEST FOODIE FUN DAY EVENT DILWORTH CHILI COOK-OFF
We never parted with a few bucks so easily. Pay up and you’ll have as many samples of team chili as you like, an opportunity to vote for your favorite and a tasty selection of local beers and wine. Oh, and there’s a raffle with some SERIOUSLY desirable items, a rocking band, plenty of free parking, and the mascot squad. We ran into (literally) Sir Purr, Blue from the Charlotte Hounds pro lacrosse team, Homer the Dragon and more. The CFD gets into the spirit by raising one tremendous flag on the hook and ladder and Prowler Magazine/Bar Athletes host the annual Corn Hole Tournament. Proceeds go to charity and yes, you can bring your dog. Everyone else does so please, do. Plans made. BEST UPTOWN FESTIVAL TASTE OF CHARLOTTE
For two decades Charlotteans have taken to the streets uptown to wel-
WE’RE JUST TEASING From lake-to-lake our metro is pre-heated to serve you food that fits every table, activity and event. Consider these awards an appetizing feature—with a full-course buffet to come—our food and dining edition. TOP ROW: Steak at EVOKE. Perfect pizza from FUEL. Japanese skewers from YAMA IZAKAYA. MIDDLE ROW: The third best thing about TWIN PEAKS. BISTRO brings flavor, flair and elegance. BOTTOM ROW: Serious southern swag—FRIED PICKLED OKRA from the WORKMAN’S FRIEND, Plaza Midwood. Outdoor patio at ZEBRA, South Park. Live large, leisurely.
come spring and sample three menu items from dozens of Charlotte’s best restaurants at the Taste of Charlotte. We’ll speak to those who haven’t been: go. It’s a rare opportunity to walk at your own pace and take in uptown. Stop and admire public art. Learn more about streets, crossings, public transportation, restaurants, history and attractions. Eat, drink, listen, learn and you’ll love your city even more. BEST FAN EVENT/FESTIVAL 600 FESTIVAL-Speed Street
One of the coolest ideas ever for NASCAR fans was Race Week. That idea expanded into a true national holiday—the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend. Speedway Motorsports and the 600 Festival Children’s Charities took that one step further when they created Speed Street. Twenty miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway, over 200,000 fans in town for race week festivities would now have the opportunity to meet their favorite drivers, have autographs signed, experience sponsor exhibitions, attend massive free concerts, eat, drink and celebrate Uptown Charlotte and at the very doorstep of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. www.600festival.com BEST TEARJERKER/SMILE FEST ACE & TJ’S GRIN KIDS
Two passionate radio jocks, their uber-capable support staff, backed by iHeart radio, kids battling terminal disease and one amazing trip to Disney World. So good. So good. BEST LOCAL CHARITY GROUP
ISABELLA SANTOS FOUNDATION
We’ve met many of these folks at events from the Charlotte Hounds tailgates to gala balls in Ballantyne. Their passion, pace and professionalism defines how a charitable organization should be run. Their story shines light on the spirit of our city and Charlotteans alike. Our region leads in many areas of childhood disease research and treatment. When you think about it, that’s more important than having the top
banks, winning football team or a beautiful skyline. The efforts of ISF and many others keep this work in the spotlight and help families in need contend with the fight of their lives. Learn more and volunteer! BEST CROWD ACTIVITY
RICH-N-BENNETT’S ST. PATTY’S DAY BAR CRAWL
When you think crowds, the second thought that often comes to mind is how to avoid them. But something magical—akin to developments in vintage Old Spice or Lucky Charms
commercials—defines this annual gathering of green-garbed, Irish-ish trekkers who fill College and Tryon Street in Charlotte who couldn’t be more happy. Beer! Babes! Guys! Crawling from bar to bar (and all over each other). If you want to make the people happy, give them freedom. And thus it was that RichN-Bennett studied the writings of their elders and set in motion something that is, with each passing year, growing out of their control. Be Irish. Be green. Be happy.
H I G H E R G R O U N D I N C LT TURN UP! Charlotte is rising. Take into consideration our recent trip to The Great Wolf Lodge. Our inner children romped carelessly up the hundreds of feet of stairs so that WE could be the miniscule rafters that spiralled around and down the massive cone into a freefall reminiscent of the funnel in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the remake). Boy, were we wrong. This wasn’t a slide. This was insane. We laughed hysterically into the abyss and were slung at Z-Max-like speeds into a wade pool. Safe and blushing. SO COOL.
So cool... SKYE Condos. LE MERIDIEN—one amazing hotel. FURY 325—the fastest way to cool off on a coaster on earth. The UPTOWN MINT—one cool gallery experience. D9 - Importing tiny flowers to build a manly craft bottled beer—that’s super cool and. Saving a Charlotte treasure and actually displaying it? VBGB you are the coolest thing since Best awards were given for your rescue of the iconic JFG sign.
TOP ROW: Country girls welcome fans to the Carolina Country Music Festival at Myrtle Beach, SC. Owners of The Haunted Mill concepted and crowned their own jewel for the Queen Cityâ€”The Mad Monster Party, bringing beloved screen icons to the Carolinas each March for a three-day convention. Suit up and cosplay this crazy con for max effect! We hear...big news coming about the Mad Monster.
SWING BATTER, BATTER, SWING! Charlotte promoters, restaurateurs, night club owners, and mixed-use developers are truly the reason that Charlotte has become so appealing. Jobs? Yes. Parks? Yes. But what do we want after we get home and walk the dog? FUN. And the Charlotte Region has it. MIDDLE ROWS: BB&T Ball Park is the focal point for residents with highrise vantage points each spring/summer. ALIVE AFTER FIVE has found the perfect home to continue weekend kick-off dominance in The Epicentreâ€™s Roof Top 210. Lounge seating makes movies soooo much better at Carolina Theatre. Circle K Speed Street brings NASCAR, great bands and street vendors to uptown each Memorial Day Weekend. BOTTOM ROW: The Dilworth Chili Cook-Off has become a fav of many residents mixing chili with the chillest of mascots!
TOP ROW: When you meet the gals and guys behind the ISABELLA SANTOS FOUNDATION your heart will melt. We are amazed how many times our promo team crosses their path, smiles and all, raising funds and awareness for childhood cancer. They are the model of CLT good will and enthusiasm fighting the good fight. Join them!
MIDDLE ROW: Aspiring artists get their paint on at the DILWORTH CHILI COOK-OFF. Charlotte’s largest event draws 400,000+ fans to uptown to celebrate Coca-Cola 600 weekend and SPEED STREET. JHE puts on the biggest, best show in Charlotte Memorial Day weekend. The SOUTHEND WINE FESTIVAL rings in spring. The USNWC is back in business and we can’t wait! See you on the waves.
GRINNING These guys. Shooting straight on your FM dial for 20 years and defying your criticism by prioritizing their off-air time to something so good...thanks guys!
by RENÃ‰E WRIGHT with RANDY STIMPSON
MORE Best of CLT We love what we do. It keeps us up at night, daydreaming during meetings and debating at the office. Constantly. Here’s a few more of our conclusions for your consideration.
BEST NEW FAST CASUAL CHINESE
Pei Wei The younger, faster-casualer sibling to P.F. Chang’s has set-up shop in two locations (Ballantyne and University) and is serving healthy, interesting and affordable Pan-Asian dishes you will love.
you’ve got something there. These guys have been serving up good times nightly for decades. Live a little and laugh a lot! BEST SUBS
Firehouse Subs BEST LINGERIE BOUTIQUE
I. C. London South Park
BEST CREATIVE BBQ
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD FAMILY HANGOUT
BEST EMERGING SPORTS TEAM
The Pizza Peel It’s hard to satisfy the wants/needs of parents and kids simultaneously. The Pizza Peel offers great food, a serious tap selection, wines, an itsy-bitsy annex game room and a place for everyone listed on the back of your SUV. A great night for all! BEST NEIGHBORHOOD ITALIAN
Hawthorne’s Pizza These guys have redefined being a part of the neighborhood. They feed us, they cater to us, they host, sponsor and coach leagues, donate and participate. Nicely done, Hawthorne’s Pizza. Seafood entrees, pasta dishes, stromboli, pizzas, salads and fresh-made dips, and amazingsauces—the taste of New York, here in Charlotte with eight locations.
BEST FLOORING SELECTION
BEST CIGAR PURVEYOR
BEST BAR COMEBACK
BEST PAD THAI
BEST NEW SUNDAY BRUNCH
BEST GROWN-UP PLAYGROUND
BEST TUNA SALAD
BEST ELECTRICAL COMPANY
Hughes Floor Coverings Ed’s Tavern
The Peculiar Rabbit
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD GATHERING SPOT Common Market It’s a happening more than anything else. It feels like something that came together at a 76 station years ago but it’s just not. It’s a well thought out, interesting deli, watering hole, convenience store, artsy artifact and culture boutique. Anything but common. Stop in! BEST PLACE TO TAKE A DATE
The Comedy Zone If you can laugh with someone,
Everyone sings. Somewhere. And at Howl at the Moon, we all sing together. If you want to have a good time out, bring your group where the fish bowls still flow, we all know the words to every song and you will be singing at the top of your lungs before you leave. Howl on.
The Tinder Box CO Sushi
VBGB This sprawling adult playground features volleyball courts, corn hole, classic board games, selfie backdrops, giant Jenga, and loads of picnic style seating indoors and out. Oh, and beer, wine, spirits and a great vibe day or night. BEST FAST FOOD
BEST TAILGATE TAKEAWAY
Bojangle’s Big Bo Box
BEST GROUP NIGHT OUT
Howl at the Moon
Charlotte Independence Pro Soccer Team Our friends with the Charlotte Independence have something paramount in business and fan experience—a vision. We’ve watched them grow a fan base, improve events in innumerable ways and stay on course to their new venue in Matthews. If you’re looking for a great night out this is it. Soccer fan or not, you’ll enjoy the Independence experience. BEST BBQ RESTAURANT
Queen City Q
BEST CIGAR LOUNGE
McCranie’s Smoke Shop BEST NEIGHBORHOOD DELI
BEST TAP ROOM MEET-UP
BEST ROCKER BAR
Stooges Mint Hill BEST NEW ATTRACTION
MONTHLY SHOWCASE OF TOP DESIGN TRENDS
THAT SPEAKS TO US ALL In the most romantic, functional and trendy spaces across the Carolinas rough-hewn planks of various and ancient timber remind us that nature is the ultimate hand of design. Here in a few pages of Charlotte’s Best magazine we showcase nature’s hand and a handful of dedicated folks that are making it possible to enjoy once forgotten beauty that can’t be replaced.
FRIENDS | ARTISTS | ENTREPRENEURS Together they produce truly special creations daily - quality furniture and living spaces that are the perfect harmony of design inspiration and special functionality \
Tuan Hoang Le Metal Designer
Jim Hicks Project Coordinator
Master Wood Craftsmen
A peek inside the wood yard shows why Cope & Stick is quickly growing a stellar reputation for hight-quality work in the Carolinas Work and turn is evident all around Custom furniture, reclaimed wide plank ďŹ‚ooring and paneling, and master built barn doors are just a few of the popular items rolling out of Cope & Stick
Enjoy the coastal life... wherever you may be with these eclectic, tasty treats.
Strawberry Margarita Jell-O Shooters
INGREDIENTS 1.5 ounce citron vodka 1/2 ounce Blue Curacao 2 fluid ounces sour mix 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage 1 lemon - cut into wedges, for garnish
INGREDIENTS 24-30 Strawberries Margarita Mix 1 box Strawberry Jell-O 8 ounces tequila 6 ounce Cointreau Salt for garnish
DIRECTIONS Fill a glass with ice. Pour in vodka, blue Curacao and sour mix. Fill to the top with lemon-lime soda. Garnish with lemon wedge, and serve with straw.
STRAWBERRY PREP Cut the bottoms of the strawberry flat to get them to stand upright. When you do so, make sure that you do not cut off so much that there is a hole at the bottom. Use a huller or apple corer to empty out the strawberry. Once the strawberries have been emptied, use a towel to pat the outside of the strawberries dry. Check each strawberry and make sure there is not a hole in the bottom before you start filling Margarita Mix.
DIRECTIONS Boil one cup of hot water in a saucepan, then add in Jell-o powder and whisk until powder is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Set aside. Measure out 1/4 cup of cold water and set aside. Combine tequila and Cointreau, in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add liquor mixture to cold water and stir to combine. Then add cold liquor mixture to hot Jell-o mixture and stir to combine. Pour final Jell-o mix into strawberries and chill overnight. Dip your finger in water or use a moistened brush to wet the edge of the strawberries, dip and rotate the strawberries in salt to rim. Garnish with cut lime triangles to finish.
INGREDIENTS 1 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries 1 cup brandy-based orange liqueur (Grand Marnier) 3/4 cup gold tequila 2 tablespoons sugar ice cubes DIRECTIONS Blend ingredients to crushed ice consistency Garnish margarita glass with salt...enjoy!
We’re right there with you. Ready to Grill.
TASTY, TANGY HAWAII Chicken Kabobs
INGREDIENTS 3 tablespoons soy sauce 3 tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons sherry 1 tablespoon sesame oil 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 2 inch pieces 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained PREPARATION Pre-heat grill Skewer items Cook on low heat until desired Serve two skewers per guest.
KALUA PIG BBQ
INGREDIENTS 1 (6 pound) pork butt roast 1 1/2 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt 1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring PREPARATION Pierce pork all over with a carving fork. Rub salt then liquid smoke over meat. Place roast in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on Low for 16 to 20 hours, turning once during cooking time.Remove meat from slow cooker, and shred, adding drippings as needed to moisten.
Pineap p l e
2/3 cup packed brown sugar 1/3 cup butter, melted 1 can (20 oz) pineapple tidbits 12 maraschino cherries, halved 1 package yellow cake mix 3 eggs 1/3 cup canola oil
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and butter until blended. Spoon into 24 greased muffin cups. Drain pineapple, reserving the juice; spoon pineapple into prepared cups. Place a cherry half cut side down in the center of each. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil and reserved pineapple juice. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Spoon over pineapple, filling each cup three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Immediately invert onto wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 dozen.
R– New E S Home I DENTIAL SERVICES Electrical Wiring – Electrical Repair Service – Installation of Electrical Appliances (Ceiling Fans, Kitchen Appliances, etc.) – Lighting Installation – Motion Sensors & Outdoor Lighting – Dimming Controls – Structure Data/Computer Cabling – Whole Home Automation Controls – Whole Home Surge Protectors ($75,000 COVERAGE)
COMMERCIAL SERVICES – Commercial Electrical Repair
– Installation of Electrical Appliances – Lighting Installation – Surge Protection – Dimming Controls – Structure Data/Computer Cabling – Kohler, Generac, and Winpower Generators with automatic and manual transfer switches We are very proud of our technological innovations and are among the leaders in custom residential and commercial design.
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We do believe they’re onto something big in Union County. Guys and gals itching to do something athletic have come up with The Country Mile 5k™ Obstacle Course and the Country Boy Olympics Fitness Challenge. It’s taken off and you can take your turn. Register at countryboyolympics.com. You saw it here first.
SUMMER POPS AT THE PARK EACH SUMMER WE GATHER ‘ROUND THE STAGE at Symphony Park at SouthPark for fun, fellowship and to celebrate this great place that we all call home. The treelines still tell of a long lost pasture of rolling green hills. The skyshow dazzles at sunset and is interrupted in our stream of consciousness only by the beautiful sounds emanating from the stage. A true delight each visit.
2017 Symphony Park
EVENTS CALEN DAR AUGUST
August 10 PGA Concert- Umprhey’s McGee and Moon Taxi Aug 11 Movie Under the Stars - Secret Life of Pets Aug 18 Movie Under the Stars - Sing
Aug 25 Movie Under the Stars - Fan Vote Aug 27 Puerto Rican Cultural Society Festival SEPTEMBER
Sept 7-10 Oktoberfest Sept 15/16 Stiletto Sprint Sept 23 ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 5K Sept 30 Great Grapes Festival OCTOBER
Oct 1 Great Grapes Festival Oct 14 Latin American Festival Oct 21 Spina Bifida Walk www.charlottesbestmag.com
CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER There are so many great people, places and things to do in Charlotte, and our goal, as Charlotte’s Best Magazine is to identify the very best at what they do. We’ve been everywhere, man. All across the city tasting, sampling, seeing, doing and now...we’re handing out the coveted Best of Charlotte awards. Lisa Clark of America’s Media met with and presented awards to some truly amazing Charlotteans. Here are just a few of them.
Top to Bottom: Top Golf, William Wilson Clothiers, All-American Pub, Dilworth Grille, Simonini Builders and the Comedy Zone recently. You’ll soon see BEST AWARDS around town and when you do, you just can’t go wrong.
N O M I N AT E
YO U R FA V O R I T E S
Do you know an individual or business that deserves the Best of Charlotte Award? Speak up! Visit our website at www.charlottesbestmag.com and you can NOMINATE them for the award. Our awards are chosen in three different ways: Reader Balloting, Editorial Picks and Celebrity Choices. We’d love to hear from you. More at www.CharlottesBestMag.com
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Published on Aug 9, 2017