An insider’s guide to Dilworth: What to eat, drink and do

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Photo by Jessica Bentley
Hot dog at JJ's Red Hots

This post was first published in Aug. 2017 and update in Sept. 2018.

Dilworth was established as Charlotte’s first suburb in 1891. Running through the neighborhood was the electric streetcar, which developer Edward Dilworth Latta’s company, Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company, introduced to the city.

As Latta pushed the suburb’s expansion, upper-class houses rose on South Boulevard and East Boulevard, Latta Park was named on the east edge of the street grid and municipal fairgrounds stretched at the end of the trolley line on East Boulevard.

Today, Dilworth consists of a charming mix of apartments, eclectic houses, a bustling dining scene and clusters of boutique shops adjacent to higher-energy South End and Uptown.

Here’s what you should eat, drink and do in Charlotte’s original suburb.

Eat

Pie at Inizio Pizza. Photo by Colby Alvino.

Inizio Pizza Napoletana

2230 Park Road

Inizio is fanatic about making true Neapolitan-style pizzas, from cooking with an Italian-imported wood-fired oven that only requires 90 seconds to make the magic happen, to using dough made with “00” flour, to crafting pies with San Marzano tomatoes and real buffalo milk mozzarella.

Pro Tip: Look for the “leopardizing” on the crust of the pizzas (little black and crispy bubbles). That’s how you know it’s done right.

300 East

300 East Blvd.

Come for the darling patio or intimate indoor ambiance. Stay for this family-owned restaurant’s American-Eclectic cuisine for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Entrees have ranged from Chesapeake Style Lump Crab Cake, to Farro Sauté, to Wild Turkey Farms Braised Lamb & Mushroom Ragout.

Pro tip: Don’t skip dessert. Pastry chef Ashley Boyd adds plenty of imagination to her family’s business.

Kid Cashew

1608 East Blvd.

Stop in when you’re craving small plates to share for lunch or dinner, an elegant vibe on the inside or a patio with hanging plants on the outside. This wood-fired grill with a Mediterranean flair features menu items like Super Grains Salad, Mountain Trout and Homemade Spreads (tzatziki and hummus).

Pro tip: Order the highly talked about Goat’s Breast Milk from the cocktail list. It contains ouzo, amaretto, honey, lemon and mint.

The People’s Market

1315 East Blvd.

This vast, light-filled space acts as Dilworth’s neighborhood bodega, with made-to-order coffees, sandwiches and salads, plus an array of snack selections, wines and beers (retail bottles included).

Pro Tip: Try a SUMbucha kombucha flavor (crafted by a local couple) while you hang out.

Copper

311 East Blvd.

Make a date for higher-end Indian fare in this restaurant carved out of a restored, historic bungalow.

Pro tip: You’re going to want two orders of naan with that curry.

Thai Taste

324 East Blvd.

This is the place to grab amazing authentic Thai food for lunch or dinner, dine-in or takeout. Curries, stir fries and noodle dishes abound, with spicy levels of your preference (but Spicy Level 4 is the best).

Pro tip: Take a look at the Luke Kuechly shrine in the back. 

Fran’s Filling Station

2410 Park Road

This is the place to get cozy with conversation and fresh, home-style dishes for lunch and dinner. Dig into Ribboned Tuscan Kale Salad, Fig, Goat Cheese & Brie Flatbread, a Hot Pastrami & Cheddar Burger and more.

Pro tip: You can frequently find the concept’s creator, Fran Scibelli, in her own restaurant. Say hello.

Ru San’s

2440 Park Road

Get your sushi fix for lunch or dinner at this casual, relaxed spot for Japanese cuisine.

Pro tip: Hit up the lunch menu’s sushi buffet for just $11.75 per person.

Zen Fusion

1716 Kenilworth Ave.

Whether you’re hungry for hibachi or you’re aching for paella, trendy Zen Fusion has both a Spanish-influenced and Asian-influenced menu with tapas, soups, salads and entrees.

Pro Tip: Start with some shared edamame while you scour your choices.

JJ’s Red Hots

1514 East Blvd.

This casual hot dog joint serves every type of dog from beef, to veggie, to turkey with a variety of imaginative topping combinations.

Pro tip: Take your dog up to a table on the rooftop.

Fern, Flavors from the Garden

1419 East Blvd., Suite A

You have arrived at the vegetarian’s dream land for lunch, brunch and dinner. Here, dishes are continually reinvented to please the vegan and vegetarian’s palate, from seitan steaks, to vegan chevre, to coconut bacon.

Pro tip: Share a starter with your friends. Thai chili cauliflower, anyone?

Bakersfield

1301 East Blvd.

Treat yourself to Mexican street fare and a drink. There’s a selection of more than 100 tequilas and American whiskeys from which to take your pick, not to mention tostadas and tacos (from fish to chicken) to get your fill.

Pro tip: On a nice day, the side wall is lifted so you can dine at a table with bench seating and the breeze from East Boulevard. Try to plant yourself there.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

1626 East Blvd.

For casual yet fresh fare, dig into Bad Daddy’s for lunch or dinner. Items range from the Bacon Cheeseburger on Steroids, to the Maui Tuna Burger, to the Cantina Burger with a black bean patty.

Pro tip: Start with the fried pickles.

The Mayobird/The Summit Room

1531 East Blvd.

By day, get breakfast, coffee or lunch at The Mayobird and by night, have dinner or drinks at The Summit Room in this shared building. The Mayobird specialty is chicken salad (with curry, buffalo wing sauce and other flavor combinations), but there are plenty of other salad and sandwich options to hit the spot. The Summit Room offers a fully stocked bar, specialty cocktails and an array of nice Southern plates ranging from burgers to flatbreads.

Pro tip: Both businesses provide funding to Behailu Academy, which offers arts-based youth development programming.

Crisp

1412-F East Blvd.

This fast casual place for fresh salads, sandwiches and soups is a great option when you’re on the go.

Pro tip: If you have a few minutes, build your own salad in four steps: Choose greens, proteins, toppings and dressings.

Lebowski’s Neighborhood Grill

1524 East Blvd.

Kick back in the casual environment  with a bar menu focused on classic bar favorites (from meatloaf to burgers) and more than 70 craft and imported beers.

Pro tip: The late-night menu is served 10 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, and 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Famous Toastery

This local franchise is your casual stop for everything brunch, from omelets, to breakfast burritos to mimosas.

Pro tip: Try to come before 11 on weekends — it gets packed.

Dolce Osteria

1710 Kenilworth Ave.

This quaint Italian restaurant features salads, paninis, pastas, entrees and more.

Pro tip: The pasta is made fresh each day — try it.

Duck Donuts

1710 Kenilworth Ave., #220

Donuts count as real food, right? Stop in at Duck as early as 6 a.m. each day and breathe in the scent of freshly baked goodness. Sample the fall menu, which includes maple icing with chopped bacon, and glazed with apple, streusel and salted caramel drizzle.

Pro Tip: Go for a made-to-order donut by picking a coating, a topping and a drizzle.

Drink

Dilworth Tasting Room

300 E. Tremont St.

Neighborhood hangout DTR opened with a list of 22 bottled beers to start, as well as 30 different wines by the glass. For the wines, expect $8-$40 a glass, and mid-$20-$300 a bottle. The wine list will feature some well-known names, and some not-so-well-known. Don’t overlook the menu of small plates, either.

Pro tip: Take your drinks out to the back patio. It’s magical at night.

The Queen & Glass

1315 East Blvd., Suite 115

Nestled between The People’s Market and the parking deck behind it, this hideaway-style cocktail bar offers a limited food menu with starters, small plates, flatbreads and more, plus fun craft cocktails.

Pro tip: Look for the portraits of queens in the decor selection, from Queen Charlotte to a drag queen.

Foxcroft Wine Co.

1235 East Blvd., #1

Grab a glass or bottle of wine from the vast selection in this elegant space, perhaps a beer and definitely a small plate or two. The local owners celebrate a farm-to-table approach with their food and stock their shelves with 3,500 different wines.

Pro tip: If you open a bottle of wine priced above $30, there’s no corkage fee.

MERE’s

2400 Park Road, Suite H.

The neighborhood’s newest wine shop, MERE’s operates as a cheese and wine boutique styled after European fromageries.

Pro tip: Don’t expect a full menu here. Come instead for the vino by the glass or by the bottle — and the featured sandwich of the day, or a charcuterie board crafted to your tastes.

Ed’s Tavern

2200 Park Road.

Kick back on the revamped patio out back or belly up to a table or the bar inside, somewhere near the old glowing hardware sign at this casual neighborhood hangout. Grab a drink or a bar bite and play pool, checkers and other games.

Pro tip: There are plenty of daily drink specials to whet the appetite.

Bulldog Dilworth

2447–B Park Road

This (rebranded) place feels like a low-key college dorm lounge, in a good way. Grab a bottle of wine to uncork at the bar or the beer of your choice.

Pro tip: Be on the lookout for bring-your-own-meat gatherings and $1 off pints on the weekly schedule.

Dilworth Neighborhood Grille

911 E. Morehead St.

This sports bar has a huge outdoor patio for sitting and sipping. It also happens to be the official home of the Charlotte Chapter of the Roaring Riot, so you can find fellow Panthers fans here.

Pro tip: This place is open until 2 a.m. daily.

Sunflour Baking Company 

220 East Blvd.

This sunny spot is a good stop for coffee, tea, fresh pastries or sandwiches. Everything is made from scratch and in small batches to complement a selection of Rishi loose leaf teas and Pure Intentions.

Pro tip: This is a delightful out-of-office alternative location to get work done. Don’t ignore that peanut butter cupcake, either.

Not Just Coffee

2230 Park Road

Come for teas, coffees, espresso drinks and tea lattes — or cocktails and wines by the glass. This latest rollout from the local Not Just Coffee empire also features a lovely food menu, from spiced muesli and avocado toast to grilled cheese and pasta salad.

Pro tip: The covered patio is great for enjoying a coffee with your dog.

Green Brothers Juice Co.

2230 Park Road, Suite 103

This company seeks to offer healthy lifestyle products and a positive community experience, with a bright selection of smoothies and juices, wellness shots and acai bowls.

Pro tip: Try the Sir Purr smoothie. It’s one of the few smoothies in the city that features Blue Majic powder.

Shop

Sally’s Optical Secrets

1419 East Blvd., Suite C

Shop a variety of glasses frames curated by owner and optician Sally Broadway, whose motto is: “It’s not just a medical device on your face. It is an accessory that has a function.” The list of higher-end brands includes Oliver Peoples and Paul Smith.

Pro tip: Factor in face shape and complexion when selecting your frames. (See Sally’s 10 tips here.)

The Milky Way

1419 East Blvd.

This cute boutique offers baby accessories, apparel, toys and “must haves” like swaddling blankets and sound machines.

Pro tip: If you’re shopping for a baby shower, don’t overlook the gift cards.

Alpine Ski Center

Sure, Charlotte only gets one snow day a year, but this shop is a good stop to make before a trip to the mountains if you’re looking for ski and snowboard equipment, winter sports clothing and accessories.

Pro tip: Equipment rentals are available at different rates.

1501 East Blvd.

Modern Lighting Design Store

1315 East Blvd.

This shop emphasizes selections of indoor and outdoor lighting and ceiling fans.

Pro tip: Make a point to walk inside. The space is filled with products on display so you can check them out in person.

Paper Skyscraper

330 East Blvd.

This little (dog-friendly!) shop on East Boulevard will save the day for gifts of any kind from quotable cards, to jewelry, to kitchen and cocktail gadgets, to Charlotte memorabilia, to candles. You can also just drop in if you’re looking for some writing gadgets and a bestselling novel.

Pro tip: On pleasant days, fun house decor and floor mats find their way onto the sidewalk outside the front door for sale. Check those out.

Campbell’s Greenhouses and Nursery

209 McDonald Ave.

Step into this oasis right on the edge of bustling South Boulevard and browse rows of orchids, flowering plants, seasonal selections and more.

Pro tip: One of their orchids or potted plants always make a great housewarming gift.

See

“Timeline”

“Timeline”

Intersection of Romany and Dilworth roads

Don’t overlook the public sculpture “Timeline,” by Robert Winkler. It looks like a couple of giant Ruffles chips fused together, but symbolizes “the conflict between the limitations imposed by our individual histories and the ability of our minds to imagine other possibilities.”

Pro tip: What you’re looking at here is fused rail pieces, paying homage to the area’s old trolley tracks.

Play

Latta Park

601 East Park Ave.

Get outside and enjoy the amenities across 32 acres of open space and woods. Amenities include a sprayground, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic shelter, multipurpose field, walking trails, playground and the Tom Sykes Recreation Center

Pro tip: Add this to your jogging route. The foliage is gorgeous, especially in the fall.

Freedom Park

1900 East Blvd.

Technically located on 98 acres between Dilworth and Myers Park, this is one of Charlotte’s largest and most popular parks. Stroll around the 7-acre lake, have a picnic on the grass, play tennis or volleyball, or check out the old steam locomotive parked out front.

Pro tip: Hop on Little Sugar Creek Greenway, which runs through the park, for a quick and picturesque trip into Uptown.

Photos: Theoden Janes, Rémy Thurston, Mark Hames/Charlotte Observer, Katie Toussaint, Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer.

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