NoDa has long been known as Charlotte’s arts district, its blocks crammed full of funky little shops, restaurants, bars and plenty of public art.
So we figured NoDa would be the perfect neighborhood to kick off our new “How to spend a perfect day” series. This occasional series will serve as a user’s guide to different parts of the city, telling you what you should do, see, eat and drink in Charlotte’s most interesting neighborhoods.
We consulted CharlotteFive team members and NoDa residents Katie Coleman and Tyler Blackshaw to build this itinerary. Here’s what they came up with.
How to spend a perfect day in NoDa:
(1) Start the day with coffee from Smelly Cat Coffeehouse (514 E. 36th St.) Pro tip from Katie: “Go with the Black Cat (iced or hot) for a solid jolt.” If it’s a nice day, you could enjoy your coffee on the patio outside.
(Editor’s note: Since we’re being neighborhood purists, we didn’t include nearby Amelie’s French Bakery, which is technically in Villa Heights. But it’s definitely worth a visit.)
Late morning/Early afternoon
(3) If it’s a Saturday, stroll through the NoDa Farmers Market (3221 Yadkin Ave.) for produce, cheeses, meats, munchies and art from locals.
(4) If it’s not a Saturday, or if you have more strolling in you, wander down North Davidson Street and pop into the small shops and galleries that line both sides. From local jewelry and art from Ruby’s Gift (3204 N. Davidson St.) to the multicultural flair of Pura Vida Worldly Art (3202 N. Davidson St.), you could get lost exploring in these shops for hours.
(5) You can’t go wrong with Guy Fieri-approved Cabo Fish Taco (3201 N. Davidson St.). Pro tip from Tyler: “The blackened Mahi Mahi is my usual go-to order (unless the fried scallops taco is on special). I’m having a side of their jalapeño mashed potatoes and washing it down with one of their margaritas.”
(6) Camp out at the NoDa Company Store (3221 Yadkin Ave.), housed in an old mill house, while the weather’s nice. Grab a beer, some wine or sangria, and chill out on the front porch. And, if you’re somehow still hungry, you can grab a snack from inside or take advantage of one of their frequent barbecues.
(7) If the weather’s not so nice, or if you’re just trying to watch the big game (March Madness, anyone?), Tyler recommends Growlers Pourhouse (3120 N. Davidson St.). With 14 beers on tap, there’s something for everyone. And, again, if you’re somehow still not stuffed, there’s free popcorn.
(8) Time to check out the hottest spot in town and get some delicious southern cooking from Haberdish (3106 N. Davidson St.) and a cocktail made by Colleen Hughes. Pro tip from Tyler: “Start the meal with biscuits and bacon jam, hush puppies, and continue on with the fried chicken. However, there’s truly something for everyone here. Just ask our resident vegetarian about the cauliflower steak.”
(9) Head to Salud Beer Shop (3306-B N. Davidson St.) for a pint to get the night started. The music is always fire (mostly old-school hip hop) as is the tap list. If you want to meet new people, this is the place to do it. Everyone is beyond friendly and definitely willing to talk about beer. Also, it’s working on opening a nanobrewery upstairs.
(10) Get a taste of Charlotte’s local craft beer scene at Heist Brewery (2909 N. Davidson St.) While there are a lot of really amazing breweries right outside NoDa you should also check out, this is the only one in the neighborhood proper. Beer not your thing? The cocktail list will not disappoint.
(11) Catch a show at one of two live music venues. Neighborhood Theater (511 E. 36th St.) hosts a wide array of local and national touring acts. If you’re looking for a super-intimate show, pop into The Evening Muse (3227 N. Davidson St.), an amazingly tiny and beautiful space that will constantly surprise you with its eclectic lineup.
(12) After getting inspired by real musicians, take the stage and belt out a crowd-pleaser at NoDa 101 (3205 N. Davidson St. #101), which features karaoke seven nights a week.
(13) Time to soak up all that liquid courage, so let’s head back to where it all started — Jack Beagles, which is open until 3 a.m. on the weekend. Load up on some Jack Mac, the signature mac and cheese described as “kind of spicy, kind of garlicky, really yummy!”
Sounds like the perfect way to end the perfect day in NoDa.
There’s a lot more to explore in NoDa that we couldn’t fit into one day. Add your favorite NoDa experiences into the comments.
Photos: James Willamor/Flickr (featured). CharlotteFive file