Sarah Crosland

Correspondent

  • Charlotte, NC, USA

Sarah Crosland is a correspondent who lives in Charlotte and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. She is also a freelance writer and the executive editor of The Charlotte Observer’s magazine division, which includes numerous lifestyle publications for the region. While the North Carolina native has been a travel writer for almost a decade, her first love has always been food. She is the author of the book Food Lovers’ Guide to Charlotte and has covered the city’s growing culinary scene for various publications, including The Hollywood Reporter and DC magazine.

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  • On May 31, 2013
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    What are the best wine bars in Charlotte?

    Charlotte has a variety of neighborhood wine bars. In South Charlotte, look for Vintner Wine Market at the Aboretum for a large selection of wines, craft beer, and small plates. In SouthPark you’ll find the new J. Sams, where you can indulge in a glass of wine or one of their craft cocktails on the patio facing the center of the Piedmont Row Development. Or in Plaza Midwood, spend an evening in the edgy Gallery Twenty-Two where art adorns the walls and local beers also make an appearance. There are spots all over town for an evening spent sipping vino, but if you’re only going to hit one, here are the top three.

    Urban Sip
    This elegant wine and Scotch bar is located on the 14th floor of The Ritz-Carlton uptown. You’ll have skyline views and a swank setting served alongside some of the best wines in town.

    Dolce Vita
    In the mood to sit back, relax, and chat with your glass? Head to this relaxed NoDa wine bar where the windows open onto the sidewalk in warmer weather and acoustic musicians strum on many weekend nights.

    Queen’s Corner
    This wine bar on the second story of Whole Foods in SouthPark offers a self-serve Enomatic wine machine featuring 24 different wines to sample. Order one of the charcuterie and cheese plates downstairs and then enjoy alongside your wine in the cozy loft.
  • On May 31, 2013
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    What are the best coffee shops in Charlotte?

    If you’re craving a cup of joe, you’re in luck. In addition to its numerous Starbucks and Caribou Coffees, Charlotte has several independent coffee shops offering freshly brewed—and often locally roasted—coffee.

    Smelly Cat Coffee
    This eclectic coffee shop has been a NoDa neighborhood staple for years. Across the street from the historic Neighborhood Theater, the shop features graffiti scrawled walls, bright colors, an indie soundtrack, and a variety of coffee drinks and pastries. Grab a cup and sit on the patio to check out the street’s always lively crowds.

    Central Coffee
    Located on Central Avenue, this coffee shop features a variety of drinks made from Joe Van Gogh beans roasted in Chapel Hill, NC. It’s a cozy spot, perfect for settling in with a warm mug for a chat. Plus, the shop recently launched it’s line of cold brewed coffees in both concentrate and by the bottle, both perfect for cooling down on a hot summer afternoon.

    Dilworth Coffee
    You can smell the freshly roasted beans before you’ve even walked in the door of this small, popular coffee shop.  Coffee lines the walls and most mornings you’re hard pressed to find a table in the busy shop. Drinks like the Crème Brulee latte are perfect for indulging, but purists will love their authentic house blend.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Sarah Crosland answered the question: Sarah Crosland

    What are the best places for breakfast in Charlotte?

    Whether you’re in the mood for down home style country cooking or an upscale Parisian brunch experience, Charlotte offers the full spectrum of breakfasts around town. Here are three spots, perfect for indulging in the early morning hours.

    Zada Jane's Corner Cafe
    This funky restaurant, located on a corner in the center of the eclectic Plaza Midwood neighborhood is a favorite among locals. On weekend mornings, the line often circles around the building with families waiting to be served its famed egg dishes and biscuits. Inside, you’ll find bright décor, colorful art, and mismatched coffee mugs. Build your own omelet or order one of their amusingly named options like Blazing Saddles, made with black beans, chipotle chick, pepper jack, and jalapenos.

    Harvest Moon Grille
    While this uptown restaurant located just off the lobby of the historic Dunhill Hotel is primarily known for its dedication to locally sourced food for lunch and dinner, its tasty breakfast may be the city’s best-kept secret. Farm-to-table offerings like The Full Moon Breakfast include house cured bacon, locally milled grits, and toast. But the best—and most decadent—choice on the menu is the biscuit and two eggs with gravy. The gravy is made with sausage sourced from the owner/chef’s own farm and it’s worth rising early for in the morning.

    Café Monte
    This large SouthPark restaurant bistro feels you've stumbled into a convivial Parisian café. Settle in at one of the round top tables and order a café au lait. Then indulge in elegant dishes like the Florentine omelette or the smoked ham crepes. For something even more savory, try one of the quiches. They’re light, fluffy, and filled with flavor.
  • On May 31, 2013
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    What is the best new restaurant in Charlotte?

    Charlotte’s restaurant scene has grown rapidly in recent years, often following national trends. Recently, the city has seen an influx in spots focused on locally focused fare, creative dishes, and craft cocktails. The top new addition to this crowd is Block & Grinder.

    This Providence Road spot is part restaurant, part wine store, part butcher shop, and does all three very well. If you’re stopping in for a shopping trip you’ll find a well curated selection of wines by the bottle (these can also be purchased by patrons of the restaurant) and one of the most impressive meat counters in town.

    However, the restaurant and its inventive dishes tends to steal the spotlight. Start your meal at the small, L-shaped bar with tasty craft cocktails like the bright green basil smash. A charcuterie plate features rich offerings like a creamy pate topped in a fig compote alongside house cured sausages.

    Entrees are elegant dishes ranging from rabbit over stone ground grits to a seared duck topped in a sweet cherry and brandy glace. If you’re in the mood for something more casual, opt for one of the decadent burgers like the shitake and gruyere topped with roasted shitake mushrooms, garlic aioli, and gruyere cheese.

    One of the best times to visit Block & Grinder though may be for the restaurant’s Sunday brunch. Dishes like the Crawfish and grits and the corned beef hash with fried egg are prepared exceptionally well—and pair well with the restaurant’s house made bellinis or sriracha bloody marys.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Sarah Crosland answered the question: Sarah Crosland

    What are the most romantic restaurants in Charlotte?

    Spending a romantic dining out evening in Charlotte isn’t hard. Many of the city’s restaurants set the scene with flickering candlelight, intimate seating, and cozy settings. Looking for the top spots to impress your date? Here are three you’ll want to consider.

    McNinch House
    This uptown restaurant’s hushed rooms are said to have been where some of the city’s biggest banking deals have gone down. But in the elegant historic mansion, diners are greeted warmly and given candlelit tables in rooms that feel like someone’s personal home. The fare, which has a French influence, is exquisitely served alongside an extensive wine list. And if all that’s not enough to set the mood, women are given a single-stem red rose as their parting gift each night.

    Customshop
    This cozy restaurant with its exposed brick walls and dark wood booths, is the perfect place for a glass of wine alongside some of its inventive fare. Dishes like housemade gnocchi and house sliced carpaccio are definitely musts from the entrée list, but this is also an excellent choice if you’re seeking a good spot to just go for dessert. The restaurant’s famed bread pudding is a gooey dessert stuffed with apples and walnuts and drenched in caramel. One warning: Sharing it might sound romantic, but you’ll probably want your own.

    Zebra
    This sophisticated French restaurant has been a staple in Charlotte’s fine dining scene for years. With a wine list featuring more than 900 bottles and a nightly tasting menu, it’s a favorite for special occasions—and those looking for impressively prepared fare in an intimate setting.
  • On May 31, 2013
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    Where is the best outlet shopping in Charlotte?

    While Charlotte’s local boutiques and shopping malls offer plenty of tempting purchases, if you’re looking for deals that are easy on your wallet—but great for your closet—there are two top spots worth hitting in town.

    Concord Mills
    Just off I-85 to the east of town, this indoor shopping mall features more than 200 stores offering discount deals. Some of the top shops for clothes and accessories include outlet stores from Ann Taylor, GAP,  Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Saks Off 5th. If you’re looking for children, stop in the Disney outlet shop or for electronics, check out the Bose store. The mall gets packed on weekends, so plan on going early to grab your goods.

    Nordstrom Rack
    If you like the items and designers you’ll find at this famed department store, then you’re going to love discovering the same ones at its discount warehouse store. This over-sized shop in South Charlotte features racks and rows of designer clothes, shoes, and accessories at often steeply discounted prices. You’ll find items that were in stores only a few months before for significantly less.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Sarah Crosland answered the question: Sarah Crosland

    What are the best fine jewelry stores in Charlotte?

    Whether you’re looking for an attractive trinket or a large purchase, Charlotte has several upscale jewelry stores certain to have the sparkle you’re seeking. Most of the fine jewelry shops are located in the SouthPark neighborhood in or near the area’s high end mall. Here are the first three to hit, but if you don’t find what you’re searching for, there are several more shops nearby.

    Perry’s Fine Antique & Estate Jewelry
    There’s no better shop in Charlotte for finding elegant antique pieces. This shop, which was previously in SouthPark mall and is now located across the street, offers one-of-a-kind pieces and stones for those seeks something completely unique.

    Windsor Jewelers
    This newbie on the Charlotte scene has joined the upscale shops at Philips Place. Here you’ll find a variety of pieces from famed designers like Judith Ripka and Roberto Coin. You’ll also find several designers—both of watches and jewelry—that are entirely exclusive to Windsor in the Carolinas.

    Tiffany & Co.
    Located in SouthPark mall’s luxury wing, alongside shops like Louis Vuitton and St. John, this premier jewelry has all the flawless pieces and popular designs you’ve come to expect from the line.
  • On May 31, 2013
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    What’s new in Charlotte?

    As a fast growing city, it seems there’s always a new restaurant, shop, or nightlife hotspot on the horizon in Charlotte. Below, you’ll find the top new spots to hit around town right now.

    Shop
    When owner David Watkins moved his Plaza Midwood custom clothier studio Abbeydale uptown, he also gave it an upgrade. The new space, which feels more New York than new South, is filled with a stylishly curated selection of ready to wear clothing and accessories, as well as custom suits.

    Eat
    Located off of the busy Providence Road south of town, Block & Grinder is part butcher, part wine shop, and part restaurant—and even more remarkably, does all three very well. Stop in for one of the craft cocktails like the bright green Gin Basil Smash alongside a plate of house made charcuterie and pick up a fresh cut of meat to take home. Or stay for a meal prepared by Chef Kent Graham whose expertise in the kitchen shines through in more unusual meats like rabbit and lamb.

    Drink
    The latest addition to the always-bustling and ever-evolving EpiCentre nightlife complex, the swank Bubble Charlotte is focused primarily on champagne. However, you’ll find plenty of luxe cocktails in the two-story space as well. Spend an evening lounging inside or catch skyline views on its balcony while you toast this new nightlife destination.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Sarah Crosland answered the question: Sarah Crosland

    What are the best farmers markets in Charlotte?

    Because Charlotte is surrounded by rural counties, the city’s markets offer the chance to not only enjoy fresh veggies and produce, but also an opportunity to meet many of the growers and breeders behind your dinner. While Saturday mornings in the summer, you’ll find markets scattered around the city, these are the top three to hit for the freshest fare.

    King’s Drive Farmer’s Market
    This family owned market isn’t the largest in town, but its central location and variety of offerings makes it one of the most popular. Here you’ll find seasonal favorites like peaches and strawberries in the warmer months, as well as fresh cut flowers, locally-raised meats and eggs, and an entire nursery full of plants and herbs. In the fall and winter, the market turns into a top spot for picking out pumpkins and Christmas trees alongside seasonal produce.

    Charlotte Regional Farmers Market
    This is the city’s largest farmers market—it’s set on 22 acres. Here you’ll find both local produce as well as more exotic offerings from vendors, such as Asian fruits. There are also sellers offering crafts, handmade goods, and baked items, perfect for packing up to take home.

    Atherton Mill Market
    Quite possibly the city’s most charming market, this South End spot is housed in a former warehouse and feels like a stroll through a European market. You’ll find local cheeses and breads, as well as more specialty style items such as nuts, honey, pickles, and jams. Plus, plan on picking up delicacies like ostrich or tilapia as well.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Sarah Crosland answered the question: Sarah Crosland

    What are the best festivals in Charlotte?

    Great weather most months and a city full of neighborhood pockets and parks means that Charlotte has many festivals throughout the year. On almost any weekend—especially in the fall—you’re likely to find some sort of festival serving up a taste of the local culture. Here are three not to miss.

    Yiasou Greek Festival
    Located at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the inviting Dilworth neighborhood, this family-friendly festival has been a favorite in Charlotte since 1987. More than 30,000 people attend the annual festival, where you’ll find exhibits and demos on Greek heritage from dancing to crafts. Of course, the real reason to go is for the festival’s famed sweet and goeey baklava. (Sept. 13-16)

    Time Warner Cable BBQ and Blues Festival
    North Carolina is serious about its barbecue and no place is that more evident than this annual fest kicking off the fall season. In addition to the state’s favorite pork product, you’ll also find cold brews, games, and other local fare (think slushies made from locally grown apples). Spend an evening listening to the tunes while you indulge. (Oct. 17-19)

    Festival in the Park
    One of Charlotte’s longest running festivals, this weekend event draws more than 150,000 annual visitors to Freedom Park. Here, hundreds of artists show off and their wares, as performances take place around the park’s lake throughout the fest. (Sept. 20-22)
  • On May 31, 2013
    Sarah Crosland answered the question: Sarah Crosland

    What are the best wedding venues in Charlotte?

    From sleek, modern spaces to elegant, Southern settings, Charlotte is full of sophisticated spots to tie the knot. Here are three luxe locations worth considering for your big day.

    The Van Landingham Estate
    This inn is located in the historic Plaza Midwood neighborhood where tree lined streets and charming bungalows mix with edgy vintage shops and upscale restaurants. On the estate, you’ll find tranquil gardens, quiet paths, and a small pond, all perfect settings for your guests—and picturesque photos of your day.

    Duke Mansion
    Tucked inside gorgeous Myers Park neighborhood, this historic mansion is as quintessentially Southern as they come. Rocking chairs sit on screen porches of the large white structure, which is flanked by stunning gardens including a rose garden and towering magnolias. Multiple rooms and garden areas mean that there’s plenty of space for guests to mingle and enjoy throughout an evening here.

    The Ritz-Carlton
    This modern uptown hotel is perfect for the couple who are seeking a more sophisticated, urban look for their wedding. Often couples have ceremonies in the hotel’s adjacent interior urban garden before heading to its opulent ballroom for the evening’s reception.
  • On May 31, 2013
    Sarah Crosland answered the question: Sarah Crosland

    What are the best souvenirs to buy in Charlotte?

    If you’re seeking something other than the typical T-shirt, you’re in luck. In a city full of innovative chefs, brewers and artists, you’ll find plenty of items to take home for gifts—or for yourself.

    NoDa Brewing Company Coco Loco
    Charlotte’s craft beer scene is hopping! The city currently has seven breweries with just as many on the way. It’s worth stopping in one or two while you’re in town to soak in the scene. When you do, make sure to stop by NoDa Brewing Company, one of the originals—and one of the best. Pick up a growler of their award-winning Coco Loco, created with house made toasted coconut, to take home.

    Bar Cocoa Chocolates
    Located off the lobby of uptown’s chic Ritz-Carlton, Bar Cocoa features a decadent menu packed full of sweet treats. You’ll want to indulge in a few of them (don’t skip the house made hot chocolate) in the luxe lounge area. When you’re finished, peruse the colorful confection bar where you’ll find creative candies perfect for packing up to take.

    Romare Bearden Children’s Book
    Charlotte’s most famous artist, Romare Bearden, left a lasting mark on the city’s creative scene. Visit local museums like the Harvey B. Gantt Center or the Mint Museum and you’ll find many of his works. If you’re looking for something to tuck in your suitcase for the younger set, pick up one of his children’s books in the Mint Museum’s colorful gift shop.
  • On May 31, 2013
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