Where you go: Caribou Coffee in Founder’s Hall
Why you go there: It’s basically a Bank of America conference room that you don’t have to reserve and the coffee is 20 cents cheaper than Starbucks, which is how you fool yourself into thinking that $3.72 for a latte is even close to a reasonable amount of money to spend on a coffee drink every day. Plus, they have trivia that is either so impossibly hard no one gets it or so easy that you think it has to be a trick question. There is no in-between.
What you get: Medium Dark Roast
Where you should go: Rush Espresso in Latta Arcade
Why you should go there: Rush Espresso serves Lavazza coffee, which lots of people on Yelp say is way better. I wouldn’t dare boast about my coffee palette, but the coffee is definitely tasty. You won’t be waiting long for your coffee, and the calm of Latta Arcade on a weekday morning is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of Trade & Tryon. There’s also a cool faux-fur rug inside that makes it feel like you’re in the solarium of a hip metropolitan penthouse. An additional benefit over Caribou is that you aren’t distracted from your conversation by seeing someone you know walk by every seven minutes. You can focus on drinking your coffee that is, as we’ve established in this space before, considerably better.
Side note: If you ever want to meet new people, show up at Caribou Coffee and start introducing yourself to one of the 20 people awkwardly waiting outside the door around 9 am every morning. Everyone is so self-conscious that they’re staying alone, they’ll jump at the chance to talk to a beautiful stranger like yourself.
Where you go: Bruegger’s Bagels in Epicentre
Why you go there: It’s the only game in town, Jack. Get in line.
What you get: Everything Bagel with plain cream cheese
Where you should go: Bruegger’s Bagels
Why you should go there: Because there is literally no other place to get a good bagel in Uptown. I feel like at this point we need the city to intervene. Breugger’s has a monopoly on the distribution of bagels to the denizens of Uptown office buildings. It’s criminal. I’m surprised evidence of some sort of bagel-related collusion didn’t show up in the transcripts of the FBI’s sting on Patrick Cannon. It’s a mystery how we are in this situation. We have NBA and NFL teams for cripes’ sake! Can’t we get a good independent, local bagelery?!?
Poppy’s, City Bagel, Sunflour Bakery, Nova’s Bakery, help us out. We, the Citizens of Charlotte, beg of you. Save us from our monobagel overlords. In the meantime, I’ll have an everything, toasted, with plain cream cheese. Thank you, Breugger’s. Please don’t leave us or we won’t have any bagels.
Where you go: Qdoba
Why you go there: Because you had pizza yesterday and are getting burgers with Karl tomorrow, so you want “Mexican food” and Salsarita’s is “too far away” and you don’t mind waiting 25 minutes for an overpriced burrito.
What you get: Burrito
Where you should go: Johnny Burrito
Why you should go there: Judging by the line during lunchtime, I’m not sure how under the radar Johnny Burrito is, but if you haven’t been you are missing out on one of Uptown’s greatest treasures. Johnny Burrito is nestled under the Wells Fargo building, just off the corner of College and 3rd St. They’ve got a standard Mexican joint menu, but you can load up on all kinds of fresh fixin’s until you can barely close your Styrofoam container. Unlike Chipotle, they won’t feed you that “guacamole is extra” line at Johnny Burrito. By the time you’re done adding rice, beans, and a metric ton of vegetables, your plate resembles a hearty salad with a Taquito nestled at the bottom. Other reasons Johnny Burrito rules:
(1) “Johnny” himself. He’s almost always at the register during the busiest times. He’s awesome. If you pay in cash (please remember to pay in cash), he will thank you for the “Casheeesh” and hand you an atomic fireball. Why? Because it’s…
(2) Fireball Friday. On Friday, you get an atomic fireball when you order food at Johnny Burrito. Why? Who cares. All you need to know is that Qdoba doesn’t give you a fireball. Only sadness.
(3) Tamales. I recommend going to Johnny Burrito any day of the week, but if you go on Friday, you’ll get to sample their tamales, which are probably excellent on their own, but certainly fantastic under a mound of queso and fresh veggies.
Lunch Spot to Eat
Where you go: Wells Fargo Atrium
Why you go there: Because sometimes there are dogs or girl scouts or ACC mascots or some sort of distraction and if you are lucky you only have to hover for 15 minutes over someone’s shoulder, intimidating them to eat their lunch as fast as possible so that you can sit down until someone else saunters up and does the same thing to you. It’s a vicious cycle.
Where you should go: Romare Bearden Park
Why you should go there: Really if you work in Uptown and it’s not raining, there’s no reason you shouldn’t eat lunch in Romare Bearden Park every day. You get an amazing view of the Uptown skyline. Most of the time there is live music. There are families walking around. There are extremely fit people working out that you can hate-watch as you choke down your 7,000 calorie masterpiece from Johnny Burrito. What more can you ask for?
Where you go: Enso
Why you go there: Because you saw the nice outdoor furniture sitting outside and the red carpet the last time you were walking by on your way to Alive After Five and you thought it would be a good fancy destination for your next sushi date night.
What you get: The sushi is passable, but if you concentrate real hard you can taste Enso’s profit margin. A dinner for two will run you a Benjamin, and it’s probably worth a pair of Jacksons.
Where you should go: Room 112
Why you should go there: It’s beyond me why Room 112 isn’t talked about more in Charlotte. The food is great and reasonably priced. It’s got a cozy, quaint atmosphere and great service. You can get in and out quick for lunch or enjoy a drawn out evening meal with drinks. The only explanation for Room 112 not topping “best of” lists year in and year out is that it’s difficult to find. I think people try to enter through the door on the Trade St side, realize it’s locked, then walk away and go pay 3x more for sushi at Enso. You have to walk in through the Tryon Plaza entrance and walk to the end of the hallway. If you take a date there, he or she will feel like Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas walking through the kitchen at the Copacabana.