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SOUTHERN LIVING – Date Night in Charlotte

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Don’t settle for dinner and a movie when you take center stage for a fun, reinvented weekend night on the town in the Queen City. We’ve paired happening dining options with close by live entertainment that give Charlotte after dark the perfect twist whether your budget is tight or you’re out for a splurge.

High Flying Date Night – Your evening will soar as you and your sweetie snuggle up in the comfort of your own car and catch the takeoffs and landings at the little known overlook lot at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The free lot is a great destination any night but particularly fun on the weekends with more international traffic. This budget friendly date night needs a small amount of advance planning as picking up a to-go box dinner from the iconic Price’s Chicken Coop is your first-class meal at an economy price. Don’t be fooled by the small storefront appearance and no inside dining, there’s a reason QC locals line up well down the street to get take-out from this Charlotte landmark. Price’s fried chicken is not just the best in Charlotte, but maybe the entire planet. Less than ten dollars buys a fried chicken dinner complete with hush puppies, tater rounds, creamy coleslaw, roll and a large, sweet tea. Budget 

A Penguin & a Story – The Penguin Drive-In is not really a drive-in at all. No matter, Plaza Midwood neighborhood residents call this Charlotte icon their own and pack the comfortable, no frills hangout for home-made corndogs, southern burgers and deep fried pickles. The truly brave go for the Full blown Hemi, a triple bacon pimento cheeseburger; it comes almost a foot tall! When you’re done here walk over to Story Slam! This tiny eighty seat theater operates from an unassuming storefront off the QC’s trendy Central Avenue. Story telling is the rage here. The evening may feature a National Book Award winning author reading, a locally produced one act play or lively jazz fusion and world music. The common denominator? It’s all about the story. Moderate

Clubbing The Night Away – Gotta dance? This combo pairs Charlotte’s acclaimed new fusion-tapas restaurant, Good Food on Montford, with a trip to Butter, one of the hottest nightclubs in town located at the hip North Carolina Music Factory. Good Food on Montford was selected a semi-finalist for the 2010 James Beard Best New Restaurant Award with good reason. Farm fresh ingredients are the focus in creating pure heaven and bold flavor from daring combinations. Try the grilled artichokes, seasonal mushrooms and arugula, or house smoked marcona almonds with drinks while you narrow your dinner choices. Crispy quail with Asian pear and chili or the over-the-top steamed bun with five-spice rubbed pork belly are only two of the many difficult but delightful challenges diners face in navigating Good Food’s menu. Charlotte’s once sleepy Fourth Ward has experienced an entertainment earthquake with the development of the North Carolina Music Factory. Over 300,000 square feet of former textile warehouse and manufacturing space plays host to several clubs, recording space and even an in-town outdoor amphitheater. Butter is an opulent club with giant crystal chandeliers, leather couches and chic styling that will leave you feeling like an A-lister as you dance the night away. Splurge

NoDa Night – Follow Charlotte’s Davidson Street through Uptown heading north and you’ll run right into the eclectic arts district known as NoDa (North Davidson). Revolution Pizza & Ale House calls to date-nighters with over forty specialty beers on tap, red, white or pesto pizzas on hand tossed crusts, and their own special house made gelato. You’ll be fueled up for live national caliber musical performers at NoDa’s own Neighborhood Theatre. Converted from a 1945 movie theater, The Neighborhood has some of the best acoustics in town, wide aisles and generous seating. Top acts that have played this cozy relaxed venue include; Leon Russell, The Wailin’ Jennys, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Doc Watson. Moderate

Zink. American Kitchen – Where dinner is the show – Chef’s tables at hot restaurants are typically reserved for in-the-know insiders and usually require minimum parties of eight or more. Zink strips away the formality of this experience and offers couples a table front and center on comfy elevated chairs, perched alongside their open kitchen. You are in charge with the chef who constructs a special five course meal for you and your sweetie of off menu items that treat your taste buds to American comfort food with a twist. It may feature local favorites the likes of; Pimento Cheese Fritters, Lobster Mac N’ Cheese, Potato Crusted Carolina Flounder or Rotisserie Pork Chops. The kitchen hands are a blur as they pop freshly made pita and flat breads from the 700 degree wood-burning brick oven and nurture sauté pans flaming with wine infused creations. Linger over your meal, you won’t be rushed here. A special wine pairing is available from the knowledgeable sommelier who will expertly match each course with the perfect glass of wine. Splurge

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