Historic South End saw America’s first gold rush and Charlotte’s first railroad.
The first train moved through Charlotte (and South End) in 1852, followed by cotton mills and the rise of surrounding neighborhoods Dilworth and Wilmore. South End became Charlotte’s first industrial park.
While South End declined as mills moved elsewhere, the area was reborn in the 1980s with the creation of Gaines Brown’s exhibit design shop and the related influx of creatives like artists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs.
Today, South End is a bustling and vibrant neighborhood booming with the development of apartment buildings and breweries, the creation of weekend activities and the growth of a young-professional population.
This elegant sushi spot is described by its owners as having “traditional technique with a modern contemporary style and a little bit of Southern fusion.”
Pro tip: Browse the shops and sights at Atherton Mill if there’s a wait.
2000 South Blvd., #510
Step inside for fresh, raw vegan fare. The few cooked options include veggie burgers and seasonal soups.
Pro tip: The Living Burrito, a long-standing menu item, is a must-try.
2000 South Blvd., #300
This tiny, cozy ramen house is brimming with steaming broths and slurp-worthy noodles.
Pro tip: Whet the appetite with the fried Brussels sprouts.
222 E Bland St.
The menu in this corner spot features locally sourced ingredients in freshly made sandwiches, salads, grain bowls and more. Venture in for morning coffee, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or an evening glass of wine.
Pro tip: There’s a shelf with retail items like coffee and bottles of wine if you need something for later.
2135 South End Dr., Suite 109
The Packhouse functions as a sit-down restaurant serving healthier Southern fare while its sister space, Joe and Nosh, acts as a quick-serve food and coffee spot. These two establishments under Treehouse Kitchen support the nonprofit Behailu Academy.
Pro tip: sink into one of the rocking chairs out front with your cocktail (from The Packhouse) or your coffee (from Joe & Nosh).
500 E. Morehead St.
Named for Ray Lai beach of Thailand, this sleek restaurant offers traditional Thai street food, sushi and different Asian dishes.
Pro tip: Start with a specialty cocktail.
1520 South Blvd., Suite 130
This place describes itself as a “southern BBQ restaurant with a heavy Korean inspiration.” That means chicken (and tofu) wings galore, as well as fish and pork dishes, and delicious vegetable sides.
Pro tip: Order the half and half wings: Half spicy, half soy garlic.
1400 S Church St., a.
This grungy breakfast spot serves up hot Pure Intentions coffee and bagels galore with creative topping combinations.
Pro tip: Take time to read the messages on the graffiti walls while you bite into your steamed bagel.
2041 South Boulevard, Suite G
This longstanding and beloved, unassuming hotspot for fried chicken has been operating for 55 years and counting. Don’t forget to order slaw and hush puppies on the side.
Pro tip: Get there early. There’s always a line.
1614 Camden Road
Cure your chips and salsa cravings while you order a margarita and tacos, or other Tex-Mex fare.
Pro tip: Order $2 tacos on Tuesdays.
200 East Bland St.
Mac’s Speed Shop
This barbecue joint boasts award-winning Carolina barbecue (ahem, second place in the whole hog at the 2017 Memphis in May). Mac’s also has 300 cold beer options and “old-school,” comfort-food sides like Mac ‘N’ Cheese.
Pro tip: Sit on the patio for a chance to catch live music.
2511 South Blvd.
This humble establishment has served Charlotte for 50 years and is known for its burgers and soft-serve ice cream.
Pro tip: You’re allowed to combine as many flavors as you want in a milkshake. Take advantage.
2107 South Blvd.
Breathe in the bready aroma at this French bakery and pastry shop. Browse croissants, tartes, quiches, Beignets and more.
Pro tip: Select gluten-free items are available if needed.
2809 South Blvd.
The menu at this gaudily-decorated concept offers a mix of Cajun-style seafood and Asian favorites.
Pro tip: Expect interesting menu items like a fried gator roll.
1714 South Blvd.
This restaurant concept, which shares a space and ownership with Hyde Brewing, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with its taphouse, coffee bar, fermentation lab and cafe components.
Pro tip: Drink in the beautiful, plant-infused space while you drink a selection from the coffee bar (where coffee is viewed as art), or beer tap.
2911 Griffith St.
This old-fashioned shop was featured in the movie “Shallow Hal” and serves up salads, soups, sandwiches, flat breads, burgers and, of course, bottled sodas.
Pro tip: Order that root beer float you miss from childhood.
1930 Camden Road
Settle into a chair under strings of white lights in this charming wine shop and order by the bottle or glass. You can even choose from a craft beer selection.
Pro tip: Keep an eye out for evening events, from trivia to $5 sangria deals.
2000 South Blvd., #610
Stop in this unassuming shop for local, regional and national craft beer on draft or in bottles, cans and growlers. Stay for a drink, or take it home.
Pro tip: Grab an assortment of bottles for a beer-drinker’s gift.
125 Remount Road
First hitting the scene as a pop-up café that brought people together in unfamiliar places, HEX Coffee now shares a space with Good Bottle Co. and brings people together with familiar coffees, and an emphasis on espresso. There’s plenty of experimentation, too, for a hint of the unfamiliar, from shandies to matcha-based beverages.
Pro tip: Keep an eye out for locally baked Whisk and Wood pastries when you grab your coffee.
125 Remount Road
This 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: Join nights of beer bingo and live music on the weekly schedule.
1434 Winnifred St.
As the Unknown website puts it: “Our beer is one thing we take serious, everything else in life we don’t.” Come in here and be yourself, kick back with a variety of IPAs, stouts, porters, seasonal brews and more.
Pro tip: If you’re in the mood for something nonalcoholic, their signature ginger ale is spicy and light.
1327 S. Mint St.
Enjoy the expansive beer garden on a nice day, where you can typically catch a live band, a food truck and a regular yoga class. The tap room is small but bright, where you can track down brews ranging from small batch, to seasonal, to flagship to barrel-aged.
Pro tip: For the non-beer drinker, sip on the surprising variety of wines and ciders.
2161 Hawkins St.
Gather in the taproom, which is huge and holds comfy couches, a bar and long tables. If you’re not busy trying the extensive list of kombuchas or brews (think gluten-free wild ales, gluten-reduced beer, sours and traditional ales and lagers), there are plenty of activities to partake in during the week: trivia, live music, yoga, upbeat fitness classes and pop-up markets.
Pro tip: Taste-test a flight of kombuchas — you can’t go wrong with their clarity and effervescence.
3000 S Tryon St.
This brewery prides itself on developing a unique variety of beers including IPAs, farmhouse ales and sours. The robot in the name represents the American innovative spirit.
Pro tip: If you want to add some fitness to your beer drinking, the Runbots Run Club meets on Tuesdays.
1440 S Tryon St., Suite 110
Triple C’s barrel room offers big tables, expansive windows and 20 taps including beer and wine.
Pro tip: A food truck is onsite just about every day. Check the schedule here.
2900 Griffith St.
This brewery offers Belgian-inspired beer like pale ales, IPAs and porters with this philosophy: Combining “the watchful eye of a Trappist Monk with the technical precision of a nuclear engineer.”
Pro tip: Catch some laid-back music bingo on the event calendar.
215 Southside Dr.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
Park yourself in the 8-acre property’s gravel Biergarten, which is modeled off of the famous Biergartens of Munich. Sip on German-style beers.
Pro tip: Get lost in the crowd during Tuesday night OMB Yoga on Tap classes — they bring in hundreds of yogis.
4150 Yancey Road
Welcome to Charlotte’s first cidery, which serves up sweet, hopped and dry cider varieties.
Pro tip: Take a free cidery tour on select days of the week. Check the schedule here.
245 Clanton Road
This light-filled space provides an array of meads, ciders and special releases.
Pro tip: Order a flight to maximize your taste-testing experience.
117 Southside Drive
Paired with drinking and dining destination The Suffolk Punch, Hyde Brewing adds to the vision of “a collective campus for craftspeople.” Hyde’s focus is beer and coffee. Expect international beer and local craft beer selections and, eventually, their own brew.
Pro tip: Don’t overlook the satellite bar with 16 beer taps by the extensive patio.
2911 Griffith St.
Get a kick of caffeine with locally sourced coffee featuring styles like aeropress, drip and espresso.
Pro tip: Try the seasonal menu selections.
255 Clanton Road
Inside this café atmosphere, find a variety of coffee styles, teas and pastries.
Pro tip: Order something frothy, with latte art.
1700 Camden Road, #101
Grab wine by the bottle or one of the 36 beers on tap and browse the shelves of groceries focused on cheese and agricultural sundries.
Pro tip: Catch a weekly movie at sundown with your drink.
1320 S. Church St.
Take a breath in the light and airy space at Atherton Mill, where a variety of coffees and WiFi connectivity abound.
Pro tip: Try the cold brew — it’s hard to resist.
2000 South Blvd.
Watch the big game in this sports bar that serves up beer, wine, cocktails and American cuisine.
Pro tip: Sunday brunch includes a Bloody Mary Bar.
200 E. Bland St.
Here, you can add pool to your night life.
Pro tip: Expect weekend drink specials like $3 Coronas and $2 domestic bottles.
200 E. Bland St.
This neighborhood bar adds DJs, karaoke and live music to the drinking scene.
Pro tip: Venture up to the rooftop patio.
1411 S. Tryon St.
This recently-opened craft beer shop specializes in craft beer and wine from North and South Carolina.
Pro-tip: The owners are dog lovers (just look at the logo) and the patio is pet-friendly.
116 West Blvd., Charlotte.
Atherton was once a multi-building factory created by the Parks-Cramer Company in 1919. Catch Saturday farmers market hours (listed on the website) to shop a variety of local vendors. Tucked into the building, Savory Spice Shop is a local favorite for spices, seasonings, herbs, sauces and bitters. Bigger-name shops in the building include Alton Lane, Free People, Brideside, Anthropologie and Warby Parker.
Pro tip: If you stop at Savory Spice, do stop and smell the spices — there are testers available.
2000-2140 South Blvd.
Pet Wants, which emphasizes all-natural, fresh ingredients, offers cat and dog food as well as a smorgasbord of pet treats from lamb ears to tuna melt cookies.
Pro tip: Pet Wants delvers for free.
2324 B Distribution St.
This little shop offers invitations and stationery by a variety of brands.
Pro tip: ROOTS café is right down the sidewalk if you need a space to write.
2115 Southend Dr.
Check out modern furniture, lighting, custom rugs and local art.
Pro tip: In-store and in-home design appointments are available.
2137 South Blvd., #100
Take a look at the blend of art and functional crafts by local, regional and national artists.
Pro tip: The gallery switches up its exhibitions regularly, so there is plenty of fresh work to see.
128 E. Park Ave, Ste B.
Shop art while checking out the rotating, curated exhibitions.
Pro tip: If you’re artistically inclined, sign up for a class or workshop.
128-c East Park Ave.
Ultra may be in the name, but this local shop is a resource for runners and walkers of all levels, from beginners to seasoned ultramarathoners.
Pro tip: Ultra Running Company also hosts weekly runs through South End every Wednesday, with each session focusing on a different running tip.
1027 Providence Road, Charlotte.
This 2007 public art installation by Tom Thoune spans the 360-foot Camden Wall along the LYNX Blue Line.
Pro tip: Get a close-up of the 33 mosaic inserts — they feature various materials from stone, to glass, to objects donated by the community and they have a story to tell.
Camden Road between Worthington Avenue and West Boulevard
With several light rail stations dotting the track through South End, it’s easy to catch a ride into Uptown or away to south Charlotte. Pick your adventure.
Pro tip: Check the schedule before you venture to a station to save time.
You don’t even have to board the light rail to enjoy all the spectacles that the Charlotte Rail Trail has to offer. Check out the Rail Trail Symphony near New Bern Station, Edna’s Porch by Carson Station, the Magic Carpet Mural across the tracks from Atherton Market, and more along this 4.5-mile public trail.
Pro tip: Walk this route to your next drinking or eating destination to spice up your travel time.
The door in the parking lot should be unlocked during “regular” business hours to give the public access to tenants including photographers, painters, art consultants and other creative types. All of the walls along the three floors of studios are lined with art to look into, get lost into.
Pro tip: While you wander, keep an eye out for “Da Mayor” of Dilworth Artisan Station, Paul Hastings.
118 E. Kingston Ave.
BYOB and join an intimate cooking class with Chef Alyssa Gorelick. Classes range in skill level and topics have included game day favorites, harvest Italian and vegetarian tapas. The best part: After cooking, you get to sit down to your meal.
Pro tip: Stop at Vin Master next to the market to grab a bottle of wine for your cooking spread.
Atherton Mill and Market, 2104 South Blvd.
Love to sing? There are four themed, private karaoke rooms you can rent at Seoul Food Meat Co.
Pro tip: Reserve the rooms in person or call 980-299-5143.
1400 S Church St., a.
Photos: Theoden Janes, Katie Toussaint, Charlotte Observer File