Plaza-Midwood has arisen as one of Charlotte's best restaurant hubs. In the neighborhood's center is a diverse collection of popular dinner joints; at its edges, a broad variety of immigrant-owned restaurants. The east side of Charlotte is the most internationally-diverse area in North Carolina, and Plaza-Midwood's surprising array of eateries and foreign-language groceries reflects that identity.
Revision as of 04:01, 22 July 2008
Plaza-Midwood is a district in Charlotte. It is located on the city's east side, about a mile from Uptown, and is developing as a hip urban neighborhood. The neighborhood derives the first half of its name from The Plaza, a steet passing through the center of the area; and Midwood, a subdivision of the neighborhood.
The district's boundaries are slightly ambiguous, but it is generally recognized as the area in between Hawthorne Lane on the west and Briar Creek Road and the Charlotte Country Club on the east, and between The Plaza and Parkwood Avenue on the north and Central Avenue to the south.
Early in its history, Plaza-Midwood was an industrial neighborhood centered around a streetcar line. The streetcar has long been inactive, but the moderate density of the district makes it vibrant and pleasant. An economic upturn in the last 20 years has brought it from seediness to popularity, especially among members of Charlotte's alternative cultural scene.
The easiest way to get into the neighborhood is to drive, but bus service  to the area makes mass transit a fairly easy option. The #4 bus line serves the northern part of the neighborhood, and the #9 and #39 both serve Central Avenue. Most of the neighborhood is easily walkable and safe, but is not recommended to walk there from outside the district as several nearby neighborhoods are not particularly safe.
Book Buyers, 1308 The Plaza (at the corner of Central & Plaza), +1 704-344-8611. Excellent used bookstore with a wide selection. Has a citywide reputation as one of the best booksellers around.
Hong Kong Vintage, 2005 Central Avenue (across from Shell Station), +1 704-334-0538, . Vintage clothing and cool stuff. Open noon everyday. Not to be confused with the Chinese restaurant located up the street!
Queens Gallery and Art Center, 1212 The Plaza, +1 704-372-2993, .
Fuel Pizza, 1501 Central Ave., +1 704-376-3835, . The original location of this fast-growing local chain. The building was originally a 1940s gas station (hence the name), and the decor reflects the theme. The pizza is average, but the calzones and garlic bread are quite good (and fairly cheap).
Little Italy, 2221 Central Ave., +1 704-375-1625. Italian for the rest of us. The neon sign directs you to this long-tenured establishment on gritty Central Avenue. Low prices and lots of neighborhood character.
Luv B's, 2121-A Shamrock Dr., +1 704-568-1636.
Nova's Bakery, 1511 Central Avenue, +1 704-333-5566, . Daily 7AM-8PM.
The Penguin, 1921 Commonwealth Ave., +1 704-375-6959, . One of Plaza-Midwood's dogged survivors, this restaurant has earned its high reputation among locals. The eclectic patronage fits well with the gritty-artsy area surrounding the restaurant. The menu features many Carolinas-themed delicacies, including barbeque and "Brunswick stew".
Taqueria La Unica, 2801 Central Ave., +1 704-347-5115.
Thomas St. Tavern, 1228 Thomas Ave., +1 704-376-1622, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 12PM-2AM. Well-established in the heart of Plaza-Midwood, this is also a good place to grab lunch or dinner before the heavy drinking begins. It's well worth giving some thought to combining dinner at the Penguin with drinking at the Tavern. Very intimate with lots of regulars. Beer between $2 - $7, Shots between $4 - $10, Wine $4/glass.
Elizabeth Billiards, 1400 Central Ave., +1 704-342-2663. Daily 3:30PM-2AM. Again and again, this pool bar ranks at the top of Charlotte's dive-bar scene. Its small size and smoky atmosphere are perfect for clientele seeking a "neighborhood bar" feel. It doesn't take long to notice that everyone seems to know each other; the regulars are welcoming and among pool bars this is one of the safest.
Plaza-Midwood has virtually no hotels, so staying inside the district is unlikely. The nearest concentration of hotels in on Independence Boulevard, a 5-10 minute drive to the southwest.
The VanLandingham Estate Inn & Conference Center, 2010 The Plaza, +1 704-334-8909, . Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this is the only real option for staying inside Plaza-Midwood. Quiet and luxurious, it is popular for honeymoons and other romantic events. Breakfast is included, which makes the steep prices a little easier to swallow.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!