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 street 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 and 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 Ave (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 Ave. Low prices and lots of neighborhood character.
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 barbecue and "Brunswick stew".
Taqueria La Unica, 2801 Central Ave, +1 704 347-5115.
Elizabeth Billiards, 1400 Central Ave, +1 704 342-2663. 3:30PM-2AM daily. 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.
Thomas St. Tavern, 1228 Thomas Ave, +1 704 376-1622, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su noon-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 $2-7, shots $4-10, wine $4/glass.
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.
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