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 the Charlotte Country Club on the east, and between Parkwood Rd. (extending to Country Club Ln.) 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 Plaza, and the 9 and 39 both serve Central Ave. 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.
Repo Records, 2516 Central Ave, +1 704-334-7376.
Queens Gallery and Art Center, 1212 The Plaza, +1 704-372-2993.
Hong Kong Vintage, 2005 Central Avenue (across from Texaco), +1 704-334-0538. Vintage clothing and cool stuff. Open noon everyday. Not to be confused with the Chinese restaurant located up the street! More information at their website: .
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.
The Penguin, 1921 Commonwealth Ave. 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".
House of Pizza, 3640 Central Ave. Somewhat less trendy than its competitors, House of Pizza has an old-Charlotte appeal that has weathered the decades. Very low-key and friendly, this is an establishment among the working-class families in the Plaza-Midwood area. The food also happens to be cheap and well-made.
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.
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.
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).
Charleston House, 3120 The Plaza, . Another well-established soul food restaurant, owned and operated by African Americans. Charleston House is known for its exemplary service, coat-and-tie atmosphere and tasteful live music. A bit pricier than Mert's or Simmons, but worth every penny.
Taqueria La Unica. 2801 Central Ave.
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.
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