It’s hard to ignore the buzz behind Charlotte’s first food hall, Optimist Hall. But why would you want to?
On August 1, 2019, this food-and-retail hub at 1115 North Brevard St. opened its doors to Charlotteans. Since then, locals and visitors alike have flocked to this Instagrammable spot to enjoy delicious food, drink, and a little bit of shopping, too.
That being said, tackling the hall can be overwhelming if you’re a first-timer. So use this handy guide to make your first (or 10th) visit a memorable one.
When can I go?
Hours vary by tenant. For example, Undercurrent Coffee and Village Juice Co. serve breakfast, so they open earlier than their neighbors. Hall hours are Monday – Thursday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Where exactly is it?
Where do I park?
If you’re driving to Optimist Hall, plenty of parking is available. However, it helps to know that you’ll be going in the hall from the side of the building that has the steps up to the loggia / patio. Try to park closer to that entrance, as the amount of parking around the entire building can be confusing on your first trip.
But that’s definitely not your only option. Consider arriving by ride share services, bike, electric scooter, foot, or LYNX Blue Line light rail. If you choose the train, just hop off at Parkwood Station and walk on over.
Here’s a handy map for your parking convenience.
What can I buy?
At this time, two retail locations are open.
Browse through and purchase small-batch, all-natural food for your furry friend. Aside from the healthy, fresh pet food, you’ll find treats, toys, and accessories for dogs and cats.
Looking for unique greeting cards, writing utensils, books, gift wrap, and other crafty supplies? Check out Archer Paper, which carries a variety of fun brands. Your desk will never look better.
What should I eat?
We’re glad you asked. Eleven food or drink spots are currently open with several more on the way. The best way to get a taste? Head to Optimist Hall with a group of friends so you can each order something from different vendors. Then share away.
Based in Tampa Bay, FL, Ava Pizzeria offers wood-fired Neapolitan style pizza made with fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as salads and sandwiches. Best part about this pizza? It cooks in 90 seconds. Hello, quick lunch break.
Bao & Broth
Moffett Restaurant Group chef Larry Schreiber brought his dream to reality with Bao & Broth. This stall serves fluffy bao (buns filled with meats and toppings) and miso, vegan, and spicy pork ramen. Time to get your noodle on.
The Dumpling Lady
Remember the feeling of missing out on dumplings and noodles because you couldn’t make it to The Dumpling Lady food truck in time? No more! She now has a permanent stall at Optimist Hall where she serves her delicious menu all day (but yes, the food truck is still operating.)
El Thrifty Social Club
On the lower level of the hall you’ll fine El Thrifty Social Club, a food, drink, and gaming venue that originally started in Greenville, SC. Play some shuffle board, snack on nachos, and sip on tequila and mezcal cocktails in this trendy bar. Perfect for a night out with your best buds.
The ultimate pick-me-up exists in the back corner of Optimist Hall. This scoop shop from Atlanta, GA serves tasty gelato flavors like salted caramel brownie, bourbon pecan praline, and brown butter crunch plus sorbet, milkshakes, and gelato sandwiches. Treat yourself.
Another food truck turned restaurant! The ever-popular Papi Queso is now slinging grilled cheese sandwiches in a permanent location. First-timers should go with the Pig Mac (pork, mac and cheese, and caramelized onions.)
The Spindle Bar
Need a midday drink? Same. Head to The Spindle Bar for craft cocktails, wine, and beer from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. And feel free to walk around the hall sipping on your beverage of choice.
You love this coffee shop in Plaza Midwood. Now enjoy it at the hall. Order your golden milk latte and avocado toast and knock out all that work you’ve been putting off (don’t worry, we aren’t judging.)
Village Juice Co.
Enjoy a healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at this clean-eating stall from Winston-Salem, NC. Everything is crafted in-house using all-natural ingredients. Be sure to grab a smoothie or pressed juice for the road.
Create your own sushi roll, burrito, or bowl at Zukku. Unless the idea of getting creative makes you start to sweat. In that case, choose something from their curated menu. Problem solved.
Quite a bit! Optimist Hall as already announced an impressive line-up of coming-soon tenants and will continue to add to this list. Here’s what you can start getting pumped to try.
Billy Sunday: Award-winning cocktail lounge from Chicago, IL.
Botiwalla: Indian street food from Atlanta, GA.
Boxcar Betty’s: Locally-sourced fried chicken sandwiches from Charleston, SC.
Felix’s Empanadas: Charlotte food truck serving homemade sweet and savory empanadas.
Fonta Flora Brewery: Craft beer from Morganton, NC.
Harriet’s Hamburgers: Classic burger joint by the folks of Papi Queso and The Plaid Penguin.
Mezeh Mediterranean Grill: Bowls, flatbreads, and pita pickets with Mediterranean flavors.
Suarez Bakery & Barra: Beloved Suarez pastries plus Cuban food.