Best Food of Summer 2021 Picked by the Charlotte Foodies

Hoping to check a few more items off of your foodie bucket list before the weather turns cool? You’re in luck. We’ve asked local food enthusiasts to share their favorite dish they’ve eaten this summer. On the list you’ll find a healthy mix of old and new alongside local and international flavors. How many can you check off your list before summer ends?

@eatdrinkclt: Guava Maria at Calle Sol

Allie Papajohn, the voice behind @eatdrinkclt, will give you the nudge you need to try this sweet treat before the seasons change. At the newly opened Calle Sol, the Guava Maria offers guests cream cheese soft serve ice cream topped with guava and Maria cookies. Allie says, “This was my first time trying cream cheese soft serve, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since! The cookies and guava sauce on top make this a perfect dessert (not too sweet with lots of great textures.)”

Try it yourself: Calle Sol, 1205 Thomas Ave.

via @eatdrinkclt

@cltfoodgirl: The Medianoche sandwich from Suárez Bakery & Barra

Next time you’re at Optimist Hall, head to Suárez Bakery & Barra to try Amy’s (@cltfoodgirl) top pick: “a cubano on ‘midnight’ sweet bread instead of cuban bread, pressed.” Why does she think you’ll love it too? “Hailing from South Florida, I am a Cuban sandwich lover. This type of Cuban sammie is loaded with the traditional delicious meat, cheese & pickles but the sweet bread makes it next level good,” she says.

Try it yourself: Suárez Bakery & Barra, 1115 N Brevard St. (Optimist Hall)

via @cltfoodgirl

@thesweetseoul: 21 and Over Dessert from from Omaggio Pizzeria

Jessica, also known as @thesweetseoul on Instagram, recommends capping off your meal at Omaggio Pizzeria with this treat made with chocolate hazelnut gelato, espresso and Frangelico liquor. She shared the scoop with us: “anything with hazelnut or espresso notes, you have me sold! Gelato is one of my favorite desserts and this dessert was divine!”

Try it yourself: Omaggio Pizzeria, 1055 Metropolitan Ave #130

@qccuisine: Birria Tacos from Meals By Mariah (located in The City Kitch)

Craving tacos? Hallie from @qccuisine recalls hopping on the birria taco craze: “These were the first ones I tried and now I crave them all the time,” she says.

“The meat is super tender, very cheesy, dipping the tacos in the consommé makes the taco’s even juicier and it also makes the experience super fun.”

Try it yourself: Meals By Mariah, (located in The City Kitch) 2200 Thrift Rd

via @qccuisine

@kenty_eats: Hong Kong Style Lobster from Lam’s Kitchen

Lam’s Kitchen in Matthews is worth a trip for the Hong Kong style lobster, says food and beverage photographer Kenty Chung. The authentic Chinese spot has recently relocated to a larger space to accommodate even more guests.

“They offer many Chinese classics such as the lobster (served in many different styles), roast duck, soft shell crab, pork char siu to name a few. As most traditional restaurants, they have a wall of live seafood from eel to lobster to prawns you can see prior to ordering.”

Try it yourself: Lam’s Kitchen, 3016 Weddington Rd., Matthews

via @kenty_eats

@Kaylathefoodie: Red Velvet Oreo Crumb Cake from Charlotte Sugar Rush

Another sweet treat to add to the list: crumb cake from Charlotte Sugar Rush, says Kayla from @Kaylathefoodie. They offer multiple takes on the classic, including cookies and cream, cinnamon, chocolate, birthday cake and more.

“Every flavor I have tried is always amazing. The ratio of crumb to cake is perfect. The crumb is delicious and the cake is always moist and not too sweet,” she says. “The owner, Shannon, is the nicest person and you can tell she is passionate about her work!”

Try it yourself: Charlotte Sugar Rush, 209 Red Twig Ct. (order online)

via @kaylathefoodie

@eatsofclt: Nashville Hot Chicken Deviled Eggs and Cast Iron Cornbread from Golden Owl Tavern

When you’re up in the University area, these appetizers from Golden Owl Tavern are a must-try, per Jeff Calderon of @eatsofclt.

Start your meal with the one-bite Nashville Hot Chicken Deviled Eggs. “Chicken was crispy and the yolk filling was exceptional, and it all had just the right amount of heat to keep you wanting to go back for more,” Jeff says. 

Still have room? Jeff recommends the cornbread. “The Cast Iron Cornbread made the perfect appetizer, but could also have been ordered as a dessert! It was the perfect combination between sweet and salty, and you could taste the freshness,” he shares.

Try it yourself: Golden Owl Tavern, 9041 Robert D. Snyder Rd.

via @eatsofclt
via @eatsofclt

@finer_with_thyme: Pan Seared Sea Scallops from Osteria Luca

Karen from @finer_with_thyme’s review of the pan seared sea scallops from Osteria Luca in Park Road Shopping Center will have you booking your table ASAP.

Regarding the dish: “Had it two weeks ago and totally blew me away. One of the most perfectly cooked and seasoned dishes I have had. Four huge perfectly cooked scallops that were delightful! Caramelized crust and tender sweet on the inside. However the creamed corn risotto put up a hard fight for first place…creamy and crunchy and savory all in one bite,” she writes.

Try it yourself: Osteria Luca, 4127 Park Rd.

via @finer_with_thyme

@yelpelitechick: Lobster Mac n Cheese from Stats Restaurant & Bar

If this snap from @yelpelitechick doesn’t have you planning a visit, perhaps Shay’s description will nudge you in the right direction. “Stats is like your dining room away from home with good down south familiar home cooking,” she says.

“This is my go to dish every time I visit Stats. The lobster is fried to perfection, and the combination with the mac and cheese sets everything off. The Mac & cheese is bursting with flavor to the point it has your taste buds dancing all over the place.”

Try it yourself: Stats Restaurant & Bar – 3425 David Cox Rd, Charlotte, NC 28269

via @yelpelitechick

@BigTasteSkinnyWaist: Lobster Pasta Special from Aqua e Vino

If you’re craving a taste of Italy, look no further than Aqua e Vino. It’s where food blogger and Gastronomy Consultant Gabrielle Zendan recently enjoyed the lobster pasta special.

Regarding her experience: “Chef Gabriel at Aqua e Vino makes all their pastas fresh and the menu rotates daily. The dishes and pastas are so fresh and use delicious seasonal ingredients. Aqua e Vino also has a lovely wine menu. I adore their amazing and quaint outdoor patio that transports you to Italy,” Gabrielle shares.

Try it yourself: Aqua e Vino, 4219 Providence Rd.

via @BigTasteSkinnyWaist

@ashaeatsworld: Crawdad and Crispy Grit Squares from Wrap ‘N’ Roll food truck

If you ask Asha from @ashaeatsworld about the best thing she ate this summer, you’ll be firing up your Google maps as quick as you can say fried grit squares.

“I fell in love with shrimp and grit tambales during a summer trip to Savannah and never thought I’d experience flavor again. Wrap ‘N’ Roll does it better and the savory squares were a hug for my soul,” she says.

Pictured: fried grit squares, smothered with Louisiana crawfish, andouille sausage and a Cajun cream. Asha says, “you taste and feel the love simultaneously with every bite. I recommend others try if if they’re a fan of low country eats and looking to try something adventurous!”

via @ashaeatsworld

@whatsinit_clt: Apaghetti ‘nduja e salsiccia from Pizzeria Omaggio

Yearning for a taste of Italy without leaving home? Laurene from @whatsinit_clt describes this Metropolitan spot as “Charlotte’s secret door into Rome.”

When asked about her favorite dish this summer, Laurene describes the spaghetti ‘nduja e salsiccia: “This pasta dish comes straight from the motherland, in a delicate pomodoro sauce folded with ‘nduja (a sausage made from pork, fat, herbs, spices and local Calabrian chiles, giving it it’s heat and dark red color) & a creamy dollop of stracciatella cheese on top,” she shares.

“A fork twirl of the spaghetti, the sausage, & the cheese followed by a sip of red wine is all of what’s right in this world.”

Try it yourself: Pizzeria Omaggio, 1055 Metropolitan Ave.

via @whatsinit_clt

@clt_remedy: Vermillion Snapper Crudo from Customshop

Kriska & Manny, the voices behind @clt_remedy, know the secret to catching the best specials from seasonally-driven restaurant Customshop.

“We keep our notifications on for them so when we see a special they have that makes our mouths drool and our bellies excited, we have to get there STAT. And this Vermillion Snapper Crudo did just that.”

In describing the dish: “Every bite was everything you dream of as summers by the beach–fresh fish, perfectly sweet melon to complement, just the right acidity, with a little kick! We’ve been dreaming of this dish since we had it. Pro-tip: always order the crudo at Customshop. They always nail the dish, whatever ingredients they may be working with!”

Try it yourself: Customshop, 1601 Elizabeth Ave.

via @clt.remedy