We all do it… Time to give yourself the night off and share a meal together!

We all do it.  We get on the phone with a friend, talk for about 15 minutes, then say, “We need to get together soon.”  Two weeks later, we have the same conversation, ending with the same, “We need to get together soon.”  The pace of life, especially for those with children at home, can be hectic and chaotic.  Time spent with friends has to be put on the back burner in order to keep everyone on schedule and keeping up with their commitments.  Sometimes, during this particularly busy time in our lives, our friendships can drift apart because so many other things take priority.

Why not call up your friends and share a meal together?  Dine Out Charlotte is a great way to enjoy a meal at a great restaurant while saving some money.  Give yourself a night off of cooking and have a great get-together at one of Charlotte’s many great restaurants participating in Dine Out Charlotte.  Spring time is the perfect time to reconnect with your friends and reestablish the bonds of friendship.  After all, everyone has to eat!  Why not use that time to try out a new restaurant while spending some overdue time with your friends?

Because the restaurants participating in Dine Out Charlotte have prix fixe menus, you know that you can enjoy a meal while keeping with even a tight budget.  You don’t have to worry that you will spend more than you’re willing to, or that your kids will order something outrageously expensive.  You can relax, enjoy your meal, and know that you are getting an amazing deal. 

Spring is the perfect time to get out of your Winter rut and try something new. Dine Out Charlotte provides an opportunity for you to eat some excellent food, catch up with friends, and have a night off of kitchen duty.

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Photo taken at Blackthorne Restaurant and Bar

Dining Local from a Native Charlottean’s Perspective – Guest Blog by Caitlin Sellers

Special thanks to Caitlin Sellers for featuring Dine Out Charlotte Spring Restaurant Week on her blog this week.

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FINALLY!!!! The weather is beautiful. One of my favorite things to do is look at all of the blooming flowers and especially the cherry blossom trees lining the streets.

Today I enjoyed my lunch outside in Dilworth off of East Blvd…. talk about vitamin D in 70 degree weather! Al fresco dining reminded me of how soon Dine Out Charlotte’s first ever Spring Restaurant Week is (April 12-21).

There are many great aspects I admire about this spring restaurant week:

  1. The 30+ participating restaurants are all LOCAL
  2. The type of restaurants participating are a wide variety and a price range for 3+ courses is $22-$32….affordable for anyone!
  3. The $2 proceeds go to Charlotte’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina’s Child Hunger Programs. One of the Child Hunger Programs to benefit includes the Johnson & Wales Kids Café Prepared Meals program.

Dineoutcharlotte.com allows you to:

  • Book in advance
  • See what pocket of Charlotte, NC (neighborhood) the restaurant you want to enjoy is in
  • The price tag
  • The type of cuisine
  • The menu itself
  • Al Fresco (outdoor) dining (They ALL do!)

I am so excited to see locals thriving in the community. I am so proud to see my hometown city growing rapidly. The Queen City is the best place to be in the spring! Get excited for the newest type of restaurant week Charlotte has to offer.

To all you foodies out there, appreciate the beauty of dining local!

Make your reservations TODAY before they fill up at Dine Out Charlotte

 *Photo Credit*

Spring Break “Foodcation”

If you could travel anywhere for a week, where would you go?  What if money were no object?  Where would your perfect Spring Break vacation be? The French Riviera? Cancún?  Greece?  Does your perfect getaway include adventure, leisure, or a mixture of both?

For me, my personal travel destination would be Italy.  I would love to go and spend a week strolling (or boating) through the streets.  I would love to experience the Italian culture in all of its richness and diversity.  With three kids, a mortgage, and college to save for, though, a trip to Italy is not in my immediate future.  What I can do is go on a culinary Spring Break.  Thanks to Dine Out Charlotte, I will be doing just that.

I think I’ll start my culinary journey at Osso. Located at NC Music Factory, Osso is a great starting place for my food vacation.  I will start by choosing to dine al fresco.  Just choosing to dine outside seems to lend a more European, laid back atmosphere to the dining experience.  They offer DJ music, too, so I will be able to enrapture all five senses into my dining destination.

I’ll also visit Rudy’s.  Named after the owner, Rudy Amadio, Rudy’s offers neighborhood Italian fare.  I imagine small, neighborhood restaurants like Rudy’s all over Italy, and I know that I will capture some of that down-home Italian cooking at Rudy’s.  It has a more casual feel to it, so taking the family is a great idea.

I will round out my foodcation by visiting Fiamma.  This is what I imagine Italy’s great Trattoriasto to be like: Homey décor, sumptuous food, and an incredible wine list.  Nestled in posh Dilworth, Fiamma promises to delight the senses and deliver fine Italian dining.  If you’ve ever wondered what an Italian vegetarian would eat, go to Fiamma!  They have an incredible selection of vegetarian dishes.  I was delighted to find out that they also have gluten-free options, something I have to tell my friends about!

Since flying off to Italy is not a budget-friendly option for me, I am going to take advantage of Dine Out Charlotte week (April 12-21) and enjoy the best of Italy right here in Charlotte.  If I see you there, I’ll raise my glass to another savvy restaurant connoisseur.

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Dine Out, Charlotte, and do good – Guest blog by Helen Schwab “Helen Dining”

Locally owned restaurants pitch in to help the hungry through the new Dine Out Charlotte, a spring kind of restaurant week that’s offering dinner at more than 30 area places.

April 12-21 (yes, it’s a 10-day “week”), you can get three courses for $22 or $32 (depending on the restaurant’s price ranges), and $2 of that is donated directly to the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Feed Hungry Kids program, says founder Jeff Ahmadi. The website lets you book tables, and restaurants are still being added to the list, Ahmadi says. Among those on the current list: Blackthorne, Blue, Cafe Monte, Campania, Cantina 1511 (whose ownership includes area folks), City Tavern, Dressler’s, Fiamma, the Harper’s/Mimosa Grill/Upstream siblings, Hot Stone Grill, Maestro’s Bar and Bistro, Miro, Miyagi’s, Nick’s Steak, Old Stone, Osso, Pisces, Prickly Pear, Red Rocks, Rudy’s, Santé, Senor Tequila, Wooden Vine and Zen Fusion.

 
 
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***Photo taken at Blue Restaurant and Bar

Support Your Farmers. Buy Local!

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Local farmers’ markets are filling up as locally-produced foods overflow the stalls.  Customers flock in to pick their fruits and vegetables from the massive offerings.  Eating fresh food, especially when it’s locally grown, is one of the sweet pleasures of Spring. Eating locally-grown, fresh produce is a pleasing rite of the new season, and Spring produce is rich with varied offerings.

Have you ever heard of the “Spring mix”?  These are leafy greens that are ready for harvest in the Spring.  Varied in color, texture, and nutrients, this mix makes a perfect leafy green salad mix.   While iceberg lettuce remains a staple for salads, adding leafy greens such as arugula, spinach, and romaine will round out your salad in texture, flavor, and nutrients.  The more colorful your salad, the healthier and more varied nutrition you will get.  The best idea is to eat them as fresh as you can- the more time lapses between harvest and ingestion, the fewer nutritional benefits you will receive.

There are plentiful fruits and vegetables that are ready to eat in the Spring:  asparagus, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, grapefruit, collard greens, and oranges are just a few of the vegetables and fruits that are ready to eat in the Spring.  Herbs such as chives, dill, lemongrass, marjoram, and oregano mature in time for Spring.

Eating foods fresh, when they are in season, helps your body to gain the most nutritional support from the foods.  The nutritional value of a food starts to decline when it is picked.  The fresher you can get the food, prepare it, and consume it, the more nutritional value you will receive.  Eating fresher foods also means that you will get the best flavor from the ingredients.  As foods move further and further from their harvest time, the flavors they hold get weaker or change.

When eating out, it’s best to choose restaurants which use locally produced foods.  This will provide better food with better nutritional value.  It also helps ensure that you will not be consuming preservatives or additives, because the food is fresh.  Overall, you will have a better dining experience with a better quality of food when you choose a restaurant that uses local produce and meat.

Want to support your local farmers but can’t make it to the market? Check out Farm to Front Porch. Their mission is to provide a fresh new way for the Charlotte area to think about local food. Their unified market and fast home delivery services will make it simple to buy the very best in farm fresh with absolutely none of the hassle.