What does it mean to be a conscious eater? It’s not just about choosing food that will nourish your body, but about buying food that also nourishes your community. Luckily, Charlotte has some great offerings for someone trying to eat more intentionally.
The Mayobird & Summit Room + Joe and Nosh & The Packhouse
A dinner only concept features Southern inspired plates and specialty cocktails named after the seven summits and using local, sustainable foods. The tables and chairs are upcycled from local houses and tobacco barns. The owner and operator, Deedee Mills, just recently opened two more restaurants with the same business model. Joe and Nosh, a coffee and sandwich shop, and The Pack House, a dinner spot serving southern cuisine that pays homage to North Carolina’s tobacco industry.
For all four restaurants, 10 percent of net profits go to support Behailu Academy, an after-school refuge for at-risk youth to find peace and opportunity through art.
1531 East Blvd
Open daily, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
1531 East Blvd.
Open Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m. – Close
500 E. Morehead Street, Suite 150-B
(Kitchen will close at 3pm)
Saturday and Sunday Closed
500 E. Morehead Street, Suite 150-A
Saturday: 10am-3pm, brunch, 4pm-10pm, dinner
Sunday: 10am-3pm, brunch
The King’s Kitchen & Bakery
A non-profit restaurant located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte serving southern-inspired cuisine from Carolina farms and purveyors, The King’s Kitchen & Bakery opened in 2010 on the corner of Trade and Church. The Southern cuisine is a top notch, Jim Noble restaurant. But it’s amazing food with a purpose. The profits and proceeds from The King’s Kitchen go toward feeding the “spiritual and physical needs of those who have the least in our community and to train and equip those previously unemployable in the restaurant trade.”
129 W. Trade St.
Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Monday – Saturday, 5 p.m. – Close
Julia’s Cafe & Books
A quiet coffee shop that’s not too far from Uptown, with excellent parking, and a shared space with Habitat’s ReStore (with a huge selection of used books), Julia’s Café and Books brew locally roasted coffee, serve local and organic breakfast and lunch options and proceeds support Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte.
1133 N. Wendover Rd.
Open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Open Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Community Culinary School of Charlotte Cafe
This cafe on Monroe Road in an unassuming strip mall is well worth a visit during lunch and is easy to get to for a midday break. But the café is part of a local non-profit that provides training and job placement assistance in the food service industry for adults who face barriers to successful employment. As Executive Director Chef Ron Ahlert often says, “We’re not just creating cooks, we’re creating employees.”
9315-D Monroe Road
Open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
In the heart of downtown Belmont, Cherubs Café is a breakfast and lunch spot featuring fresh-baked desserts and gourmet, specialty coffees, soups, salads and sandwiches, ice creams. The café is part of Holy Angels, an organization that provides compassionate, dependable care and opportunities for high-quality living to those with intellectual developmental disabilities and delicate medical conditions, allowing residents the opportunity to socialize, learn about the business and vocational training which can lead to better employment options. All profits are used to fund programs and services of Holy Angels.
23 North Main St.
Open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21
Quick. Quiz time.
Do you know where your last meal came from?
Not the store or the restaurant, but the place. The origin.
In a world of overwhelming food choices, simply becoming more aware of where your food comes from can be a small and positive change. We are increasingly connected, but more and more disconnected from our food sources. On a simply physical standpoint this disconnect contributes to the spread of disease, pesticides, global warming, and lowered nutrition in our food. From a metaphysical standpoint, this disconnect where we are most vulnerable (what we put into our body) can leave an emptiness we don’t even realize.
The farmer down the road matters to our community, whether we are aware of it or not. Beyond just supporting our local economy and promoting sustainability in agriculture (all things your purchase of local produce contributes to), buying and eating local connect you to your community and your food in a way that transcends science. It tastes better, but you’ll swear it feels better too. The good news is, it’s easier than ever to get to know your local farmers and become more connected to the food you are eating. And two North Carolina organizations are working together to provide a better future for our farms and our plates.
Piedmont Culinary Guild:
Piedmont Culinary Guild (PCG) is a “grassroots effort to create a working dialogue with the food industry by providing a platform that is easily accessible for all to utilize and benefit.” In order to connect the food chain in North and South Carolina, PCG was founded to bridge the gap between farmers, chefs, restaurants, and consumers by offering resources to chefs, farmers, culinary educators and food artisans in the area.
Piedmont Culinary Guild hosts events throughout the year, including the Sensoria Food and Wine where this past event, attendees voted for their favorite dish. (Chef Greg Collier of The Yolk in Rock Hill won for his dish of Cornbread Toast, smoked trout and apple salad, meyer lemon hollandaise, charred strawberry espelette spice. And if that doesn’t inspire you to think local, what will?)
Center for Environmental Farming Systems:
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) is a partnership of NC State University, NC Agricultural and Technical State University, and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CEFS “develops and promotes just and equitable food and farming systems that conserve natural resources, strengthen communities, improve health outcomes, and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.” They focus on organic and sustainable farming in North Carolina.
CEFS’ annual September event, Farm to Fork Picnic, has become one of the largest culinary events in North Carolina, with Bon Appetit magazine recognizing it as “the country’s best all-you-can-eat feast” in 2009. CEFS also works with North Carolina’s Cooperative Extension program, pasture-based livestock education programs, and promotes sustainable agriculture and women working in livestock.
Farmers Markets & Cooperatives
In addition to supporting these local organizations, don’t forget about the simple act of choosing where your food comes from. You can shop and volunteer at your local farmers markets, and participate in your local farmer co-op (which these days can include fresh meat and cheeses, as well as produce). Other ways you can spread awareness is by asking your preferred grocery store to carry locally-grown produce and setting up a way to get your child’s school involved through field trips or cafeteria food sources.
If you’ve ever had a memory of sitting with your grandmother, shelling peas or husking corn or eating watermelon from her garden on the back porch, I’m sure you can remember the feeling of that moment even now. It’s not just the heat, the drip of watermelon down your chin, or even the memory of your grandmother that make those memories so special—it’s also the food. The way you can taste those North Carolina summers and the way the peas and corn and watermelon knew you, even if you didn’t quite know them.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21
In April of this year, a new catering company and restaurant opened in Ballantyne. Focusing on simple, home-style food, with an eat-in location that’s open for lunch, Brown Bag delivers to events for a minimum of 10 people and offers bulk foods for pickup, like trays of chicken, salads or sides you can use to fill in the gaps for your holiday parties or for your own meal shortcuts. The food is healthy and wholesome, a welcome change from sandwiches and chips most catering companies offer small groups.
But this straightforward catering and café restaurant doesn’t just offer up solid, delicious food offerings. Brown Bag originally started in Knoxville and Nashville, with a small group of friends who grew it out of a home business, one serving at a time before opening its first Charlotte location. It’s a catering company with a purpose.
Called the Brown Bag Blessing, with 24-hours notice, you can call in a crisis and the company will donate a meal for up to eight people, using food left at the end of the day. In the case of a sudden death or hospitalization where you’re trying to figure out how to feed everyone who is coming together, all you need to do is call.
In addition to this service, there’s also an in-restaurant opportunity to pass along the goodness. A wipe-off board at the restaurant allows you to buy a friend a meal. Taking inspiration from bars that have similar concepts with drinks, Brown Bag lets you overpay for your lunch and write a friend’s name on the board, giving your friend a free lunch whenever they come by to eat.
5231 Piper Station Drive
Mon – Sat: 11 AM – 2:30 PM
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21