Nov 01 2017
Amy Sherman
4 Minutes to read

Charlotte may be a sports fan’s dream. It’s home to the Panthers, Hornets, Knights, and NASCAR. But don’t forget that Charlotte is also one of the best food cities in the country. There’s so much variety in the Charlotte catering and restaurant scene. And while barbecue is a perennial favorite, even when it comes to something as basic as sandwiches, Charlotte offers a little international flair. Zagat called Charlotte one of the hottest food cities in the US, and as Charlotte Magazine notes, there were two James Beard Award semifinalists from the area in 2017. Charlotte catering options are exciting and on-trend with the rest of the country. Here are just a few of the new trends to look out for.

Greetings from the Charlotte restaurant and catering scene

Vegetable-Centric Meals

You may think that Charlotte food is all about barbeque and meats. But when you take a closer look, you’ll see more and more vegetable-focused choices than ever before. Namastay Kitchen & Hangout Catering offers creative options like the “World’s Best Beet Sliders” with kale pesto hummus, maple mustard, and sprouts, and Sticky Cauliflower Sliders with maple and Sriracha-glazed cauliflower, pickles, and smoked paprika aioli. Another popular, yet out-of-the-ordinary choice, is the Fig Pizza with herbed goat cheese, caramelized onion, wild arugula, and aged balsamic from Ilios Noche. For salads, Zoe’s Kitchen Catering can’t be beaten. Don’t forget their three versions of hummus – classic, basil pesto, and red pepper. Queen City Catering’s most popular offerings is a large platter of locally sourced seasonal grilled vegetables served with an herbed ranch dressing.

Caribbean & Latin American Fare

Charlotte is a diverse city. And so that means there’s more international flavor than ever before, especially from the Caribbean and Latin America. There are Caribbean festivals annually. But thanks to a few favorites, you can indulge in all year round. Anntony’s Caribbean Cafe, Finga Lickin Caribbean Eatery, and Step N Style Special Events offer classic dishes like beef patties, jerk chicken, and fried plantains. When it comes to Latin American food, the Charlotte restaurant scene includes Puerto Rican specialties like pastelon and empanadas at Milagro’s Latin Cuisine. And there are Peruvian-, Colombian-, and Spanish-inspired dishes like the popular Tres Leches cake at Pio Pio Restaurant. Look beyond tacos for Mexican-style sandwiches with fillings like grilled chicken, steak or carnitas at Las Meras Tortas.

Build Your Own Bars

Build your own bars aren’t just make-your-own sandwich or salad bars anymore. Baked potato bars, fajita bars, and more are all the rage. One unique choice is the Souvlaki Bar from Ilios Noche, which comes with chicken, falafel, or lamb plus warm pitas, tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt sauce), onion, lettuce, tomatoes, chickpea salad, and Ilios salad. The Andersons offers a combination baked potato and salad bar that includes dessert and tea. It’s a one and done option to satisfy vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diners, while not disappointing meat eaters. Another very flexible option is the Warm Taco Salad Bar from Savory Moments. It comes with romaine lettuce, chicken, pickled onions, cheddar, black bean salad, corn salsa, candied jalapenos, and Mexican ranch dressing.

Retro Desserts

The cupcake trend is still in full force with new cupcake options arriving all the time. But other retro desserts with a nostalgic feel and a contemporary twist are also in vogue. The Smore’s Kit from SugarPop Candy and Soda Shop comes with everything you need to make your own s’mores. You can even have the homemade marshmallows personalized. King of Pops offers both cream-based and fruit-based ice pops with modern seasonal flavors like Key Lime Pie, Raspberry Lemonade, and Orange Basil. Wildly popular Duck Donuts offers 10 different coatings like lemon icing or cinnamon sugar, plus sprinkles, fruity drizzles, crumbled Oreos, or even bacon pieces.

Key Takeaways
  • You can’t “beet” vegetable-centric meals like the beet sliders from Namastay Kitchen & Hangout Catering.
  • Caribbean and Latin American pastelon and empanadas are ready for their close-up in Charlotte.
  • Retro desserts, like upscale ice pops and donuts, are nostalgic comfort food perfect for any celebration.

Which of Charlotte’s catering food trends are you going to try?

Start your search here.

Written by:

Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman is a food and travel writer, blogger and cookbook author. She has written for consumer and trade publications including Cheers, CitySearch, Epicurious, Fodor’s, FoodNetwork, Tasting Table, Where and Zagat. She is author of Williams Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers, Wine Passport Portugal and A Microwave, A Mug, A Meal. Follow her @cookingwithamy.

Posted in: Trends in FoodNeed to Know

Tagged with: Catering, Charlotte, Food Trends, Menu Planning, NC