Recently DesignSponge posted a Charlotte Design Guide. Lots of good stuff was mentioned. In a more comprehensive effort, I've got some opinions of places of my own!

Dilworth: Near Camden is East Blvd, which is the main artery for the Dilworth Neighborhood. There are a ton of restaurants (300 East is particularly good), and Dilworth Coffee (in the shopping center with the Harris Teeter Grocery store) is cute and cozy. There are other Dilworth Coffees in Charlotte, all franchised out, so the decor is different in each one, but the coffee is usually good. In Dilworth is also the Paper Skyscraper, a fun shop with good design, good books, generally good stuff. There is a Thai Restaurant next door (Thai Taste), they have another restaurant near where I live. Beware that on their menu the "vegetarian" option still contains fish sauce. You have to explain to them when you order whether you're okay with that or not. I'm not, and no one told me they used fish sauce until several weeks ago, after eating there for several years (thankfully not too regularly)

Elizabeth Ave: On the theme of thrifting, the Junior League Wearhouse is near downtown, one street over from Elizabeth Ave. You can find some great retro/thrifty stuff there, a little pricier than a thrift store, a little cheaper than a vintage store. Along Elizabeth Ave is the Visulite (sometimes they have good bands, usually they have more hippie-centric type music) and NoFo, a cute boutique shop with an attached restaurant. I don't know about their food, but you can check it out online. Also near there is the SK Net Cafe. I haven't been there in a long time, the coffee is just okay but at night they sometimes have hardcore shows. One of my favorites is Carpe Diem, which is a nice, albeit expensive, restaurant. The food is awesome, though, and perfect for a splurge. Great vegetarian options.

North Davidson: More familiarly known as NoDa to the newbies of the area, this neighborhood wasn't coined "NoDa" until the gentrification began. I guess 2-syllable names hippify neighborhoods. Much "safer" now, most artists can't afford to live in the neighborhood they created and have since moved to other parts of town. There are still great things in the around, and it is generally one of the few "non-homogenized" districts of the conservative Queen City. They have a coffee shop called The Smelly Cat which is really cool and charming in an unpretentious way. The Mellow Mushroom is also there, pizzas and stuff. They used to offer soy cheese, but I don't think they do anymore, but plenty of veggie options. Boudreaux is across the street, they have cajun/creole, but the one time I went there and ordered the vegetarian option, they served me the meat version. I haven't been back since, but it's been there a long time, so it seems like it would be good.

Plaza Midwood: Dish is a great "comfort food" restaurant with yummy vegetables. They serve meat, but their actual vegetables are vegetarian. They have a spicy chickpea burger that I looooove. Across the street from there is The Penguin, an old-fashioned burger joint with black bean burgers and soy dogs. I love the soy dogs, and their fried pickles sound scary, but most people I know who've tried them swear their addictive! In the neighborhood is LunchBox Records--the last remaining semblance of an independent record store this fair city has to offer.
Near there is Hong Kong Vintage--which is all vintage (though not thrift store prices) and they have some really cool clothes. On further down Central Ave is Value Village, where if you sort through everything something really good is bound to turn up!

Southend: Camden Road is fun, too, there's a skatewear shop called Black Sheep (my friend Jenny has some photography up there right now) as well as Heck Yeah coffee, which is super low key and cool. Also some shops and Joie Lassiter gallery. American Apparel has a shop on Camden. Also the Charlotte Art League is there, which is hit or miss, but worth checking out.

: Uptown is the yuppiest of the yuppie. It takes a big event to get me there but it has some action (mostly on weekend evenings). My favorite places to visit include Therapy Cafe offers huge martinis and organic coffee, need I say more? The McColl Center, an artist residency and gallery. Sometimes you'll find interesting art there, usually pretty safe and unchallenging. For more good, vegetarian veggies, Mert's Heart & Soul is good and cheap, and not stuffy! A true exception to the Uptown offerings.

Farmer's Markets: Matthews has a winter farmers market every other week, which makes it impossible to keep up with, but other than that I don't know of any farmers markets worth checking out. Perhaps the one on Tyvola is open throughout the winter, but the produce is essentially the same as grocery store stuff, nothing special--it's meant more as an accessible means of fresh food to an otherwise poorly served part of the city.
Gardening: (more info soon!)

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