The Taste of Charlotte unrolls a five-block red carpet of family-friendly merriment, presenting culinary celebrations from area restaurants, live music, and myriad entertainment options. Use the coins to score smoky samples from 2010 Best of the Taste winner Outlaw BBQ Shack or a decadent delight from Divine Pies Bakery (restaurant samples range from one to three coins). Take shelter from stampeding herds of street performers at the Tavern, in which hardworking taste buds can treat themselves to soothing sips of New Belgium beers and Twisted wines, including pinot grigio and moscato (beverages range from two to four coins).
Southern Living says Sonoma's dinner menu blends "a Slow Food philosophy, which focuses on local, organic, peak-season ingredients, with true culinary artistry." Menus change with the seasons; current appetizers include gruyere- and bacon-topped Kobe beef sliders with a side of pommes frites ($9) and a seared sesame-crusted tuna ($10) flanked by a spicy cucumber salad. Main courses such as a leg of venison ($20), a duck breast ($18), and a Kobe beef burger ($10) take aim at the freshest fruits and vegetables in Old MacDonald's inventory. Neptune also sacrifices some denizens to Sonoma's flavorful fare; sup on grilled Atlantic salmon ($16) and grilled sea scallops topped by a pineapple-jalapeño chutney ($18). Salads, sandwiches, and daily specials populate the lunch menu.
Inside Room 112, a self-described "modern Asian cuisine and sushi lounge," a wall of wooden alcoves imposes right angles on flickering candlelight, echoing the clean lines of modernist Japanese lanterns and cube-shaped red stools. This harmonious aesthetic extends to the menu of traditional Japanese and Chinese cuisine: chefs adorn thinly sliced beef with a single tropical flower, for instance, and arrange sautéed shrimp inside a delicate lettuce-leaf cup. Sushi is the restaurant’s specialty, though; chefs roll up more than 30 varieties of maki, which showcase ingredients such as soft-shell crab, yellowtail, and spicy salmon.
Everyone who visits City Tan leaves with fashionably bronzed skin thanks to regular and UV-free technology. Inside beds and booths, lamps cast their tanning spells during 9- to 15-minute sessions. These sessions are enhanced with amenities such as air conditioning, teddy bears to snuggle with, and sound systems for MP3 players. The staff also provides tanning with an airbrush formula inside a heated Norvell booth.
This hip uptown nightspot offers guests a multifaceted menu that fuses traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese dishes into flavorful harmony. Heat up taste buds with classic appetizers of egg rolls ($5) and crab rangoon ($5), or move straight to the main course with savory entree selections such as Mongolian beef ($9 regular, $11 large) or piquant mango shrimp ($11 regular, $13 large). Though today’s Groupon does not cover alcohol, the fully stocked bar is also equipped to provide craft beers and signature drinks to parched patrons or socializing goldfish. Located on the second floor of the historic Ivey's Department Store building, Wok Bar greets visitors with a comfortable yet social atmosphere ideal for a midday lunch, intimate dinner, or late-night brunchfast. With exciting events and frequent live music, bar-goers can savor sophisticated dining while people-watching and water-balloon-dropping on Tryon Street below.
Dandelion Market serves salads and flatbreads at lunch and a collection of small, shareable plates at dinner. For portable proteins, select between grilled-steak skewers ($12) or grilled-lamb lollipops ($16). Paired well with a bottle of wine ($25), ale-simmered sausage bites ($6) come with hot sweet mustard to give each bite bite. Every Monday, cover bands serenade patrons while Dandelion serves $3 pints from the selection of 24 craft-style brews.