You'll eat well on any budget in Charlotte. For an inexpensive treat, park yourself at South 21 Curb Service. Servers may not wear roller skates, but the rib-eye steak sandwiches and fried trout (both around $6) give this 1955 drive-in a modern twist. Indulge in thick chocolate milk shakes, hot hush puppies, and crispy onion rings.
For an urban picnic, head to The Green, a small but hopping patch of park sandwiched between shiny skyscrapers. Grab a to-go order from Fuel Pizza Cafe, a local retro-style chain that dishes out custom tossed salads, steamy calzones, and oven-baked pizza by the slice. Have lunch on The Green, and then kick off those shoes and cool your feet in the giant fish fountain.
At 300 East, the beef fillet burgers ($10) are served on a garden patio in front of the bungalow-turned-bistro. Local fave: "The Usual"--chicken salad, asparagus, mushrooms, and Cheddar served hot on a hoagie ($8.25). Feeling festive? You can't go wrong with a "Matilda Wong." A combination of gin, rum, Triple Sec, brandy, and a secret blend of juices, it tastes like a SweeTART served in a pitcher. Limit: two.
Left: Want to have what she's having? That's a "Matilda Wong," the house cocktail at 300 East.