Charlotte, One of the Country’s Best Kept Secrets Will Get Her Shine During DNC

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The world’s spotlight will be focused on Charlotte, NC come September when President Barak Obama and the Democratic National Convention rally themselves for his reelection run to the White House and she will get her shine.

CNN, as a part of their “city smackdown” series is pitting Charlotte against Tampa and had this to say about Charlotte:

Listen carefully at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte, and you’ll hear the sounds that make the Queen City one of the country’s best-kept secrets.

The laughter of old men playing chess in a courtyard.

The music from Alive after Five, a weekly summer outdoor concert series that draws hundreds of young professionals looking to loosen their ties and unwind after work.

The roar of the fans at Bank of America Stadium, where Panthers quarterback sensation Cam Newton has just breathed life into a good-as-dead team.

The drone of the ever-present street sweeper, keeping the city as sparkling as its skyscrapers.

The soft breeze rustling the blooming trees of spring.

The silence on a hot summer day when most Charlotteans flee the city for the cooling relief of Lake Norman, just 20 minutes north.

I last stood at that intersection in the center of the city more than two years ago, right before I moved to Atlanta. I thought foolishly then that I needed a bigger city.

The truth is, I’ve never missed Charlotte more.

The people

I grew up in Northern Virginia, which — if you’re from the D.C. area — you know is not really the South, despite its geographical location below the Mason-Dixon line. Southern, I am not. I take my tea unsweet, still haven’t acquired a taste for collards and find it physically impossible for my mouth to form the word “y’all.”

So why did I fall in love with Charlotte, North Cackalacky?

A former colleague of mine at The Charlotte Observer once wrote that the best icebreaker question in Charlotte is, “Where are you from?”

The region, with 1.8 million residents, is teeming with newcomers, making it a melting pot of accents and cultures.

In my group of friends, we hailed from Iowa, Indiana, New York, Boston and Michigan. Out of all of us, only one was part of the increasingly endangered species known as native Charlotteans.

A big part of the draw is Charlotte’s banking institutions. The city is home to Bank of America, and Wells Fargo’s East Coast offices are headquartered there. But the mild year-round weather and its proximity to the beach and the mountains — Charleston’s just three hours away and Asheville a mere two — are what entice people to lay down roots.

The food

The diversity of Charlotte’s residents makes for an equally eclectic restaurant scene.

My favorite Indian restaurant to date is Copper, in the streetcar suburb of Dilworth. When I crave a burger, I immediately think of Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar. On a cold winter night, nothing warms you up like the chicken and dumplings at Dish in the funky neighborhood of Plaza Midwood, where tattooed and pierced waiters serve up comfort food with a side of sass.

Have a sweet tooth? My mouth still waters at the thought of the salted caramel brownies at Amelie’s French Bakery in the NoDa (North Davidson) Historic Arts District. Open 24/7, the Parisian-style bakery is typically filled with local entrepreneurs and college students sipping coffee and munching on pastries over their laptops.

I could begin a debate about how Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue is superior to all others, but that’s another column. Instead, if you’re in Charlotte, get a pork barbecue plate at Bill Spoon’s, a local institution in south Charlotte since 1963. When its namesake owner died in 2007, it prompted an outpouring of condolences from the community. Spoon’s grandson still operates the restaurant, keeping up Bill’s legacy of good ‘cue and better service.

And finally, no visit to Charlotte is complete without stopping at Price’s Chicken Coop for the best fried chicken you will ever eat. Walk across the street and grab a spot on the grass to savor the crispy decadence: There is no seating inside, and lines form long before the noon lunch hour. At your first bite, you’ll realize why actor-singer Lenny Kravitz said recently that the thing he misses most about filming “Hunger Games” in Charlotte is Price’s chicken.

To read the entire post by Sarah Aarthun, go to CNN

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