With new restaurants opening up and down Central Avenue, Plaza Midwood is quickly becoming a dining destination. Recent months have seen the addition of seven new -- and already popular -- restaurants. Whether you're in the mood for authentic Cuban fare, feel like sharing sushi while you listen to DJs spin, or searching for an obscure whiskey, look no further than these charming city blocks. —S. C.
1. Loco Lime Mexican Inspired Grill
1101 Central ave., 704-333-7837 Ever since this Mexican restaurant opened behind Common house in January, locals have been flocking to its shady patio for plates piled high with tex-Mex staples like chimichangas, burritos, quesadillas, and tableside guacamole. Our advice? skip the meat and order from the vegetarian menu, where items are stuffed with flavorful veggie concoctions like portobello mushrooms, roasted corn relish, and sweet plantains.
2. Bistro La Bon
1322 Central ave., 704-333-4646 Sure, opening an upscale French Mediterranean restaurant in the same strip mall as Family Dollar seems an unlikely choice, but that didn't deter the owners of this chic new bistro. here you'll find an array of tapas options including thick hummus, rich homemade gnocchi, and a decadent mush- room brioche with truffle oil.
3. Café Central
1401 Central ave., 704-930-7810 This casual restaurant and bar is open for dining for lunch, dinner, and late into the night. However, it has quickly gained popularity as a nightlife destination, with a rooftop bar view of the city's skyline that would rival any in town and daily drink specials.
4. Soul Gastrolounge
1500 Central ave., 704-348-1848 One of the many reasons for Soul's immense popularity (there's a wait almost every night), may be that this cozy upstairs restaurant epitomizes its neighborhood. the food is trendy, innovative, and international, while the atmosphere is hip and a little gritty. But don't mistake this for only being a local spot. its creative sushi rolls and inventive global small dishes make this the best new restaurant in the city.
1500 Central ave., 704-334-0122 The focus here is the art (there are new exhibitions monthly), but it's checking out the art, drink in hand, that makes this an atypical gallery. the best time to visit is on an artist reception night, when local artists whose work is being displayed mingle with the crowds. Order a drink, enjoy the complimentary appetizers, and soak up some creativity.
6. Whiskey Warehouse
1221 the Plaza, 704-334-7007 Its publike atmosphere and numerous flat screens make this the kind of place where you can expect to always find someone watching the game. The food, while simple, is tasty, with choices ranging from casual BBQ wings to the more formal Bourbon Butter salmon. And, of course, there are more than sixty whiskeys available, including Jack Daniel's, which you can get in a Coke slushie.
7. Cuban Pete's Café
1308 the Plaza, 704-910-5233 Pork empanadas? Check. Cuban sandwich? Check. rice and beans? Check. Palm trees, Cuban music, and tiki torches? Check, check, check. this new restaurant features a long menu of authentic Cuban dishes, a coffee bar, and a sangria bar featuring six flavors of the sweet drink. Whatever you do, though, don't leave without a slice of the rich tres leches cake. trust us.