Skillet Mac & Cheese, $6

THE PLACE: Vine American Kitchen, 13735 Conlan Cir., 704-469-5282

THE DISH: Italian comfort food meets a rustic version of the American classic for this different and delicious adaptation of mac and cheese. A rich béchamel gives a velvety base to this tried-and-true recipe, while three cheeses—white and yellow cheddar and Parmesan—blend beautifully under a perfectly toasted, crispy top.

INSIDER TIP: If you love garlic, you’ll love this skillet side dish. Round out its richness with a side salad or soup of the day for a satisfying meal.


Haricots Verts, $5

THE PLACE: New South Kitchen, 8140 Providence Rd., Ste. 300, 704-541-9990

THE DISH: A classic (but often underrated) side dish, the green beans at New South Kitchen often upstage their entrée. Because they are flash-charred and super crisp with just a hint of smoky flavor, you might want to order a side for everyone at the table—so you don’t have to share yours.

INSIDER TIP: New South Kitchen prides itself on farm-to-table fresh and local ingredients—just about everything on the menu came from within a few miles of your table


Drunken Collards, $2.50 (lunch), $3.50 (dinner)

THE PLACE: Savor Café, 1404 W. Morehead St., 704-334-0098

THE DISH: Collards like this come around once in a lifetime. Savor Café has perfected the old recipe
and added a twist. The greens are slow-cooked in Sam Adams beer (hence, the drunkenness) along with vinegar and sugar, and a turkey leg. When the liquid is reduced, turkey leg meat is shredded and added before it graces your table.

INSIDER TIP: These savory greens are a wonderful pairing with the grilled meatloaf’s sweet glaze
and offer a great balance to the horseradish mashed potatoes. Several of Savor’s entrées include the collards, but if yours doesn’t, be
sure to order them as a separate side.


Southern Style Cornbread, $4  

THE PLACE: Vine American Kitchen, 13735 Conlan Cir., 704-469-5282

THE DISH: Served in a cast-iron skillet, the decadent cornbread at Vine American Kitchen is crisp on the outside with a sugary crust and tender on the inside—served warm and topped with jalapeño honey butter.




Collard Greens, $2.35   

THE PLACEMert’s Heart and Soul, 214 N. College St., 704-342-4222

THE DISH: A side of collards is more like a mountain at Mert’s. Heaped generously onto the plate, these greens are flavorful, cooked low and slow with Mert’s adobo spice blend and olive oil, and topped with diced tomato and white onion. Absolutely no pigs were harmed in the making of this dish.

INSIDER TIP: Ask for extra onions and tomatoes with your collards—the crunch and texture are worth
having in every bite.


Bacon Cornbread, $7

THE PLACE: The King’s Kitchen, 129 W. Trade St., 704-375-1990

THE DISH: Veggie-friendly cornbread accompanies most every “meat-and-three” plate at The King’s Kitchen, but it’s worth your while to order the specialty version—bacon cornbread. Served in a cast-iron skillet, the soft, buttery treat arrives freshly baked to order, with flecks of sweet corn and chunks of salty bacon.


Cornbread, $2.10  

THE PLACE: Mert’s Heart and Soul, 214 N. College St., 704-342-4222

THE DISH: The cornbread at Mert’s is made fresh each morning in individual loaves and arrives warm with a pat of honey butter. Servers credit one special ingredient for the cornbread’s lovely, moist, and cakey consistency—but it remains chef and owner James Bazzelle’s secret.