Where to eat at Charlotte Douglas Airport

Sure, everyone complains about the parking and the construction, but after spending too much time in some straight up nasty airports the last couple of years (I’m looking at you, LaGuardia), I’ve really come to appreciate and enjoy Charlotte Douglas.  After my return flight home from visiting family in Ohio last week, I stopped into the new 1897 Market and was blown away by all that they’re doing.  I mean, local sourcing at an airport restaurant?  Come on!  That’s when it hit me.  Charlotte Douglas is actually pretty awesome.

This is my third post for the #DesignCharlotte campaign, a cool program (details below) encouraging Charlotteans to share their favorite things in the Queen City.  Not surprisingly, my first two posts were completely about food.  Interested?  Check out my Foodie Guide to Charlotte and Foodie Guide to Charlotte Restaurant Week.



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pzaWhat:  PZA (pronounced P.Z.A.).  Handmade dough.  Pizza, strombolis, salads, cheesy bread, spaghetti, meatball smashers.

Location:  Concourse E.

The secret:  dough is brushed with a garlic, thyme, and rosemary infused olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before building the pizza.

Most popular pie:  Spinach and Mushroom.  Balsamic-marinated mushrooms add a little acid to contrast the cheese and spinach.

House Favorite:  Meatball Smasher.  Oven-roasted meatballs made of pork, beef, and veal with onions, thyme.  Smashers come with 6 or 12 meatballs stuffed in baguettes.



What:  1897 Marketplace.  One-stop urban gourmet shop, with full-service dining room, raw bar, exhibition kitchen, grab-and-go, and retail marketplace wrapped into one.

Location:  the Atrium.

Insider tip:  One of the few restaurants at the airport focused on local sourcing.

Must try:  Barbecue Shrimp & Grits.  Stone-ground cheddar grits, barbecue rubbed shrimp, tomato and onion ragout, arugula, Tabasco vinaigrette.

Must try side:  Brava Potatoes.  Crispy potatoes slathered with smoked paprika aioli.

(Check out my full 1897 Market review here.)


What:  Bacardi Rum Bar.  

Location:  Concourse D.

Must-try:  Breakfast Cubano. With pork tenderloin, cherrywood smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard pressed between Cuban bread, then topped with two fried eggs.

Most popular:  Jamaican Jerk Chicken Bowl.  Mild jerk rubbed chicken breast, sofrito, grilled vegetables, seasoned rice, black beans, and lime crema.


What:  Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar.  Charlotte’s favorite burger bar.

Location:  Concourse C.

Insider tip:  The airport location features a pared down menu–not the same menu as the standalone locations, but similar.

Must try: Mama Ricotta’s Burger.  Fresh mozzarella, pesto, vine-ripened tomatoes, pepperoncinis.


What:  Brookwood Farms.  Carolina-style barbecue.

Location:  the Atrium.

Must try: pulled pork, mac and cheese, fried pickle spear.



What:  Beaudevin.  Grab-and-go deli plus “refined” wine bar.

Location:  the Atrium.

To try:  Smoked Turkey Reuben (technically a Rachel).  Turkey smoked in-house plus kraut, housemade Russian dressing, and two pieces of swiss pressed between thick-sliced Rye Bread from Masada Bakery in Atlanta.



What:  Whisky River.  Giant bull, belt buckle wall, bar food, and cocktails.

Location:  Concourse E.

Insider tip:  this is not the same menu as the Whisky River at the Epicentre.

Standout dish:  Dirty Tots.  Tots are arranged in a small cast iron skillet then topped with pulled pork, chipotle queso fondue, and Dale Jr’s Signature BBQ sauce.

House favorite:  Whisky River Chili.  Beef and bean chili with guajillo chiles, garlic, sweet onions, tomatoes, and a house blend of seven spices, topped with sour cream, cheddar, and scallions.

INSIDER TIP:  three restaurants will have their menus revamped this year:  Brookwood Farms BBQ, Stock Car Café, and Fresh Attractions.


#DesignCharlotte is a sweet campaign through the Marriott Charlotte City hotel,  encouraging people to show off their favorite things in Charlotte.  The Marriott Charlotte City hotel is currently undergoing a major transformation, which will include a mosaic wall featuring photos and videos tagged with #DesignCharlotte on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  How cool is that?  Plus, using the hashtag enters you into a contest to win a Grand Prize Getaway.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of #DesignCharlotte. The opinions and text are all mine.

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