The Importance of Vibe
A Q&A with Miranda Mounts from @wheretoeatcharlotte
A year ago, Miranda Mounts posted the first photo to her CLT foodie account @wheretoeatcharlotte. Now with more than 10,000 followers, Miranda specializes in finding the best spots locally to eat — places that provide diners with consistent food, experience — and vibe. With our newfound love of restaurant design launched with our Optimist Hall project, El Thrifty, we met Miranda at its opening. We also picked her brain on the best spots to check out this fall in the Queen City — the best food, patios, pup-friendly spots and most of all — the ones with the best design.
Q: How did you get into the food scene?
A: “I went to North Carolina Wilmington to play volleyball and I graduated and started working inside sales for Inland Seafood. That’s when I started to develop my love for food. I would call up chefs in Myrtle Beach and Raleigh and ask them: “What seafood do you need for tomorrow?” I learned all about cuts of beef and fish.”
Q: How did your sales job impact your current foodie status?
A: “I am not just someone who likes to eat, but I really respect chefs and what they do. Walking in the back doors of restaurant as a 23 year old to talk to chefs was really intimidating.”
Q: What brought you to CLT?
A: “I moved to Charlotte late last September and since I was always guiding people where to go to eat in Wilmington, I started my Charlotte page Oct. 1 last year. I love photography, which I picked it up from my mom who is a photographer. I noticed the post with me in them were more engaging them the post of food, so I developed this brand.”
Q: So why do you do what you do?
A: “Whenever I travel somewhere, I do hours of research on where to eat and I thought that if people could have one outlet in Charlotte that they really trust and know I am going to send them to the right spot — how much is that worth? It’s priceless.”
Q: What do you think of the CLT food scene?
A: “The Charlotte foodie scene is on the rise to becoming one of the best in the US — in my opinion. With the amount of young, energetic and HUNGRY people moving to Charlotte every day, the restaurants and chefs are going to be stepping up their game and getting more and more innovative.”
Q: What was your take on Optimist Hall’s El Thrifty?
A: “El Thrifty is the definition of trendy. It’s a modern Mexican-inspired cantina where you can get handcrafted cocktails in a social environment plus my favorite part — GAMES! The vibe is extremely aesthetic every aspect is Instagram worthy!”
Q: How important do you think the design of a restaurant is?
A: “Honestly, for a restaurant to succeed and to get people to come back consistency is everything. That means that with so many people moving to Charlotte, restaurant owners really need to hone in on the vibe. The vibe is really important. Food is important but if you are not in an atmosphere that’s engaging you won’t come back. The energy makes a difference. At Barcelona, you go in an feel like you are in another city — and they remember my drink order form last time and remember that I love the croquettes, those things bring me back.”
Q: What restaurant would you say has the best design in CLT?
A: “Barcelona Wine Bar! The vibe is my favorite vibe in Charlotte, I just love it! You feel like you are somewhere else, like you are in a big city. It’s the best spot to get drinks with girlfriends and is not only really aesthetic but has an old-world feel to it. I’m obsessed with their Truffle Bikini! It is so simple and delicious. They make mini decadent grilled cheese cut into triangles like a bikini top and stuff them with Jamón Serrano, Mahon cheese and the perfect amount of truffle!”
Q: What’s your go-to fast food eatery in Charlotte with spot-on design?
A: “I consistently recommend YAFO Kitchen for fast casual Mediterranean. I interviewed the chef recently and he told me the spices in their house-made spice blend come straight from Israel! My favorite item to order is the build-your-own grain bowl with hummus, cucumber tomato salad, beets, feta, purple cabbage slaw and topped with Shawarma Chicken!”
Q: What’s your best date-night suggestion?
A: “Date night must be spent at one of the signature Bruce Moffett Restaurants. Hands down, they’re some of the best restaurants the Queen City has to offer. Good Food on Montford is one of my favorites! Small plates for sharing, exceptional service and an intimate romantic vibe!”
Q: What’s the best good vibe, pup-friendly spot?
A: “Flower Child! They are California based and know exactly what they are doing! Located in the heart of the city, they have an amazing patio — and it’s pup-friendly! I always order the strawberry fields salad, add salmon. But, their macaroni and cheese is ridiculous. Make sure to try it.”
Q: What’s your go-to for an extravagant design experience?
A: “I don’t think you can beat the vibe at La Belle Helene. It is an experience and I really enjoyed dining there. They just changed up their menu — putting out some fresh fall options! My go-to is their Hanger Steak and Frites.”
Q: Favorite sushi spot?
A: “O-Ku Sushi is probably the best sushi in CLT. They have an option for the chef to create custom dishes for you that are not on the menu. For my birthday last weekend, they created this grilled Hamachi belly (yellowtail belly) topped with toasted pine nuts drizzled with daikon yuzu floating in a truffle ponzu sauce. It was insane. Nowhere else in Charlotte can compare to their seafood, it is top quality! And, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, they serve half-priced sushi rolls!”
Q: What’s your favorite weekend patio design?
A: “Kid Cashew is such a fun restaurant — that patio is a really great design! I love brunch there and they have $3 mimosas! The food is all simple and fresh. My go-to is their lamb burger! It’s one of my favorite burgers in Charlotte. I pick Kid Cashew for their freshness of food and price point — and, they welcome pups on their patio, too!”
Find out more on CLT’s food scene on Instagram at @wheretoeatcharlotte.