Westend Tavern
Photo: Westend Tavern

The food scene in the Historic West End is growing. Traditionally the area was home to takeouts and very few eat-in restaurants, but in recent years, that’s been slowly changing. 

[Related: Tracking the change: A look at some of the projects set for Historic West End (Part 2)]

It’s not a premier food destination just yet, but with a steady rate of growth and development in the area, more and more restaurateurs and entrepreneurs have come to the West End to set up shop.

Whether you’re a longtime resident, new to the neighborhood, or a transplant looking to explore Charlotte, here are five West End eateries you should know. 

Toucan Louie’s Cafe & Roastery, 2753 Rozzelles Ferry Road

Photo: Toucan Louie’s West End

In 2017, owners Marc and LeAnne Kieffer transformed a former gas station into a neighborhood eatery reminiscent of an old-school soda shop. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating, along with a wrap-around bar. 

What’s on the menu: sandwiches, salads, craft coffee, smoothies, fresh juices, and desserts.

Great for: breakfast, lunch, or a coffee break.

Pro-tip: Jay Byrd and Maria Caceres’ bakery, Bun Appetit!, known for its small-batch cinnamon buns, has a counter in Toucan Louie’s. The typical daily offerings include vanilla glaze, cream cheese frosting, caramel pecan sticky buns, lemon curd and blueberry reduction. The buns typically sell out, so getting there early is suggested.

West End Tavern, 2817 Rozzelles Ferry Road

Photo: Westend Tavern

Opened this summer, West End Tavern is quickly becoming known as a new hotspot, offering spirits, bar bites, music, and hookah. The bar’s key features are: indoor and outdoor seating, fire pits, live DJs, and bottle service.

Owner Robert Walker tells Qcity Metro he wants visitors to the tavern to have a “Miami- or Vegas-type of experience.”

“We try to make this a friendly, fun place to come…and safe, of course,” he said. And with ample outdoor seating, the tavern offers plenty of space for social distancing, he added.

What’s on the menu: burgers, handhelds, eggrolls, salads, nachos, wings, and cocktails. 

Great for: friends-night out, happy hour, brunch, lunch and dinner. 

Rita’s Italian Ice, 1806 Rozzelles Ferry Road

Owners Melanie and Justin Powell opened their second Rita’s Italian Ice location at Five Points over the summer. The Johnson C. Smith University alums wanted to come back to the neighborhood they once called home and be part of the economic revitalization on the corridor.

This location allows patrons to enter the store or walk up to a window and be served from the sidewalk — a real neighborhood vibe. JCSU president Clarence Armbrister recently revealed that, on an especially hot day, he returned to his office with a whole bucket of Rita’s Italian Ice and was a “hero” to his staff.

What’s on the menu: assorted flavors of Italian Ice, custards, milkshakes, and popcorn.

Great for: dessert, mid-day snack, anytime. 

Pro-tip: This location rotates its Italian Ice and custard flavors daily. Follow them on Instagram @ritasoffivepoints to keep up with the latest. 

Tropical Goodies at 2316 Lasalle Street

For more than a decade Tropical Goodies has offered authentic Caribbean food at its Beatties Ford Road location. Not only Caribbean classics, but also traditional African American fare like macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and fried okra. Dine-in or carry-out at this location, or carry-out only at their North Tryon Street store. 

What’s on the menu: oxtail, jerk chicken, curried goat, coco bread, fried plantain and drinks native to the Caribbean.

Great for: cultural cuisine, lunch and dinner. 

Pro-tip: The veggie plate options are plentiful, great for non-meat eaters.

Jet’s Pizza at 1800 Rozzelles Ferry Road

Todd Martinez, who spent more than 30 years in Detroit’s automotive industry, smiles at his third Jet’s Pizza franchise in the Charlotte region — his latest one in Historic West End. (Photo: QCity Metro)

Right next door to Rita’s Italian Ice, Jet’s Pizza opened this summer as part of a new cohort of retailers of color at Five Points. Todd Martinez, owner and West End resident, had been trying for years to bring a Jet’s Pizza to the neighborhood.

With the vision of Dianna Ward, a local real estate investor who owns the building, Martinez’s idea came to life — bringing Detroit-style pizza to Charlotte’s West End.

[Related: 3 retailers of color prepare for business in renovated West End building near JCSU]

What’s on the menu: pizza, sandwiches, salads, boneless wings, and desserts.

Great for: lunch, dinner, and on the go.

Pro-tip: Simply put, Jet’s Pizza is delicious. Since opening this summer, the location has been busy around the clock. With JCSU students back on campus, calling ahead is highly suggested. 

Sarafina covers Historic West End under a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. She earned a journalism degree from Howard University. Email news tips to sarafinawright@qcitymetro.com...

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