• Image about Charlotte Tailgate Farmers

Ditch the guidebook and follow these famous locals as they show you around North Carolina’s largest city.

Mario Batali
Award-winning chef and author of Mario Batali: Italian Grill
“My favorite place in Charlotte -- outside the walls of the track -- has to be Mac’s Speed Shop, located a bit out of town on an unlit part of the road. It’s kind of a grimy biker bar meets great place to hang and listen to loud music, live or from the jukebox. Pick from a killer beer selection and eat delicious pulled-pork platters and brisket.”

Rob Boisvert
Anchor, News 14 Carolina
“The food at Copper, an Indian restaurant on East Boulevard, is some of the best I’ve tasted. My personal favorite is Sir Edmond Halley’s, an English-style pub with an excellent and varied menu. It isn’t fancy or trendy -- it’s hidden near the loading docks of a grocery store -- but the atmosphere, albeit sometimes smoky, and food are wonderful.”

Lisa Zerkle
Poet and coeditor of Kakalak: Anthology of Carolina Poets
“Charlotte Tailgate Farmers Market is a fun outdoor market featuring local growers and producers. Take a stroll through Wing Haven, an idyllic garden in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It’s a lush three-acre bird sanctuary with fountains, meandering paths, and a children’s garden.”

Heidi Billotto
Restaurant critic/food writer, Charlotte Weekly
The Coffee Cup offers fried pork chops, grits, and eggs for breakfast, and killer banana pudding for dessert. For barbecue, check out EB’s Bar-B-Que and Rock Store in Stallings. [Get there early, though], especially on respective rib nights, as the food goes fast.”

Joe Kuhlmann
Owner of the Evening Muse and of 34th & Hudson Recording Studio
The Penguin in Plaza Midwood is a throwback to the ’50s diner. Be sure to get an order of the fried pickles or the black-bean hummus. In terms of nightlife, NoDa [Charlotte’s historic art district] has the Gallery Crawl on the first and third Fridays.… The galleries stay open late, [and there is] free music at the Evening Muse and Salvador Deli.”

H.C. “Smoky” Bissell
Founder and chairman of the Bissell Companies
“In recent years, public art has become a key focus, and Ray Kaskey’s statues at the four corners of the Square are wonderful examples of the success of this focus. In the category of hidden gems, Charlotte’s tree canopy is in a class by itself. A drive down Queens Road West, with the wonderful oaks, is one we always make sure visitors experience.”

Philip L. Dubois
Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
“I’m completely biased, of course, but I recommend the botanical gardens on the UNC–Charlotte campus. The Susie Harwood Garden features an Oriental gazebo, a waterfall pond, and interesting mosaic art. The botanical gardens are supported by the McMillan Greenhouse, a conservatory that simulates a tropical rain forest.”

Rusty Wallace
ABC/ESPN lead auto-racing analyst and NASCAR Nationwide Series team owner
“For a nice, relaxing lunch, I like Pewter Rose on South Boulevard. It’s been ranked as one of the most romantic restaurants in Charlotte, and I like to take my wife there on special occasions.”

Larry Sprinkle
WCNC TV weatherman
The Red Sea Restaurant and Bar is an Ethiopian café; you can feast on wat [stew] and enjera [bread] .… The staff will give you a whole education on the native foods of Ethiopia, offering platters with samples of everything. It’s a great little escape into the culture of East Africa, and you’ll have a meal to remember!”

Global traveler that you are, you surely have favorite places in all the cities you visit. Why not share them with others? E-mail us with your picks at favorites@americanwaymag.com, or go to www.americanwaymag.com/favorites and join in the discussion.