May 15, 2023 - Food and Drink

Everything you need to know about Optimist Hall

optimist-hall-interior-undercurrent-1300

optimist-hall-interior-undercurrent-1300

This story was last updated in July 2023 to reflect Optimist Hall’s current tenant list.

Optimist Hall is a transformative mixed-use development with a food hall located just outside Uptown in the Optimist Park neighborhood.

Overview: The $60 million redevelopment of an old mill includes 83,000 square feet of office space occupied by Duke Energy, a 22,000-square-foot food hall, and an additional 32,000 square feet of anchor restaurant and outdoor space. It’s similar to Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market in Atlanta, UrbanSpace in New York City, and Morgan Street Food Hall in Raleigh.

Pickup and delivery: Certain restaurants and food stalls offer pickup and delivery for those who don’t want to dine in. Participating tenants include Ava, Bao and Broth, Boxcar Betty’s, Dumpling Lady, El Thrifty and others. Order here.

Tenants: Optimist Hall has a total of 25 tenants (not including Duke Energy).

Layout: Total interior and exterior seating is 650, plus ample courtyard, patio and lawn space. The layout is basically a giant U with the food hall in the left arm, larger anchor restaurants along the right arm, and a dog-friendly central courtyard in the middle. Yes, there is free WiFi, and it’s a popular spot for getting work done and meetings.

History: Optimist Hall’s historic mill building, once one of the largest producers of gingham textile in the country, dates back to 1892 and features nods to the past in everything from the paint color to original flooring and fire doors. The hall’s signature seafoam green paint matches the building’s original interior color and the original walnut floors show wear and tear from the old spinning machines. Reclaimed windows and new gingham screens create dividers between cozy seating nooks, and some of the tables are made with reclaimed heart pine.

Hours: 7am-9pm Monday through Thursday, 7am-10pm on Friday, 8am- 10pm on Saturday, and 8am-9pm on Sunday. Hours vary for food stalls.

Location: The address is 1115 North Brevard Street, just a five-minute walk from Parkwood Station on the light rail.

Parking: Parking is free for the first hour and a half. After that, a visit will cost you $5 for an hour and a half to three hours and $18 for anything over three hours.

Now open:

  • Bao and Broth – Ramen and bun shop from Larry Schreiber, the chef behind Good Food on Montford’s wildly popular steamed buns. It joins the lineup of powerhouse Charlotte restaurants under the Moffett Restaurant Group umbrella, including Good Food, Stagioni and Barrington’s.
  • Undercurrent Coffee – Todd and Erin Huber’s full-service coffee bar with a focus on sustainable sourcing. Their flagship cafe and coffee lab is located in Plaza Midwood.
  • Honeysuckle Gelato – Southern-inspired gourmet gelato served up in scoops, shakes, and sandwiches. Look for flavors like lemon raspberry crumble and bourbon pecan praline.
  • Pet Wants – Carmen Larreynaga’s health food store for pets serving slow-cooked, small-batch dog and cat food.
  • Zukku Sushi – Customizable sushi, sushi burritos and bowls.
  • Spindle Bar – Casual tap with a Southern front porch party vibe. It serves draft cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. On the courtyard, order drinks from an Airstream that serves as a cocktail and beer kiosk.
  • Papi Queso – Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from one of Charlotte’s most beloved food trucks created by Brian Stockholm and Shelley Odom.
  • The Dumpling Lady – Executive chef Qian Zhang’s popular food truck put down roots for her authentic Sichuan cuisine, including handmade soup dumplings, noodles and dim sum.
  • Village Juice Co. – Winston-Salem-based cold pressed juice company serving local, organic, plant-based food. The menu also includes smoothie bowls, salads, grain bowls and fancy toast.
  • Ava – Traditional Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven from a team that includes Michael Stewart and former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
  • Archer Paper Goods – Fine stationery and supplies like greeting cards, journals and gifts. Archer also has locations in Atlanta, Athens and Dallas.
  • Velvet Taco – Fast-casual restaurant chain based out of Dallas with a globally inspired taco menu.
  • El Thrifty Social Club – Reid Olsen and Joe Lariscy, the team behind Queen Park Social, opened this casual entertainment destination with Mexican-inspired food and craft cocktails, DJs and interactive games like pelota, Belgian feather bowling, foosball, ping pong and duckpin bowling.
  • Fonta Flora Brewing – Morganton-founded brewery with a focus on local agriculture. This is a huge expansion for the brewery into the Charlotte market with a tasting room and lots of outdoor space.
  • Felix Empanadas – Felix Godward’s local food truck serving authentic sweet and savory Argentinian empanadas, entraña (skirt steak with chimichurri) and milanesas (breaded and fried cuts of chicken, pork and steak).
  • Billy Sunday – Award-winning Chicago cocktail lounge with an elevated bar menu of creative and classic cocktails.
  • Suarez Bakery and Barra – Popular Park Road Shopping Center bakery’s second location with expanded offerings, including a new savory menu. Suarez also has Cuban-style coffee.
  • Boxcar Betty’s – The Charleston-based gourmet fried chicken sandwich concept features chicken sandwiches, classic Southern side dishes, salads, desserts and a kid’s menu.
  • Harriet’s Hamburgers – Old school burger joint from the teams behind Plaid Penguin and Papi Queso. The “succinct and nostalgic menu” is reminiscent of diners from the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Collier Candy Company – Atlanta-based candy shop with new and vintage candy, premium sodas and more.
  • Botiwalla – Indian street grill from the James Beard-award-winning chef behind Asheville’s wildly popular Chai Pani. The menu features grilled meats, flatbreads, fresh herbs and wraps along with homemade ice cream and boozy slushies. The original location is in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market and a second is on the way in Alpharetta. Related guide.
  • Mezeh – Mezeh is a Mediterranean grill with locations in other parts of North Carolina (like Raleigh and Fayetteville) and in Virginia and Maryland. Mezeh opened its first Charlotte location in the Strawberry Hill area.
  • Paradiso – This Atlanta-based plant shop is located next to Mezeh. Expect tons of beginner-friendly plants, terrariums, candles, plant and gardening books, pots and other plant and home goods.
  • Noble Smoke – Barbecue is inspired by both the Carolinas and Texas, and it’ll be available by the pound or in a sandwich. Located next to Pet Wants.
  • Enat Ethiopian Expect traditional Ethiopian dishes like crispy sambusa, stewed tibs and injera bread. The 504-square-foot stall is located between Boxcar Betty’s and Ava.  
  • The Merchant – An Atlanta-based stationery and homeware store featuring vintage home goods, gifts and stationery from local vendors, set to open this summer next to Paradiso Plant Shop.

Coming soon:

  • Shreiber’s on Rye – A New York-style deli featuring dishes such as pastrami on rye, matzo ball soup and Coney Island knish in the former Xiao Bao space. 

Here’s a photo tour of Optimist Hall:

seats and internet inside optimist hall in charlotte
Signature seafoam green.
Central courtyard.
soup dumpling from dumpling lady
Soup dumpling from The Dumpling Lady.
optimist-boa and broth
Pork belly buns from Bao and Broth.
lobster sushi roll at zukku sushi optimist hall charlotte
Lobster volcano roll at Zukku Sushi
bar at el thrifty in charlotte
Bar at El Thrifty. (Below)
patio outside of el thrifty at optimist hall
Patio outside El Thrifty
undercurrent coffee inside optimist hall
Undercurrent Coffee
archer paper entrance inside optimist hall
Archer Paper
pork grilled cheese from papi queso charlotte
Pork grilled cheese at Papi Queso.
spindle bar inside optimist hall
Spindle Bar
ordering at village juice co optimist hall
Village Juice Co
Velvet Taco elote, queso, tacos, nachos
Selection of tacos from Velvet Taco
billy sunday-nowopen-bagdrink
Billy Sunday
empanada and fries at felix empanadas at optimist hall
Felix Empanadas
ava pizza optimist hall charlotte
Ava Pizza
Fonta Flora Optimist Hall
Fonta Flora’s taproom is located on the ground level below the food hall.

Looking for more Charlotte food and drink guides? Here’s a complete list of our guides including best burgers, best bars, best new restaurants, best weekly specials, best pizza, best sushi, best cocktail bars, top restaurants, and best brunch.

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