It was Sunday morning, and we knew we had little time to spare. I had to be at work the next day at 8:00, so basically we had 24 hours to make a 12-hour road trip, get home, sleep, and be back at work. We knew it was going to be a long day, so we decided to have some fun along the way. Neither of us had ever been to Charlotte, so it seemed like a good place to stop for an early lunch.
I had read about Mert’s on Urbanspoon, and it seemed to be where those in the know go for southern / soul food. It’s right in the heart of downtown Charlotte, within walking distance of the Blumenthal Performing Arts building, Discovery Place, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The interior is decorated with pop culture memorabilia interspersed with what seem to be family photos.
The menu is extensive enough to give you plenty of choices but not so huge that it’s overwhelming.
We started with cornbread…
Nikki ordered fried chicken tenders with green beans and black-eyed peas. I don’t think I got a bite, so it must’ve been pretty good. The tenders look a little overcooked to me, just judging by the photo.
I wanted something just a little lighter so I went with the French toast with bacon and grits as my sides.
When the grits came out I wasn’t thinking and I asked for butter. Our waitress replied, “They already got butter, you want some more?” I had forgotten that, in some establishments, flavor is a requirement, not an option…
The interesting thing to me is that I had ordered almost this exact same meal at Gypsy’s Shiny Diner a few days prior, and I actually enjoyed it there much more than at Mert’s. Maybe I was hungrier that night than I was this morning. I don’t know. But given a blind taste test, I’d take breakfast at Gypsy’s over breakfast at Mert’s… which was disappointing because it had been so hyped online.
Mert’s also offers homemade desserts like the ones pictured above. We didn’t have room for any of them, but I can’t really imagine them being bad.
Overall we liked Mert’s, we just didn’t love it and didn’t really feel like it stood up to its reputation. Maybe we need to give it a second look. Let us know if you go and have a different experience.
MERT’S HEART AND SOUL
214 N. College Street
Charlotte, NC 28202