James Andrew Phelps is an award-winning chef and food critic who spends his time frequenting the restaurant hotspots around his home state of North Carolina. Below, he names some of his favorite restaurants in Charlotte’s renowned and charming Elizabeth Neighborhood.
A native of North Carolina, James Phelps pursued his passion for the culinary arts after finding inspiration in all of the state’s celebrated food hubs. He graduated from the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Culinary Program with a Certificate in Culinary Arts, building a strong foundation for a lifelong career in food.
After graduating, James Andrew Phelps took on roles in kitchens across Raleigh and Durham, working in a number of eateries, cafes, bakeries, pastry shops, and high-end restaurants between the cities. After gaining a well-rounded first-hand experience in all things culinary, he relocated to Charlotte where he managed a handful of restaurants in the area and led them to new levels of success.
He’s served in both back of house and front of house positions, learning all aspects of the culinary experience from both sides of the table. This extensive experience helps him succeed in his latest professional venture as a restaurant reviewer and food critic for local establishments in and around Charlotte.
His insightful reviews, which provide keen evaluations of the food in the state, help many residents and visitors understand where their money is best spent and what items are worth a tasting. In addition, he pens thoughtful articles on trending news in the food industry as well as topics on breakthroughs in nutrition and health for his online readers.
Below, he shares two of his favorite places to eat in his hometown and what customers can expect from their experience.
“Charlotte is a hub for foodies from all over the country; we have some of the finest food anywhere, not to mention our own southern cooking roots,” says James Andrew Phelps. “The picturesque Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte alone features delicious bakeries, quaint little ice-cream shops, lively bars, and plenty of sit-down dining options.”
The Fig Tree
Phelps tells that anyone who comes to Charlotte and who asks around for dining ideas will always get the Fig Tree from the locals. The elegant French menu features a variety of decadent dishes from savory entrees to award-winning pastries and desserts. The restaurant sits in a Craftsman-style bungalow built in 1913, known as the Lucas House, which showcases all the charm of the quintessential southern city.
The Stanley restaurant opened a few years ago under James Beard-Nominated Chef Paul Verica and his Sous Chef and son Alex. Together, the father-son duo brings the farm to table movement to Charlotte with a blend of food styles ranging from classic foundations to modern techniques with a creative, whimsical approach.
“Each restaurant can easily boast some of the most fantastic food in the city, but they deliver more than that,” says James Andrew Phelps. “The Fig Tree and the Stanley each exemplify opposite poles of the culinary spectrum in Charlotte while delivering southern charm and the best food available in the whole neighborhood.”