A popular Asheville restaurant is on its way to Charlotte. Here’s what we know. BY PHILIP FREEMAN UPDATED JUNE 30, 2021 5:14 PM
Charlotte has long-welcomed western North Carolina staples to its food and drink scene: Burial Beer Company, Catawba Brewing, Fonta Flora Brewery, Tupelo Honey and White Duck Taco Shop readily come to mind. Soon, Asheville-based Early Girl Eatery will join the list; the restaurant has announced plans to open a location in the Dimensional Fund Advisors building where Common Market once served breakfast, sandwiches and salads in South End.
Early Girl is working with Gais Construction and aims to open in late 2021 or early 2022. The move was first reported by Jason Thomas.
Whether devouring breakfast on the heels of a brewery tour, grabbing lunch with a friend or refueling with dinner after a long hike, Asheville locals and tourists alike have long enjoyed the hearty comfort food prepared in-house at Early Girl.
Since opening its first location in 2001, Early Girl has championed the farm-to-table movement, working with 32 farmers and vendors across western North Carolina to procure fresh, in-season ingredients. Owner Jesson Gil has already started talking with farmers and vendors in the Charlotte area and plans to incorporate local ingredients into the South End location.
“We frame literally every decision on this process: Can we buy it local, organic or seasonal, and fresh (not frozen),” Gil told CharlotteFive. “I believe it is important to support your neighbors wherever you are,” Gil added.
The Charlotte menu will mirror that of the West Asheville location. For breakfast, expect decadent twists on some of your favorite dishes: Chicken & Waffles — a standard version, or swap cinnamon-battered buttermilk biscuits in for the waffles and top them with whipped cream and fruit — Potato and Spinach Cakes covered with eggs and tomato gravy, and home fries smothered in pulled pork, eggs, cheese and bacon gravy in the Porky Breakfast Bowl.
Early Girl offers several gluten-free and vegan breakfast options and is well-versed at adding tempeh or tofu to its breakfast dishes. And, yes, breakfast is served all day.
Expect equally creative dishes (also served all day) if you’re looking for lunch or dinner. Buttermilk fried chicken is brined for 24 hours, flounder comes with homemade jalapeno tartar sauce and 12-hour slow-roasted pork barbecue is served with mac and cheese. (Did I mention that’s mac and homemade bourbon pimento cheese?)
“We are very proud to sell a gluten-free fried chicken that rivals any version of fried chicken out there,” Gil told CharlotteFive.
Early Girl offers a range of drinks to complement its food — coffee, fresh juice, oat milk, sodas and hot tea are always available. Diners might recognize the coffee as it comes from Charlotte’s very own Jags Head Coffee. Early Girl and Jags Head have a “wonderful farm to cup relationship,” Gil said.
Beer, wine, and cocktails are also on the menu. Look out for Bloody Marys (spicy or traditional), mimosas (classic or mixed berry), and a range of originals like The Pink Lady — made with raspberry vodka, tuaca, peach Schnapps, cranberry and fresh lemon juice — or the Bee’s Knees, prepared with gin, honey, lemon and bitters. Non-drinkers will appreciate a selection of mocktails including the Dreamsicle, which includes small-batch orange juice, peach puree, and fresh whipped cream.
When visiting, make sure to check out the specials that rotate every two weeks. The Asheville locations’ weekly specials have included cucumber and tomato salad, southern heirloom tomato sandwich, vegetable benny and watermelon margarita.
And for the record, Gil recommends the veggie breakfast bowl with a side of bacon — covered in hot sauce. “We make a sweet potato habanero (It’s hot!) hot sauce in house that I just can’t get enough of. I pour that all over,” Gil told CharlotteFive.
EARLY GIRL EATERY 1515 S. Tryon St. (opening late 2021 or early 2022) Instagram: @earlygirleatery