Explore NC’s Coffee Beans, Beats and Little Treats with Insider Maggie Carpenter

Hey everyone! Maggie here – coffee enthusiast, music lover and all-around North Carolina enjoyer. Charlotte has been home since 2021, and one thing’s been clear from the get-go: The people here in North Carolina aren’t just nice – they’re kind. And that’s what really makes the magic here. So grab your favorite people and treat yourselves a little. Here are some of my favorite ways to indulge across the state. 

Coffee treats 

I’m on a personal quest to find a favorite coffee shop in every area of NC. Some notables: 

Latte art competition on TV with coffee on TV stand
  • Provided Coffee in Concord: This is my favorite spot right now. The newest location shares a space with Nothing New, a massive vintage store, and is up for largest third wave coffee shops in NC. The founders are best friends who opened it at 18 years old and have created a cool space for all coffee enjoyers. I think about the pomegranate chai they had over the holidays every single day. 
  • Hex in Charlotte: Both CLT locations, Hex and Stable Hand, have some of the best beans in NC. They used to have a seasonal brown sugar rosemary latte that I was obsessed with, and they recently made it a permanent fixture. Did I play a part in that? Probably not, but I’d like to think I did. 
  • Sayso in Winston-Salem: This past Halloween they held a latte art competition, and my partner, Josh, placed third. Everyone was dressed in costumes, we saw so many friends and had enough caffeine to drive home with all the coffee from the latte art faceoffs. It was awesome. 
  • Black and White in Wake Forest: This one’s hard because there are so many great shops in the Triangle. B&W has these super cute bags with pandas on them and an insanely delicious cold brew. And nearby in Durham, there’s Cocoa Cinnamon with its warm and cozy vibes. My go-to is the Dr. Durham with house-made vanilla bean syrup and black lava salt. 

Music Treats

Growing up, my dad always encouraged me to expand my music knowledge and would quiz me on artists and songs in the car. Fun fact: The first CD I ever stole from him was Weezer’s Blue Album. As I got older, I got into ska, emo, punk and local scenes wherever I was living. In college, I went to a lot house shows and really enjoyed the DIY scene, and now I enjoy a mix of these things. Here are some of my favorite venues.


Couple smiling while holding red drink cans
Josh and Maggie at Bart's Mart
  • Bart’s Mart: Part bottle shop and part music venue, this spot is nestled in a shopping center in Eastway. Between sets, my friends and I like to grab a Liquid Death and a snack and hang outside in their seating area. They also hold events like trivia during the week, and if there is one thing about me, I am a fiend for a good trivia night. 
  • The Milestone: There’s so much history in this legendary venue! From punk shows to hardcore shows, I’ve seen friends share the same stage that Bad Brains played years ago. My favorite thing to do is grab a Food Lion ginger ale at the bar and see how many bands’ stickers I recognize along the walls. 

The Triangle 

  • Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro: If you know the NC music scene, you knew this was going to be on the list. I saw Slaughter Beach, Dog and Jeff Rosenstock here for the first time in 2021, and it was my first concert post-COVID. The whole experience made me remember how much I love shows and how magical they can be. Just remember the Cradle bar is cash only. 
  • Chapel of Bones in Raleigh: I went to a show at this brand-new coffee and live music venue recently, and you could feel the love and pride for NC music the whole time. Four of the bands were either from NC or had strong NC ties (including Josh’s band!) and the energy in the room was incredible. 


  • The Grey Eagle: I recently went to see The Hotelier and Foxing here at a sold-out show, and in addition to great live music, they also have the best Shirley Temples. 
  • The Orange Peel: Seeing The Chats here is a core memory. This venue attracts great artists, and being situated in downtown Asheville, it’s super easy to grab a great meal or coffee before a show and walk right over. 

Charlotte treats 

I’m also a big fan of food, thrifting and record stores, and you can find me and Josh at these places a lot: 

Closeup of Snoopy stuffed animal with other antiques in background
Sleepy Poet in Charlotte
  • Front Porch Sundays: I love when farmers markets and popups make their return in spring! Front Porch Sundays is a fun one in South End, and I’m typically walking away with some hibiscus lavender syrup from Tryon Mountain Farms to put in my lemonade. 
  • Thrift Pony: If you like well-curated, well-priced vintage and thrift finds, I have been obsessed with Thrift Pony in Plaza Midwood. Not only do they host pop-ups around town and in other cities in the cutest pink bus, but they also host other thrift and vintage sellers in their parking lot once a month! 
  • Ma Ma Wok: How delicious is this place? I have a friend who literally has a Ma Ma Wok tattoo. It’s an all-Vegan Chinese food restaurant, and I’m always ordering the lo mein and a few spring rolls. 
  • Optimist Hall: This is where Josh and I met! I’m either hitting up Dumpling Lady (spicy vegan noodles) or Papi Queso (I get the buffalo chicken grilled cheese, and they get the Little Cheesy – but we’re both ordering garlic tots). 
  • The Sleepy Poet: I'm a regular at this gigantic antique mall, and it’s a great place to just walk around even if you don’t need anything – and there’s a record extension! 
  • Lunchbox Records: I wouldn’t be a vinyl collector in Charlotte if I didn’t mention Lunchbox. With an extensive selection of anything you could need in a music medium – CDs, tapes, vinyl of all sizes, new, used – this iconic spot in Plaza Midwood is a must.

Craving more spring travel inspiration? Let Insiders Dana Grimstead and Veda Gilbert lead the way.

Updated February 27, 2024
Top of Page