Mint Hill Coffee and Social House
Best Cuppa Joe | Best Way to Rise & Shine
Mint Hill Coffee and Social House Owners Annette and Robert Smith started out roasting coffee beans at home, which they sold then at the Farmer’s Market on the weekends. As they found themselves roasting all week long to meet Saturday’s demand, they quickly realized they’d outgrown their one-pound home roasting operation.
The Smiths began to look for a commercial space to house a larger roaster and ended up in a small house in downtown Mint Hill where Chik-fil-A currently stands. “The thought process was really just to sell the beans,” says Annette, “so we put our roaster there, but then that led to a lot of people asking why we didn’t sell coffee.”
In 2017, Annette and Robert decided to give it a shot and opened Mint Hill Roasting Company. In 2018, they moved to their current location next to the police department, and earlier this year, they expanded and rebranded as Mint Hill Coffee and Social House. In October, they’ll celebrate their five-year anniversary.
So what makes Mint Hill Coffee’s “cuppa joe” the best in town? “I think people love that it’s roasted here,” says Annette. “It’s fresh; we roast every week, sometimes twice a week. All of our drinks are made with our coffee; we make all of our syrups and a lof of our baked goods here, too.”
Validating its evolution from coffee shop to social house, Mint Hill Coffee was voted not only “Best Cuppa Joe” but also “Best Way to Rise and Shine.” In addition to mochas and lattes, Mint Hill Coffee offers a variety of breakfast items, like breakfast sandwiches, croissants, and their popular vegan zucchini loaf, which sells out almost every day. Every Friday night, they have Music Bingo, and once a month on Saturdays, themed trivia.
“I think people like the the atmosphere,” says Annette. “It’s cozy, it’s comfortable. We’ve got a great front porch and outside area so people can sit out with their kids or with their dog or just by themselves and enjoy it.”
For Annette, being voted the best in Mint Hill is gratifying. “I feel like we’ve really grown with the community,” she says, “and it’s just really an honor to be recognized by our customers and our community members.”
Best Wings | Best Burger
Dunwellz was started ten years ago by a group of friends who enjoyed working together in the restaurant industry and wanted to create the type of place they’d like to hang out: a family-friendly, neighborhood hangout with delicious craft beers and fresh, high-quality food. Nominated in an impressive six categories, Dunwellz took home “Best Burger” and “Best Wings.”
For Owner Missy, it’s a combination of variety, price and quality that make Dunwellz’ wings the best in town. They offer seventeen different flavors, including classic choices like hot, mild and teriyaki in addition to unique choices like Dr. Pepper BBQ and Spicy PB&J. On Mondays and Thursdays, wings are 10 for $10, and they’re always served with ranch or blue cheese as well as celery and carrots.
Dunwellz also took home “Best Burger,” an impressive feat in a town full of great burger options! Dunwellz takes pride in the quality of their burgers. “We hand patty them every day, so they’re never frozen,” explains Missy.
In addition to a selection of “Mint Hill’s Favoritez,” Dunwellz offers an infinitely customizable “Build Your Own” burger menu with protein options ranging from the traditional Angus Burger to to the lower-calorie turkey burger or vegetarian black bean burger. On Saturday nights, “Build Your Own” burgers are just $9.
It’s Dunwellz’ highly customizable menu that also made them a strong nominee for “Best Gluten Free” and “Best Vegetarian.” With options like a gluten free bun, lettuce wrap, black bean burger and Impossible patty, any sandwich can be made gluten free, vegetarian or both. “Everything is made to order,” says Missy, “so it’s easy to customize any burger or salad.”
“It’s awesome to win,” says Missy. “We strive for the best every day. We know that we have a lot of good products, and we stand by those daily, but it’s nice to be acknowledged!”
The Hill Bar and Grill
Best Family Dining
The Hill Bar and Grill has been a Mint Hill staple going on twelve years now. “We’re like Cheers,” says ten-year bar manager Brittany. “We’ve got a smalltown feel and a lot of regulars where everybody knows everybody’s name.”
Nominated in four different categories, The Hill took home “Best Family Dining.” Their kids’ menu features kid-approved favorites like chicken fingers, burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, corn dogs and wings, and if you’re lucky, you might even get to choose your own brownie or ice cream toppings. Owner Dave Andrews makes it a point to be involved with kids in the community, sponsoring Mint Hill’s softball and baseball teams as well as Independence High School’s football team.
The Hill was also nominated for “Best Wings” and “Best Burger.” “We sell more wings than anyone in East Charlotte!” boasts Andrews. “All the sauces dressings and sauces are homemade.” As for their burgers, you can count on freshness there, too. “We use ground chuck, and we have a special salt and pepper and garlic seasoning,” says Andrews. “We make the patties here fresh every day and use homemade breads.”
While The Hill prides itself on it’s quality burgers and wings, Brittany wants everyone to know that The Hill is more than just bar food. “Today our special is a homemade creamy squash soup,” she explains. “We have mahi fish tacos and a homemade crab cake. People think we’re just burgers and fries, but we have a lot of really good homemade recipes.”
Best Slice | Best Gluten Free
What sets Big Guy’s Pizza apart, according to owner Janet Muller, is quality. “Everything is fresh and homemade. Nothing comes frozen,” says Muller. “We make our sauce and our dough. We buy a whole milk cheese that comes in chunks, and we put it through the slicer. All that is done in house.”
But Big Guy’s is more than just great pizza. They offer a full menu of salads, sandwiches, pastas and even cannoli. They were also a finalist for “Best Wings,” which they double bake in an 800-degree oven.
Big Guy’s also took home the win for “Best Gluten Free.” Because it’s difficult to make, gluten-free crust is one of the only things that comes to Big Guy’s pre-packaged. While it’s not technically certified for celiac, Muller assures customers that the Big Guy’s staff is very careful with how they handle gluten-free pizzas.
“We are very, very particular about it,” she explains. “We wear gloves to take it out and pick it up. We have a special cutter designated for gluten-free pizza. We’re as careful as we can be, but I don’t ever want to say it’s certified for celiac because we are a pizza place, and I can’t guarantee zero cross-contamination.”
What makes Big Guy’s a great choice for gluten free and vegetarian customers alike is that everything is customizable from a house salad to a pizza. Everything is made on site to order, making it a great choice for anyone with specific dietary needs.
With 17 years in Mint Hill, being designated Mint Hill’s “Best” means a great deal to Muller and her family. “When you come here, it’s like you’re coming to my house,” says Muller. “Everybody that comes in here, they become my family. So we’re just really happy that we’ve meant something to this community.”
Pour 64’s 40 rotating taps represent everything you could want in beer and more: pilsners, lagers, IPAs, sours, stouts, porters, kombucha, hard seltzer, and even gluten-free and non alcoholic options.
For Owner Sarah Brock, it’s Pour 64’s variety that makes it the “Best Pint” in Mint Hill. “I take a lot of time and energy to cultivate the tap lineup to make sure that there’s always something new and exciting,” she says. Iif you come in here one week and then come back another time, it’s completely different. It gives customers the opportunity to try beers they wouldn’t normally have access to.”
But Pour 64 is more than just a great pint. “We have food trucks, live music, bingo on Wednesdays,” says Brock. “We also allow outside food, so you can grab food from other locations in town. We host a lot of private events. We’re still selling the crowlers and growlers, and we just started carrying four packs of beer to go.”
It’s Pour 64’s casual, laid back atmosphere that also made it a finalist for “Best Date Night.” “Our customers know they can just come in and grab a beer, and we’re not rushing anyone out of here,” she says. “There’s no pressure to turn over tables here. You don’t have to dress up; you can come in your sweatpants or joggers and have like a nice evening.”
For Brock, winning the “Best Pint” in Mint Hill means that the community notices the work they’re doing at Pour 64. “It hasn’t always been an easy road for us to get exposure being tucked back here by Town Hall without signage out front,” says Brock. “It’s great to see people notice us and say this is a place we should check out because we work so hard in here to do what we do: to pick great beer, to be involved in the community and to have great customer service.”
Best Date Night
Owner Michelle Hitchock describes Vintner’s Hill as a local place that everyone loves to come to, a place that’s friendly, full of regulars, but also intimate.
Vintner’s Hill regularly offers fifteen wines by the glass, five rotating draft beers, and a selection of nonalcoholic options like soft drinks and coffee. A unique feature is their wine vending machine, which offers 1- 3- or 6-oz pours of a rotating selection of red wines that vary in price.
Hitchcock thinks it’s Vintner’s Hill’s variety and atmosphere that makes it the perfect spot for a date. “It’s a friendly, relaxing place, not uptight,” says Hitchcock. “You don’t need to be nervous coming in here; we have such an easygoing staff, and we have so many options including some great shareables and desserts.”
Couples visiting Vintner’s Hill in the past few months may have noticed new specials on the menu. “A lot of people have noticed a step up in the kitchen,” says Hitchcock, who brought Chef Justin on board in March. “He has been such a great asset to Vintner’s Hill.”
Winning “Best Date Night” holds special meaning for Michelle and her husband Howard, who have been longtime “date night” customers of Vintner’s Hill themselves. “One year my husband and I actually spent our anniversary here,” she recalls. “The fact that we can win Best Date Night when we came here ourselves on a date years ago – never realizing a couple of years later that we’d own it! – is really special.”
Best Icy Sweet Treat
A fixture in Mint Hill for over a quarter of a century, Carolina Creamery beat out the competition to win Mint Hill’s “Best Icy Sweet Treat.”
“We have great homemade ice cream,” says Joe Choi, whose family has owned Carolina Creamery for about 18 years. “Everything ‘s made here. We also make the waffle cones here and waffle bowls.”
Carolina Creamery boasts an impressive selection of about 44 flavors of ice cream and sells everything from cups and cones to milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits and floats. Some of their best sellers are butter pecan, strawberry cheesecake and oreo.
For Choi, Carolina Creamery’s appeal boils down to the fact they they make all their ice creams in house. “You can tell the difference because it’s creamier,” he says.
When asked how it feels to win Best Icy Sweet Treat, Choi has a single word: marvelous. “We’ve been here for a very long time, and we’re very thankful for it.”
New Asian Cuisine
According to chinahighlights.com, although vegetarianism is practiced by a relatively small fraction of China’s population, the mainstays of Chinese cuisine – noodles, rice, tofu and vegetables – make it a great choice for vegetarians.
New Asian Cuisine, located in Bright Park, has a variety of vegetable-based dishes on the menu for their vegetarian customers: sauteed mixed vegetables, vegetable chow mein, broccoli in garlic sauce, and thai red curry vegetables. They also offer a large selection of tofu dishes including tofu-based versions of popular dishes like sesame tofu, cashew tofu, general tofu, thai red curry tofu, and sa cha tofu.
“They are able and willing to substitute any of their meat dishes with tofu,” says New Asian customer Bennett Henkel. “I get the Asian Spicy Chicken, but substitute tofu.”
If you’re looking for vegetarian-friendly recommendations, New Asian server Debbie recommends the Thai Red Curry. “If they ask me what’s your favorite here, I would tell them Thai Red Curry,” she says. “The sauce is wonderful here. And our garlic sauce is wonderful here too!”
Best Baked Good
Daphne’s was opened in November of 2008 by Janice Efird and 3 nieces who had a passion for good food and a love for baking. Their mission from the beginning has been to bake Southern desserts and treats from scratch, use locally sourced ingredients as much as possible, and support local businesses and community by purchasing ingredients and supplies.
Daphne’s cases are stocked daily with cookies, cupcakes, muffins, cheese biscuits, cinnamon rolls, cake pops, bars, sweet breads, pies, layer cakes, cheese crackers, and even a small selection of keto and gluten-free options. Speciality desserts like custom cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies, cheesecakes, pound cakes and their signature chocolate chip cookie cake are available by order.
For Efird, it’s Daphne’s flavors and passion for baking that nabbed them “Best Baked Good” in Mint Hill. “Daphnes is a Southern Bakery, staffed by young people with a passion to create the best desserts and treats and a desire to make each customer feel special!” says Efird. “Many of our customers tell us the treats they purchase from Daphne’s remind them of their grandmother’s baking! That is what we strive for – a true experience of flavor!”
Serving Magnolia Coffee (locally roasted in Matthews) for over ten years, Daphne’s also earned a nomination for Best Cuppa Joe. “Daphne’s iced coffee has quite a fan base!” says Efird. “Made with our house made sweet cream and the option of added flavors, our customers say it’s the best in town.”
“We have been serving Mint Hill almost 14 years and are humbled by the support we see daily by this amazing community,” concludes Efird. “This town and the surrounding area mean so much to us – we are grateful to be part of Mint Hill!”