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Located just two miles north of Uptown Charlotte, North Davidson (affectionately known as NoDa) has been going through a sort of transitional makeover these past two decades. The transformation from milltown to vibrant arts community is home to locally-owned live performance venues, restaurants, breweries, galleries, and kitschy shops.

Naturally, when I set out to find the best places to eat, I turned my query to the locals. Nine times outta ten, they’ll send you to places that don’t make the blogger “Top 10” lists – but you can bet they’re the best places to go. So off I went to check ’em out.

As I strolled down Davidson Street trying to decide where to eat, I got a of whiff of something flavorful in the air. What was that delicious smell? You could literally pick out the seasonings being used as the wind carried the savory aroma through the corridors. When I looked up, I was greeted by a bright-yellow brick building, with a sign that read “MANGOS.”

MANGOS

Mangos is that under-the-radar gem that you can’t wait to write home about. Specializing in Caribbean fusion made from scratch, they intricately meld authentic Jamaican flavors with a fresh modern style. Savory dishes are roasted to perfection while their sauces are simmered with the time and patience required of true Caribbean culinary heritage.

My hostess was kind enough to bring me their”locals only” dish, prepared by their cook, whose recipes are made with the love and passion of a true Islander.

Next, I was presented with the main course: classic jerk chicken with yellow rice, peas, and sweet candied plantains with a crunchy brown sugar coating.

It was one of the best dishes I had during my stay in Charlotte. But wait. I wasn’t finished. My meal was completed with their famous Rum Cake. The alcohol content is so high that you must be 21 years or older to order it and it has to be eaten inside . . no lie! When I prodded for the recipe, I was told it was a chef’s secret.

I literally wiped that plate clean. It was soooo delicious.

MANGOS: 3112 N. Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

I’ll be the first to admit that my breakfast of champions usually consists of an eye-opening Venti Starbucks coffee, which I like to refer to as “liquid crack in a cup”. However, in an effort to keep to my “commitment” of adding a little healthy eating to my grab-and-go liquid diet, I’ve discovered these ten make-ahead, healthy breakfast recipes that won’t prevent me from hitting the snooze button, yet again, and sleeping in an extra 15 minutes.

Saying goodbye to the morning rush never tasted so good!

Berry Quinoa and Kale Salad

OMG! When I saw that salad dressing can be added to this already-amazing breakfast salad, I just about died. I love adding a little salad dressing to just about everything – especially over these berries. So good. So healthy. So easy to make. I’m sold! (Courtesy of The Recipe Critic).


Mediterranean  Inspired Avocado Toast with Pistachio Dukkah

Avocados are a So Cal girl’s best friend. Smear these babies on some whole grain toast and sprinkle with some Dukkah and roasted nuts and you have yourself a high-protein packed breakfast that will carry you over to lunch time. (Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest).


Sweet Morning Potato with Yogurt Maple Syrup Nuts.

Image: Sara Kate Gillingham

This recipe has no limits when it comes to what you can put on top of it. The Kitchn’s Sara Kate Gillingham suggests putting ” currants, sliced banana, berries, granola, sesame seeds” or any other variation that will make your boat float. (Courtesy of The Kitchn).


Vegan & Gluten Free Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats

When I decided to commit to eating a little healthier this year, images of tasteless bowls of oatmeal started clouding my head and eating healthy started sounding like a bad venture to take on. But as I browsed Pinterest for some tasty ideas, I came upon this recipe by Domesticate Me and was pleasantly surprised when I tried it. It’s so good you’re gonna forget it’s vegan and gluten free. (Courtesy of Domesticate Me)


Protein- Packed Soy Chorizo Lettuce Wrap.

When I first shared this recipe with my daughter and she saw that it called for soy chorizo, she swore she was gonna revoke my Latina card. She called soy chorizo blasphemy. But when we made this meatless dish to honor Hungry By Nature’s meatless-Monday, we were pleasantly surprised. Full of flavor, without compromising taste, I would have to say this is gonna stay on top of our morning breakfast routine. (Courtesy of Hungry By Nature)


Two Minute Vanilla Chia Pudding.

“Any recipe that only takes two minutes to make cannot be good,” is what my first thoughts were. But this delicious meal-in-a-jar has so many great flavors and it smells sooo good. I added a little cinnamon to it and enjoyed it the next morning as my new breakfast comfort food. I recommend you read through the whole recipe first before making it because iFoodreal’s Olena offers some great tips on how to perfect this scrumptious recipe.  (Courtesy of iFoodreal)


Loaded Breakfast Stuffed Peppers.

I love bell peppers. They add such a great burst of flavor to any dish. But having it as the main event was an added bonus. When you’re pressed for time in the morning but don’t want to stuff yourself with a bowl of cereal, these easy, make-ahead beauties will satisfy even the most picky eater. (Courtesy of She Likes Food)


Gluten-Free, Make-Ahead, Raspberry-Peach Crisp Breakfast Parfait.

When Kristin of Iowa Girl Eats mentioned that Georgia peaches (a seasonal fruit) are the key ingredient to making this beautiful Crisp Parfait, I wasn’t too sure about including it in our list. But then I found the best way to freeze Georgia peaches so you can make this baby all-year-round and I changed my mind. Good thing I did, because this parfait is so great to eat any time of the year that it would be a disservice not to share it with you. I hope you have the opportunity to make this because you’re gonna love it and it leaves your body feeling so clean and your stomach full. (Courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats)


Whole30-Friendly Prosciutto-Wrapped Mini Frittatas.

Prosciutto! Once I saw this, I knew I had to try it! Prosciutto with melon is one of my favorite appetizers and to have it as a breakfast item is a sudden must. I had to read up on what the Whole30 Program was before I tried this recipe, and to be honest, I hate anything that has rules when it comes to eating…but hey, whatever floats your boat. Whole30 or not, this breakfast recipe is so delicious and bonus!, it is made with tomatoes (optional of course). I had these with cranberry mimosas and I have to say, it makes for one hellofa brunch item – and it only takes 30 minutes from beginning to end to make. So yummy! You gotta try it! (Courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo)


Homemade Starbucks Spinach & Feta Breakfasts Wrap

When I saw that this recipe was a carbon copy of Starbucks, I jumped for joy!   No more climbing out of bed on a Saturday morning just to throw money out the window to satisfy my “commitment” to eating healthier. Now I can have a better version of Starbucks right in my own home, whenever I want. (Courtesy of Kitchen Treaty)