East Forest – Charlotte, NC

The neighborhood of East Forest lies in South Charlotte between the highly-regarded community of Cotswold and the growing city of Matthews. This affordable area sits directly to the west of Independence Boulevard and appeals to those needing to commute the eight miles to uptown Charlotte without wanting to access the city's busy highways. Families love the quality schools and nearby shopping options. East Forest houses a good amount of green space as well, balanced with a solid blend of amenities that cater to almost every culture represented here in the southeast portion of the city.

Schools in East Forest

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Independence Boulevard's strip malls and small shopping centers house a large majority of the dining options within East Forest. Since ethnic populations make up over half of this community's residents, the food choices represent a cultural mixture. Those living throughout south and east Charlotte find East Forest offers some of the best and most affordable restaurant choices in the city. Queen's Soul Food offers perfectly fried catfish and fall-off-the-bone ribs. Even the veggie dishes at Queen's impress. Order the black-eyed peas, collards and macaroni and cheese. Don't forget to finish the meal with a hearty helping of banana pudding. Consistently exceptional service and affordable prices keep locals coming back for more at Queen's. Next door to Queen's Soul Food sits the restaurant that the Charlotte Observer proclaims '"the best eatery out of all the sports bars in Charlotte." Whooli's Grill & Sports Pub serves tremendously oversized portions of pub appetizers and offers a good sandwich variety. Whooli's claims to have the best wings in town, and diners agree. Come with friends and order an assortment of sauces smothered over the 50-wing platter, along with some of their priced-right brews. Follow Independence Boulevard north toward the city for a visit to the Kabob House. Though it resembles a Mexican restaurant from the outside, the Kabob House sells Persian-inspired dishes. Locals suggest starting with a Persian hot tea and an order of the eggplant appetizers. For the main course, diners order from a variety of meats available kabob-style. The amazing food, hookah bar and occasional belly-dancing performance guarantee an entertaining visit. For an evening beer or cocktail, several sports and casual bars line Independence Boulevard and Monroe Road, including Whooli's, Russell's Pub and Grill, and Boardwalk Billy's. All offer drink specials and bar food. Russell's occasionally has live music on the weekends. Locals seeking a sophisticated bar scene, clubs or a chance to catch a famous band head uptown to the Double Door Inn.

History & Culture

Neighborhoods, like East Forest, within southeast Charlotte grew steadily beginning in the 1960s and 1970s as the need for suburban, middle-class housing increased. Workers at this time sought new construction in outlying areas with convenient commutes into uptown via roads like Independence Boulevard. Since the 1990s, the area has definitely experienced a decline in new construction as more families move further south into communities such as Matthews and Ballantyne. No museums lie in or around the neighborhood but the city of Charlotte offers many cultural and educational options in uptown including the Discover Place science and technology museum and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Bojangles Coliseum sits north along Independence and hosts numerous musical and theatrical performances throughout the year. Although there are no annual events within the community, Charlotte hosts festivals year-round. Residents love to attend the Summer Love Music Arts Festival which celebrates all things local.

Transportation

A majority of residents own vehicles or carpool to work and to run errands. Those who use a bicycle to get around find that East Forest has an acceptable number of bike lanes through McAlpine Park and along Village Lake to Woodberry Roads. However, walking to amenities can prove to be difficult for most locals as roads are busy and often congested. Those commuting to uptown take Independence Boulevard 8 miles north. The I-485 loop that encircles the city can be accessed 4 miles south along Monroe Road or 9 miles east through Mint Hill. I-77 and I-85 are best reached by driving into the city center. Visitors to East Forest choose to park along residential streets. Those without vehicles have the option to use Charlotte Area Transit System's extensive bus service. Bus stops in East Forest sit along Independence Boulevard, Village Lake Drive and Monroe Road. Express service is offered from 6:00 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. and then again at 5:00 p.m. from multiple stops along Independence. City buses along busy corridors run between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m Monday through Friday and on a more limited schedule during the weekend. Locals looking for taxi service find that companies will the area, if scheduled in advance. Uber also operates within the neighborhood boundary.

Cost

Residents find the cost of living in East Forest agreeable at around 3 percent less than the city average. Although the prices for utilities, transportation, healthcare, goods and services remains steady throughout Charlotte, the cost of housing changes drastically from one neighborhood to the next. East Forest housing averages close to 15 percent less than the rest of the city but only 26 percent of locals here own their own home. Renters, who make up the majority, pay around $691 for a one-bedroom apartment and can choose between many types of rentals from apartments to single-family homes. Restaurants and bars in the area charge reasonable rates for their products and a microbrew will cost patrons around $5 a pint. Drivers pay around 3 percent less to fill up their gas tanks compared to the national average. Those relying on Charlotte Area Transit System's bus service pay $2.20 for one-way fare, $6.60 for a day pass and $2.60 each way for express service.

Shopping

Major shopping centers within East Forest line Independence Boulevard and include Galleria Shopping Center, Crown Point Plaza, Independence Square, and Triangle Shopping Center. Shopping along Independence is a no-frills experience as most shops cater to those seeking the basics. For higher-end boutiques and speciality stores, shoppers must travel six miles west to South Park. Here, name brands such as Coach, J.Crew, and Louis Vuitton fill the stores at South Park Mall, Phillips Place, and the Village at South Park. The average shopper looking for casual wear, electronics, and ethnic markets needn't look far from East Forest. Queen City Audio, Video, and Appliances, farther north on Independence, has become a local mainstay. Locals trust Queen City for all their retail and service needs. This Charlotte-based company began in the 1940s and has since transformed into Charlotte's largest and most-recommended independent audio and appliance seller. Grocery stores line Independence Boulevard and Monroe Road. A Walmart Supercenter is housed in Galleria. Harris Teeter sits directly across Sardis Road North from the Walmart Supercenter. The closest farmers market takes place on Saturdays year-round in the nearby city of Matthews. The Matthews Community Farmers Market opens from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. October through March and 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. during the rest of the year.

Parks

McAlpine Creek Park sits In the heart of East Forest and has become a destination for residents all over Charlotte. Free for use, McAlpine Park is a 114-acre outdoor playground for kids of all ages complete with a fishing pond, walking and biking trails, five soccer fields, an outdoor fitness center for exercise-enthusiasts and a gigantic dog park. McAlpine's dog park was the first in the city to be an off-leash facility. This park hosts numerous 5K events throughout the year to benefit various groups and charities. The Mason Wallace Park, housed along Monroe Road, lies further north within East Forest and maintains basketball courts, baseball and soccer fields, as well as eight tennis courts and walking trails. Charlotte parks hold numerous events and festivals at all times of the year. Freedom Park in uptown houses the annual Festival in the Park every September to celebrate the city's music and art scene. For another cultural experience, Shakespeare on the Green occurs every summer at the popular uptown park, the Green.
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