Last week, wallethub.com ranked Charlotte the 7th worst city for Independence Day festivities, out of the largest 100 cities in the U.S. Their methodology was cobbled together from some combo of expected weather, swimming pools per capita and the availability of cheap three-star motels - in other words, lacking relevance. The average price of a Nathan's frank wasn't even on the list! So this week, I'm giving you nothing but the best 4th of July grubbing, from Q to shining C. Even if you don't celebrate manifest destiny and the founding fathers, everybody celebrates potato salad.
* Its reputation for hippest neighborhood may be recent, but Plaza Midwood has been bringing it for Independence Day for over a decade. The annual Plaza Midwood Pig Pickin' is 13 years strong with sales, special menus and live music all day long. Dan the Pig Man and other trucks are packing the pork along with area restaurants - LULU is featuring a $30 3-course fine swining menu, for one. My pick is the fish fry at Snug Harbor, with plates from Gastonia's Twin Tops Fish Camp and music from Hectorina, Temperance League, and AM/FMs. #amberwavesofwhiting Free (bring cash for food) July 4, 4 p.m. - 2 a.m. All over Plaza Midwood
* Don't be that guy at the cookout who shows up and all the kielbasa evaporates. If you're trying to throw down for real, check the eating contests at Gastonia's Red, White and Southern July 4th Festival and gorge yourself competitively. Choose from hot dogs, watermelon or hands-free cherry pie and get your Kobayashi on. #homeofthebrave #bombsburstingofair Free July 4, Contests 12 p.m.-1 p.m., festival 11 a.m - dusk Rotary Pavilion, 111 N South St., Gastonia. Register in advance or day-of festival. (Check eatfeats.com for more eating contests locally and nationwide.)
* If you're more of a giver, make like Paul Revere's horse and take a run in the July 4th Spectacular 4 Miler. Hoof it through Dilworth (which is sure to be festooned with flags and fanfare) and finish at Toast Cafe for brunch, where participants will enjoy discounts and freebies. Veterans get half off race registration and even kids can participate in the fun run right along with the pros. #forpilgrimfeet $5 Kids' Fun Run/$30 K-12/$35 Adults July 4, 7:30 a.m. Toast Cafe, 2400 Park Road Register by July 3.
* Reds, Whites & You sounds like a hard conversation about football in the nation's capital, but it's actually something totally different to do on the 4th. Tour four Charlotte wineries, tasting all the way. You'll get a picnic lunch to soak up your sippings and a souvenir wine glass to add to those commemorative plates and mini-liberty bell tchotchkes from July 4th tours gone by. #gewürztraminerlystreaming $99 July 4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Departs from Target Metropolitan, 900 Metropolitan Ave. Reserve a spot.
* If picnics and pork rinds are just too pedestrian, hit the fancy Funny Bunny July 4 Cocktail Party. Nibble on passed appetizers and tipple on an open beer and wine bar while enjoying the rooftop fireworks display. One of the best views in the city, for sure. #abovetheflutedplain $50 July 4, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Peculiar Rabbit, 1212 Pecan Ave.
* If you're dead set on hosting your own cookout, at least head out to catch the Southeast Crab Feast on Saturday. I can't think of a better way to nurse a chilli dog hangover than all you can eat lowcountry boil and blue crab. Trust, you don't want those leftovers the day after ... those ribs were out for way too long. $12.50/$20 July 5, 4-7 p.m. Park Road Park, 6220 Park Rd. Visit www.SouthEastCrabFeast.com for tickets and details.
Dani is actually spending the holidays in Florida (they have more liberal fireworks laws!) but follow her adventures this week as she hunts for Bombay mangos in Miami and makes a strong attempt at gluten-free grilling on Twitter and IG @kinkythought. Catch a recap of last week's latte art wars at kinkythought.com.