Some Food Finds in South Charlotte
- CLT Cat
I'm a Charlottean transplant from the metro DC area, and having gleaned much information from here (thanks to posters like 'brentk'!) I thought I'd post some of my favorite food finds/discoveries since coming down south.
We live near Ballantyne so these finds are all around that area.
- Barbecue: They say it's no good in Charlotte. It's not really, but if you drive just south of the border down 521 (past the Southern Spirits liquor store by a few miles) there's a great Q place known as "521 Barbecue". Fantastic vinegar sauce, slaw & pups. I'd be interested in getting some real Q veterans take on the place.
- Greek/Italian: Ilios Noche off Providence in the Harris Teeter shopping center at the intersection of Ardrey Kell has a fantastic menu. Best spanikopita in town, plus they serve Mythos beer and have a real Greek salad (no lettuce). Pasta sauces are great, not too heavy. Service is spotty, but the ambience is nice. (www.iliosnoche.com
- Mexican: Senor Tequila off Rae Road. It's much better than chain Mexican restaurants. The decor is fantastic and the "tacos de pescado" (fish tacos) are To. Die. For. Added bonus: Plenty of drinks with tequila. The chips are good too.
- Hamburgers: They're no "In and Out Burger" but Five Guys off Johnston Road just south of 485 is the closest I've found on the east coast. Yes, it's a chain (groan) but a very small one that started up in my old hometown of VA/MD/DC. Fresh potatoes for the french fries, sloppy delicious burgers, peanuts on the floor. Love it.
Places we've learned to avoid:
- T-Bones on the Lake at Lake Wylie: No matter how cool eating a steak along a lake in a restaurant that smells like camp may seem, the food doesn't live up to any grand dreams at all. Poor food, bad service, but it's packed every Friday and Saturday night. Do not be fooled. These people do not know something that you do not. They're just willing to settle for blech food.
- Pizza & Ice Cream Works: Also off Johnston Road/521 just "south of the border". I don't get the love for this place at all. I had high hopes when we moved here, but the atmosphere is mostly suited to little league sports teams, and the pizza isn't as good as what you'll get at Fuel or Brixx.
Still looking for:
- Great Indian food: We like Bombay Cuisine, but I haven't yet found a place where the Chicken Tikka Masala equals what I got at the Connaught Place in DC.
- Great Chinese food: Tried Pei Wei (blech) and the restaurant in the Lowe's Foods shopping center off Johnston Road (double blech). Looking for something much more authentic than PF Changs, but so far no one's delivered.
Enjoy, and thanks Charlotte Chowhounds for all of the great recommendations!
Taipei South off Johnston in the Food Lion shopping complex near Jersey Mike's is fantastic and cheap chinesse. You also get a ton of food. Try the Hunan Chicken. I know my spelling is off but you still need to check it out
Ilios Noche was our destination Saturday night, thanks to "brentk" who responded to my Lost in Charlotte post.. We got there at..6:30 and did not expect to need a reservation that early but the wait was 40 min!, so we ate at the bar. By the time we left at 8:30, the place was packed and for good reason. The service at the bar was excellent. We ordered the sampler of four delicious greek dips. The pita is grill cooked and smokey. I did not care for the mussells (in a tomato sauce) that we ordered but my companion loved them. It was served with a delicious cakey bread. We also had the arugula salad which has a tart & tangy lemon dressing. The pizza looked wonderful but we were too full from the overabundance of bread served with each dish. Ditto the Spanikopita. Most memorable for me was the "martini" I had for desert. It's called the Hercules and involves Ouzo, Ketel One and Chambourd...I suppose I should have known better but I was really curious. Remember those Good'n'Plenty Licorice candies from the movies?...
A couple of additions (but you might have to leave Ballentyne. . . :( )
I love the various BBQ at Mac's on South Blvd. Lot's of different varieties including some killer ST Loius cut ribs.
For authentic Chinese you'll need to go to Central Ave. and try Dim Sum (especially on Saturday afternoon's when the serve dim sum) Try the Spicy Manila Clams in black bean sauce! They have the typical USA standards as well as some really great "real" chinese food.
For "real" Mexican I go to Taqeria Mexico on South Blvd. just north of Arrowwood. If they have the goat stew with chic peas it's not to be missed. Also, I don't think you could spend more that $15 per person even with a crazy tip and a few beers.
Musashi on Johnston Road near Lowe's is very authentic and the fish is VERY good. If you're looking for fried rolls, or some other crazy kind of sushi stick with Nikko for great fish or Ru San for the over the top selection. If you want great sashimi or real sushi go to Musashi (they are closed on Tuesdays or Wednesdays)
As an aside, if anyone is looking for a taste of Portugese New England, there's a new butcher on Rt. 74 in Matthews that is selling "real" linguica and chorizo from New Bedford, Mass. YUM! They also have a great selection of other sausages and fresh cut meats as well.
For Italian, I suggest trying Firenze on Rea Rd. near where the new Trader Joe's is being built out. Their chef rotates in from Tuscany every 3 months and the food is great. It's where the old Campagna was and is at least a third less expensive. The wine list is 100% Italian and very reasonably priced.
Anyway, those are my ideas for now. have to pack for a week in Madrid . . .
-Ilios Noche is pretty great. As far as the service. there is a waiter that works @ Ilios Noche and Nolen Kitchen that is my favorite waiter in town. He's in his 40's maybe, dark complexion and thick accent. He strikes me as a European-style waiter, as in he is a career waiter. The first time he waited on me, he saw that I was wearing all black and immediately removed my white napkin from the table and came back with a black one. I was impressed. Other than him, the service I've had @ Ilios Noche or Nolen has been pretty disappointing. Their pizzas are great - simple and well executed. Their desserts are amazing, too.
-Great Indian food: the best Indian food I've had is in South Charlotte. First is Tamarind, which is on Carmel, just off of Matthews Pineville Rd. They are consistently good and have a vary of regional Indian cuisine. On Saturday nights a girl goes round the tables and gives free henna tattoos while your plates are being cleared.
Also in south Charlotte is Saffron on South Tryon in the Town of Ayrsley shopping center. Their apps are wonderful, right down to the salad garnish of lettuce, corn and strawberry vinaigrette. The lamb dishes are magnificent - like the meat is fragranced with flowers and herbs. Their menu has a range of modern and traditional Indian. I'm always amazed that their dishes taste unique from any other Indian I've had - I wonder if they mix their own spices, maybe? And I have to say it, though it sounds ridiculous, but their lunch buffet has the best ranch dressing I've ever had. I've often wondered if they use yogurt instead of a buttermilk base, possibly?
-Mac's is by no means traditional bbq, but it's pretty good. Their brisket is awesome, the Po Po's Red's wings are crave-worthy, the green bean casserole is awesome (it inspired me to go home and make my own w/ sherry and cream - yum!) and the beer selection is great, too.