boston hound needs charlotte nc reccs
Steve, you have choices that fit all of those uptown (downtown here is called uptown. It is, actually -- it's uphill from a bunch of close-in neighborhoods.) But it will mean a fair number of high-end chains. Normally, I look for recommendations that focus more on local, chef-owned restaurants, but lack of a car will put those farther from reach.
Steak: Morton's, Capitol Grille, Blue. (Blue isn't a steak place per se, but the exec chef, Gene Briggs, has a way with big, beefy dishes).
Seafood: LaVecchia's Seafood Grill, Blue, McCormick & Schmick.
Drinks, scene: Zink, Blue, Cosmos Cafe.
Local faves: Mimosa, Sonoma Modern American, Mert's, (see below), ARPA, Betty's, Tic Toc (lunch only).
Barbecue: In the Carolinas, true barbecue is a small-town experience. You can get it within a 45- to 1-hour drive, but you have to drive. There are good barbecue places in Charlotte, but they also require a car. However, Charlotte has have a long and honorable history of soul food. In uptown, look for Mert's Heart & Soul on College and Simmon's Fourth Ward restaurant.
There are more, but that hits the highlights.
re: kathleen purvis
I agree w/ all the above. Except the part about bbq, there is no decent BBQ around Charlotte until you get to Lexington, NC.
I grew up living four doors from Bill Spoon. I went through twelve years of school w/ Bill Jr. The restaurant was a mile from my house. I've eaten there twice. I've eaten bbq about once a week for thirty five years...I won't even consider eating it in Charlotte...and I was born there.
Catching a cab over to East Blvd is also an option. I love Sole, a spanish cusine restaurant and Brentk loves i, a fusion Japanese place. Patou's, a true french bistro, is also on East Blvd. Cabs in Charlotte take forever and are generally a disaster so be forewarned.
Depending on where you are in uptown the trolley might be an option to get to the Southend area. Southend Brewery is a good watering hole and the food is pretty good. There are a number of restaurants just off the trolley line.
Think you are at the closest hotel to the trolley stop. In Southend...Sullivan's or McIntosh's for steak, Southend Brewery for brew, La Paz for upscale but fake (still good, the crab burrito is really good) Mexican.
There is a seafood place just beside the Eckerd's at the corner of East Blvd, West Blvd and South Blvd. Our streets as just as screwed up as Boston's so feel right at home. Vinny's, kinda rough on the outside but a good seafood place for raw stuff.
Phatt Burrito and Price's Chicken coop are not the place to take your mom but great food. Also on the line. The sushi bar Nikko is terrible and over priced.
Second the motions on i, Mert's and Sole
Second on skipping the BBq in Charlotte, none is worth eating. If you can get to Lexington about an hour up I85, it is worth the trip.
Though I don't eat steak in restaurants generally, both Sullivan's and McIntosh's are on the trolley line.
I like Latorre's in uptown for seafood that they call latin inspired, the scallops and the tuna and the chocolate ponque for dessert are wonderful.
Second on the cab service lacking in Charlotte.
Don't attempt a cab in Charlotte as you'll end up stranded somewhere. The city runs a free uptown shuttle service and we have a trolley line. Map and schedule for the shuttle here: http://www.charlottecentercity.org/na...
I highly recommend Mert's Heart and Soul (up College Street a bit) for serious artery-clogging "it don't move, fry it" Southern food. Everything I've had there was done well. Mimosa Grill, though part of the Harper's chain, has a regional menu which is quite good and the service is always excellent. Blue is fantastic - their filet w/blue cheese is wonderful. I'm pretty certain that you can get menus for Mimosa Grill and Blue on-line.
Sonoma is grossly over-rated and Arpa is too variable for me to recommend (sometimes great, sometimes awful). LaVecchia's was wonderful when it opened, but went on a downhill slide. I haven't been there in at least a year; perhaps it's improved. The Southend Brewery is worth the trip if it's football season and you want to meet Panther's players; they tend to hang out there. Otherwise, the food is just average and service is spotty.
As for Morton's, Capitol Grille, McCormick, etc. - I wouldn't bother. They're just big city upscale steak places. Everyone around here gets into a frenzy b/c having these restaurants must mean Charlotte is now "world class" (we're very concerned about being world class and about beating Atlanta). Boston's got better options.