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My Charlotte Recommendations

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Charlotte lacks a great resource to find restaurants. Our newspaper is terrible, and there are no good food critics in town. The only food critics I can find seem to love everywhere they review, and never have any critical comments. Also, there are relatively few good postings for Charlotte, NC, recommendations on this site, so I have taken it upon myself to list a few of my favorite spots for people who may be visiting for business or pleasure.

I moved here from Washington, DC, about a year ago, and I was skeptical about the quantity of quality affordable restaurants I would find in Charlotte. I have been pleasantly surprised. These recommendations are in no particular order, but I tried to divide them up according to cuisine type. And unless otherwise noted, I have enjoyed friendly and prompt service at each location listed. I've also tried to provide a URL to the menu if I could find one.

Indian

- Copper - This restaurant features some traditional Indian cuisine as well as several more modern Indian preparations - I have been 4 times, and everything I have tried (appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts) has been excellent. I don't remember the name of my favorite dish, but it is in the "For the Gormand" section of the menu, and it is a chicken dish with a mango sauce. It is one of the top 5 chicken dishes i've ever had. The atmosphere is unique and nice. I would recommend business casual attire. The cost is about $18/entree if I recall correctly. The wine list is not great, but there are a few good selections, and they do have a couple indian beers on hand. The bar area is also nice, and there is a very small outdoor area off the bar. I think this is 100% non-smoking. Located at 311 East Blvd. between the Dilworth and Southend areas of Charlotte.

- Udipi - This restaurant serves vegetarian Indian fare and is a much cheaper and more traditional way to go if you're craving some Indian food. It is in the university area of Charlotte, so it's a little out of the way for folks staying in the downtown area. I have not been disappointed with anything I've had there. I have been one of only a couple non-Indian customers each time I visit.
They have a weekend buffet for under $10/person. Atmosphere is nondescript, very plain - although there is a bizarre mural depicting some sort of dream sequence on one of the walls. Casual attire. 100% non-smoking. 9510 University City Blvd.

Barbeque

- Mac's Speedshop (http://www.macspeedshop.com/menu.html) - This is another place where I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I've ever tried from their menu. Their wings are absolutely delicious - they enjoy 12 hours in their smoker. I've had the quesadillas, the hush puppies, the pulled pork, the brisket, the mac n cheese, the green bean casserole, and the chicken - all of which are among the best I've ever had. They have a tremendous beer list. The price is definitely right as well - I'd guess under $25/person including 2 drinks, tax, and tip. Casual, loud, and fun atmosphere. I think this is 100% smoking (boo). 2511 South Blvd. - Just south of Southend neighborhood.

Fried Chicken

- Price's Chicken Coop (http://www.priceschickencoop.com/) - This is a take-out only spot. The fried chicken is outstanding from this local dive. I can't speak for the sides, as I've only tried the hush puppies, and they were okay - a touch on the dry side. And I've never tried any of the other offerings such as the fish, shrimp, or pork. I definitely recommend calling ahead to place your order. You can specify what time you want to come pick it up, and they will plan accordingly. 1614 Camden Road. Southend neighborhood.

Chili or Burger

- Lupie's (http://www.lupiescafe.com/menu1.html) - Very good chili at this local dive. My favorite is the cincinnati chili mac with beans, cheese, and onions. I recommend the burgers as well. And I hear the daily specials are delicious as well, particularly the monday meatloaf. I can also vouch for the mac n cheese. It is quite good. I haven't been hear enough to speak to most of the other menu items. I guess that means I need to go this weekend. Domestic and Imported beers available by the bottle. You'll have a pretty hard time spending over $20 - $25 per person including a couple beers, tax, and tip. Casual atmosphere. Offers smoking and non-smoking sections. 2718 Monroe Road. Elizabeth or Chantilly neighborhood.

Pizza

- Hawthorne's - Charlotte has many pizza joints that put a decent product on the table (Wolfman and Brixx deserve honorable mention). Of these chioces, my favorite is Hawthorne's. They offer up a New York style pie, and while I've tried many pies whose makers claim they are authentic NY style, Hawthorne's attempt is the most authentic NY style I've had outside of NYC. That said, they also make a quality stromboli and a good warm spinach salad (with bacon!). They have a decent beer list (draft and bottle). Again, you can easily escape for under $20 per person when all is said, eaten, and done. Casual atmosphere. Located at E. 7th St and Hawthorne in the Elizabeth neighborhood.

Italian

- Salute Ristorante - The chef at Salute uses locally grown and organic ingredients (I appluad this and wish I could find more restaurants in all cities who apply this philosophy). I have only had the pleasure of enjoying a meal at Salute once to date, but I had no complaints. The menu changes frequently due to the availability of fresh ingredients, so I can only decribe what I had. I enjoyed the a superb caprese salad (fresh mozz, yellow, orange, and red cherry tomatoes, basil and olive oil), another appetizer consisting of grilled asparagus served with a fried egg drizzled with white truffle oil - my mouth is watering as I re-think that experience. My girlfriend had a delightful salmon dish served with a chilled cucumber sauce. I had a fairly traditional penne dish with two types of sausage, mushrooms, and tomatoes - it was delicious. Our server was very helpful in helping select a wine that turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. Business Casual to Business attire acceptable. Our dinner for two, including two appetizers, two entrees, and a $70 bottle of wine, was in the neighborhood of $200. I believe it's 100% non-smoking. Located at 613 Providence Road in the Myers Park neighborhood.

Comfort Food, Southern

- Dish (www.eatatdish.com) - It's been a while now since I've been to Dish, as it's a place one craves more during the cooler months. Dish provides tasty home-cooked comford foods at a reasonable price. I recommend the shrimp and grits, the chicken and dumplings, and the Cajun Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes. I think all meals come with a delicious fresh-baked biscuit drizzled with honey. I wish I could recommend more from their menu, but I haven't had a chance to sample anymore items. I will soon though, as it's starting to be that time of year. I'm not sure about the smoking situation there - I'd guess 100% non-smoking though. Casual atmosphere. $10.95 is the priciest entree on the menu. Located at 1220 Thomas Ave in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood.

I hope these recommendations are helpful to some of you. I will add more as I have time, as there are many more places I recommend. I also home to more establishments worthy of recommendation.

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  1. Sushi

    - Cuisine Malaya - Surprisingly for a place with this name, this is the best sushi I've found in Charlotte. Many folks recommend Nikko on South Blvd. I've been to Nikko twice and found it to be average at best. I've also been recommended Ru-San's, but I learned they've repeatedly had low sanitation grades (no thanks!). Back to Cuisine Malaya... The sushi is good quality and quite tasty. Plain and simple - I don't know what else to say. I've also had their dumplings (okay) and edamamme (tasty, but how can you screw that up?). Their pad thai is also unique and quite tasty. $20 - $30 per person depending on the amount of sushi you order. Casual to Business Casual atmosphere. Offers smoking and non-smoking sections. Located at the corner of Elizabeth Ave and Independence in the Midtown/Elizabeth neighborhood.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mdatwood13

      Jamaican

      - Addie's Jamaican - After having tried Anntony's and being quite disappointed, I was in search of better quality caribbean/jamaican cuisine. I happened upon Addie's. The Pot Roast and the Jerk Chicken both fully satisfied. I definitely recommend this place to those in search of quality, flavorful caribbean fare. The price was a bit more than I expected, with entrees ranging from $15-$19 dollars, but we left full and with leftovers, and it was delicious. 100% non-smoking. Casual to business casual atmosphere. Located at 3116 N. Davidson Street in the NoDa neighborhood.

      1. re: mdatwood13

        Did you ever check out the sanitation report for Ru San's? It's not that their restaurant is dirty - it looks fine to me - but that they get demotions for what I think are reasonable things - their toasters weren't UL rated (oh no), the sushi chefs had bowls of water out to dip their fingers in so that the sushi rice doesn't stick to their hands (well, duh). Things like that. I've eaten there probably a dozen times and never had any complaints about the cleanliness.

        The overall menu is huge with so many things to try you could spend an hour deciding what to get. From tempura to yakitori to udon and soba bowls to seafood dinners to CHEAP CHEAP maki (we're talking $1.50-3 for 6 pieces) and a great selection of nigiri.

        It's completely non-smoking. Located near Park and Kenilworth. Casual atmosphere.

        1. re: nurit

          I did read the entire sanitation report for Ru San's a few weeks ago. That is why I mentioned the low grades in my post above. I went to read it again, and it is no longer available on the web site. I do recall points being deducted for having raw meat stored in inappropriate places and some other things. Obviously the things you describe won't scare me away from a place, but Ru San's had scores in the 70s and 80s on their record, and it takes a lot of violations to get scores that low. For anyone who wants to look up the sanitation report for any restaurant (most are available), visit http://mecklenburg.digitalhealthdepar....

      2. Thanks for taking the time to post, it appears you are finding your way arounde our area. Charlotte must be a nice change from DC, quality of life wise.
        As to a lack of Charlotte postings I disagree. There just aren't many RECENT ones. Try searching using brentk, he was prolific at one time, and I happen to agree with his taste.
        Mac's speed shop is ok, but I wouldn't call it a barbeque joint. It is a great bar for people watching with (as you said) a good beer list and good wings, but the last beef brisket I had was fatty, and hey, this is NC, bbq ain't beef!
        Their pulled pork was , to me anyway, just ok.
        I travel the state regularly so I have access to real bbq.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Tee

          No problem... you're right... there are a number of Charlotte posts, but it would be nice if the Charlotte area was more active on here. Things change, so recent posts are more reliable than posts from a few years ago. As for Mac's... barbeque to me is the style of cooking, not the meat. I know BBQ means pulled pork in NC, but to me, anything that spends many hours in a smoker can be called barbeque. As for the brisket at Mac's, I have had a fairly lean one, and I've had a fatty one there, so it is inconsistent. The wings are out of this world though, and for Charlotte (I repeat "for Charlotte"), the pulled pork is better than just okay... Where's your favorite pork bbq in NC?

          1. re: mdatwood13

            My favorite bbq is Gary's in China Grove. I haven't made the trip to Lexington but have had some brought home for us. Not really the same when you reheat in the microwave...

            1. re: messyjessy

              Can anyone else second Gary's? How does Gary's compare to favorite Lexington establishments? I definitely need to experience the real thing real soon.

              1. re: mdatwood13

                As long as you are on 85, I'd keep driving to Lexington, where you can get the real thing smoked over wood.

                I may be mistaken, but I think Gary's cooks using, gasp, electricity.

                1. re: brentk

                  You're on target, Brent. Gary's is electric.

                  1. re: Hushpuppy

                    Thanks for that info... I will not waste my time hitting Gary's. Wood-smoked is what I need... Good work, guys...

                  2. re: brentk

                    Anyone have any opinions on R.O.'s Bar-B-Que in Gastonia? I'll be getting to Lexington ASAP, but I'll be in Gastonia well before that. Anyone? Is it worth the trip?

                    1. re: mdatwood13

                      R.O.s has an interesting slaw that is closer to Thousand Island dressing than any cole slaw I've ever tasted. It's great on a burger.

                      I've never had their BBQ as others have steered me away from it.

            2. re: Tee

              I have to agree with Tee that Mac's is not up to snuff. The quality of the meat was not great and the sides were just okay. For BBq, you should head to Lexington. Lots of debate on who is the best, but any in Lexington is better than the best in Charlotte. I am a big BBQ fan, but don't eat anywhere in Charlotte. In fact, the Lexington BBQ festival is in the fall and worth the trip. Winston Salem has some decent places too but is farther away.
              Cuisine Malaya is one of my favorites. Also in the same general area as most of your other selections are Cafe Sole and Restaurant i. Both have great food. I have been to Copper a time or two and loved it, but prefer Bombay Grill for lees gourmet Indian. Don't bother with Maharani or Situl. I like Portofino's Pizza and have heard good things about pizza at Zio and Riccio's to go seem to be busy, but I have heard nothing. (I like Woflman, Brixx and Hawthorne too)
              For burgers, I like the Penguin. For comfort food, a veggie plate at the Roasting Company is my stand by. For quick middle eastern, Kabob Grill on East is good (try the hummus!)
              A few other favortites: Fuse Box (uptown, if still open, has good sushi and curries), LaTorres (also uptown), Thai Thai-takeout on East and probably not a true chowhound rec, but both Mama Ricotta's and Cantina 1511 (owned by the same folks) are consistent, inexpensive although not authentic. I have only tasted, not dined, at Eskerem Ethiopian, but it is on my list. I had to scratch the Red Sea Ethiopian because of cleanliness issues. And lastly, there is a new Turkish restaurant in Pineville where Thai House used to be and the menu looks interesting.
              I am still looking for decent buffalo wings and welcome suggestions.

              1. re: jlwnc

                Thanks for those great recommendations! I agree that Mac's isn't authentic by any means for BBQ - I just think it's tasty and I think the quality is good. I really think their Buffalo Wings are top notch. I'm not sure ever I've had the real thing as far as BBQ goes, and I'm disappointed I have to miss the BBQ festival in Lexington this weekend. That would be a great chance to get a good sampling. I'll get up there ASAP and report back for sure. Eskerem is also on my list of places to try, and I will add others based on your selections.

                1. re: jlwnc

                  More questions, jlwnc... What's the lowdown on Cafe Sole? I've seen it many times and been curious, but i've never read anything or heard anything about it from anyone, so I haven't tried it. Also, can you tell me more about the Roasting Company? I'm intrigued. Where is it? What else is a hit there? Does Kabob Grill have Falafel? If so, is it good?

                  1. re: mdatwood13

                    I like the Roasting Company. It's over on Montfort Dr, near the Park Road Shopping Center.

                    Good grilled chicken cooked with a Latin marinade.

                    Veggies change day to day and always include some interesting selections.

                    It's a good place for a quick meal with counter service.

                    1. re: mdatwood13

                      If i recall, Cafe Sole is owned by folks who used to own Ole Ole- a great tapas place that had wonderful food, but has been gone about 5 years or so. To say it is Latin best describes it because I don't find it strictly Spanish. Save room for the Tres Leches. Also the charlotte coupons dot com web site has a coupon. I think their menu is on the web too, just google them.
                      Along that line (and some on here may disagree) is LaTorres uptown. I love their scallops and the tuna entree, the green salad with the hearts of palm and avocado and the chocolate ponque (can you tell I like the place??)I seem to be their only evangelist on here.
                      The Roasting company has good veggies and chicken. I also like the Jaco pork. The white beans, the sweet potatoes, okra and tomatoes and gouda pasta salad are my favorites. It really is very southern when it comes to the veggies. Consistent, reasonable and quick.
                      Yes, Kabob Grill has falafel. It and the chicken kabob plate are my favorites there. I always forget to ask about the special and when I pick up my order and see it on the board, I am sorry I didn't get it. The hummus and baba gannouj are my favorite sides. As an fyi, most of the middle eastern restaurants in Charlotte are sketchy, but this one is top notch. Nice folks, they will remember you when you return.

                      Let me add, I tried Eskerem and was not impressed. I got it take out and found it just so so. Also, I had take out from Anntony's and was really disappointed. They were out of potato salad and the collard greens we straight from a can with no tomatoes, onions, etc., typically they are much better.

                2. Thanks for the props, Tee.

                  I'm still around but moved to Greensboro at the beginning of the summer.

                  1. Then lucky Greensboro!
                    My folks moved there from Memphis in the early '50s and my dad said that "in Greensboro you were either working on the 3rd shift or on your 3rd million" (BTW, he didn't fit either category) I rather liked that and it stuck with me.
                    What's your current favorite restaurant in Gboro?

                    1. I haven't been many places yet but I did enjoy Southern Lights.

                      I guess I have something in common with your Dad, too :-)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: brentk

                        Good to hear Southern Lights is still around. It was a favorite 20 years ago when I lived in Greensboro...

                      2. For pizza, I always enjoyed Luisa's, where the wood fired oven creates nice charring on their thin crust pizza. The toppings are very good, too.

                        My favorite wings were the garlic parmesan wings at Wing Stop. I'm not a big fan of buffalo wings so I can't make any recommendations for a traditionalist.

                        I agree with most of the other comments but am not going to touch the BBQ debate on this thread other than to say Mac's has a great beer selection.

                        Other places that merit a mention on the high end are Mimosa Grill and Bonterra. A creative neighborhood spot is Ilios Noche. And in the soul food category, I am partial to Down to the Bone and Grandma's. There are also a number of good Vietnamese places, but I am particularly fond of Lang Van and Be's.

                        1. Are either of the Indian places you mentioned southern Indian spots?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: atruebluedevil

                            Sorry Blue Devil - I don't know what regions these Indian spots highlight, but I will keep your question in mind next time I return to those spots and report back. I can pretty much guarantee that Copper will not disappoint.

                            1. re: atruebluedevil

                              Udipi is southern Indian veg restaurant.

                            2. What about Blue on Tryon St?

                              TT

                              1. To my knowledge, the only southern Indian spot in Charlotte is Woodlands on Albemarle Rd.

                                Copper is an Indian fusion place and I'm not sure about Udipi, as I have not been there.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: brentk

                                  How is Woodlands? Would you recommend it?

                                2. Woodlands is good. It is actually part of a small chain, the others are in the DC suburbs. It is vegetarian and I find it to be very starchy. I have also found the service to be slow. It is modestly priced, so a good value.

                                  1. I think Udipi is also a small chain, or at least there are other Udipis, notably in the SF Bay Area. They are Southern Indian, so I assume that one is as well. I didn't know there was a Woodlands in Charlotte...what neighborhood? I have been to the one in Orlando and really enjoyed it.

                                    I find myself in Charlotte about twice or three times a year on business, so I appreciate the first lengthy posting. I'm always looking for new restaurants there!

                                    (and additional somewhat upscale recommendations I can drag my co-workers to, especially uptown or downtown, are appreciated!)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: janetofreno

                                      Udipi is not a chain - it is just a very common name for a vegetarian Indian restaurant - named after a region in India. But I can vouch that the food at Udipi in the University area is top-notch!

                                    2. Janet, I'm the food editor of the Charlotte Observer. I'd be happy to offer suggestions for uptown or anywhere else in Charlotte. However, checking in the chowhound search tool, I see 410 previous threads on Charlotte. (Admittedly, I didn't sort through them all to weed out ones about making a charlotte, but I think that's a good ballpark figure.) So you can find other lists that have been posted along the way.
                                      Here's my fast list of notable places uptown.
                                      For affordable/mid-price (some have dinner, but most of these are lunch):
                                      Mert's Heart & Soul
                                      Lola's
                                      Tick-Tock Dinner
                                      Aquavina (it's pricier at night, but I've had some very pleasant lunches there lately in the $8.50-$10 range. The $5 special is nothing special, though.)
                                      Harper's Blue Ribbon Diner
                                      United House of Prayer for All People by BOFA stadium (smaller than the mother church on Beattie's Ford, but always good).
                                      And my favorite weekday lunch: A stop by the Chili Man's stand at Tryon and 4th for a chili dog. He makes his own chili, mayo and ketchup, and his patter is worth the price of admission.
                                      For higher-end/pricier:
                                      Blue.
                                      Sonoma Modern.
                                      ARPA. (There are some outstanding ingredients on the small plates.)
                                      Mimosa
                                      Luce
                                      Town
                                      Cosmos Cafe
                                      Ratcliffe on the Green

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: kathleen purvis

                                        Wow a food editor. That would be a pretty cool job. I was given a gift certificate to The Palm. What are your thoughts on this place. I've never eaten there. Any reccomended entrees, app, drinks?
                                        On another note - Do you know any place that does Dim Sum in Charlotte? Living in NY and CA spoiled me with copious Dim Sum houses.

                                        1. re: messyjessy

                                          There is a place actually called "Dim Sum" in Charlotte. I believe it's on Central Ave. I have not been there, but it is on my list. I have read good things, and I have been told there is a separate menu that a non-chinese person has to ask for that has more authentic selections... Anyone else have more info or opinions on this place?

                                          1. re: mdatwood13

                                            You DO NOT have to ask for the authentic menu at Dim Sum, it is bound together with the more American type entrees in a nice flipbook menu.

                                            I was there a few weeks ago. The service was good and the food was EXCELLENT. We had a hot pot and a chow fun with chicken entree. Both were delicious, as well as the shrimp dumplings and stuffed eggplant appetizers we had. Prices were reasonable - anywhere from 6-20 dollars for entrees.

                                            There's also an Asian market just next door.

                                      2. Where is ARPA? Never heard of it. Unfortunately, when I'm there my schedule is such that I'm usually looking only for dinner places (lunch is usually eatin in, and is limited to places willing to deliver for 10 t0 15 people, apparently something hard to find in Charlotte....). Last time I was in Charlotte I had a quick "before leaving to the airport" lunch at Mert's, and enjoyed it a lot. I got the tip from a chowhound....I've eaten at both Blue and Mimosa...Mimosa is my current favorite upscale; partly because its very close to our usual hotel...and partly because I think their Sunday night dinners are a great deal. I'll have to try some of the other places you've mentioned....

                                        Funny about the Chili Man: I've walked by his stand at least a dozen times. Next time I'll try it....maybe for that "before the airport" stop. Because I'm a left-coaster, I usually have the last flight out, and I'm always in town walking around to try and amuse myself for several hours after my coworkers have left....).

                                        Any good Italian suggestions? TIA!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: janetofreno

                                          ARPA is at Trade and Church. It's part of the Harpers group, which also owns Mimosa, Upstream and Blue Ribbon, plus the Harpers restaurants in several cities. ARPA is their Spanish/small plates restaurant, but they have some nice offerings, particularly good ingredients, some good wines by the glass.
                                          When you stop by Chili Man, save time to talk. He's a bundle of energy. He also has a great tattoo collection, but it's getting a little cold for him to be pulling up his shirt on the street. Still, how many people have Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein as tattoos?
                                          Italian: Uptown, try Luce. Away from uptown, try Dolce in Dilworth or Il Nido in Cotswold.

                                          1. re: janetofreno

                                            For Italian - refer to my Salute post above...

                                          2. Regarding Dish, I definitely saw some folks smoking inside, but none of the waitstaff asked the patrons to stop smoking. So either there is a smoking section or the waitstaff doesn't care.

                                            Their BLT was amazing and I can definitely add more kudos for their mac and cheese.

                                            1. Fellow DC relocator... We moved down about a year ago as well. I don't want to get this post heading in a new direction, but I was just craving Greek Deli for lunch today. Man, I miss that place...

                                              I completely agree with you on the review situation here. We were lucky having Tom Sietsema and others up in DC. Creative Loafing points out some good places to try. Their reviews aren't great, but I trust their recommendations for the most part.

                                              I hope to keep this post active for a while, so I'll be adding more recommendations as I continue to try new places... I think Mert's is next on my list based on a lot of recommendations. I can sure use some good soul food...

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: mdatwood13

                                                I'd go to The Coffee Cup for a soul food fix as it may be closing soon.

                                                1. re: brentk

                                                  What do you recommend at the Coffee Cup? I have been dying to try their skillet fried chicken.

                                                2. re: mdatwood13

                                                  Speaking of Greek, there is a taverna on Bland, beside Jillian's (-which is near Nikko sushi as an fyi). I can't recall the name, but I have been there a time or two and liked my meal. Maybe someone else can give the name and a more recent or detailed review.

                                                  1. re: jlwnc

                                                    Greek Isles? It is definitely on my list of places to try, as I love greek food, but I've been skeptical about it's authenticity and/or quality. I'd love to hear opinions on this place from others. I'm assuming this is the place you're thinking of jlwnc...

                                                3. I had a very good meal at Greek Isles - the octopus was truly memorable.

                                                  Although the cuisine is not as narrowly defined, I do prefer Ilios Noche for Greek influenced cuisine.

                                                  1. yes, Greek Isles. The last time I was there was with a group and we grazed on a bunch of apps, very enjoyable. I hope you made the Greek Festival las month. The desserts alone are worth the trip.
                                                    Ilios Noche is fantastic too, but it has been a while since I have been.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: jlwnc

                                                      Greek Isles also has good lunch specials. I particularly like the roast chicken (Wednesdays, I believe) and the Friday fish dish.

                                                      1. re: jlwnc

                                                        I did make it to the Greek Festival last month. Honestly, I was underwhelmed by the food there. I did not sample any desserts while I was there, but the spanikopita, chicken, and souvlaki were all pretty average compared to the greek cuisine I used to enjoy in Washington, DC. Maybe next year I'll do dessert only.

                                                      2. Anyone have any great places a vegetarian should try? Ever since Peaceful Dragon closed I don't have any "must visit" places in Charlotte. We go to Lupies for the veggie burger but other than that, nothing stands out. I do like the various Indian locales, but as a foodie I'd love some other places/dishes to try. Any suggestions?

                                                        Thanks!
                                                        A charleston girl....

                                                        1. I would have to add Lulu to the thread - just ate dinner there recently. I had been twice before in the summer and eaten appetizers at the (almost nonexistent) bar, and finally made it back for dinner.

                                                          On one of my previous visits, I had the cheese plate, which I would highly recommend. They rotate the selection of cheeses each week, and when I tried it the focus was American-made cheeses - from mild to strong (maytag was the "strong selection). They serve it with crostini, fruit, and some out of this world honey.

                                                          Anyway, for dinner we had French onion soup and a mimosa salad to start, followed by chicken cooked in wine and a pan-seared grouper.

                                                          The French onion soup was quite good - a very flavorful broth and awesome swiss cheese. Nothing adventurous, but when you order French onion soup is that what you are looking for? The "mimosa" salad was a mixed green salad with fried brie, fruit, walnuts, and a champagne vinaigrette. Very tasty if a little overdressed.

                                                          The entrees were perfectly seasoned and hearty for colder months. The wild-caught grouper was not overcooked (as fish often is). Served with quinoa, it was an interesting preparation. The chicken dish - CCR - was chicken legs cooked in red wine with mushrooms and carrots and served with wide noodles.

                                                          We finished off the meal with an apple tart, which to our dismay was served cold, but we still ate every bite!

                                                          I also have to applaud their efforts to focus on local and sustainable food - even though the menu deviates from local and sustainable every once and a while. The menu is seasonal, so why offer salmon in the winter when it's farm-raised? Why put bland, flavorless strawberries on a salad when they don't add any value? But any focus on local and sustainable ingredients is a welcome change from most Charlotte restaurants, and Lulu is honest about the origin of the ingredients. Hopefully more Charlotte restaurants will follow their lead.

                                                          That departure from local/sustainable is one of my only complaints! The other is that the restaurant is very, very small - and also very loud - there is nothing to absorb all that noise. I'm not sure why they didn't add anything to the design for better acoustics.

                                                          Overall I would give it an A-/B+ -- a few little tweaks would push it over the edge for me. But if you want seasonable flavors and (mostly) local/sustainable food - give it a try!

                                                          Sorry for the long and comprehensive post.

                                                          1. Been living in Charlotte for 3 years migrated from England. If you have ever tried Indian food in the UK you will know that Copper does not suffice nor does the Indian in Kings Court... Like the reviews on UPIDI but vegetarian need a Chicken Rogan Josh!!!!
                                                            My recommendations for dining are.
                                                            #1 BENTLEYS ON 27, Charlotte Plaza, College St. The BEST french onion soup. The best Chateau Briand. Smart attire, smoking at the bar. The best views and FANTASTIC martini's.
                                                            #2 LANG VAN - I love, love this place off Shamrock, really basic casual attire, 100% no smoking. The lady owner is amazing, she just asks you what you like and its done. She remembers you after one visit. When you walk through the door she shouts "I got you". Try the Chicken and Shrimp wraps amazing with fresh mint, herbs and peanut sauce.
                                                            #3 300 EAST Casual smart, trendy. Smoking section and small patio for out door dining. Great staff Shaunsie, Emily, Shane. Try the drink a WONG fruity but leathal, dont ask for more than two they wont serve them. Try the Sweet potato ravioli with Cheese sauce, OMG. The goats cheese with garlic and red pepper. All fantastic.
                                                            Those craving english fayre pies, fish and chips try Big Ben and Jackalope does a great english fry up WITH baked beans mmmm
                                                            I will post more when I have time. Love your site by the way...

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: sallyp

                                                              Hey up,
                                                              I reckon from your post that you like a good curry and a fag ? Do you miss your corner chippie ? I do. Thanks for the LANG VAN tip, I'm off to it.

                                                              1. re: ob2s

                                                                cuisine malaya was just ok to me in terms of sushi. ishi in the university area was much better in my opinion.

                                                                dim sum restaurant is really good but it has been a while since i been there. draon court in the asian mall also serves dim sum.

                                                                i personally like going to pho hoa over any other pho restaurant in charlotte. but pho real comes a close 2nd.

                                                                1. re: vttp926

                                                                  I will be in the Charlotte area next week any good recommendations on Sushi, Vietnamese Pho' and Korean

                                                                  1. re: womenluvtofish

                                                                    Pho Real in the University area is pretty good and has a nice selection and cool surroundings. Also, the name cracks me up. :)

                                                                    1. re: womenluvtofish

                                                                      womenluvtofish - Lang Van off of Eastway and Shamrock for Vietnamese. It has some dissenters, but I have always had good meals there at prices that cannot be beat. The best Sushi is at Restaurant i, which is a fairly serene low-key place. If you are looking for more of a scene (if there is such a thing in Charlotte) there is Ru-San's and Nikko, both of which are inferior to Restaurant i, but I would NOT go to the Nikko in Ballantyne. I cannot help you with the Korean.

                                                                      1. re: womenluvtofish

                                                                        Another vote for Pho Hoa - basic but very good. Also enjoy Ben Thanh. Both are located on Central in E Charlotte. As for Korean, don't bother. For some reason few Korean options exist and they are mediocre.

                                                                2. Great job. Here's a list of some of our thoughts on Charlotte area restaurants.

                                                                  Volare on Elizabeth. Beautiful restaurant with very good service and food. We just discovered it a couple weeks ago and we have been back once for dinner and 2 times for desert at the bar. On Wednesday's they have live jazz which was terrific. On Wednesday's they have half price wine bottle night. The veal is very good. Loved the red pepper stuffed with proscuito and mozarella appetizer. My wife loves the eggplant, mozarella, and basil appetizer. Lots of great pasta dishes. But whatever you do, save room for the fruit wildberry tart. Really good!! The owner and his wife make sure you are happy and feel welcomed. One of our new favorites! I give it a 4.5 out of 5. If the menu were broader I would give it a 5.

                                                                  Lulu on Central. Interesting place with unusual food. It's kind of a trendy bistro with a rather eclectic decor. I was a bit disappointed in my meal. I'd say a 3.5

                                                                  McIntosh on South is a really nice steak house. I like that it is privately owned. I think the food is comparable to the pricey chains. The service is very good and the seperate bar area is a very nice spot to chill and listen to the live music (weekends, I think) and in the winter sit by the big fireplace. Pricey but nice. You can get seafood and chicken as well, but it is really all about steak. 4.5

                                                                  Ruth Chris's on Tryon just opened. We've been there only once but liked it a lot. I thought it was better than the one in South Park area. It's about steaks and the dollup of butter they place on it after it cooks. Personally, I don't like the butter and asked to leave it off. My wife likes it. Whatever, the food and service were top notched. Again, expensive. I'd give Tryon a 4.5 and Southpark a 4

                                                                  Capitol Grille on Tryon. Great steaks and seafood. Very much a men's club feeling filled with business men, some women, entertaining on their expense accounts. Service is excellent but food typical of these kind of chains. 4.5

                                                                  Sullivan's on South. Also a Steak chain. Perhaps a bit less in price from the Palms/Capitol Grill/etc. Service is terrific and food is good. 4

                                                                  The Palm in South Park area. Expensive good steaks/lobsters/etc, Formal type servers, bar looks like a meat market pick up. 4

                                                                  Manzetti's sits behind South Park. The value and quality is really good here. The food might be a tick less than the Palms et all but not a lot, and the price is a lot better. The ribs are very good too! Salad with house dressing and the honey croisant tasty. I give this place a 5 because of the value. A favorite.

                                                                  Morton's at South Park. Just like Palm and Capitol Grill. Perhaps a little better. Good service good steaks. 4

                                                                  Toscano behind South Park. Great romantic Italian place with very good food. Nice area to sit outside in the summer. White bean dip and bread to begin with is good. 4

                                                                  Villa Antonio on South. Very nice but too showy for me. I prefer Tosano's and Volare.
                                                                  3.5. There's one in Ballantyne as well but we haven't tried it yet.

                                                                  Table in Ballantyne is a very pretty restaurant. Good service. interesting takes on food with lots of organic foods. Good Sunday brunch. Lot's of things to order on their menu that you are not likely to find in other places. 4.5

                                                                  Blue in Uptown. Very trendy. Music on Thursday I think. Place to be seen. Food is Mediteranean and good, but I think over priced. Great looking restaurant though and sure to impress your date. 4

                                                                  Upstream seafood restaurant in the South Park area is a favorite of lots of people, just not me. They do a lot of Asian influences with their seafood. If that sounds good to you then this will be better for you than me. 3

                                                                  Zebra near South Park is great for special occasions or if money is not an issue. The service and presentation are unsurpassed. I guess you could classify it as French. Food and service are great. Price is way up there. 5

                                                                  Town on trade is cool. You kind of put your meal together with many different choices. My wife liked it a lot. Me, so, so. It can be loud and crowded, but that's because people like it. 3.5

                                                                  Mimosa Grill is a great find on Tryon. The decor is very pretty and we like the food a lot. Steaks/chicken/fish all good. Big windows overlooking Tryon for people wattching. 4

                                                                  Palamino on Tryon remoinds me of the kind of restaurant you'd find in NYC. Glitzy with big windows overlooking the street. In the summer you can eat outside. Food is good. Open kitchen. A little crowded. 4

                                                                  Fig Tree on E 7th is a great restaurant. The food is unusual and the service really good. Unusual offerings. Lot's of neighborhood traffic -- lucky neighbors to live so close. It's like a 2 story house with each room set up for dining. Very romantic. 5

                                                                  Ratcliffe on the Green. Also on Tryon and also a great find. It's located in what was a flower shop. Food and service were great. Not crowded at all. More people need to discover this place. It is really a great place -- very romantic as well. There are 2 special tables, one in the window on Tryon and one sitting on a balcony overlooking the whole dining room -- cool. 4.5

                                                                  Carpe Diem on Elizabeth. Cool looking inside. Good food and service."New American food". Tables aren't slammed together which I like -- you can have a quiet conversation without another table right next to you. 4.5

                                                                  more to come

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: artlee

                                                                    Palomino closed last fall, or maybe even earlier.

                                                                    I agree with most of your recommendations - especially the Ratcliffe on the Green recommendation. Great food, ingredients that are sourced locally, and well prepared. The service was excellent (knowledgeable, but not pushy).

                                                                    Also, I would probably disagree with the recommendations on Ruth's Chris, Morton's, and the Palm. Personally those chain steakhouses leave me wanting something... better. Great for expense account dinners, I guess, but mostly I find them overpriced and inconsistent (and I used to wait tables at a Ruth's Chris in Washington, DC). I don't mean any offense - I know a lot of people enjoy them. But they wouldn't make my list for Charlotte, especially when you can find those places in most cities.

                                                                    Thanks for renewing this thread though - we need more Charlotte discussion!

                                                                    1. re: thbunny

                                                                      You know, you're right. On second thought the chains do leave you wanting something more. Have you tried McIntosh?

                                                                      1. re: artlee

                                                                        No, I have not tried McIntosh. We had a $25 gift certificate but it expired before we made it there.

                                                                        Should we check it out?

                                                                        1. re: thbunny

                                                                          I would give it a try. Get there a little early and sit in the bar for a drink. I find the service a bit better and I guess I just like that it is independently owned. Let me know what you think if you decide to try it. We are currently hooked on Volare, and Italian restaurant on Elizabeth. The veal is great, the atmosphere is quiet and nice, the fruit tart is--well, superb-- and the homemade limoncello is a nice ending.

                                                                    2. re: artlee

                                                                      Thanks for all these great suggestions. I am traveling to Charlotte next week for work and will be staying around Center City (?). I don't know Charlotte at all and would love to try several of these local places. I have 3 nights - which places should I aim for? I eat anything and love to have good beer and/or wine with dinner. (I am on the federal per diem, but am willing to put in some of my own money to eat well.) Also - how easy/difficult is it to get around Charlotte? Do I need to rent a car? Thanks!

                                                                      1. re: rebeccaj

                                                                        hi there - i would recommend renting a car, especially if you will be reimbursed. charlotte is a typical southern city suffering from sprawl issues and not the best public transportation. the bus system is okay, but i would recommend renting a car if you plan on venturing outside of downtown...

                                                                        two very good places to eat downtown are ratcliffe on the green and mert's heart and soul. if you're staying around "center city," you should be able to walk to both of these places... ratcliffe is pricey but worth it. mert's is fairly cheap soul food and very good... both have web sites... give 'em a google... outside of downtown, copper is very good for indian.

                                                                        1. re: rebeccaj

                                                                          I agree about the car. I like both Ratcliffe and Merts -- 2 very different experiences. As Dat says, Mert's is a soul place. The food is very good, the ambience is nothing. Service is friendly. Good fried chicken for sure. Ratcliffe is more expensive, but more special and fancy. I might try Volare's on Elizabeth. It is our current favorite Italian place. I love the decor and the food is quite good.

                                                                      2. There's a place in Washington DC that serves the BEST buffalo wings. I've been eating them there for over thirty years, and each time they are just as good as the previous time. I travel the USA extensively and cannot find their equal.

                                                                        Do you know where I'm talking about?

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: markrossi

                                                                          I'm not sure if you meant this for the Charlotte post, but I used to live in DC. Have you tried the wings at Hard Times? I always used to ask for them grilled... nice and smoky.

                                                                          In Charlotte I love the wings at Mac's!

                                                                          1. re: thbunny

                                                                            I am a big fan of Mac's wings too but had an exceptionally disappointing batch at lunch a month or so ago. The wings were small (usually so plump and meaty) and not very tender (usually smoked so long they're falling off the bone) and they were barely sauced at all. I hope it was just a one-time thing.

                                                                            1. re: HungryGrayCat

                                                                              me too! I haven't been there in 2 months or so. I know they've gotten even more popular so myabe they are slipping. I hope not! We'll have to go again soon for some research ;)

                                                                        2. Based on this recommendation I tried a sampler plate at Mac's Speedshop last weekend. The wings were excellent with a nice smoked flavor. The pulled pork was good but not memorable. My brisket was very fatty and disappointing. The mac n cheese and greenbean casserole were certainly nothing to write home about. As for these two dishes, you could find much better at any decent "meat and three" such as Simmon's, the Coffee Cup (RIP) or the Lizard's Thicket chain in Columbia.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Doodad

                                                                            Doodad, you and I agree I guess. I had hoped to try Mac's again, but I guess not. If I do, I will stick with the wings. I found the rest to be exceedingly average.

                                                                          2. For Excellent Mexican, Try Cantina Fifteen Eleven in Dilworth. They do an excellent tableside guac!

                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: eatingatthebar

                                                                              I was at Cantina 1511 a few weeks ago and the guacamole was sub-standard at best. I like Cantina 1511 but it seems to be very hit or miss.

                                                                              1. re: thbunny

                                                                                From what I remember the guac at Azteca (along with the ritas) is amazing!

                                                                                I also loved Cuvée in uptown for the cheese plate and wines, Fenwicks, Providence Café, Lupie's, Comet for the hot dogs, Sushi 101, Mellow Mushroom, Dish, Penguin, Cream and Bean for ice cream and Brixx for salads. I moved a few years ago, so I'm not sure which of these are still open or good : )

                                                                                1. re: kam0424

                                                                                  Hey guys,

                                                                                  I moved here a few months ago and have a running list of all the places I need to try. I haven't found anywhere yet that does game meat. I've seen a lot of duck, but I'm specifically looking for venison or ostrich. I know that it would most likely be on a fall menu, but still, any ideas where my best bets would be?

                                                                                  1. re: ktbear7476

                                                                                    The Fig Tree has Elk. Table Restuarant has Bison. That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Good luck.

                                                                                    1. re: ktbear7476

                                                                                      I think Tim Schafer's at the Lake, in Sherrill's Ford, does game in the fall. You might give him a call and ask. (704) 483-9127 or www.tslkn.com

                                                                                      1. re: ktbear7476

                                                                                        It's not on the menu right now, but I'm pretty sure that my husband ordered venison at the Mimosa Grill this past fall, so you might want to keep your eye out.

                                                                                      2. re: kam0424

                                                                                        Just had to point out that Maria Bonita Mexican Grill is THE BEST mexican ever. They're Guac is hands down the best I've ever had. On Colony Road where it meets Rea Rd. Try it! So good!

                                                                                  2. OUTSTANDING PIZZA AND WINGS. i live in ballantyne and have tried all the pizza in town. there's a little place called Farley's Pizzeria that has the best pizza/ wings i've found. I'm from ohio and we had a different pizza place on every corner, ranging from new york style to chicago style deep dish. so i consider myself a connoisseur. apparently this isn't the only location, but i think it's the only one in charlotte. if you want awsome pizza and wings check this place out (they do need to snaz up the interior however)

                                                                                    1. Waldhorn in Pineville has venison on the menu - and its real good.