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Non-Chains in Charlotte

My picky-eater husband and chowhound daughter and I usually eat out at least once a weekend, more than likely lunch after she plays sports. We are chain snobs and won't go to them unless it's absolutely necessary (which it rarely is). We live in South Charlotte and are usually down there or in the Weddington area for softball. We love:

Yellow Rose on 51
Carmella's on 51
Katz' Deli at the Arboretum
Sir Edmund Haley's at Park Road Shopping Center if we're up there

My husband only likes these kinds of places. Where he can get an honest burger or sandwich. Nothing Asian or really anything ethnic for that matter. My daughter and I save those for when it's just us. We need some new kind of "divey" places to add to our rotation. Can you help?

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  1. Not exactly South Charlotte, but 2 come to mind: Mr. K's at Southend, and Zack's (Closer to Scalybark, I think) Both are right on South Blvd. Not the thick gourmet burger places, but closer to the style you'd get at a chain, but these aren't chains, just locally owned. Good onion rings, My kids like the milkshakes at Mr. K's

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jibe

      IMO, the best burger in Charlotte is at the Penguin. For the area you mention, Trio's comes to mind, but not for burgers, just decent consistent food.

      1. re: jlwnc

        You might change your mind once you've had a Lulu burger @ LuLu's. We haven't been to The Penguin or Lupie's for a burger in ages, not since we found Lulu's. My husband still ranks it above a Shake Shack mushroom burger, and that is no small feat!

        1. re: littlegirltree

          Whoa... better than Shake Shack? I've heard that is the best place ever for burgers. Although, I had the burger @ The Spotted Pig in the village and it was truly the best burger I've EVER had. They get a gourmet blend of ground beef from Frieda's Meats in nyc.

          I love Lulu's!!!! I have been craving their mussels for a few weeks now. Looks like I need to make a trip up there and try the burger too. Yum!

          1. re: littlegirltree

            At LuLu try the redneck burger. This burger is served with fried green tomato and pimento cheese along with the pattie. Served on a quality bun.

      2. Across the street from Sir Ed's is Duckworth's Cheesesteakery - I know, stupid name, but they have fresh hand-pattied burgers and cheesesteaks, etc. plus the best homemade blue chz potato chips. But, it's not a Penguin or Snoops burger, but it will do in a pinch. Zack's is good. Just went to Mr. K's for the first time and was disappointed.

        McKoy's on Old Pineville received good reviews in the local weekly - haven't tried them yet.

        Eddie's Place has a Cotswold and Ballantyne location - love their ribeye sandwich.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pinogirl14

          Downstairs from Duckworth's try Hef's - They do an excellent burger

        2. Not to split hairs but hasn't Katz Deli 'chained' itself? There are outposts in Texas, Nevada and planned for other locations.

          3 Replies
          1. re: BlueHerons

            Seriously? Well, it doesn't seem like one.

            1. re: southernitalian

              It's not - it's just the most common name for a Jewish deli, the most famous being in NYC. I've been to the one in NYC and it's nothing like Charlotte's Katz deli. Plus, the owner of the Charlotte Katz deli is named after the owner, Lee Katz. All week long I've been anticipating going to Katz this weekend.

              O, and if you don't try their cheesecake that they have brought in from the Carnegie Deli in NYC, you are missing out on a cheesecake so wonderful it'll make a grown man weep (my husband did!).

            2. re: BlueHerons

              no they are not a chain. In the Jewish world Katz is a popular name. Like Smith

            3. Hey SI,

              I was just getting ready to post a thread about Cajun Yard Dog when I saw your thread here. I know awhile back I poo-pooed CYD but they are back on my list of good, easy places to dine w/ the family.

              I was there Monday w/ my family and ran into an old friend who was back waiting tables there. They mixed up the menu just a tad and the improvements were good. I had their BBQ shrimp (more like shrimp creole) w/ sauteed veggies and sweet potato fries and it was lovely. Big, fat shrimp w/ tomatoes, onions, garlic & peppers and a little spice... perfectly cooked. The sauteed veggies were fabulous too. Asparagus, pea pods, peppers, onions, mushrooms... nicely seasoned. Fries good too. My son had the fried catfish w/ mac n' cheese and daughter had the fried shrimp and fries. Both were good and all items home made. The mac n' chs rocked! My niece had the chicken cordon bleu which had a lovely maque choux sauce. Her green beans w/ onions and bacon weren't fabulous but she too loved the mac n' chs. I had a nice cotes du rhone. My daughter insisted we get the warm bread pudding w/ whiskey sauce and let me tell ya, I"m so glad we did. It was delicious. Great prices, family friendly and easy. Ask for Lynne!

              Also, another option for S.Clt is Trio. Now I'm good friends w/ the owners so I'm biased but my kids love this place and there is good variety on the menu and they are consistent w/ their product. The shrimp & scallops tempura is good as are the pizzas and salads too. Try the potato tower that comes w/ the filet... yum.

              I'm dying to try the replacement for Dakota's... it's called New South. Same chef/owner but a revamping after they took on an investor ( a regular customer of theirs from Dakota's days). Have u been yet?

              8 Replies
              1. re: lynnlato

                I didn't realize Dakota's had closed! I was at Handpicked the other day and didn't notice. I always write off anything at the Arboretum. Not sure why. I will try CYD! Good Old Days is a great place to bring kids but the enormous menu overwhelms me. I like Moosehead and Charlotte Cafe but they're kind of far. I was hoping for things closer to my house which is close to the Arboretum.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  I tried Katz's Deli today!!! I've noticed it's a fave of yours and I've never been. Well, on a whim I went in today and wow! I ordered "Dad's Favorite" the brisket on challah bread. The friendly NY'er behind the counter said it is his favorite and a good choice. It was delicious. Lovely bread. I so wanted to order everything on the menu! The reubens, the italian, latkes, all of it! It was such a lively place too... reminded me of the delis back home. Regular customers bantering w/ the staff. So cool! There was a large table of retirees that had me cracking up! Anyway, thanks for introducing me to this hidden treasure.

                  Oh, do you ever get brisket, pastrami, etc. by the pound there? What else do you recommend on their menu?

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    That large table of retirees is ALWAYS there! I have never gotten anything by the pound but my boss has and swears by it. I really love that place. I'm trying really hard to forget the fact that someone told me it was a chain. It doesn't feel like one. The reubens are outstanding!

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      The King of Corned Beef is Katz NY
                      Shortly after arriving in Charlotte about six years ago I found what was then a new restaurant. A place where a New Jersey/New York transplant could get a fix of what for me is soul food. The place I speak of is Katz New York Deli. Located across from the arboretum shopping center in the arboretum office park behind Bank of America.

                      I have been to the best of them. Second Avenue Deli, Carnegie, Katz on Houston Street. They are the gold standard of deli and appetizing. Only one place in Charlotte can come close to reaching the quality and deli delightfulness I crave, that place is Katz New York. The owner Lee Katz was born and raised in New Jersey and is a veteran of several top deli’s so he gets it!

                      The corned beef and pastrami melts in your mouth, served nice and hot from the steam table. Don’t miss the chopped liver, flavorful and fantastic. The hot dogs are the best in Charlotte all beef with natural casings that give you that special snap when you take that first bite. Don’t miss the brisket or the tongue. Try the house made knishes. If you have room top it off with a slice of cheesecake imported from the Carnegie Deli or wash it down with an egg cream made with the genuine Fox’s-U-bet syrup.

                      The appetizing at Katz is in a class by itself as well. They have it all. Nova, Belly Lox (the salty stuff I love), baked salmon, whitefish, sturgeon, sable, herring, baked salmon salad and whitefish salad with no filler, just enough mayo to hold it together.
                      The latest addition to the line up at Katz - Now the rye bread shipped in from Pechters bakery of New Jersey. The breads are baked off in the store daily and the result is a first rate top notch Rye bread that has great flavor and actually has a crunchy crust. Hands down the best bread in town. If you’re guessing that I love this place – You are right

                      1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                        Amen Godfather! I really like that place and need a trip over there today! For some reason, I cannot work up the nerve to order tongue, but everything else you've described has made me hungry and grateful to live in South Charlotte!

                        1. re: southernitalian

                          I love it, but tongue is not for everyone. Same for chopped liver.
                          Wait until you have the new rye bread. It is really fantastic

                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                            I am a recent convert - thanks to Southernitalian's recommendations. I was just over there again on xmas eve for lunch w/ the whole family. They also have great latkes! I got a gift certificate for a friend.

                            I cannot do tongue either, SI. I had carpaccio of tongue at Per Se in NYC and it totally creeped me out. I could feel the little taste buds... ugh. I'm not typicallly squirmish, but that did it to me!

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              Hmmm carpaccio was it raw?
                              The Tongue at Katz is pickled - soaked in a brine solution. I alway's ask which part they are slicing. I like closer to the tip as this part is leaner and to my taste buds better. On rye with mustard it ROCKS!! Give it a try, you may be surprised

                2. Here's my two cents for "divey" in South Charlotte:

                  Moosehead - on Montford (near Sir Edmund's). Excellent wings, nachos, and other bar food (chicken sandwiches, burgers, etc) Some really creative specials everyday. I love the smoked turkey quesadilla. Moosehead is one of my regular joints.

                  Charlotte Cafe (same center as Sir Edmunds) - nice local place with good sandwiches. Nothing overly exceptional, but good food at a good price. Chicken pita is good.

                  DD Peckers Wing Shop - Park Road Extension near 51. Good wings and they have burgers and the like. Honestly, have only had wings there so can't say much about other items.

                  Good Old Days (Arboretum): A fifties diner - only been there once but my burger was good. The place is fun if a little kitchy

                  One last place, which is not South Charlotte (South Carolina actually) is Hoopers in Fort Mill. It is a sports bar with very good food. They make most things fresh and in-house. Wings are good, burgers are good. The turkey-bacon wrap is tops.

                  1. I have a hard time in that part of town, too, for the exact same reason, an aversion to chains. Same problem in Southpark. I guess the real estate is too high for privately -owned restaurants. In South Charlotte, we always end up going to Ilios Noce, they have a wide variety of cheap to expensive food. Waldhorn is good and can be chaep or expensive, from sausage and cabbage to venison. Nice beer selection, too. I know it's a chain, but Le Peep is wonderful and right next to where Dakota's was. My husband gets a monthly craving for their BLT.