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Dinner in Charlotte: Not fine dining, not a dive, not a chain...

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hominaray Jan 7, 2008 06:48 PM

Hi,

Coming to Charlotte from Manhattan. I've been there a few times but haven't gotten a lot of exposure to a lot of places. Would love some help for a few places for dinner, here's the criteria:

Not Fine Dining: Not looking for upscale white table cloth dining. Nothing against it, but not looking to get a good meal by paying $100 a head.

Not a Dive: I love the dives. Really do. As a matter of fact that probably makes the most of what I've eaten in Charlotte, so I need a change of pace.

Not a Chain: Kind of goes without saying, but no need to suggest Cheesecake Factory or Applebee's. Nothing against them, just would like something different.

Not trying to be negative, I like pretty much all places, just looking for a specific vibe. Relaxed, fun, casual dining, but not in a sports bar or diner. Atmosphere a plus.

This sounds kind of restrictive, but I'm really just looking for great suggestions...and welcome your thoughts.

cheers

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  1. h
    HungryGrayCat RE: hominaray Jan 8, 2008 05:02 AM

    Here I go sounding like a broken record but Rooster's fits your requirements perfectly. It's a very lively place, reasonably priced, casual, and most of all...delicious. The cocktails are good and the wine list is interesting --there's even a separate wine bar across the way now.

    http://www.roosterskitchen.com/home.html

    If it's not raining, you can have after-dinner drinks on the heated patio at M5 (across the street).

    1. h
      hazardnc RE: hominaray Jan 8, 2008 05:23 AM

      There are far fewer $100 a head places in Charlotte than upscale. Downtown, Ratcliffe on the Green is a good spot. With apps and entree, you're looking at $35 a head, not including drinks/wine. Ratcliffe features local, sustainable ingredients, and they do a bang up job. They hosted the Alice Waters dinner for Slow Food Charlotte last fall.

      A little further out of town is Carpe Diem, which is a local favorite that has been around for a long time. Apps are about $9-11 and entrees run $20-30. Carpe Diem is on Elizabeth Avenue. Down the street from Carpe Diem is Loft 1523, which is a hip new martini bar with great views of downtown.

      Another perennial favorite is Pewter Rose on South Blvd. They have everything from burgers to bouillabaisse. Below Pewter Rose is their popular bar called Tutto Mondo that features a Dj and caters to the 30-something crowd.

      Also on South Blvd is the new Woods on South restaurant, which is a collaboration of chef personality Marvin Woods. They have wood fired pizzas, sandwiches and Southern inspired entrees. It's new, and I have not read any reviews on the place yet.

      East Blvd has a few worthy destinations: Cantina 1511 for upscale Mexican food, 300 East for everything from burgers to filet mignon (another old Charlotte standby), and Copper for Indian-inspired cuisine.

      One of my favorites is a chain, but a regional chain. Frank Manzetti's near Southpark Mall has great salads, steaks, and pasta dishes. I really like their atmosphere and they have good service.

      Dish on Thomas Street in the Plaza Midwood area has good Souther inspired food, and is probably the cheapest of all of these spots. I love Cajun Queen on 7th Street, but it can be noisy, They have without a doubt the best fried oysters and gumbo in town. Their blackened catfish is pretty good too. A lot of people love Lulu's on Central Ave. I haven't been in over a year, but the one time I went, it was very good - somewhat French bistro in a cute renovated house, decent prices.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hazardnc
        h
        hominaray RE: hazardnc Jan 17, 2008 05:02 PM

        Thanks, those look right up my alley

      2. lynnlato RE: hominaray Jan 8, 2008 06:32 AM

        I 2nd Hazzardnc's suggestions of Carpe Diem and 300 East. Not sure what part of town your staying... but Nolen Kitchen (Selwyn Ave) is a great place. Very creative and fresh... http://www.nolenkitchen.com/.

        My favorite spot in town and a very foodie kind of place is Lulu on Central Ave. Prices are very reasonable and they have an eclectic array of dishes. Moules & Frites are phenomenal. Foie gras, pate. The owner is French and they've given their food a southern funk. I don't know how else to explain it! But it's lovely. They only serve beer and wine. http://www.luludinewine.com/.

        A fun place w/ great 'cue and neat vibe is Mac's Speed Shop. It was once a transmission shop and has been converted to a biker inspired bar & grill. So, it's not a dive but is "dive inspired". Try the bbq brisket... it'll knock your socks off. Huge beer list. www.macspeedshop.com.

        If you're in South Charlotte/Arboretum area, try New South Kitchen & Bar. Small and big plates w/ a Southern flare. They have duck confit, shrimp & grits, Berkshire pork, foie gras (can u tell I love this stuff), etc. I recently posted about this place:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/471929

        Let us know how you make out - Enjoy!

        p.s. I'm a huge David Chang admirer. Momofuku rocks! What I wouldn't give for a bowl of his ramen, a pork bun and some kimchi. Oh, and a Hitachino White Ale to wash it all down.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lynnlato
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          pjay RE: lynnlato Jan 14, 2008 04:21 AM

          I have to correct you the owner of Lulu being French...ONE of the owners is French, the other owner is also the chef and he's from someplace in NY. Otherwise great suggestions...I'm going to have to hit New South based on your recommendations.

          1. re: lynnlato
            h
            hominaray RE: lynnlato Jan 17, 2008 05:05 PM

            Again, these suggestions look great, I'll let you know what I hit.

            I could use a pork bun right about now too.

          2. b
            BlueHerons RE: hominaray Jan 8, 2008 06:38 AM

            What about Blue in Uptown? I thought it was very good.

            I also like Manzettis right behind The Park Hotel across from Southpark Mall.

            1. j
              jnwall RE: hominaray Jan 9, 2008 12:21 PM

              Its not impossible t spend $100 per person in Charlotte, but it's pretty hard. In Center City, try Taverna 100, Town, or Arpa, a tapas restaurant. Someone else suggested Blue which is also really good, as is Table. Lots of good food in Charlotte -- enjoy!

              1. h
                HungryGrayCat RE: hominaray Jan 10, 2008 04:30 AM

                Another place I just thought of is Las Ramblas for tapas.

                http://www.lasramblascafe.com/

                2 Replies
                1. re: HungryGrayCat
                  GodfatherofLunch RE: HungryGrayCat Jan 10, 2008 06:52 AM

                  Also Fiamma for EXCELLENT italian

                  1. re: HungryGrayCat
                    m
                    mmuch RE: HungryGrayCat Jan 16, 2008 11:51 AM

                    I second lasramblas! LOVE IT! :) Definitely my top pick of all the restaurants Charlotte has to offer.....with the criteria you mentioned....

                  2. a
                    artlee RE: hominaray Jan 13, 2008 06:39 AM

                    Solera has great Mediterranean food and great service and setting.

                    Agree about Manzetti's, Carpe Diem, and 300 East

                    43 Replies
                    1. re: artlee
                      GodfatherofLunch RE: artlee Jan 13, 2008 01:55 PM

                      Hate to disagree about Solera but any one coming from NYC has probably had Spanish/ Portuguese food in the Iron Bound section of Newark NJ where it is so so much better than anything available here

                      1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                        southernitalian RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 14, 2008 05:08 AM

                        I lived in Brookl;yn and Manhattan, and largely Bergen and Union Counties in NJ for almost thirty years and never stepped foot in Newark except to go to the airport. Please stop hating on Charlotte, Godfather. These people are trying to make a living!!!

                        1. re: southernitalian
                          GodfatherofLunch RE: southernitalian Jan 14, 2008 08:29 AM

                          Perhaps I was unclear? by swap views I meant share our opinions. I too remembr the great Cuban food in NJ - I fondly remember the roast pork called Lechon, wow that was fantastic. There is a place called Taste of Havana on Albermarle Rd here in Charlotte. They serve Lechon it's pretty good. It is not at the same level as West NY or Weehauken. but still pretty good and I still love Charlotte.

                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                            southernitalian RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 14, 2008 10:06 AM

                            There's a family in Rock Hill that has a restaurant called Carlos' Cafe. They are from the Miami area. I have been to Taste of Havana and la Gran Havana and I think these people are the real deal. But Helen liked them too, so take it with a grain of salt.

                            1. re: southernitalian
                              GodfatherofLunch RE: southernitalian Jan 14, 2008 01:10 PM

                              The menu at Carlos' Cafe looks great. Thanks for sharing

                              1. re: southernitalian
                                lynnlato RE: southernitalian Jan 14, 2008 01:11 PM

                                Sadly, Carlos' Cafe closed quite a while ago. They had the closest thing to media noches (sp?) and all the other lovely cuban fare I came to adore in Miami.

                                Unless, SI, you know that they moved to another location? I used to go to their Cherry Plaza location on the main drag down there.

                                1. re: lynnlato
                                  GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Jan 14, 2008 02:07 PM

                                  Wow you are bringing back wonderful memories of those great pressed sandwich's. Too bad they are closed, it sounded great.

                                  my blog http://gflreport.blogspot.com/

                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                    lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 14, 2008 02:16 PM

                                    Yes! I was hooked from the first bite. Something so magical about cubano bread, roasted pork loin, swiss chs, ham, mustard and pickles all heated up in a press... good GOD! As a friend of mine would say, they're "take yo pants off" good! Ha!

                                    Wouldn't it be great if you could get one in Charlotte? As you often say, "the real deal"!

                                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                      lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 16, 2008 12:24 PM

                                      Okay, that elena Ruz sandwich sounds divine. I will certainly try that. Thanks for the history of the cuban sandwich... enlightening. I have had the medianoche in Miami... w/ the egg bread. I think the one I used to get at Carlos Cafe in Rock Thrill was traditional cuban bread. Either way, damn good stuff.

                                      1. re: lynnlato
                                        GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Jan 16, 2008 01:41 PM

                                        They al sound wonderful to me. I really want one. i would settle just for the bread. Speaking of bread - have located a place that sells good french or italian bread?

                                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                          lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 16, 2008 04:44 PM

                                          Unequivocally, NO! No good bread. Mother always said good bread is in the water. We had a restaurant many moons ago in the Outer Banks (but we're yankees). Mom had her bread shipped down from Philly.

                                          That said, I was in Nova's on Central the other day and got their pane bello and their sourdough (a cannoli too, but shhh, don't tell). Best bread I've had yet in CLT.

                                          There used to be a place called Tri-borough Bakery off of South Blvd, but they went out of business quite a while ago. They had good bread.

                                          How 'bout you?

                                          1. re: lynnlato
                                            GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Jan 17, 2008 07:10 AM

                                            Not yet but I keep looking. I have heard the same thing about the water being the reason we dont have good bread ,bagels and pizza. I don't know if it is so or not. I have found pizza with a great crust. The place is called Cafe Intermezzo located at 10th street where it meets Central. The crust is just the right thickness a bit chewy and crunchy at the same time. YUM. They do this with the same water as everyone so I dont know what he deal is? One thing for sure I would love to find a real good Kaiser roll or have a great Italian sub on some crunchy bread as the oil and vinegar drips down my arm. My favorite bread in town right now would be the new rye bread being served at Katz NY

                                            1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                              h
                                              HungryGrayCat RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 17, 2008 08:00 AM

                                              For that Italian sub, try Ferrucci's in Cornelius.

                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 17, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                Marino's Pizza & Subs in Waxhaw (on Providence Rd.. on the left in the same strip mall as What's Your Beef butcher - great butcher) is from Philly. They ship in their hoagie rolls from Philly too. The pizza is chewy... with the slight head jerk that lets you know it's perfect. Hoagies are good too.

                                                I'll have to check out intermezzo... never even heard of it. But I don't get up that way too often, unfortunately. When I do it's usually to grab a fish taco at Cabo Fish Taco. ;-)

                                                I'll bet Ferrucci's is good too, I've wanted to go there for quite a while, but again... that's a haul for me.

                                                1. re: lynnlato
                                                  GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Jan 17, 2008 09:35 AM

                                                  Wow a real butcher shop? What a find! Thanks!! I will have to get over there. From Philly?? Makes me need to ask- did you ever have a cheese steak from Pats in Philly? Holly Cow - yes pun intended. That’s a sandwich with its own zip code.
                                                  Here is a link for a review from creative loafing
                                                  On Intermezzo. http://charlotte.creativeloafing.com/...
                                                  I like their reviews. For more on that see the media board on CH.
                                                  Also I went to Ferrucci's for me it is a haul and I will stick to pasta and provisions, but one thing they do have is Italian sausage with whole fennel. For some reason this is hard to find and I believe they are the only one's who make it this way around here.

                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                    lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 22, 2008 01:05 PM

                                                    I'm afraid I've only read about Pat's cheesesteaks. Sniff, sniff. Nope, I've never had one, but one day...

                                                    Hey, did u hear... Helen Schwab is gonna be on NPR's Charlotte Talks tomorrow (1/23/08) at 9am. You can call in or email questions. There was a small article in friday's Observer E & T section.

                                                    Also, just returned from Orlando FL and had a cuban sandwich! Admittedly, it wasn't as good as the ones I had in Miami, but it was better than any I've had around here.

                                                    1. re: lynnlato
                                                      GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Jan 22, 2008 01:26 PM

                                                      The Cuban must have been great, I'm jealous.
                                                      Pats is an experience. You eat standing; legs parted a bit, elbows bent. This is going to be messy. That bad boy is so loaded assuming of course you order the sandwich “ Wit “ that of course means WITH cheese. Some razor thin sliced rib steak and cheese will be landing on the floor between your feet, but it’s part of the charm.
                                                      Helen on charlotte talks I’ll have to tune in. I wonder what topic they will find that she has expertise in? I will have to tune in to hear.
                                                      You have been working on helping me to be a nice godfather and I do thank you, so enough said

                                                      1. re: lynnlato
                                                        GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Jan 23, 2008 06:13 AM

                                                        I tuned in for the last 1/2 hour and it was a good listen. I continue to be impressed by Tricia Childress she really seems to know her stuff. Cafe Intermezzo was discussed a bit. This is place worth visiting. Owned by two Serbian gentlemen the make a pretty darn good Pizza, excellent crust. I did not care for the Kabobs. But a Serbian style burger on house baked bread and topped with a Serbian was interesting and tasty.

                                                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                          lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 23, 2008 06:33 AM

                                                          You have been a nice GFL... good for you!

                                                          Yes, heard them mention Intermezzo. Other favorites include Global (they have a good croque madam), Trio Terra, Tamarind, Barrington's, New South Kitchen (HS's review will be Fri.... I posted a thread about a while back too), Sante, etc. It was a good listen. I like Peter Reinhart too. I'd love to try one of his baking classes at J&W... cuz I can't bake!

                                                          1. re: lynnlato
                                                            h
                                                            hazardnc RE: lynnlato Jan 23, 2008 07:44 AM

                                                            Lynn, buy Peter's book, the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I have been using it for over a year, and have successfully made wonderful foccacia, ciabatta, French baguettes, Pane Siciliano, pain ancienne and Neapolitan-style pizza dough. My home-made pizza dough is so popular, in fact, that my daughter insists on pizza every time she comes home from college - and she goes to school in Philly.

                                                            Peter's methods are proven.

                                                            1. re: lynnlato
                                                              h
                                                              hazardnc RE: lynnlato Jan 23, 2008 10:18 AM

                                                              I avoided baking with yeast until this book. Now, I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to knead the bread (Peter gives instx for this in the book). My breads are not always pretty to look at (need to work on shaping), but they taste great. Almost all of the recipes use a cold fermentation process, which means you need to plan ahead. You make the dough one day, let it rest overnight in the fridge, then shape and bake on day two. This results in a more flavorful bread.

                                                              1. re: hazardnc
                                                                lynnlato RE: hazardnc Jan 25, 2008 12:17 PM

                                                                Hazard... I bought the book!!!!!! I'm so excited (can u tell?). It's a big beast of a book. I'm only on the first chapter, but I feel encouraged already. He's brilliant. Interestingly, he firmly believes that nyc water is not why the bread seems to be better. He also encourages using bottled water (at least if u have hard or really soft water).

                                                                Anyway, thanks again for the encouragement and I'll let everyone know how i make out once I boldly attempt to make some bread!

                                                                1. re: lynnlato
                                                                  h
                                                                  hazardnc RE: lynnlato Jan 25, 2008 01:20 PM

                                                                  the first thing I made from the book was the foccacia. It's very forgiving.

                                                                  Enjoy the book and happy baking!

                                                              2. re: lynnlato
                                                                GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Jan 23, 2008 11:19 AM

                                                                I am curious to try Trio Terra. The chef here is related to (I think brother) of the chef at Fiamma my favorite Italian restaurant. I was a big fan of Dakota’s so I need to get to New South Kitchen too. I did enjoy your posting.
                                                                I am a good cook and cant bake to save my life. Baking is too rigid and precise. Cooking is an art baking a science. I guess we are artists not scientists.

                                                                1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                  lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 23, 2008 01:20 PM

                                                                  Okay, hazard, I'm gonna give it another try... I'll let u know how I make out. I really would like to be able to bake bread.

                                                                  GFL, I agree w/ your assessment. I've always thought of baking as too precise, scientific. At least that was my excuse for being a failure at it!

                                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                    littlegirltree RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 25, 2008 11:13 AM

                                                                    I felt the same way, until I went to Brooklyn this past summer and was spoiled w/ proper NYC pizza. I came home and forced myself to learn how to make pizza. And it is perfect. Ev-er-y time. I'l still stand by Nova's breads, they never disappoint. But with the mediocre pizza we've had in this town, I just broke down and made myself stick to the rigid science of making dough.

                                                                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                      b
                                                                      brentk RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 25, 2008 04:07 PM

                                                                      I wouldn't characterize Nova's stylistically as Italian bread so I wouldn't think it would be as good as the Italian bread you could find in Brooklyn.

                                                                      1. re: brentk
                                                                        GodfatherofLunch RE: brentk Jan 25, 2008 04:33 PM

                                                                        For your edification below is a link showing the
                                                                        Bread Products available at Nova Bakery

                                                                        http://novasbakery.com/breads.asp

                                                                        Nova is in my estimation one of the better bread bakers in Charlotte. Question is why is Charlotte bread not better than it is?.

                                                                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                          b
                                                                          brentk RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2008 03:04 AM

                                                                          You are missing my point. I know they make Italian inspired breads. My point is that they are not an Italian bakery and I wouldn't expect that they would compare with the best Italian bakeries any more than you would expect a restaurant that served some Italian inspired dishes to compete with the best Italian restaurants.

                                                                          The answer to your question, however, is that Charlotte is a southern city and doesn't have the same market that bakers in the north do.

                                                                          I could ask why can't you find great grits, fried chicken, livermush (etc., etc) in NYC.

                                                                          1. re: brentk
                                                                            lynnlato RE: brentk Jan 26, 2008 05:37 AM

                                                                            As a northern transplant (and half Italian) I love Nova's breads and I think their pane belo and paisano breads area every bit as good... different, but very good. Now, I'm used to finding a big loaf of italian bread in a wax paper bag on the grocery store shelf. Baked by a local bakery. Still can't find that in CLT. :-) But that's okay... my waistline doesn't need it!

                                                                            1. re: brentk
                                                                              GodfatherofLunch RE: brentk Jan 26, 2008 10:34 AM

                                                                              I think both you and LL are correct. Nova is not an Italian Bakery, it is one of the best in Charlotte and my waistline doesn't need it either.
                                                                              Generally speaking the bread here in my beloved Charlotte is not as good as up north. I wonder WHY? Sounds like it is not all about the water as I had been told a long time ago. Perhaps we do not have the demand. That would explain the lack of livermush up North. Bread is the staff of life so I would love more high quality baked goods also more bakery's

                                                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                                b
                                                                                brentk RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2008 11:34 AM

                                                                                You just gave me an idea. Get some sliced bread from Nova's, cross the street to John's and have him turn it into a fried egg and livermush panini.

                                                                                Now there is a worthy example of fusion cuisine!

                                                                        2. re: littlegirltree
                                                                          southernitalian RE: littlegirltree Jan 28, 2008 05:16 AM

                                                                          LGT - have you tried Carmella's on 51 at Carmel Road? I was born and raised in brooklyn and Nj and i'm telling you this is the real deal for pizza.

                                                                          1. re: southernitalian
                                                                            littlegirltree RE: southernitalian Feb 2, 2008 06:40 PM

                                                                            I went to Carmella's tonight - that place is cra-zay! I felt like I was back in Concord - bottled beer and heavy metal! The pizza was pretty great, though. The cheese was amazing. The crust was chewy, not quite what I'm looking for, but it was still good. I will definitely be back. It's a great place to get bleary eyed while listening to ear-splitting music and eating some great pizza!

                                                                    2. re: lynnlato
                                                                      littlegirltree RE: lynnlato Feb 2, 2008 08:13 PM

                                                                      I went to Tamarind last weekend - excellent Indian. It's been too long since we've had Indian this good in town. Unfortunately i went during lunch and my senses were accosted by hyper children running around the joint. But the selection was very interesting and a bit challenging, but it was all delicious. I plan on giving over my heart completely in another week or so by going back for dinner.

                                                        2. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                          s
                                                          sg3 RE: GodfatherofLunch Mar 30, 2008 11:13 AM

                                                          Nova's bakery on central is the best. they supply the bread for a lot of the top italian restaurants in charlotte.

                                          2. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                            a
                                            artlee RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 16, 2008 10:38 AM

                                            So I take it you have actually eaten there? What did you have? Just curious.

                                            1. re: artlee
                                              GodfatherofLunch RE: artlee Jan 16, 2008 10:54 AM

                                              sorry, I don't understand the question. eaten where?

                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                southernitalian RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 16, 2008 11:01 AM

                                                Presumably Havana?

                                              2. re: artlee
                                                GodfatherofLunch RE: artlee Jan 16, 2008 11:34 AM

                                                I think you are asking about my comment regarding Solera. My wife and I shared the Paella. The dish was by no means bad the seafood was very fresh. The location I was posting about has a very large Spanish/ Portuguese population that patronizes the many Spanish and Portuguese restaurants located there. The huge volume of food they serve coupled with the fact that this is very authentic food result in mind-blowing results. Solera is serving primarily food from Italy and Spain. The folks who own the place are from Ecuador and perhaps this is why the food while being tasty lacks a certain authenticity for me. That being said I don’t want to knock Ecuadorians in the restaurant business. Anthony Bourdain surly sings there praises in his books. My favorite Italian restaurant here in Charlotte Fiamma is owned and Chefed by Ecuadorians. So go figure.

                                                1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                  a
                                                  artlee RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 16, 2008 02:16 PM

                                                  ok, thanks. We have been there many times and do like it a lot. I think maybe it's a mix of different kinds of food not really just Mediterranean. I liked the Paella, my wife loves the chicken and scallop kebob, the rib eye is very good, and pastas are good. The owner is very customer service oriented which I appreciate. I like the fact that we can go here and get a very good meal, at a decent price, and feel that we are recognized as a "regular" and our business is appreciated.

                                                  1. re: artlee
                                                    lynnlato RE: artlee Jan 16, 2008 04:48 PM

                                                    Do any of you recall the Argentian restaurant that was in McMullen Creek Shopping Center about 10 yrs ago? It was called Tango Argentina. You reminded me of it when you mentioned a very customer service oriented owner. The owner took our baby, who was being fussy, and bounced her around the restaurant so we could enjoy our meal. It was adorable! He would show slides of Argentina on the wall in the dining room. So charming. Good food too. But alas, it when under yrs ago too.

                                                    1. re: artlee
                                                      GodfatherofLunch RE: artlee Jan 16, 2008 06:21 PM

                                                      maybe I need to give them another try. I'm a sucker for a good ribeye

                                            2. m
                                              mmuch RE: hominaray Jan 16, 2008 11:54 AM

                                              One more req, other than my favorite Las Ramblas.... Ilios Noche. It's not anywhere near Uptown, but in my opinion, worth the drive. Greek influence. Very very good.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: mmuch
                                                GodfatherofLunch RE: mmuch Jan 16, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                Yes, I agree they serving some really nice food. I had a lovely salad with grilled lamb on top that was excellent. They also serve a pizza that is tasty. I think the sausage on top was made in house and really good.
                                                For Greek food I love Greek Isles on Bland Street. The food, the atmosphere and the staff make this spot the Real Deal for Greek food.

                                                1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                  h
                                                  HungryGrayCat RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 17, 2008 04:36 AM

                                                  Yeah.....the lamb shank and the roasted leg of lamb are really good. The combo appetizer plates are awesome but beware if you order the large size. The menu says it serves 4 but even with 4 at the table, it's gigantic.

                                                  1. re: HungryGrayCat
                                                    lynnlato RE: HungryGrayCat Jan 17, 2008 05:43 AM

                                                    I am a huge fan of Ilios Noche. I agree, their lamb shank is their best menu item. Their risotto will make u cry, its so good. When they have it, their wood-grilled octopus is melt in your mouth fabulous. Basil ice cream... yum. I could go on and on.

                                                    However, I do wish they would change up their menu a bit. They've made no changes, that I can tell (I live close by), since they opened several years ago. So, I've not been going as much b/c I've had everything on the menu several times. Maybe too much time spent at Nolen Kitchen? It's time to mix it up, boys!

                                              2. p
                                                Pure_Majik RE: hominaray Jan 18, 2008 03:38 AM

                                                Here is a list of restaurants grouped by category.
                                                These restaurants are great at what they serve.
                                                Not all will meet your criteria, but most will.

                                                Diner - Pike's Soda Shop
                                                Country cooking AKA Soul Food - The Diamond
                                                *Barbeque - Bridge's BBQ (Shelby)
                                                Fried Chicken - Price's Chicken Coop
                                                Pizza - Brixx Woodfired Pizza
                                                Hot Dogs - Matt's Chicago Dog
                                                Burgers - Fuddruckers
                                                Brazilian - Rodeo Rodizio Brazilian Steakhouse
                                                Cajun - Cajun Queen
                                                Carribbean - Annthony's
                                                Chinese - Baoding
                                                Fondue - The Melting Pot
                                                French - Carpe Diem
                                                Greek - Akropolis
                                                Indian - Jaipur Indian Cuisine
                                                Italian - La Bibliotheque
                                                Japanese - Nikko
                                                Mediterranean - Blue
                                                Mexican - Azteca
                                                Seafood - Charleston House
                                                Spanish - Sole Spanish Grille
                                                *Steak House - The Woodshed (Stanley)
                                                Thai - Thai Orchid
                                                * = Not in Charlotte Area

                                                17 Replies
                                                1. re: Pure_Majik
                                                  h
                                                  hazardnc RE: Pure_Majik Jan 18, 2008 04:12 AM

                                                  Pure Majik - not sure where you got your info on restaurants, but Charleston House is closed, Pike's Soda Shop is plain awful, the Diamond is definitely not the best Soul Food. I could go on, but I suspect you got your info from some other website that is not a reliable source.

                                                  1. re: hazardnc
                                                    concordcourtney RE: hazardnc Jan 18, 2008 04:39 AM

                                                    I don't think Pike's is /awful/, but I wouldn't go there this time of year. Pike's is good for a casual lunch on the patio with a burger and a milkshake.

                                                    I'm not sure that I would categorize Blue as Mediterranean though, and I can't recommend that place as the service is terrible. You're paying for the chic decor. If you a white tablecloth meal Uptown, go to Ratcliffes.

                                                    1. re: concordcourtney
                                                      p
                                                      pjay RE: concordcourtney Jan 19, 2008 07:46 AM

                                                      I agree with you on the Ratcliffe recommendation. Ate there just before the holidays, though the place was a bit quiet for a Friday night, the food was very tasty, so I'm assuming that I caught it on an off busy night. A place that good should be nearly full on a Friday. But then again it is Uptown.

                                                      1. re: concordcourtney
                                                        lynnlato RE: concordcourtney Jan 22, 2008 01:10 PM

                                                        Oddly, Blue does bill itself as Mediterranean (see their website)... but I agree that it's not. I would say "global".

                                                        2nd the rec for Ratcliffe's.

                                                        Brixx is not a good spot for pizza. It's a chain and it's decent but there's better pizza to be had in town.

                                                        La Bibliotheque is closed.

                                                        Fuddruckers??? Seriously?

                                                        I wouldn't describe Carpe Diam as "french" either. They describe themselves as "new american". Regardless, it's good.

                                                      2. re: hazardnc
                                                        GodfatherofLunch RE: hazardnc Jan 18, 2008 04:42 AM

                                                        Well done hazardnc –
                                                        while your at it -
                                                        Rodeo Rodizio Brazilian Steakhouse is closed
                                                        Pizzas - Brixx Woodfired Pizza - BEST NO WAY!
                                                        Hot Dogs - Matt's Chicago Dog - BEST NO WAY!
                                                        Burgers - Fuddruckers - BEST NO WAY!
                                                        Greek - Akropolis not a bad fast food place- Please don’t insult the Greek community by calling it the best Greek restaurant.
                                                        And most of the others very debatable.

                                                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                          southernitalian RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 18, 2008 05:26 AM

                                                          GFL and I don't agree every day but Brixx is NOT the best pizza in Charlotte. While I wouldn't recommend any pizza place in Charlotte to an out of town guest looking for something special, I will nominate Carmella's on 51 as some of the best pizza in town. I think this person might enjoy Portofino. That said, if you're looking for atmosphere and a place where you can get a good feel for Charlotte, the Selwyn Pub is a great place to get a good burger or sandwich, order a beer and watch the world go by.

                                                          1. re: southernitalian
                                                            p
                                                            pjay RE: southernitalian Jan 19, 2008 07:54 AM

                                                            One doesn't just watch the world go by at Selwyn Pub, they get to watch the beautiful people of the world go by. I haven't been to Selwyn Pub in a few years, is Mike still tending bar? I love that place

                                                          2. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                            n
                                                            NCPhil RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 27, 2008 06:37 PM

                                                            Greek Isles is pretty good Greek fare.....Akropolis is a dive at best IMO.

                                                        2. re: Pure_Majik
                                                          p
                                                          pjay RE: Pure_Majik Jan 18, 2008 05:27 AM

                                                          Not to mention, La Bibliotheque is both not open nor Italian and Carpe Diem is the furthest thing from French. I disagree with more than a few on your list, but there is no accounting for taste and not all my opinions are popular ones either. me thinks you should go out to eat more though.

                                                          1. re: pjay
                                                            southernitalian RE: pjay Jan 18, 2008 05:39 AM

                                                            I was biting my tongue about La Bib and Carpe Diem, not wanting to be too negative. I LOVE Carpe Diem but French? Mon Dieu! Honestly I haven't heard of a lot of these restaurants. I didn't think Baoding was still open either. Is there really a Fuddruckers in Charlotte? I used to live above one on the East 95th in NYC and the smell was enough to make me a vegan :(.

                                                            1. re: southernitalian
                                                              GodfatherofLunch RE: southernitalian Jan 18, 2008 06:47 AM

                                                              yes Baoding is still open,but to me it is not the best or even close. Yes there is a Fuddruckers on 51 near Matthews, but if it blew away tomorrow it would not bother me. I guess we can agree on some things I do agree with you on both Carmella's on 51 and Portofino. I like them both very much

                                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                southernitalian RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 18, 2008 07:25 AM

                                                                Honestly I'm over Chinese but I will frequent Tomi because it's near my house and it's got a clear hot and sour soup that's to die for. But having become accustomed to other Asian food, particuarly Thai, I am bored with most of the Chinese restaurants in Charlotte. Dim Sum is good but I find I really want that heat and freshness that I get at Lang Van, Monsoon, Pho 98, even Cuisine Malaya. Charlotte just doesn't have Chinese food that I'm interested in.

                                                                1. re: southernitalian
                                                                  j
                                                                  jlwnc RE: southernitalian Jan 18, 2008 08:47 AM

                                                                  Agree on the lack of Chinese in Charlotte, but lots of other Asian options, so I typically don't mind.

                                                                  Isn't Thai Orchid closed? I may be wrong as I prefer Thai Thai, Thai Taste and Thai House. Jaipur is not even in the top 3 of Indian food (though they were among the first),

                                                                  1. re: jlwnc
                                                                    southernitalian RE: jlwnc Jan 18, 2008 09:00 AM

                                                                    Thai Orchid is at Strawberry Hill and still open. I like Bombay Grill on 51 for Indian.

                                                                    1. re: southernitalian
                                                                      littlegirltree RE: southernitalian Jan 18, 2008 10:16 AM

                                                                      Bancock Ocha on 51 (next to Fresh Market) is pretty good Thai. I'm surprised that foodies still stick with Lang Van for Vietnamese. Ben Thanh is far superior. Pho 98 is good, but the service is really slow.

                                                                      As far as Indian, Saffron in Ayrsley Town Center is the best in town, and I have tried them all - I even braved the horrid Situl off of Park Rd.

                                                                      As for Chinese, Dragonfly used to be wonderful. Last time I went, the appetizer, the 2 entrees and the spring rolls were all disgusting. Soho Cafe in Harrisburg is the only Chinese around that I'll go out of my way for.

                                                                      1. re: littlegirltree
                                                                        concordcourtney RE: littlegirltree Jan 18, 2008 11:51 AM

                                                                        Hey, thanks for the tip on Soho. It's not too far from me and I've been wondering if it was worth a risk. I'm gonna try it.

                                                                    2. re: jlwnc
                                                                      c
                                                                      Chocolate Toe RE: jlwnc Feb 19, 2009 02:40 PM

                                                                      Admittedly I am not an Asian food connosseiur (did I spell that right...) but had Baoding for the first time today and LOVED it! I even got a healthy option - shrimp steamer... veggies were perfect, shrimp were even more perfect. I tried not to eat all the brown rice (carbs, ya know) but it was perfectly sticky. Also had edamame. Very impressed... not bad prices for lunch either.

                                                          2. a
                                                            addier RE: hominaray Jan 19, 2008 12:06 PM

                                                            I'm a big fan of the Harpers' Group Restaurants.... Zink American Kitchen in Uptown, Harper's South Park..they're always consistent, IMO.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: addier
                                                              GodfatherofLunch RE: addier Jan 19, 2008 04:44 PM

                                                              Being a fan of the group you may want to try M5. Let us know what you think

                                                            2. a
                                                              AnnandBailey RE: hominaray Jan 31, 2008 09:36 AM

                                                              Good info! We moved to Charlotte six months ago and are busy exploring restaurants. We're north of town, so let me add two to the list from our area: Restaurant X in Davidson and Toast in Huntersville. Both restaurants fit the criteria from the original post in this thread.

                                                              1. k
                                                                Kubasaki RE: hominaray Apr 5, 2008 12:01 AM

                                                                Do something different!
                                                                Sunday early, real Dim Sum, Central Ave. Genuine Chinese.
                                                                Experience their brunch!
                                                                Bring 6 and share the table with locals, they can tell you what you are eating.
                                                                You may not recognize anything, but try everything.

                                                                1. a
                                                                  annag RE: hominaray Apr 17, 2008 08:50 PM

                                                                  This has turned into a funny post, and somehow hominaray just disappeared. I realize that I am 4 months late, but I felt compelled to post my 2 cents. I lived on campus when I attended Rutgers-Newark, and being so close to all the Portuguese/Spanish restaurants (and NYC) made the whole experience worthwhile. I can't even think of any other place that could possibly compare to the seafood, paella, rodizio and sangria you would get in the Ironbound.

                                                                  Nonetheless, these are my favorite local places down here after many, many years of searching for the right flavors or textures:

                                                                  BAGELS: The name doesn't sound like much, but you've got to try the Bagel Bin & Deli in Huntersville. They seem to have found a way to make bagels that have that soft, chewy dough in the middle with the crusty exterior, just like how you'd find them in NYC. They also have great deli sandwiches, but I can't remember if they use Thumann's or Boars Head provisions. I don't know much about the owners but the ladies at the counters were definitely from NJ or NY - they were nice, but just a little bit loud. Took a little bit of adjusting on my part to realize that they weren't trying to be rude...lol.

                                                                  PIZZA: I don't care much for Portofino's. I used to be a big fan of Carmella's but they've had a few "off" days the last couple of times I've been out there. Had a few nice surprises over the past few months - I stopped at the RICCIO'S TO GO/TAKEOUT on Park Road just to get something quick for the kids - I ordered a cheese pizza, and on a whim ordered the Shrimp Fra Diavolo and some other tortellini dish. I didn't have high expectations for a joint that's been in Charlotte since the late 50's, but i was very pleasantly surprised. I don't know about the Riccio's Pizza Villa on Baybrook Ln, but the To Go place on Park Road was good.
                                                                  MARCO'S PIZZA & ITALIAN RESTAURANT in Rock Hill, SC - they pride themselves in being "Jersey Style," but just about everything we've had there was really, really good.
                                                                  ITALIAN VILLAGE PIZZA in Dilworth/East Blvd - Brand new location for a fairly small restaurant chain with other locations in FL, KY, Italy and mostly in PA. Slices were good and on one ocassion was able to get Sicilian slices that were soooooooo good.

                                                                  MEXICAN: I think Cantina 1511 is way overpriced for what you get. Try Zapata's in Ballantyne - their dishes are wonderful and they've got the best mole sauce I've had in years. They have 2 other locations in the University and Lake Norman areas, but I can only attest to the Ballantyne location. :)

                                                                  CHINESE: I have to agree with everyone about DIM SUM on Central Avenue. I do like their Dim Sum, but the authentic Chinese food is a bit too authentic for me (and I'm of Asian descent). There's a Chinese/Thai/Japanese/Sushi restaurant in SW Charlotte on S. Tryon and Carowinds/John Price Rd. called WANG & KING. The Chinese dishes are pretty good and the Sushi is okay, but I don't recommend the Thai dishes and I haven't tried the Japanese dishes. Unfortunately the last few times we did Carry Out it wasn't too great, so that tells me that they can have some "off" nights, which seems to be the norm around here.

                                                                  Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop actually has a good Sunday brunch, but I otherwise don't like to go there either. Some other "hole-in-the-wall" places to try: Eddie's Place and Hotel Charlotte on Sharon Amity Rd.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: annag
                                                                    southernitalian RE: annag Apr 18, 2008 09:40 AM

                                                                    This was a pretty hilarious post. I'm glad you brought it up again because OF COURSE I have more opinions to share. I still love the Portofino on Park Road (mussels marinara to die for) but agree that while still serving great pizza, Carmella's is getting a little too seedy to bring the kids.

                                                                    My job has moved to Ballantyne recently so I've been going to Villa Antonio's a lot. The lunch buffet is lovely. Still looking for something really good out here though. I didn't know Riccio's had another location besides the one on 51. It's okay for end-of-season soccer team parties but otherwise if we pull into that shopping center, we are going straight to the Yellow Rose for wings and beer.

                                                                    I don't even think Frank, the owner of Cantina 1511 would be offended if you said that his restaurant wasn't 'authenticially' Mexican, given that South Blvd. and South Tryon are now densely dotted with restaurants and taquerias owned and operated by Mexicans and Central Americans. But I still like all of Frank's restaurants. The Ceasar Salad at his Mamma Ricotta's is one of my all time favorite dishes in Charlotte. Lick the bowl delish. Zapata's is cheaper and more authentic but not a fair comparison if you ask me.

                                                                    I won't chime in on Chinese because I've yet to find a Chinese restaurant in Charlotte that I love. For sushi, I have to say, Sushi 101 (is it a chain? I know there are a few in Charlotte but not sure) at Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Providence is really good and a BARGAIN!!! We hadn't been in a while. Went last Saturday and couldn't believe they hadn't raised their prices, which have always been good. Their calamari is really terrific.

                                                                    We are pretty much regulars at Eddie's Place. Love that you can go in and see folks of all ages, from babies to seniors, enjoying their eclectic and delicious menu. The waiters and bartenders are all characters. love the it's no smoking until 9 pm too. Okay. Back to work...

                                                                    1. re: southernitalian
                                                                      mcap RE: southernitalian Apr 18, 2008 11:12 AM

                                                                      Sushi 101 is a local chain. The first started on Park Road and then they opened more. The owners live here in Charlotte, and you can always find one of them at the restaurants.

                                                                      My favorite sushi place, everything (food, price, atmopshere, friendliness, etc) considered.

                                                                      1. re: southernitalian
                                                                        a
                                                                        annag RE: southernitalian Apr 26, 2008 08:44 PM

                                                                        I think there's a huge difference among the Portofino's locations, and maybe Park Road is the best location of them all. We went to the one in Ayrsley a few times, and I just didn't like it too much. My husband is from SW Chicago and he enjoyed it, but we've got the Chicago-vs.-NYC-which-pizza/Italian-is-better thing going on in our house.

                                                                        In Ballantyne, Table is supposed to be really good. The Flatrock Grille is supposed to be good too. Usually I go to Rising Roll when I'm out there because it's my favorite place for lunch. If you go north of 485 on Johnston, there's an Eddie's Place and a Japanese restaurant in Toringdon Market Center, where the Earthfare and Red Robin are. I haven't been to that Eddie's Place location, but I did have a nice carryout meal from the Japanese restaurant. You really aren't far from the other choices along Rea Rd. and Providence Rd. if you continue heading east on Ballantyne Commons Parkway...

                                                                      2. re: annag
                                                                        GodfatherofLunch RE: annag Apr 18, 2008 02:34 PM

                                                                        Glad u know what I mean when I talk about the Iron Bound section of Newark. The food was so great that no Spanish / Portuguese in CLT even comes close. The best we have is Las Ramblas.
                                                                        RICCIO'S TO GO/TAKEOUT on Park Road is actually only a couple of years old. I find it hit or miss, not consistent. I don't go there any more. Not good too many times.
                                                                        Dim Sum too authentic? The menu has it all, even the basics - so I don't get what u mean.
                                                                        Pike's does have a great Sunday Brunch- They may as well close the other day's

                                                                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                          a
                                                                          annag RE: GodfatherofLunch Apr 26, 2008 08:09 PM

                                                                          I haven't tried Las Ramblas or any of the local joints partly because I'm afraid to be disappointed. I guess I prefer going to the Iron Bound every couple of years to get my fix and savor in the memory of my last meal there. Sad, isn't it? Being that Las Ramblas is so close to my office, I think I should give it a try during the next week or so.
                                                                          That's too bad about Riccio's To Go - haven't been there in a while because lately we've been going to the new Italian Village Pizza Place on East Blvd. I like that they've got the nice TVs so I can catch an inning or two of baseball during a late lunch hour.
                                                                          I don't know what my problem is, but since my first pregnancy I've developed a strong distaste for "different" animal parts in my food. Dim Sum tends to include the "different" animal parts in alot of their "authentic" dishes, while most American-Chinese restaurants don't, so that's what I mean about them being too authentic for my taste. I love most of the Dim Sum (no chicken feet, please), but I just try to steer clear of the other dishes. Not to mention that the last time we were there, we ordered a seafood noodle dish and a "land animal" meat (pork, beef, chicken) noodle dish - somehow tripe made it into both noodle dishes and it was a very unexpected ingredient. Ick!

                                                                          1. re: annag
                                                                            GodfatherofLunch RE: annag Apr 27, 2008 11:54 AM

                                                                            Las Ramblas is an excellent place to enjoy tapas. i to miss the Iron Bound section, nothing here even comes close. I kinda like mystery meat but Dim Sum has some safe options as well. I also draw the line at chicken feet.
                                                                            No Thanks!!!

                                                                      3. j
                                                                        jg488 RE: hominaray Apr 25, 2008 07:42 AM

                                                                        I'm flying down to Charlotte on Monday from NYC for a business meeting. Any suggestions for a very good restaurant that is within walking distance of the Westin on South College Street and is open for dinner on Mondays?
                                                                        Thanks!
                                                                        JR

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jg488
                                                                          concordcourtney RE: jg488 Apr 25, 2008 10:26 AM

                                                                          There are plenty of walking distance options from where you're at, but my top recommendation would be Ratcliffe on the Green (http://www.ratcliffeonthegreen.com/) which is practically across the street from your hotel. I think it's mentioned somewhere else in this same thread, but the spotlight is on local, seasonal fare and it is very well done.

                                                                          1. re: concordcourtney
                                                                            a
                                                                            artlee RE: concordcourtney Apr 26, 2008 07:05 AM

                                                                            I second Courtney's suggestion.

                                                                        2. g
                                                                          gsquared81 RE: hominaray May 8, 2008 12:12 PM

                                                                          I'm bringing this back...

                                                                          Pizza: Tony's (Mt. Holly Huntersville/Harris intersection)
                                                                          Burgers: Hef's (Park Rd/Woodlawn)
                                                                          Mexican: Mexico 1900 or Miguel's
                                                                          Diner: Copal Grill
                                                                          Dive: The Penguin
                                                                          Meat and two: Lola's
                                                                          Eastern NC BBQ: Bubba's
                                                                          Western: Old Hickory House
                                                                          Wings: The Sports Page Food and Spirits
                                                                          Hot Dogs: Greens Lunch
                                                                          Steakhouse: The Ranch House
                                                                          Italian: Frankie's
                                                                          Fried Chicken: Price's Chicken Coop

                                                                          1. s
                                                                            sylph978 RE: hominaray May 11, 2008 08:01 AM

                                                                            I know someone said that Carlo's Cafe in Rock Hill was closed, but it is not. They did close for a few weeks in April '08 to remodel and change owners. We haven't been since the new owner has taken over, but he was 'learning the ways' the last time we were there. Note: I think they are closed on Mondays.
                                                                            Toyo Sushi is in the same plaza. Jay and Nancy are the best! You won't find a bunch of exotic fish, but the basics are great. Note: They are closed on Sundays

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