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My Charlotte wish list

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Reading the posts on this board, I realized we all have our wish lists of foods and/or ethnic restaurants we wish we could find here. I have been in Charlotte since 1992, and have lived in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. Granted, I have never tried a true Brooklyn-style pizza in Brooklyn or enjoyed bread from an authentic Italian-American bakery, but I have been lucy enough to travel to some great places and experienced some great "foodie" experiences. To that end, here is my list:

1. An Arabic bakery - oh how I miss good, fresh pita bread. I make my own now, but you really need a commercial oven to get the right flavor and color

2. A really good croissant - flakey, buttery, crisp on the outside....and perhaps a lovely sidewalk cafe in which to enjoy it

3. A cheese shop - where they store the cheeses properly, and where they proudly feature North Carolina's artisanal cheeses

4. A great food market: think Reading Terminal market, Pike's Place, the Borough Market in London or any of the incredible street markets in France.

5. A reliable fish market

6. A Moroccan restaurant

7. A Belgian restaurant - or any place that will specialize in moules frites

8. A patisserie - or a bakery that will make the gorgeous French macaroons.

9. More local produce and farm fresh eggs

10. A really good oyster bar

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  1. 3- Not exactly what you are asking for but Earth Fare has a great cheese dept.
    7- LuLu has fantastic moules frites- Truly world class!!
    9- I pick up local produce and farm fresh eggs each week at the farmers market on Yorkmont Rd.

    7 Replies
    1. re: GodfatherofLunch

      I have bought cheese from both Earthfare and Dean and Deluca, and while the selections are better than the local grocery store, I still long for a shop that doesn't wrap all the cheese in cling wrap.

      I will have to try Lulu's moules frites - do they have a variety of options?

      The Yorkmont Farmers Market does have some local produce, but much of what they sell is shipped in - I mean, you know no one around here grows limes and pineapples! As for the eggs, the really good ones are the ones from free range chickens. I can get them on occassion from Weatherbury Station (Gordon) when he has them Gordon sells pastured pork and lamb products at the King's market location. Some area farms have chickens, but their eggs are raised conventionally and the eggs are just not the same.

      1. re: hazardnc

        For local produce, the Matthews Farmers Market cannot be beat.

        1. re: brentk

          I agree, Brent. I left this out before because several local growers do make appearances at the Yorkmont Market, but the Matthews Market is dedicated solely to locally produced goods.

          Another local market called the Tailgate Farmer's Market, is making some headway. For the past two years, it has operated in the parking lot next to Common market in Plaza-Midwood, but Lynn Caldwell, the organizer, is moving it to the parkling lot across from Phat Burrito on Camden. The Tailgate market is another strictly local market, so the veggies are uber fresh.

        2. re: hazardnc

          Yup sign me up for the cheese shop too
          yes Lulu's moules frites are available in a variety of options
          Yorkmont is open all year. Some of the vendors bring stuff in from other locations- way to pick up on those Pineapples Sparky! Additionally many local organic farmers are represented. Local produce as well as Chicken eggs pork from Greatful Growers Farm,Grass fed beef from Baucom Beef. Supporting any of the local farmers markets is a great idea! and yes Weatherbury Station usually at the Kings Drive market has great lamb and pork as well. Watch out for that LL she can be tough

          1. re: hazardnc

            As far as the Yorkmont Farmer's Market, it's obvious who ships in and who is local - you just have to have the patience. Just avoid the larger booths. Normally the booths on the end of the farmer's makret where the soda machines are are where the best stuff comes from.

            Local beef, local goat cheese, local eggs, rabbit and pork can all be found. In the fall I swoon over the apples, in the summer, the local asparagus. There's even a sweet man who's there occasionally that makes greek foods, mainly pita bread, dolemades and dips. There's a nice little hippy guy from around Asheville that sells wonderful fruit jams.

            Not to mention the garden shed. Celtic Frost is an amazing vendor of culinary and medicinal herbs, and it's run by a gushingly sweet couple- the wife is a very knowledgable herbalist. And a national ichthyological treasure, Bonnie Hale, comes to the market on occasion and sells Japanese koi and koi supplies.

          2. re: GodfatherofLunch

            Earthfare is a great place to shop. Too bad it's a 45 minute drive away. Doesn't make any sense for me to burn that much gas to buy my earth friendly veg and meat.

            Charlotte probably has one of everything to suit a taste, but for many things there's only one. What Charlotte needs is to continue its shift towards appreciating good and local foods so that people who don't live in Ballantyne and South Park can have easy access as well. I came from Washington State where there were half a dozen grocery stores in a five mile radius where I could buy grass fed beef or free range eggs. I could put my hands on a fine wedge of Colston Bassett Stilton any time I wanted.

            So my vote for Charlotte is just MORE of the good stuff. :)

            1. re: concordcourtney

              I am actually going to be visiting in the Ballantyn area next week and would love to hear what are some of the good restaurants and places to buy food in that area. I know nothing of this area and am preparing for this trip now. I will be there a week and a half and would love any and all suggestions. Thanks a lot, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

          3. For Croissants, try Novas Bakery on Central Ave, near the corner of Pecan Ave.. They have a great selection of Croissants and scones, besides the great breads they make.

            http://www.novasbakery.com/index.htm

            1. Earth fare is the best available but yes a cheese shop would be great
              Dolce now a full service restaurant still has some lovely gelato
              Do you mean stylistically Italian?
              More breakfast would be great. Can you please make sure they know how to prepare eggs!!

              1. A really good Chinese restaurant....Hunan maybe?

                A really good burrito place with chile-based salsa (not tomato based). For that matter, a good sit-down Mexican place would be nice too.

                An Indian "fast food" place -- dirt cheap yet delicious Indian food not from a buffet.

                Dense (not puffy) baguettes, batards, etc. with a good crust.

                Otherwise, I'm pretty much all good.

                13 Replies
                1. re: HungryGrayCat

                  HGC - You're doing yourself a disservice if you haven't tried Allende on S. Tryon, down in Steele Creek. It's the best Mexican I've had in Charlotte. Other than that, I don't complain anymore. I moved here in 1995 when tumbleweeds blew down Tryon after the bankers left. It's gotten so much better since then. I remember the day Ri-ra opened, I almost wept just to have a decent Guiness on tap. I've had good oysters at Vinnie's and great oysters at Oceannaire. I order a lot of cheese online.

                  1. re: HungryGrayCat

                    Chaat 'n' Chai in the University area is suposed to be a good fast food Indian place. I haven't tried it as I don't make it to that area much. http://charlotte.creativeloafing.com/...

                    1. re: littlegirltree

                      Thanks! I'd heard of it but assumed it was chaat only. I checked out the meni and see that they have entrees too. I'll check it out.

                      1. re: littlegirltree

                        We need someone to try Chaat n Chai. I used to go to an Indian "fast-food" place in Atlanta for lunch all the time. Loved their Channa Masala.

                        Has anyone tried Udipi in the University Area?

                        I absolutely LOVE Indian food. I typically go to Maharani, though I have tried the Woodlands and did like it. But my son is a major carnivore, so we do not get to the Woodslands as often as I would like.

                        1. re: hazardnc

                          Have you tried Copper on East Blvd.
                          Upscale Indian cuisine. I think its excellent.

                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                            My husband has been there with co-workers for lunch a few times. Isn't it more Indian-fusion? I need to get over there.

                            1. re: hazardnc

                              One of the things I rather like about Copper is that the menu offers both a section called traditional and another called modern. They do both very well and I can count on an excellent meal whether I'm feeling traditional like an Indian Raja or a cutting edge modern foodie.

                            2. re: GodfatherofLunch

                              Have you tried Saffron? I had a great meal there a few months ago.

                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                I think Copper is really good and have had a great time every time we've gone. I love the location and have always rooted for every restaurant that goes in there (it's in a gorgeous, spoposedly haunted, old house where Carson McCullers wrote "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" in Dilworth). But when I'm really craving good Indian, I don't think of that because there is a heavy fusion thing going on. My husband complained that it was like baby food because everything seemed overly pureed. But wonderful service and one of the prettiest restaurants in Charlotte.

                              2. re: hazardnc

                                I love Copper and Woodlands but have had some pretty fine Indian at Bombay Grill on 51.

                                1. re: hazardnc

                                  I have been to Udipi. It is pretty good - all vegetarian. It is more casual, traditional Indian. Great selection of naan, curries, and other veg dishes. Nothing fancy, but real tasty

                                  1. re: mcap

                                    The reason I'm interested in Udipi is that I understand they specialize in southern Indian food with items not found on your typical menu.

                                    1. re: hazardnc

                                      Udipi is a region of southern India, so there is a lot of southern-style food; but they do have entrees from other areas. There were lots of things on the menu I had never seen before.

                                      It has been a while since I was there (I don't get to UNCC area much anymore) so I don't remember the whole menu - which is huge, by the way.

                                      The place itself is not fancy, but the food is good.

                            3. Folks, Chowhound's goal is to help people sort through their myriad chow options to find the most delicious food available to them. Speculation about what might improve the food scene in an area and discussions of what's missing in an area don't help anyone eat better now, so they're off topic for our boards.

                              We normally remove such threads (and have removed some responses from this thread.) However, we're going to leave this thread up so that posters can recommend local places where hazardnc can find the chow he/she seeks.