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A week of dining out in CLT

a
artlee Jun 28, 2008 02:33 PM

I was thinking of trying to dine out every night some coming week and seeing how good I could eat and how cheaply it could be done. Supermarket prices are escalating so fast that I swear you can eat cheaper out. I'm not talking McD/BK/ and the likes. I was thinking maybe like Pio Pio, Merts, Coffee Cup, Thai food, Chinese food, etc. So what places would you try and how much do you think you'd need to spend for 2 for a week of good food? How about it Godfather -- surely you must have a list of varied inexpensive places??

  1. f
    friek Jul 8, 2008 12:29 PM

    A little late, but I thought I'd throw in my quick two cents on this as well.

    I third the idea of Pho Hua, love that place. The honeydew bubble tea makes for a great, relatively cheap dessert.

    For Mexican, I'd say Taqueria Gaudelajara on Tryon just north of Sugar Creek. Very authentic and dirt cheap. The only word of warning I have is I've been there a couple of times where no one spoke English. Not a big deal for me, but it might be for others.

    1 Reply
    1. re: friek
      GodfatherofLunch Jul 8, 2008 12:41 PM

      To me nobody speaking english is part of the charm. Even with my poor spanish believe me I never left hungry.
      At Pho Hua they have amazing Iced Coffee. They bring this little set up that drips espresso into iced condensed milk. Man it is coffeelicious

    2. littlegirltree Jul 2, 2008 09:50 PM

      We end up eating out a lot when we're running low on funds, too.
      -Thai Thai on East is grea b/c the portions are huge and the price is low since they don't have the extra cost of maintaining a dining room. We normally end up w/ dinner w/ leftovers for 2 more meals from Thai Thai.
      -Ben Thanh on Central is another great place for cheap food There's a dish that we take turns ordering w/ sweet and regular potatoes in a coconut curry broth that is wonderful and will normally stretch 1 dinner and then lunch the next day for us both.
      -Azteca's chef's specials are great (pollo poblano, pollo con crema, etc...), cheap, plentiful and can last for 1 dinner plus 2 lunches.
      -Same w/ Roasting Company.
      -"A whole lot of it all" from Mac's always lasts for a dinner and 2 lunches for us.

      4 Replies
      1. re: littlegirltree
        GodfatherofLunch Jul 3, 2008 05:12 AM

        If you like roasting company, you will think you have died and gone to heaven if you try Pio Pio their rotisserie chicken is the best in town. No kidding.

        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
          littlegirltree Jul 8, 2008 11:22 AM

          Yeah, no thanks. I gave it a chance and their chicken was completely flavorless.

          1. re: littlegirltree
            GodfatherofLunch Jul 8, 2008 11:45 AM

            Each and every opinion, even one lonely opinion in the severe minority is to be valued. Thanks for sharing yours. :-)

            1. re: littlegirltree
              southernitalian Jul 8, 2008 11:51 AM

              Oh no you DIDN'T!!!

        2. a
          artlee Jun 30, 2008 05:46 PM

          I may attempt this next week. I am not interested in chains like Friday's etc. And I'm going to try to avoid sandwiches or salads. That would be too easy. Thai, Chinese, Mexican seem like easy hits as they are all cheap. I want some "American" food as well. This might be fun.

          6 Replies
          1. re: artlee
            GodfatherofLunch Jun 30, 2008 06:09 PM

            American - Ok, How about Big Daddy's Burger Bar? I guess that is a sandwich but it is American.
            Also try the pit roasted pot roast at McCoy's Smoke House on Old Pineville Rd. It is what Macs Speed Shop is pretending to be.
            You also may want to try the meat loaf at a place called Dish in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood.

            1. re: artlee
              southernitalian Jul 1, 2008 06:59 AM

              Carmella's Pizza on Carmel and 51 has an unbelievable deal on Tuesday nights. It's $1 slice and $1 beer night! It's pretty rowdy and the crowd can get rough but if you get there early, it's really a great bargain and you can't get much more American than pizza and beer!

              1. re: artlee
                lynnlato Jul 1, 2008 01:55 PM

                For mexican, I would suggest Senor Tequila next to Trader Joe's in South Charlotte. I think you are up in the University area (??) but if you're ever down there, check it out, they have great stuff and the price is right. Margaritas are amazing!

                1. re: lynnlato
                  a
                  artlee Jul 2, 2008 06:25 PM

                  Thanks Lynn. If we are there we will give it a whirl. Yes, your memory is correct. We actually live just north into Huntersville.

                  Last night we were on a quest for cheap eats and I had it in my mind to try a place I had read about, pollo Loco, which was supposed to be like Pio Pio, on Sharon Amity. I know, I'm looking for cheap eats using $4 gas and 15 miles from home, but that is how my warped mind works. At any rate, it looked closed and we just kept on going to Roosters. It turned out to be not cheap eats, but wow, was it good. We had an awesome Heirloom tomato/cucumber/sweet onion salad, followed by rotisery chicken, with fire grilled asparagus, broiled cauliflower, bread, wine, and dessert (my wife had a chocolate wafered flying saucer thing, filled with mocha gelato with almonds and chocolate chips. It was sinful. She only allowed me a small bite, just enough to learn that she had ordered better than me, lol. Everything was great!! So, we spent an hour driving thru traffic looking for cheap eats in a restaurant that was closed and ended up spending a lot more than intended, but.... it was a good night!

                  1. re: artlee
                    lynnlato Jul 2, 2008 06:30 PM

                    Bravo artlee! Well, I'm sorry you spent a lot of $$, but I'm so glad you had a great experience. I have yet to get to Roosters but I really, really want to. Your experience makes me want to go all the more. Everything sounds good.

                    1. re: lynnlato
                      a
                      artlee Jul 2, 2008 06:39 PM

                      We sat at the kitchen "bar", bar stools overlooking the kitchen and it's workings. That was interesting as well. I realized it is not that easy and I better keep my day job. But we watched every single plate going out of that kitchen and the constant comment, was oh -- look at that one. Right down to the burgers and fries, which looked so good they may call us back before the weeks out.

              2. southernitalian Jun 30, 2008 09:15 AM

                Some weeks it seems like we're doing this anyway what with soccer, swim meets, summer sleepovers, etc. I will second GFL's Pho Hoa recommendation and take it one step further. I think in general that the best dining values in Charlotte are Asian restaurants. I think Tin Tin on Park Road is a much-better-than-average buffet where you can get a wide variety of food including some really good soups. I think Sushi 101 and Rusan's are both bargains for the quality of the sushi that they serve. I think everything on Monsoon's menu is a pretty great value. Fresh ingredients, great flavors. LOVE Monsoon. And if you go to Sushi-Ya at the Arboretum, they will inevitably get your order wrong (not sure why we keep going back) and will lower your bill accordingly. Just be prepared to wait a long time ot be served and hope that whatever they get wrong is to your liking. I am not a fan of the Coffee Cup or Mert's. I'd rather have fast food. Lastly, I like Maria Bonita on Colony Road. Their chips and salsa are so good that you will only be able to eat half of your dinner and you can have the leftovers for lunch the next day. I guess you could say that of any good Mexican place but I like the atmosphere at MB's.

                2 Replies
                1. re: southernitalian
                  GodfatherofLunch Jun 30, 2008 12:48 PM

                  I had forgotten about Tin Tin. Now this place is a real value. Pretty darn good food. I recall having some meals there that should have been enough to be three meals. Try to avoid the filler food and go for the good stuff — nice shrimp, chicken sate, grilled pork chops , dumplings and other Dim Sum, sushi, soups, and lots of the usual chinese dishes. Heck bring along a tooth brush and a change of clothes and stay awhile. Even the deserts are good — try the little egg custards in mini pastry shells. Now of course one visit too many and we may need to rub butter on the doorway for you to get by.

                  1. re: southernitalian
                    lynnlato Jun 30, 2008 01:31 PM

                    Tin Tin is a great value. I know SI that you are a fan of Bangkok Ocha in Carmel Commons. They have amazing lunch bargains and the service is always top notch. Cajun Yard Dog is another good value in S.CLT. Hell, Chik-fil-a is a value these days and not bad food, considering. Their fruit is always fresh and I dig their cole slaw.

                    Personally, I'd hit the farmer's markets. I don't mind giving them my money and I am guaranteed a fine meal from what I've gathered there. In fact, I'm cooking up the Grateful Growers hot dogs tonight! Got some tomatoes & cucs that I'll mix up w/ some shallots, a little s&p and some local goat cheese. Whip up a balsamic vinaigrette and we're good. Can't wait!

                  2. t
                    Tanglebriar Jun 29, 2008 07:00 PM

                    I might get stoned for this but, there is a new K & W Cafeteria that opened on Mallard Creek Rd. off of I-85. I say this because new restaurants ususally serve some of there best food when they first open.

                    1. GodfatherofLunch Jun 29, 2008 06:13 PM

                      A week of budget dining, sounds like fun. I bet you could do 7 dinners for about 100 bucks. Pio Pio is a great choice.
                      I don't think coffee cup offers much - period, but in this case I mean value. Prices are kind of a rip off if you ask me. Which location were you thinking of anyway. They are no longer on Clarkson off Morehead. Crisp on 7th street and Pecan would be a good addition to your line up. Big Daddy's has great burgers for a great price. Go early or late as they get crowded and stay that way. I know its hot but if you can deal with soup try Pho Hoa on central. Big bowl of beef broth with oodles of noodles and brisket and flank steak. Served with basil,chili,sprouts and lime for you to add as you like it is a hearty meal in a bowl.
                      Here is the real Godfather tip - The real deal and a must try. A brand new place on Montford Drive. It is called Andrew Blair's and they are offering what they call comfortable dining. The owner also owns a well established bar next door called Angry Ale's. The bar business is very different from the restaurant business. Happily though I am glad to say he was smart enough to hire some Johnson and Wales recent grads - Top Guns. These guy's know how to cook and are putting out some fine food. They have several salads and sandwiches for $10 or under. I'm talking Monte Cristo, Meatloaf with melted havarti cheese, turkey and brie or splurge and for $13 go for a fresh lobster roll. Once the week is over come back and check out the entrees. Try the Lobster macaroni and cheese or the stuffed Pork tenderloin or Shrimp Gnocchi. I had a Halibut special that just knocked me out the fish was moist and flaky yet the skin was crispy and almost cracker like. You heard it from the Godfather first this place is going to be big. The combination of great food,truly comfortable space and amazing service. Our waiter Donny was nothing short of flawless. His knowledge of food, the menu and his attention to detail was perfection. Word of mouth on this place will spread fast, get in there before the crowds come and they will soon. Take it from the Godfather this is the Real Deal

                      1. l
                        like2run Jun 29, 2008 04:29 PM

                        get some strawberry cake at merts

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