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Charlotte on Sunday/food neighborhood

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heddagobbler Oct 3, 2008 10:11 PM

We will be in Charlotte Sunday and are looking for a few places that we must visit. We tend to prefer "dining neighborhoods," where we can walk to and from a few different places and try out a bunch of stuff. Is there a place in Charlotte that fits that bill? I've read of Elizabeth Ave., is that what I'm looking for? Also, how is M5? Any help is appreciated.

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    ickymettle RE: heddagobbler Oct 4, 2008 07:27 AM

    Your best bet on a Sunday might be East Boulevard. Among the many places along the street are Big Daddy's (excellent burgers), East Blvd. Bar & Grill (just bar food, so don't eat there, but there's a nice patio on which to have a drink), Sole (spanish cuisine), Pio Pio (hidden in the back end of a shopping center, but wonderful Colombian/Peruvian food), Brixx (wood-fired pizza), Cantina 1511 (Mexican), 131 Main (pretty good typical American cuisine), Kabob Grill (Lebanese cuisine), Dolce (good Italian), Picasso's (sports bar with good wings), Zen Asian Fusion, Plan B (never been there, but they have a rooftop patio), Dikadee's (sandwich place), Thai Taste (self-explanatory), Copper (contemporary Indian cuisine), and 300 East (a popular neighborhood restaurant with a solid brunch on Sundays). This strip of restaurants, etc. extends about a mile along East Blvd. If it's a beautiful day, it would be a nice walk).

    You may want to start at 300 East, which is on one end of East Blvd., then head toward the other end stopping in whichever places look good. IMO, Pio Pio and Big Daddy's (which is at the other far end of East Blvd.) are a must. Sole might have some good light appetizers to try during your progression down the street. You can also stop in at Cantina and have some chips and homemade guacamole to snack on.

    1. lynnlato RE: heddagobbler Oct 5, 2008 06:37 AM

      Ickymettle points out a lovely part of town w/ some good restos too. Another option and a "funkier" part of town would be Central Ave. on the east side. Lulu on Central is my favorite place, hands down but their is also Dim Sum, Dish and Zada Jane's.

      I had lunch at M5 on Friday. I had a pasta w/ veal, fried sage, cippolini onions & parm. Very good. No wow factor like you'd find at say Lulu, but good. Lovely patio. Great service. They really went out of their way to care for us.

      9 Replies
      1. re: lynnlato
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        Chocolate Toe RE: lynnlato Oct 5, 2008 03:44 PM

        If you want something more eclectic definitely go the Central Avenue route. I haven't been to Lulu but hear great things. There is also the Penguin (cheap, fun, diner style food), Dish, Zada Jane's, and John's (country kitchen style, for bfast or lunch). You can also stop in Nova's bakery and get some fabulous breads and other bakery items.

        1. re: Chocolate Toe
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          ickymettle RE: Chocolate Toe Oct 5, 2008 04:38 PM

          I love the Central Ave. area, and it's my 'hood, but unfortunately some of the good places are closed on Sundays. Dish and John's are closed, and Ncva may be as well.

          1. re: Chocolate Toe
            lynnlato RE: Chocolate Toe Oct 5, 2008 08:30 PM

            FYI, we are doing the first ever Charlotte Chowdown at Lulu on November 1st and we'd love to have you, Chocolate Toe! RSVP at lynnlato@gmail.com. You too, ickymettle!

          2. re: lynnlato
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            quazi RE: lynnlato Oct 8, 2008 07:24 AM

            I would encourage you to go to Lulu. I have only had the burger but it was great. If Charlotte has better burgers I need to put my house up for sale and move to the Queen city. THe fries were inhalable. In addition the staff seem quite friendly and efficient. If they put that much care into a pimento burger then I would be confident that they execute their menu well

            1. re: lynnlato
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              bellyspeaks RE: lynnlato Oct 8, 2008 04:55 PM

              Had lunch at M5 for the first time today. It was pretty good. The folks there were real personable. I'll certainly go back for dinner. They have a Chef's choice prix fixe I wanna try. I don't really know of anybody else in town doing this. If your interested, check the full report on my blog...to long to re-post here. The bartenders and I got into experimenting with black pepper martinis which I read about here on Chow. Yeah...it was a fun lunch.

              1. re: bellyspeaks
                lynnlato RE: bellyspeaks Oct 9, 2008 04:33 AM

                Ratcliffe on the Green does a prix fixe dinner - farm to table stuff, whatever is in season. I think it was 7 courses and you can have it with or without wine pairings.

                Black pepper martinis? I'm going to your blog to check this out!

                1. re: lynnlato
                  janetofreno RE: lynnlato Oct 9, 2008 11:16 PM

                  btw, Ratcliffe on the Green was another place we ate at during my recent trip. As always, we greatly enjoyed the meal there. But about that prix fixe dinner: It isn't particularly cheap (I think with wine pairings the seven course one will set you back about 100 bucks...) but more importantly, they will do it ONLY if everyone at the table gets it. That made it impossible for us: We were a group of ten and there is no way you could get these ten people to agree on anything (made for some interesting discussions during our meeting!), especially on what to eat!!

                  However, I must admit that everyone at the table DID order the special desert that night: an apple butter souffle. And it WAS delicious!

                  1. re: janetofreno
                    lynnlato RE: janetofreno Oct 10, 2008 06:45 AM

                    They do a 5 or 7 course dinner and the wine pairings are optional. Yea, it's a bummer that everyone at the table has to do it, but it also makes sense. That apple butter souffle sounds really tempting.

                    1. re: lynnlato
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                      HungryGrayCat RE: lynnlato Oct 10, 2008 07:57 AM

                      Yeah really. I don't know how they do it -- when we went, we sat down at 7:00 and didn't get out of there until 10:00 and there were seriously only 3 other tables all night. We were the only table that ordered the tasting menu -- that's a lot of labor for 2 people.

            2. janetofreno RE: heddagobbler Oct 7, 2008 10:57 PM

              Not really what you're looking for, but the discussion gives me a chance to tout a good uptown option on Sunday, the Sunday specials at Mimosa Grill. I have always enjoyed their food on my many visits to your city, and I find the Sunday "Comfort" specials to be a good value. Twenty-five dollars for a choice of appetizers, main course, and desert. When a group of us ate there Sunday I had the she-crab soup to start, a hangar steak with onion rings, and coconut cheese cake for desert. Plus they bring out four or five side dishes for the table to share. The succotash and the collard greens were standouts; there was also mac-n-cheese (I was too full to even taste it) and another vegetable.

              Nine of us ate there; service was excellent, and the total bill including tax and a generous tip, three bottles of an excellent Australian Shiraz, and several other drinks was just under $550. That's hard to beat for what I consider to be a more upscale place.

              1. waitress RE: heddagobbler Oct 8, 2008 01:00 PM

                Charlotte really isn't a "walking" town, the best neighborhood for walking would be M5 area, because you can walk around shops, South Park Mall, an upscale grocery store is across the street, William Sonoma is within walking distance. You could drive or walk to Phillips Place, Dean & Deluca gourmet grocery store is there, wine bar, very upscale shops. Restoration Hardware, Smith & Hawken are at Phillips Place..
                All the restaurants people speak of are great. There is a really cute, gift, stationary store, Paper Skyscraper on East Blvd.
                To answer your question specifically, M5 is hit or miss, I have had some fabulous food and some average food there. It is a great place for drinks, sitting outside. If you are interested, the Andy Warhol exhibit is at the Mint Museum. If you have a GPS, it really helps in Charlotte. Photos of M5.

                 
                 
                10 Replies
                1. re: waitress
                  lynnlato RE: waitress Oct 8, 2008 01:56 PM

                  "Charlotte really isn't a "walking" town"

                  I was going to say the same thing, but the areas pointed out are conducive to walking and I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from getting a little exercise in this day and age! Oh, btw, nice pics - I like that albarino in the one pic.

                  1. re: lynnlato
                    GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Oct 8, 2008 02:29 PM

                    Ok, I will man up and admit it. I have no clue what "albarino" is.
                    I may have gone to grade school with a guy named Al Barino , but doubt this is what you mean. Please explain to you less traveled, non globe trotting friends.
                    Unless these folks are coming in from small town USA. Do you really think walking around south park will do anything for them. East Blvd. might be fun. There are many restaurants and coffee shops they can check out.

                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                      lynnlato RE: GodfatherofLunch Oct 8, 2008 04:18 PM

                      Ha! Albarino is the wine - it's a spanish grape variety (in Portugal it's Alvarinho and I think sometimes used in their vinho verde wines, which I partook in while there <grin>) that I've been enjoying this summer.

                      p.s. Al Barino - ha! It does break down for the perfect NJ italian american name.

                      1. re: GodfatherofLunch
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                        ickymettle RE: GodfatherofLunch Oct 9, 2008 07:29 AM

                        I would agree that the SouthPark area is not the best area to walk around. I think the most pedestrian-friendly parts of town are (in no particular order) Plaza-Midwood , Elizabeth, Dilworth, NoDa, and dowtown (as a native Charlottean, I refuse to call it Uptown)/Fourth Ward. You could probably throw Myers Park/Eastover in there as well. Some of those places obviously have more to do than the others, and I think Dilworth (East Blvd.) offers the most options on a Sunday, as just about everything is open.

                      2. re: lynnlato
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                        bellyspeaks RE: lynnlato Oct 9, 2008 12:06 PM

                        I can't believe what i'm gonna propose, but it just goes to show how much Charlotte is not a walking town. I know I'm gonna regret this. Wait for it....Philips Place. Ugghh...
                        Hear me out.

                        East Blvd: Yes, dense with eateries and shops. You will not, however, be walking through beautiful Dilworth neighborhood. You will be walking along the retail corridor that runs through Dilworth neighborhood aka East Blvd, a four lane thoroughfare.

                        Central/P-wood:This is really only walkable on the small section (though with good options) on one block of Thomas St. and maybe across Central to Z-Janes. Excursions on foot to Lulu's or Intermezzo are through less than pleasant areas on yet another four lane thoroughfare aka Central Ave.

                        NODA: Very walkable and diverse, has neighborhood feel. Has not many good dinning options. Though I love Cabo Fish Taco, I love it for lunch with a solid drinking crowd at night. Boudreaux's is really hit and miss though their great mojito's can mask any displeasure.

                        Uptown: In all honesty your best bet for walking from spot to spot, but it's not a neighboorhood ( in the sense I gather you to mean).

                        Which brings me back to Philips Place. The first New Urbanism development that got built in town. No true roads to contend with, and bulk parking is at least behind the retail area. I could imagine starting at Dean & Deluca with some cheese and charcuterie, they have excellent selections of both, wine as well. You could procede to say, Il Posto Osteria for a warm app. Followed by dinner at Upstream or PF Chang's, or The Palm. All the while walking amongst shops and you know, that old chestnut. I could recommend finishing at The Palm as their desserts are mindless and overly rich (as is much of the clientele). No matter, the bar area has great semi private booths in which to enjoy said dessert and a vast selection of after dinner drinks (read, hard liquor). Furthermore, if all the eating, walking, and drinking inspires you to crash or take part in other bedroom activities, simply check into the Hampton Suites next to The Palm. Though not a revelation in evening entertainment, it's certainly walkable and traffic free, has numerous and diverse eating options, and a movie theater to make out in, if that's your thing.
                        Sorry for the undue lengthy post, but I had to really map out an argument for that one.

                        1. re: bellyspeaks
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                          ickymettle RE: bellyspeaks Oct 9, 2008 12:24 PM

                          Well, nothing will appear to be a "thoroughfare" on a Sunday. And East Blvd. is a fairly attractive road. Not only that, but you can veer off of East Blvd. and walk along Latta Park as you move from one end of East Blvd. to the other. And once you get to the end near Freedom Park, it's two lanes anf very pretty.

                          I think Plaza-Midwood and Elizabeth should also be combined as one area, as you can walk along Pecan between the two neighborhoods (I live in Elizabeth and walk over to the Central/Thomas Ave. area, as well as along 7th Street and Hawthorne/Elizabeth Ave. all the time-- it really is a great pedestrian area).

                          As for Phillips Place, it's pretty neat looking, but places like The Palm, Dean & Deluca and P.F. Chang's are chains that you can get in many different cities. In orher words it lacks any "local" feel. The other areas have places that one will only find in Charlotte.

                          1. re: ickymettle
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                            bellyspeaks RE: ickymettle Oct 9, 2008 01:52 PM

                            I knew i was gonna get burned on this.

                            icky, let me say I agree with you 100% on all points.

                            Please realize i'm trying to take into consideration that these people are from out of town and are not familiar with Charlotte. At least thats the sense I get from their query. For you or I meandering around Dilworth is enjoyable and detouring off East a pleasure. For somebody who doesn't know where they are or where they're going, that could turn into a hell of a walk. Furthermore, East isn't exactly a ghost town on Sundays. There's plenty of folks down there and believe me, they're not walking from 300 East to Cantina, they're in their cars.

                            I lived in Elizabeth and agree, it's totally walkable. But for somebody who knows nothing about Charlotte walking Pecan in the evening, under an overpass and over RR tracks might be a little intimidating, call me crazy, that's not a very neighborhoody kinda feel.

                            I wanted to present these folks with an easy package option, I don't know if they're 25 or 55, if they're coming from LA or Amish Country. I agree, Philips Place certainly has little character, and yes, The Palm and Chang's are national chains. Il Posto and Upstream on the other hand are purely local operations. D&D is in 5 cities if you wanna call that "many", besides which it's a great specialty shop for food.

                            icky, I get it, really, I'm not downtalking any of those areas. But if my parents were coming down for a visit and they wanted to walk around and eat some food by themselves, I'd be hardpressed to send them on a journey from Creations to Crisp. Whereas I woudn't think twice about doing it myself. Would you not agree?

                            1. re: bellyspeaks
                              lynnlato RE: bellyspeaks Oct 9, 2008 05:45 PM

                              Ha! BS, you totally cracked me up. I know it pained you to recommend Philips Place - Ha! In your defense, I totally get what your saying. It's a safe & easy contained place to eat, shop and drink. I really only ever go there when I need a specialty item or two at D&D and then I am sure to put on the blinders b/c I find the people totally annoying. Too much botox and too many Range Rovers. :) Personally, I'd rather walk around East Blvd. just cuz it's just a pretty tree-lined street w/ an interesting vibe. I stick to daylight hours though.

                              NoDa is a great area but I suppose more geared toward a younger, party crowd at night. But boy do I love those fish tacos at Cabo Fish Taco!

                              1. re: bellyspeaks
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                                ickymettle RE: bellyspeaks Oct 9, 2008 08:38 PM

                                bellypeaks,
                                I getcha. But I think the OP can handle East Blvd.(or other areas mentioned) on a Sunday afternoon. And it is full of pedestrians on Sundays walking from restaurant to restaurant, etc.

                                1. re: ickymettle
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                                  bellyspeaks RE: ickymettle Oct 10, 2008 05:33 AM

                                  deal.

                      3. lynnlato RE: heddagobbler Oct 10, 2008 11:34 AM

                        *****Charlotte Chowhounders********

                        Just wanted to let you all know that we're having our first ever Charlotte Chowdown! Several of you have already emailed me and said you're coming - I can't wait to meet everyone. To the rest of you, If you're interested in attending, details are at:

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/556908

                        I hope to have a final head count to Lulu one week prior to the lunch on November 1st. We've got about 7 plus some spouses that are coming thus far. Come on y'all, you know you're curious to match faces with screen names!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lynnlato
                          GodfatherofLunch RE: lynnlato Oct 26, 2008 04:36 PM

                          The first ever Charlotte Chowdown is next Saturday at 1:30.
                          It will be at LuLu on Central Ave so the chow is sure to be fantastic.
                          Can folks who want to attend still RSVP: Lynnlato at lynnlato@gmail.com
                          It should be a blast!

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