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May 11, 2009 09:22 PM

Moving to Charlotte. Afraid of the food

I'm moving to Charlotte in June and I wanna find some unpretentious great restaurants to eat at. I'm the type that would rather starve than eat at a chain like Applebees, Ruby Tuesday's, or Cheesecake Factory. Some of my favorites are street food, greek, burgers, deli, vietnamese, GOOD sushi, and I love a breakfast place with a little creativity. I'm gonna need a go-to chinese restaurant that I can count on for a cheap lunch as well. A good dinner place in the $25- 40 entree category would be good too.

So now that I've explained my situation, I need some recommendations on where I can try to find some new staples. Charlotte is so much bigger than what I am coming from that I need to do plenty of homework before trying a million crappy restaurants.


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  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Have you done a search for Charlotte on here yet? If not, my first suggestion is that you do'll find lots of postings. Charlotte is an exellent food town. A few suggestions to get you started...The Penguin for burgers, Greek Isles for greek (duh!), Dim Sum for chinese, LuLu, Commonhouse, Pietown, Pio Pio, Alexander Michael's are all good too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: carolinadawg

        All good recs, IMHO.

        I'll add Saigon Palace on South Blvd. for Vietnamese (right, GFL & HGC???), Revolution Pizza in NoDa, Carpe Diem for higher end dining and Amelie's for baked goods and breakfast treats. Some folks like Zada Jane's on Central for out-of-ordinary breakfast which is served all day.

        1. re: carolinadawg

          Dim Sum was the worst dim sum I have ever had. It was clearly frozen and reheated rather than made there by little old ladies. I've seen recs for Dragon Court but the mall reminded me of buildings in war torn Bosnia..even the floors inside had chucks missing...

          Dragon Court
          4520 N Tryon St Ste 40, Charlotte, NC 28213

          1. re: Evrett

            Sorry you had a bad experience at Dim Sum. Yours is the the first negative report I think I've ever heard. I know my experiences have been very good.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. $20 - 40 dinners: Rooster's, Barrington's, Ratcliffe on the Green, and Lulu's. Google them, I think they all have websites.

            For sushi, I rec. New Zealand Cafe in Matthews - O.M.G. - the tuna tataki and the tuna carpaccio was unlike anything I have ever eaten. The fish was by far the best quality tuna i have ever had the pleasure to eat - seriously. I have heard good things about Mai, but haven't been since their South Blvd. days. Stay away from Ru San's and Nikko is OK in a pinch - just don't go on the weekends. Haven't eaten at Musashi, but have heard good things.

            Deli: I'm partial to Chris' on Independence, but Katz in Arboretum is as authentic as you'll get here.

            Creative breakfast: Soul Gastrolounge will be serving weekend brunch soon. I hear the lake area has good breakfast joints, just don't remember the names.

            Vietnamese: Lang Van

            Chinese: in the South, I'm partial to Shanghai. The owners are amazing people. Friendly and they remember EVERYONE. It's sorta scary. They have wonderful, fresh food and always have tasty specials.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pinogirl14

              Have you had the brunch at Soul Gastrolounge? Just curious about this new place.

              1. re: lynnlato

                Nope. I thought they started serving brunch, but not yet. They're on FaceBook and they post updates, so I'll keep you updated when they do start.

                1. re: pinogirl14

                  Good Brunch, also try Bistro la Bon, Zeda Janes, and LULU. all awesome Plaza Midwood brunch choices!

            2. This might be blasphemy to other Charlotte residents, but I'm not sure I would agree on the Penguin for the best burgers. @carolinadawg - it hurts me to disagree with another Bulldog, but I gotta. Penguin is just like going to a diner. I, personally, prefer Big Daddy or Custom counter for burgers.

              Sushi - Nikko is my favorite. I think it's the best in Charlotte.

              @jdubyapepper - I've been in Charlotte for just over a year. It's got some great restaurants. You'll be fine. And for the record, I have not eaten at Applebee's yet. OK - Cheesecake factory once, but just once.....

              20 Replies
              1. re: mikebmassey

                Agreed, Mike, Penguin is not the best burger - but it's a good burger in a very cool joint. The best burger in Charlotte, IMHO, is Lulu. Big Daddy's is good too.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  I REALLY hate to say this but the two best burgers I've had in Charlotte that I haven't grilled myself are: Firebirds and the $6 burger at Fleming's between 5-7pm. Anyone who's ordered a burger in NC and been told that they will come out at 165degrees - BS - most burgers in Charlotte are an excuse for the grill cook to go out and have a ciggy. If it's not precooked it's killed before you get it.

                  There are some exceptions but it's kind of a speakeasy kind of thing - ask your servers/bartenders - they know.

                  If you want a MR burger - they are out there - I just don't want to tip off the food gestapo.

                  1. re: BDM1

                    The Lodge will make you a burger as rare as you want it. I'm reluctant to admit that this place is growing on me.

                    1. re: BDM1

                      Firebirds does have a great burger. Yes, being in the resto biz, I know what to say and who to say it to. ;-) It's just a shame that its gotta go down like that.

                      1. re: BDM1

                        Common House is now Kickstand Burger Bar. They do a pretty good job, and for lunch it is the best deal in town!

                        1. re: RestaurantTraffic

                          Burger was okay but the fries were totally tasteless, strange textured sticks of something unrelated to a potato. In other words, I did not care for them.

                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                            Next time try the sweet potato tater tots with maple syrup reduction

                    2. re: mikebmassey

                      No problem on the disagreement...I didn't mean to imply Penguin had the "best" burger, just that it was a fun place to get a pretty good burger. I haven't been to Big Daddy's, and I haven't tried a burger at LuLu. Common House does a pretty good burger, too, imo. I get them to add pimento cheese...good stuff!

                      1. re: carolinadawg

                        I like Penguin's burger for a change of pace. It's not the same as a Lulu gourmet burger but it hits the spot when you're craving a diner burger and a PBR. I get the Small Block + cheese, Southern style and it's damn tasty.

                        Now the fried pickles at Penguin....what a little pickle slice of heaven.

                        1. re: HungryGrayCat

                          It might start an argument, but I really like Brook's for a burger. Their hot dog all the way is also fantastic, cheap and fast.

                          1. re: friek

                            Brooks? I've never even heard of it! Tell me more!!! (I love a good all the way dog.)

                            1. re: friek

                              Yea, friek, why u been holdin' out on us... what and where is Brook's???

                              1. re: lynnlato

                                Brooks' is a Charlotte institution. It's been in NoDa for at least 20 years. There was a location downtown a few years back, but it's no longer there. It really does have some of the best burgers in town-- southern-style.

                                True story: In the summer of 1990, I worked at the Johnston YMCA in NoDa. NoDa was a very different place then (in fact, it wasn't known as NoDa)-- it was still pretty run down and not yet a destination for people to live or open a business. Needless to say, Brooks' was about the only option for food. So everyday for lunch, I would have two cheeseburgers, fries, and a Coke from Brooks'. Ah, to be young and be able to eat like that without gaining any weight.

                                Edited to add: Brooks' has actually been around since 1973. Here's a little story about it:

                                1. re: ickymettle

                                  Dang, well now I'll have to try it. This could be a great score for me since it's not too far from work! Heeehaw.

                                2. re: lynnlato

                                  If I tell too many people about it I'll have to wait in line ;-)

                                3. re: friek

                                  So I was working on a project outside of the office and the guy I was working with suggested Brook's for lunch today. How about that for a great coincidence?!!?

                                  I loved it. What a cool place. I had the burger all the way -- it was delicious and just the right size. The chili was perfect on it. But I was surprised that there was no slaw. I thought all the way in the South was with slaw too?

                                  1. re: HungryGrayCat

                                    Glad you liked it! The typical southern all the way order is indeed with slaw. For some reason Brook's all the way order is mustard, onions and chili.

                                    1. re: friek

                                      The slaw with burgers and dogs "all the way" may be somewhat of a newer thing. Maybe that's why Brooks' doesn't do it. For example, it wasn't until the late 80's or 90's that Green's began including slaw on the hot dog "all the way."

                                    2. re: HungryGrayCat

                                      You'll usually have to ask places to leave the slaw off of your BBQ sandwich, but it's not a common thing on burgers.

                                    3. re: friek

                                      Mueller's will give any burger in town a run for the money!