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Looking for Charlotte Restaurants

  • g

Will be visiting for about 2 weeks in about 2 weeks and looking for some good casual places to eat both lunch and dinner. We need one nice place for a special occasion dinner, but the rest I would prefer casual and moderate. Great weekday lunch suggestions also would be appreciated.

Sorry I don't know neighborhoods well, but I know that I will be spending half my time in the Ballantyne area in the south and the other half in zip code 28212 where I have never been before. Last time I was there was about 2 years ago and we went to Table and Gallery both in the Ballantyne area. I was perusing through Open Table and saw that Miro is in the Ballantyne area but could find no postings about it here. Any comments and thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. Are you looking strictly for restaurants in the immediate area where you will be? If you are willing to visit other areas, these posts will provide lots of suggestions:


    1 Reply
    1. re: carolinadawg

      I will read these threads too, but really prefer not to go too far out of the immediate areas of where I will be staying. Thanks.

    2. Table closed about a year or so ago. Global, in Ballantyne, is a nice owner/operator, fine dining restaurant. The chef is French but he puts out "global" food, done well.

      Looks like 28212 is SE of downtown, off Independence. The plaza-midwood area is where you'll find some good eats. Lulu on Central ave is a favorite here, Soul Gastrolounge, The Penguin (cool diner pouring PBR's and serving up fried pickles and burgers). If ethnic is your thing, check out Dim Sum on Central and Taqueria La Unica also on Central.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lynnlato

        Is Soul Gastrolounge still open? I checked their web site and it features Sunday May 20 Father's Day specials. For starters, Father's Day in in June. What gives?

        1. re: d.v

          It's still open. I guess they're just not good about keeping their site updated.

      2. 28212 is East Charlotte, but without knowing the major road(s) you'll be near, we could recommend something that would be inconvenient to get to (as far as lunches go). I'd go to South 21 if I were you - have a Fish 'o Burger (fried trout sandwich) if you like fish; if not have a burger or fried chicken plate. Whatever you get, make sure to include onion rings. Its a drive in, so its something different, cheap, and relatively quick. http://www.south21drivein.com/

        There is another restaurant on Independence called Fu-Lin. Indo-Chinese food, very very good. In a shopping center with some questionable establishments...but great food. I'm a big fan of the cauliflower dishes (chilli or Manchurian gobi, dry style).

        If you're off Albermarle Rd. or Sharon Amity, well there are plenty of Latin American joints. Woodlands on Albemarle is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that is excellent.Sadie's is a soul food place on Sharon Amity. There are a few Middle Eastern places sprinkled around.

        I'm trying mainly to think of lunch ideas, there are plenty of nice dinner suggestions on the boards.

        4 Replies
        1. re: billyjack

          sorry, i have no idea which major roads i will be near. could you tell me which ones are close by and i can ask the person i am staying with. hopefully she will know as she just moved down there herself. thanks.

          1. re: G3B

            If you'll be in zip code 28212, chances are you'll be off Albemarle Rd. or Sharon Amity Rd. Those are relatively easy to navigate; if you end up on Independence Blvd....well its halfway between a street and a limited access highway. Bring a GPS and hope that the maps are current!

            Ballantyne is fairly easy to get around, its basically a bunch of strip malls and office buildings connected by 2 main arteries - Johnston Rd. and Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.

            1. re: billyjack

              I checked and yes she is near both Albemarle Road and Independence and lives right off Sharon Amity Rd. So any suggestions around those streets would be great. Thanks.

              1. re: G3B

                A few miles away at the corner of Sharon Amity and Providence is Eddie's Place. Very casual, breakfast served all day. Really good specials and delicious She Crab soup. The bartenders are great too.

        2. Check out Alexander Michael's in 4th ward. Great pub food and really beautiful historic neighborhood.

          4 Replies
          1. re: southernitalian

            In the Ballantyne area:
            Big Daddy's for Burgers and stuff, Nikko for sushi, Blue Taj just opened or will open soon is upscale indian from the people who own copper
            Ilios Noche - greek/italian
            Cantina 1511 - mexican
            Miro is also great
            Lorenzo's Pizza

            1. re: Dnanana

              Had 14 courses at Blue Taj before the opening this week. There were three more coming but we pleaded "no mas".

              Think of it as Indian Fusion - if you think Indian you will be lacking but if you have an open mind you will be awed!

              Best dinner - Order the Chaat as an app (how many truly cold apps are there in Charlotte) mango, potatoes, black chick peas (who knew) in a cumin scented dressing. Then order the sea bass with the leek/mushroom "compote"

              This might be the best possible meal in Charlotte.

              Mr. Mel Oza is a genious !

              1. re: BDM1

                I read recently that they do not want to be known as fusion or multi-cuisine, but rather eccletic food. Indian does not seem to describe what dishes they mentioned on Helen Schwab's blog: chimichurri-rubbed chicken with a Provencal-style bean stew; Szechuan-inspired seafood medley with Oriental vegetables; and duck and mushroom taquitos with housemade pastry. Whatever the case, it sounds interesting. Lord knows we need something interesting down in this sea of corporate chains.


            2. re: southernitalian

              OP says: "but really prefer not to go too far out of the immediate areas of where I will be staying. Thanks."

            3. A great place to grab a sandwich in South Park area is Earth Fare grocery store, it is 2 blocks away from South Park mall on Colony & Sharon, You can take Rea Road from Ballantyne and it turns into Colony. They have a short order grill for burgers, chicken sandwiches for $1 extra you can get buffalo meat. They hand cut their french fries (and sweet potato too).

              1 Reply
              1. re: waitress

                Also an earthfare in Ballantyne if that is where you will be

              2. You can't go wrong with Miro - great value and great food - sit at the bar and Andreas will make your night!

                2 Replies
                1. re: BDM1

                  I live in the 28212 area code, so maybe I be more helpful. Here are some suggestions:

                  Jake's Good Eats - my favorite restaurant in town. The staff epitomize Southern hospitality and the food is AMAZING. Try the fried oysters. One note, they use cherry tomatoes on a lot of their dishes that are so flowery and vibrant you'd swear they were grown in a field of lavender.

                  Picadeli's Pub has sandwiches and draft beer. The wait staff is really nice and the food is pretty great. Check out the Greek grilled cheese w/ added bacon.

                  Azteca is a great Mexican place. Order anything from the chefs's specialties. The Pollo Con Crema and Pollo Poblano are great!

                2. Any input on Brio, Max's Alley and Mama Ricotta. Apparently they have purchased a Citypass book and these restaurants are in them and I was just wondering if anyone had any feedback. TIA.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: G3B

                    Brio is a chain, like an upscale Olive Garden or Carrabas. Its ok, but I would probably only eat there if I had a coupon.

                    I've never been to Max's Ally. Its in Concord, so way out of your area.

                    Mama Ricotta is decent Italian-American. Its usually a good meal, nothing to rave about but good.

                    I haven't seen the new Citipass but surely there are more choices in it.

                  2. I have just been told that we are going to Bonterra, Roosters and Buca. So any feedback would be greatly appreciated. TIA

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: G3B

                      Bonterra and Roosters are great establishments. Bonterra is in the Southend area, just south of uptown. It's housed in a restored church and I don't think it can be categorized in any particular food category, but they are known for quality ingredients and innovative dishes, and a great wine list. Roosters is popular on the boards and is located in the Southpark area. Small plates/tapas but Italian influenced. Fun atmosphere and reputable chef/owner.

                      Buca? As in Buca di Peppo? Eek, I hope not. This is a chain concept in front of the Carolina Place Mall in Pineville and I wouldn't recommend it. It's comparable to Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill, but entrees are served family-style.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        Thanks for the input, well I guess 2 out of 3 is not too bad. It could be worse. Any suggestions on what the best things to order at these places? TIA

                        1. re: G3B

                          There was a thread in the last few days about Roosters that mentioned some good dishes. Pan-fried corn is popular.

                          I would bet most anything on Bonterra's menu would be good. Well known for wine, if you're into that.

                          Never been to the other one.

                          1. re: G3B

                            At Rooster's, the short ribs are excellent. I've also liked the mushroom fregola (pasta), pomme frites, the speck pizza, the pan-fried corn and butter beans (both very buttery!). The spit fired chicken was great one time, dry another. I didn't care for the charcuterie sampler as the salami was sliced way too thick.

                      2. Thanks everyone for your help. I am still in Charlotte and thought that I would post some of the meals we had so far.

                        Roosters - Lunch for four of us. Food was fine, not wonderful. But we did not get off to a good start at this place. First off I made a reservation and we were seated at the worst table in the restaurant in the back right next to the server's station which really ticked off one member of our party. Also they were moving a table with glasses on top and the glass dropped and splattered glass all over our table while we were having our entrees. We had chicken pizza, chicken wings, the hangar steak, ribeye steak, pan fried corn, spinach, mac and cheese, beets and salmon. Spinach was extremely sandy and I should have returned it but did not bother and just did not eat it. Not worth a return trip at all.

                        Bonterra for dinner. We had the shortribs and crabcake as apps and scallops, 2 had hangar steak (specials of the day) veal chop as entrees. Crabcake was excellent, scallops and hangar steak a little on the salty side. None of us had any room for dessert.

                        Buca for dinner. Once was enough as I will not be willing to go there again. Although I have to say the eggplant parm was good and that was the only dish that we ordered that I would be willing to eat again.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: G3B

                          I had another delicious meal at Rooster's on Saturday. No service problems, in fact, the service was really great. We over-ordered so I was stuffed but started with house bread, olives and a selection of 3 cheeses. The olives were really good, a nice mix that went well with the cheese plate and a bottle of Cotes du Rhone. We split the wild mushroom pizza which had a great wood oven char but I thought the crust wasn't chewy enough and could have used a dash of salt. Tasty but not perfect. We then split the mushroom pasta which was perfectly al dente and delicious. A simple, rustic and satisfying dish. Next up were the short ribs with a rich reduction, the pan fried corn and the Yukon puree. The short ribs were absolutely tender and addictive. We sopped up the reduction with scoops of the creamy Yukon puree (so much so that our server noticed and brought us a little dish of extra sauce!)

                          I still really like Rooster's. It's one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte for its casual feel yet well-executed food. I hope the Rooster's slated to open in uptown is the same.

                          When I compare Saturday's meal to The Liberty, which I've now tried 3 times, The Liberty just pales. Service there is so sketchy and the food falls short. The housemade chips came to the table burned; the hand cut fries were cold both times (and the cloying parmesan cheese crust on them is too strong); the burger bun is so large it's impossible to eat; the tomato soup had an odd metalic taste. The Cobb salad at lunch was fine. It seems to be the choice for business lunches lately so if I'm forced to go back, I'll stick with the salad.

                          Oh....and I finally made it to Keaton's outside of Statesville. Truly delicious. I had the 1/4 chicken with the hot/spicy sauce and I was blown away by how good it was. The mac & cheese wasn't memorable but I actually liked the spicy vinegar slaw. Despite hearing the opposite, the counter folks were perfectly pleasant. The signs are funny though, I'll give you that!! I wish it were closer but even given the distance, Keaton's is going into the rotation for sure!

                          1. re: HungryGrayCat

                            Glad to hear Keaton's is alive and well, HGC. That is one of the great food road trips anywhere.

                            1. re: HungryGrayCat

                              I'm with you on The Liberty. I've been twice and don't plan to return.

                              I didn't know about Roosters opening Uptown....will it be that name or something else? What is the location?

                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                Rooster's uptown location is opening in the fall at 150 N. College. Here's a link to the blurb:


                              2. re: HungryGrayCat

                                Yay! You made it to Keaton's! I hope you got a bottle of their sauce to take home with you. I will roast chicken thighs at high heat at home and then take them out of the oven and toss them in Keaton's sauce and it tides me over until I can get up there for another fix of their dipped chicken. Mmmm....

                            2. Well tom is my last day and I wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions. The only other meals we had out were

                              Tin Tin Rest. for lunch buffet which was pretty good. Lots of variety and it was fine.

                              One of the people that I was staying with is a junk food addict so she said that we have to try fast food chains that are local to Charlotte. So we went to Cookout for burgers and onion rings, Captain D's for fried fish and shrimp and Cici's Pizza for pizza buffet. It was OK as far as fast food is concerned and I am not a fan of fast food but I have tried it once and now don't have to the next time I come down. LOL Was trying to go to Price's and South 21 for our fast food meals, but their hours and location just did not work with our schedule. Guess it will be during my next trip.

                              Thanks for everyones input. greatly appreciated.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: G3B

                                For local fast food, you need to get to Bojangles, only thing that comes to mind
                                Cicis and captain D's are not local to charlotte

                                1. re: G3B

                                  Oh boy, I'm sorry you were forced to eat CiCi's Pizza & Captain D's - wow. As Dnanana said, Bojangles is great fast food chicken and biscuits. Too bad you didn't get to South 21 and Price's - they would've been neat experiences. Maybe next time!

                                  Safe Travels.

                                  1. re: G3B

                                    If you wanted a local FF chain, Showmar's would have been a good choice. Locally owned, interesting history. Although I am awfully fond of Cook Out's peanut butter milkshake.

                                    1. re: kathleen purvis

                                      What's the interesting history? I love Showmar's and would be interested in knowing it. TIA

                                      1. re: southernitalian

                                        I'll bite:

                                        The owner is son of an immigrant, grew up working in his fathers popular restaurant (Mr. C's), then went on to found his own restaurant in the "fast casual" category before it existed. He grew it into an extremely popular local chain. He's well-known for being loyal to his staff, promoting the longtime managers to franchise partners. They are diligent in their "ice tea" making, and have the "Worlds Best Filet of Flounder".

                                        I think that sums it up; Kathleen, please correct me or add to it :-)

                                        1. re: billyjack

                                          You've got most of it. But you missed the Greek connection. Charlotte has a long history of Greek-owned restaurants that dates to early 20th century. George Couchell's family came later, after surviving WWII in Greece. He remembers Nazis burning their house, and tells an amazing story about the family getting lined up in front of a firing squad, but the squad got called away for some reason and they escaped. George was 10 when the family emigrated here. Now he owns almost 30 Showmars restaurants, all in and around Charlotte. And they do make some mighty fine ice tea.

                                          1. re: kathleen purvis

                                            Sorry, I forget that many people here don't know about our Greek influx :-)

                                            Speaking of old Greek family run joints, the 3rd(?) location of Tanner's closed (and is now a Steak 'n Hoagie).

                                            1. re: billyjack

                                              Hey, I don't want to hijack this thread but the Greek connection in Charlotte got me to wondering. Are there any chili joints (and I use that term affectionately like "BBQ joints") in the area that sell Cincinnati chili? I grew up in Cincinnati and love the Greek-inspired chili that's all over Cincinnati. Anyone know of any "joints" like this in Charlotte or anywhere else in NC?

                                              1. re: d.v

                                                Pretty sure the only Cincinnati chili I've ever seen is at Lupies. It was the first place I ever heard of such a thing. But if you're at Lupies, it would be hard to resist the Texas chili. Go with a companion and order one of each!

                                                1. re: billyjack

                                                  All those Greeks and only one place that serves Cincinnati chili? ;-)

                                                  Oh, it wouldn't be hard for me to resist the Texas chili and go with the Cincinnati. You can get texas chili just about anywhere but good Cincinnati chili is a rare find outside of the Cincy metro area.

                                                  Thanks, billyjack.

                                                  1. re: d.v

                                                    Quick note - can't guarantee its good Cincinnati chili. Don't think I've ever had it. But it has stayed on their menu for this long, so some people must like it.

                                                    1. re: billyjack

                                                      Great. Thanks. Next time I'm down Charlotte way, I'll try a bowl.

                                  2. Whoever recommended the new Indian Restaurant in Ballantyne, THE BLUE TAJ was right on.... this place is awesome. The prices are very reasonable and the food is excellent. This place is a rare find. Love it, love it, love it. I want to try the Sunday buffet this week... I'll let you know...

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: laura g.

                                      What about Bricktop's Restaurant in South Park. Is it highly rated. Thanks.

                                      Bricktop's Restaurant
                                      6401 Morrison Blvd Ste 1B, Charlotte, NC 28211

                                      1. re: laura g.

                                        Had dinner at blue taj last evening, must disagree. Ordered app platter for 2 and it came with one shrimp, one piece of salmon etc. I asked the waiter if Mrs. G and I should duke it out to see who gets the shrimp. With this system she would kick my butt and I would never get fed. OK not a problem so far. It was very strange that we had to wait as they ran short of menus. The place was not packed. Come on guys be a sport and spring for some more menu covers. I mean you do want to be packed - right? The main dish Lamb Saag was flavorful but I would have liked if they would have asked how hot I would have liked it as it could have much hotter for my taste. It was very creamy and perhaps a bit too rich to my taste. My # 1 Indian place is Saffron in Ardsley. The flavors are spot on and they can make dishes mild for Mr. G or hot for me perfectly each time.

                                        1. re: laura g.

                                          So want to try this place. Anyone know if the Sunday buffet is veggie-friendly?

                                          1. re: nofaceplate

                                            Saffron is always veggie friendly. The Sunday buffet is monumental, btw. Normally they'll have a minimum of 3 veg offerings at one on the buffet: a pea-based, a paneer-based and a lentil-based dish on the buffet. Oh, and their ranch dressing always brings tears to my eyes, it's so delicious - I wonder if yogurt is the key?

                                            1. re: littlegirltree

                                              I sooo agree, Saffron is great. Ordering off the menu is fantastic. Great flavors and they can customize the degree of heat just as you like it. Buffets usually are fair at best, at Saffron they manage to keep everything fresh and bright. They have a great variety of dishes and a cross section of interesting flavors to choose from. The buffet is the best I have experienced. Love this place.

                                                1. re: nofaceplate

                                                  note on Sunday they are open for lunch and have the buffet, but I believe they are closed for Sunday dinner

                                        2. A good diner is in Mooresville - Izzy Bells. Everything they make is good.