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Feb 6, 2012 11:38 AM

Best Inexpensive restaurant in Downtown/Midtown Charlotte

I'm taking my Dad to the symphony for his 80th birthday and need a great restaurant to complete the night - that won't break my bank. I would love to take him to Lulu's, Halycon or Custom House but those are just a little more than I want to spend. There's 4 of us and having already spent $260 for symphony tickets I need someplace with really good food but won't set me back another $250.
Any suggestions?

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  1. How about Dandelion Market or The King's Kitchen? The latter is owned by Jim Noble of Rooster's Wood Fired Kitchen fame.

    4 Replies
    1. re: HungryDonkey

      I thought about King's Kitchen, I like Rooster's, but was unsure. It appears to be southern style comfort food, not really my Dad's style. Have you been HungryDonkey?

      1. re: worktime

        I haven't but it's on my list to try very soon. I do love Rooster's.

        What kind of food does your Dad like?

        1. re: HungryDonkey

          Well he likes all kinds of food- italian, mexican, asian- but he's a restaurant snob, for no good reason except he's 80 and opinionated. I'm just looking for good food, something interesting- no small plate/tapas- with really good service.

          1. re: worktime

            How about Mama Ricotta's? I take my folks there a lot and they love it.

    2. Another decent place that is affordable, very popular with the older Charlotte natives and a place that has fantastic desserts is Savor Cafe. Only drag is it is not downtown, but then, neither is Lulu's. However, it's probably just 2.5 miles from the Blumenthal.

      If your dad will eat Asian, Basil (Thai) is very affordable and good and within walking distance of the Blumenthal.

      Lastly, there are several places that have partnered with the Blumenthal and give discounts

      BTW - I have been to Roosters. I liked it, but it is not that affordable

      4 Replies
      1. re: hazardnc

        Aria is in that Blumenthal link offering 3 courses for $30. That's a great deal and the service I've had there has been very good.

        Vida in Epicenter (sorry southernitalian -- I said the "E" word) is OK but it might be too loud for an opinionated 80 year old.

        1. re: HungryDonkey

          The nerve of you! I actually really like Vida. It can get kind of loud though. Not a Basil fan at all. How about Vivace?

          1. re: southernitalian

            Well considering that we will be going to dinner around 6, maybe Vida won't be too loud. I will take a look at their website. Don't know about Vivace.

            FYI, I lived in Charlotte for 10 years but have been gone for 1 1/2 years, living in Boone. The restaurants have changed considerably in that time.

        2. re: hazardnc

          I second the Basil rec. Attractive, tasty, and affordable.

        3. OK I'll go outside the box and suggest Cuisine Malaya. Malaysian food and surprisingly good sushi.

          I'm having trouble thinking of downtown restaurants that are affordable for dinner. I think the outskirts are your best bet.

          I really like Savor, so I'll second that one.

          Greek Isles isn't too expensive. Good Greek food and usually good service.

          Big Ben is good if you like pub food.

          10 Replies
          1. re: billyjack

            I'll second Greek Isles. Pretty reasonable with good food and good wine.

            1. re: MelMM

              Thank you everyone for the suggestions.
              I will check out Savor, I assume they have a website. I've been to Greek Isle a while back and I thought is was just OK, my husband's meal was so salty it was nearly inedible so I know I won't get him back there.
              So - Basil, is it really good. I love Thai but I AM pretty picky about Asian, is it fairly authentic with fresh ingredients not overly sauced dishes. I can not tolerate the americanized thai, thickly sauced, bland and overly oily like bad chinese.

              1. re: worktime

                I haven't been to Basil in a long time, so I cannot say. owever, they do a booming lunch business. Billyjack brings up an interesting idea. Cuisine Malaya is on the Gold Rush line, meaning you can get a free ride up and down Trade St/ Elizabeth Avenue. If you are doing the earlybird special in order to get to the theatre on time, it will work for you. The last pick up is around 6-ish. That opens up Cuisine Malaya, Carpe Diem, Customshop...

                1. re: hazardnc

                  Smalls is a new restaurant on Elizabeth Ave. It has small plates and a reasonably priced menu.

                  1. re: waitress

                    Have you been waitress? Looks interesting.
                    I've weedled down my possibilities to Dolce, Lang Van or Lulu's- which is a little more than I wanted to spend or Vida's.

                    1. re: worktime

                      Didn't you say you didn't want small plates? If so then I don't think Smalls is the place for you.

            2. re: billyjack

              I LOVE both Cuisine Malaya AND Greek Isles - great recs billyjack. Both are very good and affordable to boot. Cuisine Malaya is slightly closer to downtown.

              1. re: lynnlato

                Well I ended up at Lulu's. Didn't make reservations because we went to dinner early- 6:00- that was almost a big mistake. There was a show at Ovens that night and pre Valentines Day, they were busy. The host was great, accomodated us even though they were booked.
                Had the beet and endive salad which was great- good combo of sweet and bitter. I then had the mussel and fries. They were both great, plump mussels.
                Both my husband and dad had the paella. My dad liked it fine but my husband wasn't so thrilled. Tasted like it had maybe clove in it which is strange.
                Overall, a very nice. Will go back again.

                1. re: worktime

                  Very nice. They have a new chef and I've wondered how she is doing. I need to get over there. Glad you had a good meal.

                  Clove? Really? Hmm... wacky.

                  1. re: worktime

                    That's interesting about the clove taste. I've had Mexican chorizo that has a slight clove/cinnamon flavor. Was this typical Spanish chorizo?