favorite food haunts - charlotte

When I first came to Charlotte, ordering a salad invariably resulted in a bowl of iceburg lettuce, tomato wedge and an onion slice materializing at the table. The only decent uptown eatery was closing for lack of business. Thank god for good friends who shared all their favorite haunts, many of which are listed here. Five years later we were in the midst of a cultural boom, and the local cuisine kept the pace. Charlotte just keeps getting better. A truly lovely city, great people, and many, many great food finds. This list will get you started, but it doesn't begin to cover it, since I haven't been in something like ten years. Jeez, where does the time go? I'm overdue for a visit.

300 East
Charming eclectic bistro in an old house (another theme forming). Brunch beats all in Charlotte, but go anytime, you'll want to linger, but get out and get shopping, Charlotte!

Alexander Michael's
Only don't call it that - Al Mike's will do. Fourth Ward fave is always hopping. Excellent beer selection. Crab Quesadillas are the bomb, but everything they make is great. Meet you at Al Mikes next time I'm in town.

Charlotte, NC
"World Famous Pecan Pie" or so they say. Hole in the wall diner with character to spare. Hats off to Marie, the world's most hardworking waitress, may she rest in peace.

Anntony's Carribean Cafe
Island style chicken, they call it. I call it heaven. Dine in or take out, and buy the sauce, you'll be dreaming about it later. Thanks, Anntony's for getting your sauce carried in Harris Teeter - now I can enjoy it at home here in Ponte Vedra.

Bayou Kitchen
Plaza-Midwood/Elizabeth area neighborhood joint is my go to spot for Cajun and Creole faves, cold beer and casual surroundings. Virtual N'awlins museum inside, spool tables and picnic atmosphere outside. Love, Love, Love Bayou Kitchen.

Cajun Queen
New Orleans style cajun, creole fare with live jazz seven nights a week. You can't go wrong here. The big easy meets the queen city.

El Cancun
Mexican - not so authentic as they say, but good just the same. This one's for my good friend and Charlotte's finest actress, Jill Bloede. Hands down the BEST place for cold beer, margaritas, cheese dip and good times with great friends.

Frankie's Italian Grille
Clubby Italian eatery paying homage to Frank Sinatra. Larger than life Italian. 50's style clubby atmosphere. Sinatra tunes, martinis with the business suit set. Date night.

Hotel Charlotte
Best beer selection in town, home to the "Around the World Club" International beer lovers. Good food, great prices, nice atmosphere. They say it was modeled after a speakeasy, and I guess that makes sense now that I think about it. Fried artichokes are a must try.

Key West
Yeah. All that the name implies, only in Charlotte. Service was never all that, but still we kept coming back. Great bar, gotta love the shrimp, conch fritters, and of course that Key Lime Pie.

Lupie's Cafe
Dig in to the best burgers, or go for the chili cheese dog - its bigger than your head! Locals and loyal regulars line up for Lupie's simple, satisfying comfort food. One of a kind.

Pasta and Provisions
Become a great cook with a trip to this Italian grocery with the best pasta made fresh daily on site. Great sauces, tapanade, pestos, you name it. They used to send your pasta order out of the prep area on a string. I hope they still do that. It was almost as much fun as eating the stuff. I said almost.

Pewter Rose Bistro / Tutto Mondo
Pewter Rose is THE place for Sunday Brunch in Charlotte, but lunch and dinner won't disappoint either. Fanciful, fun, girlie victorian tea room style in a second floor converted textile warehouse. Tutto Mondo Nightclub is a great place to hang for a few hours. Sink into a club chair and soak it all in.

Stock Car Cafe
Welcome Race Fans! Major Nascar hang, with great pub food and a family friendly atmosphere that still manages to entertain single race enthusiasts. Many a lazy afternoon melted into evening here with my friend Sandy. Decor is wall to wall Race memorabilia. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Talleys Green Grocery / Cafe Verde
shop for organic foods and grab a sandwich or salad to go (or plop down and eat it there). Mega delicious and fresh. Wash it down with some green tea and don't forget the organic brownie!

Thai Taste
Rockin' great Thai in Dilworth. I search out the best Thai anywhere I live, and this place sets the standard against which all others are compared. I ate there so often when I lived in Charlotte, I think the waitresses were beginning to think I didn't have a home to go to. After a great lunch, pop over to Paper Skyscraper and check out the great selection of architectural books, toys, games and greeting cards.

Village Tavern
Pub grub in upscale urban atmosphere. One of the few chains that makes my list, probably because the patio is so nice. Go at dusk, enjoy a nice glass of chardonnay and a salad.

Vinnies Sardine
A beach bar in Charlotte? Heck yeah there is. If you miss the big water, Vinnies will tide you over until you can get to the real thing. Raw bar, fried faves, buckets of beer and steamed oysters - plan to get messy.

Again, some places I loved dearly are missing here as they are no longer in business - shout out to Chris and Sam at The Sandwich Construction Company. New Market Grille, where I met my darling Dick, seems to have gone with the wind as well. Probably had to shutter up once Dick and I blew town. But enough with the hurricane humor.

Next stop on our culinary tour de force, St. Louis, Mo.

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