Charlotte’s Food Central

A growing city like Charlotte attracts people from all walks of life and cultures.  With this steady influx of people come interesting neighborhoods that pop up out of nowhere, many of them featuring intermingling cultures, customs and foods. In the past, Charlotte hasn’t been credited nationally for its eclectic food.  However, what people don’t realize is how fast Charlotte and its food culture have grown.  Like any other big city, Charlotte is composed of neighborhoods just as diverse as you and me, each with its own individual personality.  When it comes to dining, it is human nature to partake in a locale that is comfortable, close and convenient, but this summer when searching for an epicurean experience, challenge yourself to try something different, new, and exciting.  

Innervating several of the city’s eastern neighborhoods is Central Avenue.   Speckled with restaurants for any price range or palate, there is truly no other stretch of road that tastes better than the three mile span of Central Avenue from 10th Street to Sharon Amity.  Here you can get street food or the white table cloth experience, Asian or El Salvadorian, French or Carolina BBQ. Whatever mood you are in, Central delivers.  All you have to do is pick a flavor. 

Intermezzo serves Italian and Serbian cuisine on the western side of Central. With an impressive selection of beers and wines, Intermezzo provides a romantic and intimate dining experience not to mention delectable dishes. Try the ground beef or the cheese and spinach burek but don’t forget to save room for dessert because they also have amazing crepes.
A stone’s throw away is Loco Lime, a self- proclaimed Mexican inspired grill with an awesome selection of margaritas. Check out their dollar taco night every Tuesday, but don’t overlook their regular dinner menu because it’s good.

Fern is a fine dining vegetarian restaurant just across the train tracks.  Think vegetarian fare is boring? Think again. Fern serves fresh and diverse seasonal dishes, meaning their menu changes with the seasons.   A tip for the naïve, let your waiter or waitress order for you because they know best.

If you are in the mood for some major comfort food, Midwood  Smokehouse  is the place for you. This place is not for the meek so bring your beer drinking, meat eating, fried food having belly here for a real meal.  Where else would serve bacon wrapped jalapenos as a side?

Hiding in a strip mall next to a family dollar is a diamond in the rough, a true fine dining experience with one of the best views of uptown Charlotte, Bistro la Bon. If you couldn’t tell by the name, this restaurant serves seasonally fresh French cuisine. For good measure, eat dessert first because you do not want to miss out on the bread pudding.

Soul Gastrolounge is an upscale tapas restaurant located on the second floor in the center of plaza midwood’s night life. It’s common to catch live dj’s and a buzz at the bar, but do not overlook their impressive sushi and tapas menu. The pork belly tacos and truffle fries are only two of the many delish small plates. Get here early especially if you have a big party. They do not take reservations.

Zada Janes is a fixture in the heart of plaza midwood serving breakfast and lunch all day seven days a week. If you plan to come for breakfast on the weekend get there early or prepare to wait. If you do have to wait, fortunately there is a lovely patio equipped with a shuffle board. It’s half vegetarian half meat menu is sure to please everyone. Try the huevos rancheros, they are oh so yummy.

For a real Asian fusion experience go to Akahana . From Japanese sushi to Vietnamese noodle dishes, Akahana has what you are craving. The sushi rolls are delectable and are always buy one get one half off.

Lulu’s is located in a freestanding building that was formally a house, making it feel like you are at grandma’s, if grandma was French and a ridiculous cook. If you are in search for the best Sunday brunch in town, you should look no further then Lulu’s. Try their country benedict, a QC exclusive house favorite.

Don’t let the name fool you, though Krazy Fish is crazy, there is so much more then fish. Though the fish tacos are to die for, there is quite a variety of dishes to choose from. Some may say a crazy amount. Try the Szechun salt and pepper chicken wings to start, but be warned, you may not stop.

Three amigos is another gem hiding in a strip mall off of central that should not be missed.  They pride themselves on their super fresh ingredients and their abundant usage of cotija cheese on virtually every dish. Try their enchiladas de mole and you will not be disappointed.

Tacos al Nevado is a small hole in the wall packed with loyal patrons.  This is not a sit down deal but an authentic Mexican taco stand. With $2 amazing tacos, who could complain? Unless you were looking for a seat.

El Pulgaracito is an authentic El Salvadorian, Central American, and Mexican restaurant. So authentic, in fact, that you may need to brush up on your college Spanish skills before entering.  The pulled pork is mouthwatering and is used in many of their dishes.  Try the traditional pupusas or tacos, pork is the best of course. The tortas (sandwiches) are big enough to feed you for days and don’t miss out on their many juices and licuados (shakes).  The banana licuado is the best but may fill you up before your food arrives.

Last but certainly not least is the best Vietnamese restaurant in town, Ben Tahn. Located in what looks like an old pizza hut, Ben Tahn is as authentic as Vietnamese food gets. From Curry to Pho to Vermicelli noodle dishes, you can’t go wrong here.  Never tried Vietnamese before? Again, ask your waiter or waitress what to get.

With so many different options on one street it may take you some time to explore this vivid and compelling culinary promenade. Don’t be afraid to try new things.  Remember to take one step at a time and when all else fails turn to the locals and ask. Explore your big city and all of its delicious nooks and crannies. You may surprise yourself and your tastebuds.