Posted on Jan 4, 2011 | 4 comments
A whole week in Charlotte and what to do… what to do?
How bout trying as many restaurants as humanly possible? Don’t mind if I do!
Ain’t that the truth?
Cedar Street Tavern
Cedar Street Tavern was the first stop on my foodiecation. It’s the closest restaurant/bar within walking distance of the BF’s new apartment, and by the time we got in from the airport it took everything we had to make the short walk. After perusing the menu, I decided on the Philly Melt sandwich which was topped with sautéed onions & peppers and American cheese. It was deliciously salty, and I scarfed down the whole thing without hesitation. Speaking of salt, I’ve been craving salt like crazy lately. Perhaps some WebMD research is needed….
Anyway, the BF went with the buffalo chicken wrap (surprise surprissssssssssse). I was able to score a bite, and it was decent but I much preferred my Philly sub. We also ordered up some buffalo chicken tenders, and again, I wasn’t too excited by them.
Despite this, I loved the ambiance of the bar (including the shooting stars on the ceiling) and the bartender was super nice (I’m a sucker for friendly service) … and of course my Philly Melt left a big ole smile on my face.
Later in the week we actually stopped at Cedar Street Tavern AGAIN and grabbed a buffalo chicken pizza to take home. Man oh man did it hit the spot–though it did NOT heat up well. It’s one of the pizzas you have to eat fresh, and preferably while consuming some sort of alcohol.
A few other notes on the menu: The quesadillas are totally subpar. Pass on them. The grillled chicken salad is quite tasty (though over-priced) and their fries are also pretty good!
The next morning, I was amped for our first breakfast of the vaca.
We headed to Midnight Diner, which is right down the road from the apartment. Ya know, come to think of it EVERYTHING is right down the road from Charlotte, isn’t it?
I LOVED the diner from the moment I saw it:
I went with the western omelet but subbed sausage in for the ham (Jarrod HATES ham—he’s weird). Of course, we also ordered up a waffle to split and some hashbrowns. Everything was delicious. I can’t wait to go back!!
There are 3 TV channels I have an undeniable addiction to: HG TV, The Food Network, and the Weather Channel (don’t ask). We first heard of Cabo Fish Taco on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network. I trust Guy’s opinion on what’s delicious, so this was a must-hit restaurant on my list. I ordered up the grilled serano chicken tacos, which came with two flour tortillas stuffed with cabbage, tomato, avocado, mixed cheeses, and white cilantro sauce. Ummm yum.
Not only were the tacos delicious, but the jalapeno mashed potatoes (match made in heaven, btw) that came along side were AMAZING.
After hitting up 3 CLT venues, it was time to use up one of the good ole Groupons, so we headed to Frankie’s 710. The meal started off with a $5 garlic bread appetizer and a house salad, neither of which were very good (bummer!).
When it came time to order the entre, I was hesitant. It needed to be really friggin good or this dinner was about to be a bust. We decided on the Rigatoni with Italian sausage. It was absolutely fantastic!!! Hooray!
The rigatoni came with hunks of slightly melted fresh mozzarella cheese, a delicious tomato cream sauce, and sliced up bites of sausage.
Definitely recommend this dish!
Next on the foodie agenda: LUNCH. Newk’s was the spot of the day. I ordered 1/2 of an Italian sandwich which had layers of capicola, mortadella, pepperoni, salami, provolone cheese, mayo, spicy Creole mustard, lettuce, tomato, yellow onions, hot sliced cherry peppers and Italian sauce. YOWZA.
I love any restaurant that lets you get a half sandwich and soup (or salad for that matter), and Newk’s had a really nice variety of soups to choose from. I decided on the white bean & smoked sausage soup, and man it did not disappoint. Jarrod went with the pesto chicken sandwich that had a slathering of goat cheese on top. Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I love me some goat cheese!
This is an awesome lunch spot if you are uptown.
Next time, I MUST try one of the delicious cakes that they had on display. It took all of my strength (and the brink of food coma) to keep me from grabbing a slice today.
A week or so ago, Jarrod somehow managed to get $125 worth of gift certificates on Restaurant.com for like $8 or something ridiculous like that. I’m still not sure how that worked out. Mad skill I guess!
Anyway, Presto was one of the spots he chose, so that was our destination for dinner. For an appetizer we ordered the Buffalo Chicken pizza which had bleu cheese crumbles and mozzarella cheese (minus the diced celery listed on the menu). I would DEFINITELY order this again, though next time I’ll ask for some extra hot sauce. We all know I like it HOT!
Word to the wise: pass on the spinach dip. It’s really bland, and the pizza is a better bet.
For dinner, I forced Jarrod to make the selection (because I ALWAYS seem to be the one who has to decide… come on now!), and he went with the Chicken Martini –> sautéed chicken breast flamed with tomato mushroom, marsala and white wine demi sauce served with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. Sounds good right? I thought so too, but to my surprise it was chicken slathered with no less than seven GIANT LADLES OF GRAVY.
I hate GRAVY…
Even the word makes my belly queasy. Jarrod on the other hand LOVED the dish. Despite the gravy debauchle, I’d definitely like to go back to Presto – the owner and bartender we spoke with were really great…. I’ll just stick with the pizza next time.
Oh my goshhhhhh… I love this place! Yay Jason’s Deli!!!
I went with the 1/2 Smokey Jack Panini, which had smoked turkey breast, bacon, jalapeño pepper jack, roma tomatoes, russian dressing and fresh-made
guacamole. In addition to this amazing panini, I got a side salad which Jason’s Deli translates to a one-way trip to their fabulous salad bar. I love a good salad bar, and I LOVE Jason’s Deli. I’ll be back (cue Arnold Swarzenagger voice)!
Jarrod ordered the Ranchero Wrap, which consisted of an organic wheat wrap filled with marinated chicken breast, cheddar, jalapeños, southwest spices, fresh-made pico de gallo, and ranch dressing. I finangled a bite, and it was as equally delicious as my panini.
What’s even more amazing about Jason’s Deli is that every customer has access to free soft serve ice cream.
Heaven, I say. Heaven.
One evening, we headed to Champions for a pre-dinner drink and snack amidst all the orange-clad Clemson Fans. We ordered up the buffalo dip (surprise surprise)—which however is surprisingly not on their online menu. It was super tasty and oh so creamy. Nom.
$50 in Carrabba’s gift cards for Christmas=mandatory dinner destination. Dinner at Carrabba’s started with their ADDICTING free bread and olive oil with spices. In my opinion, that was the best part of the dinner. I’m a breadholic, what can I say?
For the appetizer we ordered the Grilled Bruschette which was topped with tomatoes and mushrooms. It was good, but nothing compared to the piping hot (free) basket of bread on the table.
Chicken & Spinach Cannelloni was our entre choice of the evening–chicken, spinach, garlic, fresh herbs, fontina and romano cheese, topped with pomodoro and cream sauce.
Tasty? Absolutely. Better that the free bread? Absolutely not!
We had $20 to spend, SOOOOO it was time to get our eat on! I went with the western omelet – ham green peppers tomatoes onions excessive amounts of cheese. Jarrod ordered up the Spanish Omelet with fresh mushrooms and smothered with a spicy, peppery, tangy sauce. I loved my omelet, but wasn’t a fan of Jarrod’s. It reminded me of the omelet we got at the Coffee Pot in New Orleans. He loved it—but all I could think about is how much better the sauce would be on a plate full of spaghetti instead of the eggs.
Surprisingly, the Pancake House does in fact have waffles! And the one we split was quite tasty! Next time, I gotta try the pancakes though. How can you go to the Pancake House and NOT get pancakes? Fail.
Oh man… the homemade hashbrowns were also awesome. Try them. Stat.
Word to the wise — 1 omelet at the Pancake House is enough for two to share. Note the fork-to-omelet size comparison below:
Each omelet even comes with 3 pancakes (though we subbed in some homemade hashbrowns). Hefty, hefty, hefty!
O….. M….. G……….
Last time I was in Charlotte, there was a big ole sign on the side of the Epicenter that said there was a Mexican Restaurant coming soon… it opened a couple months back, but I made Jarrod promise to wait for me to try it out the first time. I can be so cruel sometimes
I ordered the chicken tacos, which had grilled red chile chicken with black bean puree, a specialty blend of cheeses, chopped cilantro, and pico de gallo. They were, in a word, WOW. My best description of Vida Cantina would be a lighter Mexican – you could taste how fresh the ingredients were and it was just the right amount of cheese (unlike many Mexican restaurants who follow the more-cheese-the-better mantra). I just cannot get over how good these tacos were.
Jarrod got the Chicken and Roasted Corn Enchiladas, which had grilled red chile chicken tossed with roasted corn, caramelized onions, a specialty blend of cheeses, sliced avocado, lime crema, and blackened tomatillo salsa. He too was overwhelmed by how delicious the food was. I actually stole some of his onions to put on my tacos, and that made them even more heavenly!
The chicken fajitas are also a good bet for lunch or dinner, but I’d pass on the red chile chopped chicken salad.
Separate from our amazing entres, the bartenders were super nice and friendly. I wasn’t a big fan of the complimentary salsa they bring you—it had a fire-roasted slightly-burnt taste to it, but of course the BF loved it. Also the side dishes were not that exciting. Between the two of us we tried the red chile rice and green chile rice (both were oddly mild tasting), refried pinto beans (standard), and ripe plantain and black bean mash (which is apparently their most popular side, but tasted oddly sweet and ya’ll know I’m not keen on mixing sweet and savory).
Overall, I’m pretty much in love with this restaurant, which is funny because we’ve heard mixed reviews from other people we’ve talked to in town. To each his own, I guess!
We ordered up some nachos to snack on and they were hands down the most amazing nachos I have ever eaten. No joke. First off, the mound of nachos on the plate was the size of a bowling ball. We opted to add chili to our nachos, and of course the pièce de résistance: TATER TOTS. Tater tot chili nachos??? HOLY WOW IN MY MOUTH.
The nachos were so delicious and so filling that we didn’t even need to order lunch.
Now if only the Browns could…
Mortimer’s at the epicenter was one of our lunch destinations this week. I went with the Jess’ Salsalito Turkey Panini which had sliced salsalito turkey, pepper jack cheese, green bell pepper, red onion, and pesto served up on a fresh ciabatta roll. Nom.
The sandwich was tasty, but overall I think Mortimer’s would make a better night-time drink spot than a lunch spot.
I think we’ve found our Mariachi’s replacement, folks! At first glance, we thought 1900 Mexican Grill was just overpriced Mexican food. Turns out the margaritas are twice as expensive as the ones at home because they are twice as big. Sounds like a fair trade to me!
1900 doesn’t list their drink prices on their menu—I HATE when bars do that! After playing 20 questions with the bartender, we zoned in on the house margarita which was only $6 and amazingly tasty. A little too tasty perhaps, because I guzzled mine down before my food even arrived! Their low-carb margarita is a few bucks more and a tad smaller than their house marg, but it is totally worth it. It’s sweetened with agave nectar instead of the sugary margarita mix, so it’s slightly sweet and slightly sour.
The house salsa at 1900 was surprisingly spicy – no complaints here, but if you are a wimp when it comes to spicy foods, be ready for a kick.
I went with the Chicken Fajita Salad—and it was AWESOME. The salad came in a big crispy shell filled with lettuce, grilled onions and peppers, cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream. I topped mine off with some of the house salsa, and it was a perfect combo. I think the chicken was the part that really made the salad stand out—it was incredibly juicy, well flavored, and had a slight char from the grill which gave the whole salad mouth watering flavor.
I’ve also tried 1900’s ground beef quesadillas, and they were decent but the fajita salad really stole my heart.
The BF got a combo with a chicken burrito and an enchilada. He said it was right on par with our favorite Mexican restaurants in Ohio (AKA he’d eat it once a week for the rest of eternity if he could).
Only complaint was the guacamole. 1900 boasts about its awesome guacamole, but honestly I was not impressed. My guacamole recipe kicks their guac’s butt.
And so ends my week long Charlotte restaurant binge, and my first trip to Charlotte since the BF moved. It was fun but more so it was bittersweet. And I’m not talking chocolate either.
The good news is my next trip is only a few weeks away! Anyone have suggestions for great restaurants in or around Charlotte? Any place with bruschetta, hot sauce, cheese, wine, or margaritas are of specific interest