There’s no sense in beating around the biscuit–let’s get down to the nitty gritty on four Charlotte restaurants I’ve eaten at recently:
PURE PIZZA: Located uptown in the 7th St Public Market, Pure Pizza is quickly becoming one of my favorite spots for lunch. They specialize in farm to fork pizza, and their toppings are seasonal and sourced straight from the market. You have your choice of dough: sprouted ancient grain (which includes quinoa), classic Neapolitan or gluten-free. My favorite pie is the chorizo, which comes with organic radishes, onions, cilantro, and lime. Each pizza is served with a small container of honey for dipping the crust, which I found surprisingly tasty. Recently, PP expanded their menu to include several sandwiches. For lunch last week, I tried the caprese sandwich, which comes panini style, pressed and oozing with fresh mozzarella cheese. I am in love with their balsamic dressing—it’s tangy, sweet, and super thick, almost spreadable. Pure Pizza also sells adorable half bottles of wine and beer, there is plenty of seating available, AND the market validates parking.
JACKALOPE JACKS: by appearances alone, this place is incredibly deceiving. From the outside, it looks like someone scrapped an arcade and a miniature golf course and repurposed the parts into a restaurant. If you can look past the fake grass, you’ll find several holes-in-one on the menu (the golf analogy ends here, I promise). Their house chili is one of my favorites in town and their salads are surprisingly large and fresh. My top picks on the menu include the southwestern wrap with corn and black bean salad, teriyaki chicken skewers, and the jalapeno mac and cheese (if you like things extra spicy, that is). Jackalopes offers more than just standard bar food, though they do have awesome tater tots. They also serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday, with everything from “garbage plates” to crepes.
MARIA BONITA: I’ve been to plenty of fancy Mexican restaurants in Charlotte, but it took me over a year to find this favorite no-frills Mexican joint. Whatever you do, whatever you order, make sure to get the Dip Ole (queso with grilled shrimp pico de gallo, and artichokes) and a top shelf margarita on the rocks. Just these two items alone would make a perfect meal. But why stop there? They have all the standard dishes nailed: tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, you name it. They also have several great chicken dishes, including the Pollo La Dona and Arroz con Pollo, and I’m especially partial to their shrimp fajitas. The restaurant’s layout is awkward with a large metal staircase in the middle and a small loft upstairs, but the service is always fast and friendly.
MORTIMERS: The first time I went to Mortimer’s I wasn’t super impressed. That was nearly two years ago, and I thank my lucky stars I had the courage to go back. It’s now one of my top picks (arguably THE top pick) for sandwiches in town. I’m obsessesed with the veg out grinder, which has all the flavors of an Italian sub without the meat. I’m not sure how they accomplish this feat, but it is amazing and I’ve eaten it for lunch three times in the last two weeks. Other favorites include the Big Easy, roast beef sliders, Charlie’s Chicken Nacho Wrap, and chili con carne. Service is speedy, and they have adorable courtyard seating, perfect for people watching at the Epicentre. They do not validate parking, but if there isn’t an event going on uptown it’s not hard to find street parking.