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Eat Like A King

The Big E's Charlotte favorites

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It's hard to believe it's actually been 25 years since The King fell off his throne and left us. There are still some folks out there, of course, who remain in denial about the legitimacy of his death. In the original Men In Black movie, Agent K proclaimed that "Elvis is not dead, he just went home." Tabloid Elvis sightings, although no longer as frequent as, say, claims of alien anal probes, are still being reported. There have been persistent claims of Elvis living in one trailer park or another, of him working the night shift at some 7-Eleven location or another, and (my personal favorite) of The King working as an Elvis impersonator in small bars and clubs in Hawaii.Of course, if he were still alive today he'd be 67 years old and presumably retired. And it seems pretty obvious to me that The King would be spending his 7-Eleven pension checks right here in The Queen City.

The live Elvis last visited Charlotte six months before his death, playing two soldout performances at the old Charlotte Coliseum on February 20 and 21, 1977. At the last show, a young girl broke through security and managed to plant a nice wet one on Elvis. He was so moved (or possibly shaken) by this, that he forgot the words to his next song, "Burning Love."

You've got to figure adulation like that would stick in his memory, making Charlotte a special place in his heart. Elvis also played a stock car racer in one of his movies; we've got racin'. He spent a lot of time in Las Vegas; there's a lottery, high stakes bingo, and video poker right across the border from Charlotte. World class? Shee-it, we're Elvis class, baby! All this plus numerous places to eat like The King in The Queen City. Here's a few.

Subway: At the time of his death, Elvis was reportedly tipping the scales at 255 pounds (and rising). He was well-known as a streak eater, meaning he would eat the same food repeatedly. His former wife Priscilla said there was an eight-month stretch where he insisted on meatloaf for dinner every night. That being the case, if Elvis wanted to drop a few pounds in retirement, the Subway/Jared diet would be perfect. For almost a year, Jared Fogel ate nothing but Subway sandwiches and drank diet soda to drop about 200 pounds.

Pros: Elvis loved crispy, burnt bacon. A good choice for him, then, might be the Subway Veggie Sub with added bacon. Elvis would have three dozen Subway locations to choose from in the Charlotte area. Hopefully he would not visit each and every one every day.

Cons: Cold cuts are pre-sliced.

Price: A six-inch Veggie with bacon costs $3.99 plus tax.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: There are two degrees of separation between Elvis and Kevin Bacon. Elvis was in the 1969 movie Change of Habit with actor Ed Asner. Asner was in the movie JFK with Kevin Bacon.

Penguin Restaurant: One of Elvis' favorite foods was peanut butter. The story goes that one night Elvis had a hankering for a PB&J so he loaded the Memphis mafia onto his private jet and flew to Denver where 22 PB&Js were waiting from a restaurant he thought did an especially good job. Even more than PB&J, Elvis' favorite sandwich was a peanut butter and banana sandwich fried in almost a stick of butter. At the Penguin, in addition to a PB n Nanner, they also serve beer, wine, and liquor. What wine goes best with peanut butter, I wonder?

Pros: From the neon BBQ pig sign in the window to the deep red walls, this is Elvis' kind of place. Aside from a decent PB n Nanner, Elvis could also choose between fried pickles, sweet potato fries, a kingpig pork chop sandwich, or a fried Dixie chicken sandwich, among other favorites.

Cons: Bananas were sliced, not mashed. Also, to be a truly authentic Elvis dish, it should have come with a side order of Dilaudid or Percodan.

Price: The Tupelo Special, available every day, is $3.50.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Thomas Street Tavern (across the street) also offers a very good PB n Nanner as an annual special every August 16. Stop in and tell "em Big E sent you.

Lupie's Cafe Lupie's alone would be reason enough for Elvis to move to Charlotte. The meatloaf special on Mondays, the chicken and dumpling special on Thursdays, the chili mac and burgers every day. . .the only way to get Elvis out of Lupie's would be using a power winch and petroleum jelly.

Pros: Great food, funky atmosphere, enormous portions, very reasonable prices. Delicious banana pudding if you possibly still have room after your meal.

Cons: Get there early (or late) for lunch to avoid the line. Lupie's does not take credit or debit cards.

Price: Daily specials are $5.35 which includes tea and two sides.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: The walls of Lupie's Cafe are covered with many black and white pictures of Charlotte, most of them taken by Byron Baldwin. There are no pictures of Elvis however, black velvet or otherwise.

You can e-mail Gene Lazo at GeneYouIgnorantSlut@Yahoo.com

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