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Good Eats

Our critics' guide to recommended restaurants in Charlotte

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Gus' Sir Beef Uptown, 324 S. Tryon St., 704-347-5741. Homespun Gus's is known for "Fresh My Farm" vegetables cooked without grease. If you want to be a Charlottean, you'll have to go for the fried squash. $

Hartigan's Irish Pub, 601 S. Cedar St., 704-347-1841. A friendly neighborhood bar dishing up sandwiches, salads, and traditional bar appetizers, all in the shadow of Ericsson Stadium. $$

Latorre's, Latin American Cuisine, 118 W. 5th St., 704-377-4448. Featuring upscale Nuevo Latino dishes that are innovative, well-executed and served in large portions. At lunch, they serve one of the best Cuban sandwiches in the city. $$$

LaVecchia's Seafood Grille, 225 E. 6th St., 704-370-6776. A haven for seafood lovers. Well-prepared, inventive dishes set in an upscale interior. For fun try the three coast raw oyster sampler. $$$

Maharani Indian Cuisine, 901 S. Kings Dr., 704-370-2455. At the confluence of Dilworth and Myers Park, this is the only Indian restaurant near downtown. If you seek shish kebab barbecued on skewers in a tandoor, aromatic biryanis, and spicy kormas, stop in here. $$$

Mama Ricotta's, 601-A S. Kings Dr., 704-343-0155. Small but imaginative menu of pastas, antipasti and pizza. $$

McNinch House, 511 N. Church St., 704-332-6159. Owner-chef Ellen Davis offers a prix fixe dinner in a renovated Fourth Ward Victorian mansion with nine wood burning fireplaces. Known for romantic, and sometimes clandestine meetings, and exceptional service. Reservations required. $$$$

Melting Pot, Kings Court Plaza, Kings Dr., 704-334-4400. A Florida based franchise that has been around since 1975, but is now primed again to catch the latest fondue wave. You will find all kinds of fondues: cheese, beef, seafood, chicken, and chocolate. $$$

Mert's Heart and Soul, 214 N. College St., 704-342-4222. Owners James and Renee Bazzelle create delectable Low Country and Southern country dishes. Service is solicitous, art provocative, food down-home and honest, and prices incredibly low. Open late weekends. $$

Morton's of Chicago Steakhouse, 227 W. Trade St. (Carillon Building), 704-342-4222. Well known for steaks and elegance. Morton's has restaurants in 50 U.S. and international cities. Dinner only. $$$$

Palomino Restaurant, 525 N. Tryon St., 704-373-9499. A Seattle-based chain which serves uncomplicated dishes in a warm, vibrant and inviting atmosphere. Delightful patio fountain. $$$

Phil's Deli, 105 E. 5th St., 704-347-0035. Authentic NYC-style deli (minus NYC prices) with friendly service, fresh breads and sumptuous cold cuts. $

Red Sea Restaurant and Bar, 206 E. Independence Blvd., 704-375-4999. Small, bare bones restaurant serving flavorful Ethiopian food. $$

Simmons Fourth Ward Restaurant, 516 N. Graham St., 704-334-6640. Classic Southern country recipes: smothered pork chops, mac & cheese, baked chicken with corn bread dressing, collard greens, barbecue ribs. $$

Sonoma Bistro & Wine Bar, 129 W. Trade St., 704-377-1333. Owner Pierre Bader and chef Tim Groody team up to produce innovative New American cuisine with locally grown produce in an urban atmosphere. Award winning wine list. $$$

East Charlotte

Brazas Brazilian Grill, 4508 E. Independence Blvd., 704-566-1009. Meat runners brandish towering skewers of meat and add to the Carnival-like atmosphere. The price is fixed and it's all you can eat from a cold and hot buffet. Many dishes are Brazilian specialties, others are just plain good. $$$

Diamond Restaurant, 1901 Commonwealth Ave., 704-375-8959. Established in 1945, this is one of Charlotte's oldest restaurants. Good, solid homecooking with a down-home, almost small town touch. $

Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant, 2920-B Central Ave., 704-569-8959. Serves both excellent "real" and Americanized Chinese food with a wonderful dim sum assortment. Functional ambience. $$

El Loco Pollo, 3124 Eastway Dr. 520, 704-568-3600. These Peruvian dishes delight with a flavor dance of salsas, a freshness to the cerviche, a crispness to fried items, and an earthiness of potatoes and corn. Low-key setting. $$

Gus's Sir Beef, 4101 Monroe Rd., 704-377-3210. Homespun Gus's is known for "Fresh My Farm" vegetables cooked without grease. If you want to be a Charlottean, you'll have to go for the fried squash. $

House of Chinese Gourmet, 5608 E. Independence Blvd., 704-563-8989. This friendly little place serves some dishes lacking in other Charlotte Chinese restaurants with helpful, friendly service. $$

Huong Viet, 4808 Central Ave., 704-537-8475. This little hole-in-the-wall serves up delicate, balanced Vietnamese dishes. $$

Kabob House, Persian Cuisine, 6432 E. Independence Blvd., 704-531-2500. An array of Persian delights: tender charbroiled kabobs, polo and khoresht dishes, all reasonably priced. Building is not much to look at from the outside, but the interior is welcoming. $$$

King and I Restaurant, 4800 Central Ave., 704-532-7511. Small, pristine Thai restaurant with flavorful dishes, and a solicitous, knowledgable staff. $$$

Kyoto Japanese/Korean Restaurant, 6404 Albemarle Rd., 704-569-1954. The Korean dishes are so authentic that even the Korean menu is written in Korean script without benefit of translation. $$


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