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Good Eats

Our critics' guide to recommended restaurants in Charlotte

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John's Country Kitchen, 1518 Central Ave., 704-333-9551. A reminder of a culinary tradition we're quickly leaving behind. Brains and eggs, country ham, grits and gravy. Open for lunch too. Cash only. B, L $

Lupie's Cafe, 2718 Monroe Rd., 704-374-1232. This funky, semi-legendary place is home to an eclectic, down-home hip clientele and a kitchen full of some of the best burgers, chili and vegetarian chili in town. $

Nova's Bakery, 1511 Central Ave., 704-333-5566. A great Eastern European bakery. Wonderful cranberry pecan and orange chocolate bread, focaccia, baguettes, country bread, brioche, potato pizzas and more. $

The Penguin, 1921 Commonwealth Ave., 704-375-6959. Reopened in 2001 after being refurbished to the original red, black, and chrome 1950s interior. Menu features burgers, foot long hot dogs, Eastern-style barbecue, veggie burgers, fried pickles and pimento cheese sandwiches. $$

Swing 1000, 1000 Central Ave., 704-334-4443. Familiar dishes in a glamorous neo-1940s/Lounge/Rat Pack setting. Entertainment and dancing with a dose of swank. D $$$$

Matthews/SE Charlotte

Boardwalk Billy's, Crown Point, 1636 Sardis Rd. North, 704-841-8688. This beach-styled place may look like a bar, but offers much more. Their Billy's Steam Party (enough for two) is filled with steamed shrimp, oysters, clams, crab legs, potatoes and corn on the cob. Serves food late. $$

The Fish Farm, 1200 Sam Newell Rd., 704-847-8578. Traditional fish camp food mixed with Southern country, steaks, and ribs. Set in a barn. $$$

Greg's Famous B-B-Q, 10915 Monroe Rd., 704-847-5035. The menu has everything from barbecue to lasagna, chicken to foot long hot dogs and all at unbelievably low prices. $$

Kristopher's Sports Bar & Restaurant, 250 N. Trade St., 704-845-6200. Popular sports bar with New York styled pizza, Buffalo wings, soups and sandwiches. $$

Mi Tierra Latino Grill & Fritanga, 11450 East Independence Blvd., Matthews Plaza, 704-845-0400. The Herrera family owns this gem which features a selection of Nicaraguan, Colombian, Cuban, and a few Mexican dishes. Feast on yuccas, plantains, flavorful grilled dishes and the Latino sauce triad: chimichurri, salsa encurtido, and mojo.

Raucci's on East John Street, 131 E. John St., 704-841-8282. Family owned Italian restaurant serving New York-styled southern Italian cuisine. Pizza at lunch only. This is hearty, but unobtrusive fare. L, D $$$

Taste of Asia, Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant, 9626 Monroe Rd., 704-846-2515. Fresh, large-portioned, and flavorful Vietnamese, Hunan and Szechuan cuisine prepared in an open kitchen. Eat in or take out. L, D $$

Township Grille, Matthews Festival, 10400 East Independence Boulevard, 704-847-2480. Matthews' version of Buffalo, NY, with great wings, roast beef on kummelweck rolls and a large selection of beers, including Genesee beer and cream ale. $

Yen's, 9010 Monroe Rd., 704-845-9444. Small, family owned Chinese restaurant which prepares many Chinese cuisines and offers solicitous service. $$

Myers Park

Fenwicks, 511 Providence Rd., 704-333-2750. Smaller than some bathrooms, but cozier, and a fun place. The menu runs to standards like steak and pasta, with fresh vegetables daily. $$$

The Meeting House Restaurant, 801 Providence Rd., 704-334-6338. Located in a charming house in the center of Myers Park, this is a meeting place for the neighborhood crowd. Talented chef and owner Chris Zion was trained at Le Cordon Bleu, yet the dishes are American bistro. $$$

Providence Cafe, 110 Perrin Place, 704-376-2008. Gorgeous dining room and comfortable New American cuisine offers a neighborhood spot and place to linger in Charlotte's ultimate zip code. $$$

Volare Ristorante Italiano, 545-B Providence Rd., 704-370-0208. A small neighborhood spot in Charlotte's ultimate zip code with fabulous service and fine dishes which achieve Italian cuisine's reassuring freshness, along with an exquisite layering of flavors. $$$$

North Charlotte/University

Amalfi, Italian Cuisine, 8542 University City Blvd., 704-547-8651. Small, family-owned Italian eatery with a loyal following. The owner, a native of Naples, prepares generous portions of simple and tasty southern Italian fare, everything from pastas to pizzas. Closed Monday. L, D $$

Boardwalk Billy's, UNCC, Shoppes at University Place, 8933-2 J.M. Keynes Dr., 704-503-7427. This beach-styled place may look like a bar, but offers much more. Their Billy's Steam Party (enough for two) is filled with steamed shrimp, oysters, clams, crab legs, potatoes and corn on the cob. Serves food late. $$

Bombay Cuisine, 230 E. W.T. Harris Blvd., 704-503-5558. Exquisite Northern and Southern Indian dishes set before you in a setting where every detail has been noted. $$$

Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen, 501 E. 36th St., 704-331-9898. Po'Boys and muffalettas at lunch, inexpensive, traditional Creole and Cajun dishes at dinner served in a spacious, artsy dining room. Sunday Brunch, too. L, D $$


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