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Good Eats

Our critics' guide to recommended restaurants in Charlotte

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Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine, 3200 University City Blvd., 704-717-9090. Flavorful northern Indian cuisine, including tandoori specialties, served in a bare bones environment. A healthy variety of vegetarian dishes. $$

Taqueria Guadalajara, 4517 N. Tryon, 704-596-2239. Inexpensive spot featuring the specialties of central Mexico including tacos, quail, and barbecue sandwiches. B, L, D $

Pineville/Hwy 51

Bombay Grille Indian Cuisine, 8706-Pineville-Matthews Rd., 704-542-3933. Spice laden entree dishes give a tasty overview of Indian cuisine. The chicken tikka masala is second to none in town. L, D $$$

Campania, 6414 Rea Rd., 704-541-8505. Charlotte's nexus to Naples. Copious portions of remarkable dishes with Italian wines to match. Beautifully appointed dining room. Pricey, but considerably less than airfare. D $$$$

Firebirds Rocky Mountain Grill, 7716 Rea Rd., 704-752-7979. This stunning facility resembles a Colorado lodge complete with roaring fire and aspen columns. Menu items, served in huge portions, are simple, straighforward and have a southwestern flair. D $$$

Formosa Chinese Cuisine, 8200-400 Providence Rd., Arboretum Shopping Center, 704-540-3779. A casual spot featuring a mix of China's regional cooking and excelling in seafood dishes. Order from the second menu if you like more authentic offerings. $$

Katz New York, 8045 Providence Rd., in the Arboretum Office Park, 704-543-4666. Hand cut fries, potato knish, matzo ball soup, housemade corned beef and cole slaw, egg creams, and well-made cold cut sandwiches, all Big Apple deli style. B, L, D $$

Mi Mexico, 10015 Lee St., 704-889-7709. Go here for Chicken Pipian or Mole Poblano. $$

Trio Restaurant, 10709 McMullen Creek Pkwy., 704-541-8000. Friendly place for an imaginative and eclectic selection of entrees, gourmet pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads and pastas. Emphasis on creative taste combinations. L, D $$

Tsukiji, 8320 Pineville-Matthews Rd., 704-543-4081. Less expensive than other sushi restaurants, and the sushi is pretty good. Other Japanese dishes offered. $$$

Waldhorn Restaurant, 12101 Lancaster Hwy. (Rt. 521), 704-540-7047. This restaurant is located in an imposing two-story Alpine building feted with geranium flower boxes. Chef and owner Thomas Maier's attentive care may cause you to jettison stereotypic views of German cuisine. From grilled duck breast in lingonberry sauce to wienerschnitzel, it's all good. L, D $$$

Wan Fu, 10719 Kettering Dr., 704-541-1688. Upscale Americanized Chinese restaurant in which dishes are beautifully presented. L, D $$$

South Charlotte

Bangkok Ocha, 7629-B Pineville-Matthews Rd., 704-544-7770. Thai dishes of complex intensity and flavor set in a small, but polished restaurant. L, D $$$

Beef n' Bottle, 4538 South Blvd., 704-523-9977. A homegrown spot, beloved by many, with a traditional menu featuring aged Black Angus beef, oysters Rockefeller, and seafood, including frogs' legs. Dark, dated interior. D $$$

Bill Spoon's Barbecue, 5524 South Blvd., 704-525-8865. For nearly 40 years, this 65-seat pork parlor has been packed at lunch. The place to go for die hard Eastern barbecue aficionados. $

Bourbon Street Station, 6101 Old Pineville Rd., 704-522-0231. Good Cajun-style food is served up here, with an emphasis on a fun and friendly ambience. You can't miss; just keep your eye out for the old train. L, D $$$

The Cupboard, 3005 South Blvd., 704-523-9934. One of the busiest of Charlotte's many home cooking restaurants. Great daily specials (don't miss the chicken pan pie) and legendary coconut pie. B, L, D $

Don Quijote, Restaurante Espanol, 4640 South Blvd., 704-529-5959. Exceptional Northern and Southern Spanish cuisine. One could readily make a meal by choosing a variety of the 15 tantalizing Tapas items. And there's more: paellas, fabulous fish dishes, Spanish wines, and a large deck. L, D $$$

Harrigan's Gourmet Deli, 5033-K South Blvd., 704-522-3550. Traditional cold cut sandwiches on round bread, specialty "Dilbert" sandwiches, homemade salads and daily specials. B, L $

Jaipur Indian Cuisine, 5909 South Blvd., 704-643-1421. Don't let the exterior put you off. Inside you'll find balanced Indian dishes from all parts of the subcontinent. Reasonably priced, too. A great weekday lunch buffet, and a great dinner buffet on weekends. L, D $$$

Luisa's Brick Oven, 1730 Abbey Pl., 704-522-8782. Brick oven-baked pizza plus other Italian dishes. Pizza available with innovative topping alternatives. Take out orders prepared quickly. $$

Mai Japanese Restaurant, 5906 South Blvd., 704-522-1515. Sushi chefs produce deftly cleaved wondrous rolls that taste sparklingly fresh. Robata grill, too. $$$

Monsoon, Thai Cuisine Restaurant, 2801 South Blvd., 704-519-0066. The lush kang panang with chopped kaffir lime leaves and holy basil is a gift to the senses. The key to eating well here is going with friends and sharing a spate of dishes. $$$

Nectar, 1730-A E. Woodlawn Rd., 704-519-4174. A delightful neighborhood spot to refuel on global, but gussied up, fusion foods. Appetizer dishes to try include the Caribbean crab and shrimp cakes, and heady shrimp and chicken spring rolls. $$$

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