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Good Eats

Our critics' guide to recommended restaurants in Charlotte

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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. L, D $$

Latorre's, 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. L, D $$$

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. L, D $$$

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. D $$$$

Melting Pot, Kings Court Plaza, Kings Dr., 901 South 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. D $$$

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. L, D $$

Morton's The Steakhouse, 227 W. Trade St. (Carillon Building), 704-342-4222. Well known for steaks and elegance. Morton's has restaurants in 50 US 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. L, D $$$

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

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. B, L, D $$

Soho Bistro Chinese Cuisine, 214 N. Tryon St, Suite 100, Hearst Tower, entrance on College St., 704-333-5189. Delightful appetizers please those looking for varying degrees of authenticity in an upscale Asian setting. $$

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. L, D $$$

East Charlotte

Ben Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant, 4900 Central Ave, 704-566-1088. A mom-and-pop restaurant from experienced people who know the ropes. The restaurant offers no glam, but an extensive traditional Vietnamese menu filled with fresh and delightfully clean flavored dishes. $

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 ceviche, a crispness to fried items, and an earthiness of potatoes and corn. Low-key setting. L, D $$

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. L, D $

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. L, D $$

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. L, D $$$

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

La Canasta Dominicana Restaurant, 4808 Central Ave., 704-536-0009. Small, friendly, bilingual family-owned place offering well-prepared root and fruit island dishes. Seafood, stewed goat and homemade desserts, too. L, D $$

Lang Van, 3019 Shamrock Dr., 704-553-3864. Oldest Vietnamese restaurant in the city and has become one of the most popular ethnic restaurants, famous for their yellow pancakes. Delicious Vietnamese cuisine with lots of fresh herbs in creative combinations. L, D $$

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