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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. L $

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 $$

Meskerem Ethiopian Cuisine, 601 South Kings Dr., 704-335-1197. Family-owned, family-styled restaurant offering authentic stews and otherculinary pleasures from an ancient culture. Reservations suggested forcoffee ceremony. $$

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. $$

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. $$$


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