September is the time to explore the Q.C. since many people typically relocate here during the summer for either jobs or school. I am frequently asked to recommend eateries that are the quintessential Charlotte -- not the high-end restaurants with the city's most talented, well-trained chefs -- but those quiet little places that have been around since dirt. If you really want to eat like a Charlottean, you need to check out these places:
Price's Chicken Coop. OK so now that Bon Appetit and the Food Network have recognized Price's as one of the top three places for fried chicken in the country (never mind that Creative Loafing has awarded it Best Fried Chicken every year since 1995), believe me. Price's is cash only, take out, but the lines move quickly and the take-home boxes are destined to have a place of prominence in the Levine Museum of the New South. Generations of Charlotteans have been going there since it opened in 1962 (The Price family owned the Dilworth Poultry Company during the Depression and some of the Price children had regular bike routes through Dilworth delivering fresh eggs and chickens.) 1614 Camden Road. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
For lunch try one of these: Lupie's Café, 2718 Monroe Road, is celebrating 20 years at its funky Elizabeth location. You haven't had chili in Charlotte till you have tried Lupie's threesome: Texas, Cincinnati and Vegetarian. The Penguin is not old, but is now a mainstay. At lunch the wait can be out the door. Meeting for lunch on Saturday or Sunday at Arthur's on the lower level at Belk in SouthPark Mall is a ritual for many Charlottean families. Pick up a tray and order from the line.
If you relocated from Dunkin' Donuts land (New England), what comes next is sure to meet with rebuff, but nothing can beat the drive-through at a Krispy Kreme for a "Hot Now" glazed doughnut. You could buy these in grocery stores or smaller outlets such as the airport store, but these do not bake onsite. The Independence or Woodlawn stores do and their doughnuts are vastly superior. Have biscuits and eggs at the Coffee Cup (relocating from their historic Third Ward site to the Cameron Brown building, 301 S. McDowell St.) For sit a the counter at John's Country Kitchen, 1518 Central Ave., an eatery owned by a Greek family as many Charlotte restaurants were in the 1950s through 1980s. John's is situated in a 100-year old Plaza Midwood building. Order the pork brains, scrambled eggs, and a piece of baklava. That's quintessential Charlotte.
Speaking of Greeks, the Yiasou Greek Festival, celebrating it's 29th year, will be held Thursday September 6th though Sunday the 9th this year and is a favorite of Charlotteans who will pack their freezers with Greek pastries and stay to eat roasted lamb, gyro and souvlaki sandwiches, freshly fried loukoumades while celebrating Greek culture.