For reasons unknown or because it’s getting kind of hectic, we’ve let over three months (!) slide by without a single commentary on where we’re dining here in the Queen City.
Whereas in DC and the greater Riverdale, Maryland area had either very expensive or very hard-to-get-to-in-gridlock-metro-hell restaurants, it is refreshing to eat great food at reasonable prices and to get from one place to another in less than 20 minutes. (But I will say I miss the convenience of buses and the Metro.) Charlotte is a straight-up car city — home of NASCAR, no less — and you best have wheels to get yourself around town.
So here’s our July to October check in: Round 1, featuring Plaza Midwood eats. As a tease, here’s the vegetable plate from The Diamond:
Yes, it is good to be back in the real South where Macaroni and Cheese is considered a “vegetable.”
We live in the “Plaza Shamrock” section of town, which means we’re not in the right income bracket for “Plaza Midwood” — but that’s just fine. We are within biking distance, or walking distance when it’s not 95 degrees out on a July evening and all your husband wants is a Rita’s Custard and Ice paired with a cold beer before he gets all prickly. But I digress.
Other than a Rita’s just down the way, Plaza Midwood also offers up:
- Zada Jane’s. Funky little spot reminds me of a lot of Asheville establishments - fun art, lots of color, vegetarian-friendly menu, etc. Their brunch is great - huevos rancheros in particular. Just don’t order the sweet potato fries unless you like them coated in cinnamon and sugar — it’s a bit much and you know Scott “Sweet or Savory” Adams is not a fan.
- Nova Bakery. Since my days of living around the corner from West End Bakery, I have longed to live near a bakery that makes bread (not cookies, not pastries, not cakes - but carby and amazing BREAD) again. Nova’s is ok. I’m waiting to find a place that has chewy, dense, real bread that I can really brag about.
- Thomas Street Tavern. This bar was highly recommended, but the night we visited it felt like a sports bar. Not a fan. Moving on…
- The Common Market. One of two local spots in town (the other is in the South End), “The CM” offers tasty sandwiches and a whole shop of goodies to grab and go. They invite you to purchase the six packs, single beers or bottles of wine and then chill on their patio and their seating area. Also a fun place for novelties that would make perfect stocking stuffers. Calling Santa…
- The Penguin. This is where you get your fried pickles and burger fix, on your way to Diabetes and Heart Trouble. Consistently cites as a Charlotte institution, it’s a good grease bomb.
- The Diamond. Equipped with a sweet-ass red neon sign, this spot has the Southern kitchen/diner thing going on. Love the Formica counters, vinyl booths, and their mac and cheese and collard greens are fantastic. I’d skip the fried okra — too heavy on the cornmeal breading. Scott vouches for their black eyed peas.
- Krazy Fish. Sit down, order their beer special (a cheap Carib or on one of my visits, the Hell or High Watermelon), and let the culinary fusion flow. It’s a little Asian, a little Mexican, and a little Southern, and way delicious. We like their squash casserole, curried potato cakes, and that thing they do with Roti (South Asian bread) to wrap up all kinds of sauced-up things, from shrimp to pulled pork. One of my favorite places already.They also give you 10 percent off your meal when you present your receipt from a previous visit. Hollaaaa!
- Akahana. Here’s the deal: BOGO Sushi. Buy one roll, get one free. Be sure to get the San Francisco — a California roll topped with lemon slices and salmon. Scott has enjoyed their Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken noodle dish.
Coming up in our next round up: We chow down on artsy, brewerys-a-poppin-up-like-madness NoDa, or the North Davidson area.
Cheers, and have a delicious weekend!