I'm a Charlottean transplant from the metro DC area, and having gleaned much information from here (thanks to posters like 'brentk'!) I thought I'd post some of my favorite food finds/discoveries since coming down south.
We live near Ballantyne so these finds are all around that area.
- Barbecue: They say it's no good in Charlotte. It's not really, but if you drive just south of the border down 521 (past the Southern Spirits liquor store by a few miles) there's a great Q place known as "521 Barbecue". Fantastic vinegar sauce, slaw & pups. I'd be interested in getting some real Q veterans take on the place.
- Greek/Italian: Ilios Noche off Providence in the Harris Teeter shopping center at the intersection of Ardrey Kell has a fantastic menu. Best spanikopita in town, plus they serve Mythos beer and have a real Greek salad (no lettuce). Pasta sauces are great, not too heavy. Service is spotty, but the ambience is nice. (www.iliosnoche.com)
- Mexican: Senor Tequila off Rae Road. It's much better than chain Mexican restaurants. The decor is fantastic and the "tacos de pescado" (fish tacos) are To. Die. For. Added bonus: Plenty of drinks with tequila. The chips are good too.
- Hamburgers: They're no "In and Out Burger" but Five Guys off Johnston Road just south of 485 is the closest I've found on the east coast. Yes, it's a chain (groan) but a very small one that started up in my old hometown of VA/MD/DC. Fresh potatoes for the french fries, sloppy delicious burgers, peanuts on the floor. Love it.
Places we've learned to avoid:
- T-Bones on the Lake at Lake Wylie: No matter how cool eating a steak along a lake in a restaurant that smells like camp may seem, the food doesn't live up to any grand dreams at all. Poor food, bad service, but it's packed every Friday and Saturday night. Do not be fooled. These people do not know something that you do not. They're just willing to settle for blech food.
- Pizza & Ice Cream Works: Also off Johnston Road/521 just "south of the border". I don't get the love for this place at all. I had high hopes when we moved here, but the atmosphere is mostly suited to little league sports teams, and the pizza isn't as good as what you'll get at Fuel or Brixx.
Still looking for:
- Great Indian food: We like Bombay Cuisine, but I haven't yet found a place where the Chicken Tikka Masala equals what I got at the Connaught Place in DC.
- Great Chinese food: Tried Pei Wei (blech) and the restaurant in the Lowe's Foods shopping center off Johnston Road (double blech). Looking for something much more authentic than PF Changs, but so far no one's delivered.
Enjoy, and thanks Charlotte Chowhounds for all of the great recommendations!