Most of the restaurants I eat at are either swanky and expensive or gritty and cheap. So when my parents come into town for the holidays, I never know where to take them. I can’t bring them to a brewery (too loud) or a food truck festival (too much walking) or a rooftop restaurant (I don’t want to hear them mispronounce the name of the wine).
In preparation, I pushed myself to come up with 10 Charlotte restaurants that are quiet, reasonably priced and down to earth without being boring, making them perfect for a family dinner out this holiday season.
Cost: $8-$10 entrees
Moms will love: Mimosas! But more than that, getting to people watch in what you’ll tell her is Charlotte’s coolest neighborhood.
Dads will love: It’s brunch minus all the pretentious things that make brunch a “millennial” activity. The service is fast and the dishes are familiar.
Bad Daddy’s (Ballantyne)
Cost: $10-15 burgers
Moms will love: The family atmosphere. Bad Daddy’s Ballywood location has all the wholesome vibes needed for a post-church lunch while you try to convince your mom you totally go to church year round.
Dads will love: The burgers. Bad Daddy’s is painfully underrated, probably because their East Boulevard location is so cramped, and parking is a mess. The Ballantyne version has neither of those issues, so dad will focus on how great the beef is.
Cost: $11-$20+ entrees
Moms will love: Quirky first-time tries like pimento cheese nachos and the grilled chicken avocado sandwich.
Dads will love: Southern fried chicken, blackened catfish, the Hog Heaven fried pork loin sandwich, and all the other dressed-up, down-home favorites.
Cost: $11-$15 noodles and poke bowl
Moms will love: The interior design. This is right near the top of the list when it comes to stunningly designed restaurants. She’ll probably talk about it for weeks afterward and beg to go there again next time she visits.
Dads will love: The portions on the noodle bowls. He’ll grumble about how Chinese food doesn’t fill him up (don’t bother trying to explain to him it’s Vietnamese) until that bowl of drunken Thai noodles with a fried egg lands in front of him.
Cost: $17-19 wood-fired entrees
Moms will love: The high-end menu. She probably doesn’t always get to have fancy eats like quinoa stuffed avocados and leg of lamb.
Dads will love: Finally getting to go to a spacious dining room where you don’t feel like you’re sitting in your neighbor’s lap.
Cost: $16-$37 entrees
Moms will love: Tons of gluten-free options, an impressive wine list, and the parking lot is sizable enough to park the Suburban with no problem.
Dads will love: The massive Kansas City strip, served bone-in, clocks in at 14 ounces. It’ll help him finally stop complaining about all the small plates you tried to feed him last year.
Billy Jack’s Shack
Cost: Nothing over $12
Moms will love: The decor. It’s as detailed as a kid’s bedroom in a Nickelodeon show.
Dads will love: No frills, straight-forward bar food. The chefs here pack flavor and seasoning into every dish, a welcome shift from the trend toward blandness a lot of new restaurants lean into.
The Pizza Peel
Cost: Full size pies for $22-$23
Moms will love: The patio adjacent lawn is a great place for nephews, nieces and grandchildren to go play during dinner.
Dads will love: The Heart Stopper. It has like four different kinds of dead pig on it.
Cost: $2-$4 per oyster if you’re shucking, and the seafood entrees get closer to $20-$30
Moms will love: The view. Sea Level’s patio has a delicious view of the skyline that’s super Instagrammable. That’s right, your mom’s on Instagram now. Get ready for “love you, pookie bear” comments on your drunken selfies.
Dads will love: Teaching your new boyfriend the proper way to shuck an oyster. Dads love explaining things, and he’s had to put up with your man babbling on about that finance job of his. Now it’s his turn. Grab a knife, get your gloves on, and get ready to learn.
Deejai Noodle Bar
Cost: $10-15 noodle bowls, and sushi can range from $7-$17
Moms will love: The creative plating. She’s been watching a lot of cooking shows lately and now thinks “presentation” is super important to her meals. Deejai’s sushi rolls, poke bowls and cocktails won’t disappoint.
Dads will love: The Thai chicken wings. Just make sure you put in for two orders. He’ll be cranky if he thinks you really thought six wings would be enough for him.