I have maxed out my $14 craft cocktail tolerance for 2016. If one more person hands me a menu with half-ass farm-to-table claims on it, I’m going to implode. And while I’m ranting, if I can’t come inside in yoga pants, I’m just not coming inside.
There’s a time and place for Charlotte’s shmoozy formal dining scene but at the moment, I’m not about it. I don’t want pricey renovations and media previews and marketing buzzwords. I just want good, cheap food served in an environment that can best be described as “adequately clean.”
Here are 8 such places.
Nicky’s is a dead simple breakfast and lunch spot serving up unfussy southern comfort foods—like grits, bologna sandwiches and livermush—at impossibly low prices. I like that I’ve heard (unsubstantiated) rumors of it being a mob front. All the best restaurants are.
Address: 2416 Freedom Drive
Hours: M – Th 7a-4p, F 6:30a-4p, Sa 6:30a-2p
What people are saying on Facebook: “Food cooked with 100% love. They always treat you like family!!! Amazing food”
Price point: $3 – $8
You’ve probably driven by this unassuming little greasy spoon on Kings a million times. It’s nothing fancy but Philadelphia Deli’s more than 40-year history in Charlotte runs deep. It’s a humble spot that’s not trying too hard.
Address: 1025 S. Kings Drive
Hours: M – F 7a-8p, Sa 7a-3p
What people are saying on Facebook: “No joke! This place was WONDERFUL! Total blast from the past decor and diner-style menu. Embarrassed I’ve passed it up for 18 years before popping in. Warning: Arrive hungry; plentiful portions!”
Price point: $4 – $9
I already know that diehard regulars are mad I unearthed this gem. Miguel’s is a jackpot Mexican dive off I-85 by the airport. Head over on the weekends for margarita pitcher deals.
Address: 4252 Business Center Drive
Hours: M – Sa 11a-10p, Su 11a-9p
What people are saying on Facebook: “Miguel’s delivered some of the best Mexican food, I’ve had. Great salsa which is an indication of the quality of food. Miguel’s lived up to that and more!!! Yo soy Mexicana, y yo conosco a comida Mexicana!” [Translation: “I’m Mexican and I know Mexican food!”]
Price point: $4 – $14
I’m honestly embarassed I’ve still never been in here. Euro Grill specializes in cevapi, an authentic Bosnian sandwich of sorts with little sausages stuffed inside a pita-like flatbread called lepinje. You’re dying to try it now, aren’t you?
Address: 2719 Central Avenue
Hours: T – Su 10a-8p
What people are saying on Facebook: “We moved from Seattle and used to drive to Vancouver, Canada to get our cevapi fix! So glad we found this place!!!! Delicious and friendly! Always a part of our trip to Charlotte!”
Price point: $5 – $11
You know we love a good gas station food find (see our #1 fried chicken pick). Blanchard’s is located inside a Shell station down in south Charlotte, and the business has been in the same family since the 50s. I hear the hot dogs are something special.
Address: 5721 Carmel Road
Hours: M – F 7a-3p
What people are saying on Facebook: “Best hot dogs in the city! Just like they claim!”
Price point: $4 – $8
They’ve got all your Louisiana favorites, including jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice and more than 35 varieties of hot sauce.
Address: The Arboretum, 8026 Providence Road #900
Hours: M – Th 11a-9p, F – Sa 11a-10p
What people are saying on Facebook: “Absolutely some of the best food we have ever had. Such a cute, hole in the wall place with 15 tables. Great service & they KILLED it with the food!”
Price point: $7 – $18
Zack’s is a Charlotte institution that I hope holds its ground in the face of encroaching light rail development in and around South End where they’ve been in business since 1975. Go for the Zack’s Special and don’t skip the milkshakes.
Address: 4009 South Boulevard
Hours: M – Th 11a-8:30p, F 11a-9p
What people are saying on Facebook: “I’ve lived all over the world in my life and IMO the Zack’s Special is the best hamburger to be found anywhere. My family and I have consistently enjoyed outstanding food and service from George Demopolis and his staff for over 20 years now and that’s why we keep coming back.”
Price point: $6 – $10
Unlike the other locations listed here, Letty’s is more of a full-service restaurant with a full bar and lunch, dinner and brunch service. I can’t stop thinking about the sweet potato veggie burger, and the hummachos (a hummus-nachos hybrid) haunt me.
Address: 2121 Shamrock Drive
Hours: T – Sa 11a-10p, Su 11a-3p
What people are saying on Facebook: “Great brunch yesterday. The Honey Pecan Chicken and it was so very good. My wife had the Chicken and Grits with Sausage Gravy. She was very happy with the dish. Our server
was Letty her self. She was so friendly and gracious. “
Price point: $6 – $15
Menu | Brunch Menu
Header photo of Euro Grill & Cafe via Facebook