Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mar y Tierra Mexican Restaurant

Restaurant: Mar y Tierra
Location: 3000 Yorkmont Road, Charlotte (across from Yorkmont Cafe)
Website: n/a
Telephone: TBA
Food Selection: Mexican
Health Score: TBA
Hours: TBA

The Initial Walk-In:

Mar y Tierra recently opened on Yorkmont Road across from Yorkmont Cafe. They do not have a website, nor are they even on Google maps yet. I will be upfront and say, I missed some of the extreme basics on this review (see above), but still can provide sound insight. Mar y Tierra is located in an interesting building in the pseudo-industrial/commercial area of the Yorkmont Road/Billy Graham area.

As you walk-in, there really was not much in terms of atmosphere welcoming you. The walls were barren, aside from a few Mexican decorations. You pretty much walk into the restaurant too. They have booths along the walls and standard chairs and tables in the middle of one rectangular room. There was a party-area with a wall divider.

Course of Meals:

Appetizer: There was no surprise here, chips and salsa were provided. The tortilla chips were basic and straight forward. The salsa was not watered-down and it was some-what spicy.

Beverage: Top Shelf Margarita. The sizes are small (12 oz), medium (24 oz), and large (32 oz). I ordered a medium. The medium is a great size that was not tarnished by too much ice. However, it was a little to sweet for my taste (and I like sweet things) and I did not think there was too much alcohol present. Big bummer. I thought maybe it would I would feel it later, but I really did not. As a result, it was okay.

I perused the menu and looked at their options. Almost everything is under $10 on their menu. The only things that were over $10 were the fajitas and a couple entrees.

Dinner: I selected the Steak Fajita. It consists of steak, green bell peppers, salsa, refried beans, rice, salad, and a couple tortillas (either corn or flour). My food was served extremely fast. I was impressed. It came on two plates and a tin-foil pouch for my tortillas. The steak was good and not rubbery, despite being cooked well-done, so kudos to them. The veggies and salad were very fresh. They were crisp, crunchy, and refreshing. There was not hint of staleness, which I feel plagues a lot of restaurants. The beans were light and fluffy. The guacamole was light, refreshing, and tasty. As a result, the meal settled nicely.

My meal got the job done. For this meal, I was in the mood for basic, cheap, and straight forward Mexican food.


Judging from the exterior of the restaurant, I was a little reluctant to what awaited me inside, and my guess was right. There really was not anything in terms of atmosphere. Like I mentioned above, there are some Mexican decorations used sparingly on the walls. There was some 'traditional' Mexican music playing (it was more like Mexican Polka). They did have a live band, but I think there were working out their kinks.

There were a lot of large families there. As a result, kids were running around. It was a very diverse number of people.

The staff was very friendly. I had server #3 (he did not introduce himself officially). He was very laid back (but still very prompt) , and referred to me as "Amigo". He was very attentive and delivered on his part. Other employees also stopped by frequently as well. As a result, the staff gets a very high rating. It is places like these I dislike saying anything remotely negative because they are working and trying their hardest.

My Complaints:

*Atmosphere. It was almost desolate.
*The margarita. More alcohol please!

What's Special about Mar y Tierra:

*Promptness of food delivery
*Simple, straight forward Mexican food

Closing Everything Out:

I spent about $24 (including tip). The fajita was $10.50 and the Margarita was $8.99. I would recommend Mar y Tierra primarily for the lunch-crowd. It was very fast, cost-effective, and near quite a few office parks. While it is not a Cantina 1511, it's a new business trying to establish itself in a weird location. I give them thumbs up for trying. So, if you want a straight forward, quick, and "get in and get out" meal, this place will get the job done.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cantina 1511 Restaurant

: Cantina 1511
Location: 1511 East Blvd Charlotte, NC 28203
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Link
Telephone: 704.331.9222
Food Selection: Mexican
Health Score; 96.5, A
Mon-Wed 11am-10pm, Thu-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm, Sunday Brunch 11am-2pm

The Initial Walk-In:

Mexican Food. There are so many avenues in this genre of food. You can go cheap and grungy or you can go upscale and take it all in. It so happens we have a fantastic moderately priced Mexican restaurant right in the Dilworth area on East Blvd.

First of all, parking is awful. Yes, they have complimentary valet, but if you decide to forgo that luxury, parking is not immediate. You will end up parking on a side street walking, which isn't bad. Heck, we all need to walk more anyways. And that my friends is pretty much all that is wrong with Cantina 1511, minus one detail, which I will enlighten you all with later.

When you walk into the restaurant, the bar, patio, and main dining areas are all on your left. They have an outdoor patio and a quasi-outdoor patio that line East Blvd. Cantina 1511 is a cool place.

Course of Meals:

We had a party of 12 people, so we were putting our server to the test and I had the opportunity to see a variety of foods being served.

As all Mexican restaurants do, they provide chips and salsa. They have two types of salsa. The technical names are red and green. This is some of the best complimentary salsa I have ever had. It is moderately spicy, but the big thumbs up is on the lime aftertaste/flavoring this salsa provides. Wow, subtle, yet it makes its presence.

For my beverage, I select their standard margarita. This is the only other downside to Cantina 1511 aside from the parking. Seriously, it was awful. It tasted like the Poor Man's Hi-C Ecto Cooler. Do not try this. The drink had a dull bitter and burnt taste.

I perused the menu and looked at their options: burritos, salads, quesadillas, tacos, soups, and enchiladas. For my meal, I honed in on the Enchiladas Tradicionales. It consists of fancy sounding ingredients; chicken, Oaxaca cheese, guajillo ranchero, cotija cheese, Mexican crema with rice and refried beans.

As the dishes were being served to everyone, I must commend the food presentation. While it is Mexican food, the dishes are prepared to look somewhat trendy. Some of the portion sizes are huge I must say.

My meal was amazing. The sauces were delicious. The Mexican crema (sour cream) was sprightly. It is probably the best sour cream I have ever had. The flavorings were superb, light, and moist. The tomato sauces blended very well with the sour cream. The rice was moist, smooth, and not too heavy. The chicken was cooked to perfection and the tortillas were great.


This is place is great. I could tell they put time into their music selections. At times I wanted to get up and salsa dance. It certainly adds to the atmosphere. They have fiesta lights all along the windows and rooms. The lighting is well done. Some may find it slightly too dim, but on the whole, classically done. The female presence is also very niiice. (I mean it's in Dilworth, so that's a given).

Everyone is so friendly! The entire staff says hi to you when they pass you. Whether you are outside or moving through out the restaurant they smile and say hi. Our server was great. She handled all 12 of us with ease and she knew the menu and provided recommendations and interacted with us very well. The owners have done a very nice job selecting their employees.

My Complaints:

*The Basic Margarita

What's Special about Cantina 1511 Restaurant:

*Food and its presentation

Closing Everything Out:

I spent about $26 for dinner and two drinks. Cantina 1511 is a little higher priced than other Mexican restaurants, but it is well worth it. The staff and atmosphere are great. As you eat you can easily chat or you can simply enjoy the flavorful food while listening to some great music. Check this place out. I look forward to going back!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Intermezzo Pizzeria & Cafe

Meal: Grabbed a couple drinks later in the evening

I have not done an 'official' review of Intermezzo yet. However, I have eaten here a couple times and I enjoy the atmosphere, so I stopped in for drinks Thursday night.

Restaurant: Intermezzo Pizzeria & Cafe
Location: 1427 E. 10th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Link
Telephone: 704.347.2626
Food Selection: Pizza and ethnic Serbian dishes. (weird combo, but good)
Health Score; Didn't see
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:00-2:00am Sun: 12:00pm-2:00am (full menu until midnight)

Drink: Blue Moon 20 oz.

Atmosphere: Intermezzo is right at, as their website says, "Charlotte's five points intersection in Elizabeth neighborhood." Their patio faces the street and is covered. It is occasionally loud when a big truck or a "suped up" Civic drives past (the muffler costs more than the car, yea those ones), but aside from that is relaxing. The music variety varies from clubish to acoustic to abstract (nice way of putting weird). It is nice to sip on a beer and watch traffic go by and carry on conversations with your table mates. Inside is a bar and booths and tables, which is dimly lit, but warm feeling. I like this place.

Server: Trey was our server. For simply ordering drinks he did a good job. He checked on us periodically.

Bill: $10 (two drinks)

I look forward to doing a complete review in the future.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lunch Time: Zen Asian Fusion

Meal: Zen Salmon

While I have not done an 'official' review of Zen Asian Fusion yet, I did pop in for a bite to each for lunch. I'm glad I did.

Restaurant: Zen Asian Fusion
Location: 1715 Kenilworth Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28203
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Link
Telephone: 704.358.9688
Food Selection: Asian Style fish, meat, vegetables, sushi, etc
Health Score; Didn't see
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11:30-2:00pm Sun-Thur: 5:00-10:00pm Fri-Sat: 5:00pm-11:00pm

Zen Salmon -
Consists of a grilled salmon filet with a wasabi cream sauce, served with steamed spinach.
This is a great dish. The sauce compliments the salmon very nicely. I have grown up in the New England where seafood is pristine and fished for salmon in Alaska, so I am always extremely wary to eat seafood/fish when I cannot see the ocean. However, I wanted to boost my Omega-3 intake for the day, so I took a chance.

The salmon was cooked very well! It was not overcooked, which meant it was not dry! It was juicy and the sauce gave it an additional flavoring. I was extremely impressed, especially since it was 90+ degrees outside. The spinach was close to being dry, but was good too. I would recommend this tasty dish. It satisfied my hunger, but I did not feel stuffed. Primarily because I did not eat all of the rice that was provided.

Server: Our server was very responsive and always had our water glasses filled. The manager checked on us too about how our meal went.

Bill: $12-$13.

I look forward to doing a complete review in the future.


Monday, May 4, 2009

How Clean is This Place?

Would You Eat Off That Plate?

Check out your favorite restaurants and see how clean they really are... Hopefully you still want to eat there.

Mecklenburg Country, NC Environmental Health Food & Facility Inspections


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Big Daddy's Burger Bar: Western Burger

Meal: Western Burger

As my previous review of Big Daddy's states, this place is awesome. A great, straight forward, food joint.

Today, I had the Western Burger (second time around) and I love this thing. I had the burger, french fries, the western sauce, lettuce, red onion, tomato, and a Blue Moon. Now, I am a medium-rare kind of guy, but they can only do medium. Let me just say, I could NOT tell a huge difference between their medium and medium rare, which is a major kudos to them.

The burger is so juicy (a little messy, but they have plenty of paper towels) and the flavor is fantastic. The sauce is slightly spicy and makes its presence known on your taste buds. The Blue Moon complimented the beer okay, I wish I had chosen a slightly more crisp beer. Nevertheless, a great mid-day meal.

I love this place.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

VZ's Big Easy (Aiken, SC)

A Special Review from Aiken, SC

Restaurant: VZ's Big Easy
Location: 233 Chesterfield St, Aiken, SC
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: None, but here's a local article
Telephone: 644.3279
Food Selection: Louisiana Cajun
Health Score; Didn't see
Hours: Still in the early opening stages

The Initial Walk-In:

A quaint little moderately old yellow house on the street with a patio. VZ's it a nice little stand alone restaurant.

Course of Meals:

As the Master's Gold Tournament was still going on, I was seated immediately.

Appetizer: Salad with mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, and a vinegarette-based dressing. The dressing was mildly sweet with some tartness to it. For once there was actually a decent amount of dressing. The lettuce was crisp and light.

The salad came with a sesame seed white bread.

Drink: Old Fashioned. It was not very good.
They have New Orleans' beers, but they were all sold out, so I did not get to try any.

Main Meal: Seafood Thermidor. It consists of a sherry and brandy Parmesan cheese sauce, blended with halibut, shrimp, scallops and crab for $26.

It was pretty good. The halibut was solid, the shrimp was decent, and the oily buttery sauce was fantastic. The only complaints was that the potato was too dry.

Overall, a good New Orleans dish that was filling!

Dessert: Chocolate Lava Cake with Decaf
The decaf was way too watery. The Lava cake was rich and thick, but to frank it tasted cheap. I could have purchased it at a grocery store.


This place has a great atmosphere. I would love to take a date here on a summer evening. They have jazz playing throughout the restaurant. The patio has ferns and flowers placed throughout. The place is laid back.

The staff was very prompt and friendly (it was pretty empty given the Tournament). Ron was my server and he did a good job.

My Complaints:

*Old Fashioned
*Dessert tasted cheap
*Decaf too watery

What's Special about VZ's Big Easy:

*Cajun Food

Closing Everything Out:

My whole meal was about $37 for one person. I thought for a non-New Orleans location that the Cajun food was tasty and the laid back atmosphere of Aiken and the restaurant provide a nice calming experience. Whenever I'm back in the area, I will be going back to VZ's Big Easy.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nikko Japanese Restaurant / Sushi Bar

Restaurant: Nikko Restaurant
SOUTHEND • (Factory South)
Intersection of South Blvd & Arlington Avenue (Pink Building)
1300-F South Blvd. • Charlotte, NC 28203 • 704.370.0100

BALLANTYNE • (Ballantyne Commons East Shopping Center)
15105 John J. Delaney Dr. • Charlotte, NC 28277 • 704.341.5550

Click here for South Blvd Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Click here for Ballantyne Commons Google Maps
Website: Official Web Site
Telephone: See above
Food Selection: Japanese Sushi and complete meals
Health Score; Didn't see
: Monday - Friday: 11:30am – 2:30pm

Dinner: Sunday - Tuesday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Wednesday - Saturday: 5:00pm – 12:00am

The Initial Walk-In:

As we drove up the maze of a parking garage on the cusp of Uptown, I did not know what to expect. We took the elevator down to the main floor and it appeared to be an office building. We approached the double glass doors with a water fountain in plain sight and I knew this place was going to be wicked awesome. Nikko's is the epitome of a very chic, posh, and contemporary hot spot.... and I thought this during the lunch hour!

Course of Meals:

We were seated immediately.

Main Meal: Alaskan Roll. It consisted of smoked salmon, tempura asparagus, avocado, cream chess, crab, scallion, topped with masago.

All I can say is, wow. Delicious!!

My rolls were very thick and ample. The cream chess was very apparent, but it was not overpowering. The sushi was warm, not cool like other places I have eaten at. It was crunchy. The Alaskan rolls left me wanting more, but I felt full. I just wanted to keep eating them! The only bad thing was I had to put each sushi roll entirely in my mouth as it was hard to break them apart with my chop-sticks. Regardless, great sushi with a good portion size.


This place has a great atmosphere. My peers have told me Nikko's is basically a club during the weekends with pumping music. I can believe it as the layout and design is, as I wrote earlier, very chic, posh, and contemporary.

The color theme is predominately white, black, and mahogany. It provides a very crisp feel. The bar is wicked cool. It is sleek and has the alcoholic bottles lined up nicely, which is followed by a frosted background.

The patio runs along South Boulevard and is nicely laid out.

The music is jazz, R&B, and lounge.

The light fixtures are contemporary and I bet Nikko Japanese Restaurant and Bar is very sleek at night. They also have a couple flat screens. Right when you enter, there is a wine room to your right. The bar is L-shaped. They have booths, standard tables, and a few high-rise tables. I think it would be great to lounge here.

For the lunch hour, she did her job well. A little slow at times, but no big deal.

My Complaints:


What's Special about Nikko's:

*Delicious Sushi

Closing Everything Out:

My sushi was $10.80 and it was filling and delicious. I was extremely impressed with the lay-out and overall feel of Nikko's. I will most certainly be going back here. I want to check this place out during the weekend to see the night time crowd. I highly recommend this place. Even if it is just to grab a drink and relax in a classy atmosphere.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

*Reader Submission* Toscana Restaurant

A Reader of Charlotte Restaurant Reviews Submits a Review!!

Toscana Restaurant and Bar

6401 Morrison Blvd # 680
Charlotte, NC 28211
(704) 367-1808

The Initial Walk-In:

The place isn't large, but has a very classy feel to it. You enter through the small gates of an outside patio to a small, but comfortable restaurant. The bar is straight ahead and dining area is over to the left, with a few tables on the right hand side.

Course of Meals:

There weren’t many people as it was the day after Easter and bad weather conditions. Even such, this did not throw off the evening one bit. We were seated immediately and given prompt service. My date ordered a pineapple upside-down martini and said it was delicious, while I had water. The bread was brought out only a couple minutes after we were seated. Shortly after our drinks were ordered, our waitress returned to take our entree orders. I had the Rigatoni Buttera, which is a tubular pasta with sweet Italian sausage and peas, in a light cherry tomato cream sauce. I must say it was possible the best rigatoni I've ever had. The cream sauce was thick but not too overwhelming and the sausage was mixed in little chunks throughout. It was truly a meal in which every bite is savored.

My date had the Ravioli Caprese which is a home-made half moon ravioli stuffed with Ricotta and marjoram tossed in a fresh tomato and basil sauce. She also claimed her dish was delicious. As with most Italian food, the portions were not extraordinary, but still very filling. During the entire meal the waitress we received the type of service one would expect at a classy restaurant as such. Our waters were consistently refilled and the waitress checked on us a good amount, but not enough to be a bother. For dessert we had the Tiramisu which wasn't the best I've ever had, but was still enjoyable.


As was with the food, the atmosphere was amazing. It was a very classy place and had food at reasonable prices.


Wonderful. Pleasant and classy. Just the kind you would expect at a nice restaurant

My Complaints:

Dessert could have been a little better in comparison to all the other positives with the restaurant.

What's "Special" about Toscana Restaurant & Bar:

The atmosphere, price and quality of the food.

Closing Everything Out:

A dinner for 2 with dessert included totaled about $55 not including tip. The restaurant is hidden in a little shopping center near South Park Mall, but if you can find it, it's well worth a visit. 5 Stars in my book.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Morehead Street Tavern

Restaurant: Morehead Street Tavern
Location: 300 E. Morehead Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: What is this?
Telephone: 704.334.2655
Food Selection: American, Burgers, Bar Food, Wings,
Health Score; ?
Monday-Friday: 11:30am-1:00am
Saturday: 12:00pm-1:00am
Sunday: 5:00pm-1:00am

The Initial Walk-In:

My friends and I decided to grab a bite to eat before we went into downtown *cough* Uptown *cough* over the weekend. Little did we know, this restaurant will absolutely kill our vibe for the rest of the evening. The Tavern itself is huge. It has a bar area, dining area, billiards area, game area, etc. It has a lot to offer, I am sure, during football season as it is a bar. I am not sure it deserves the "Tavern" however.

Course of Meals:

We were seated immediately, which I am now surprised given how slow the service was going to be.

My compatriots and I wanted to grab a couple beers and burgers/nachos before our scouring of the town. We walked in around 10:00/10:10pm.

Our waitress showed up eventually (I think she was either stoned, drunk, or did not care about her job) . We ordered our beers. Once we had our orders ready, she came back eventually. We ordered and she asked if we wanted some more beers, we said we were good, then she proceeded to say she'll bring more beers. I mean, I am all about assumptive closing and assuming the sale, but c'mon, LISTEN.

I ordered a regular burger, my buddy ordered the Fish & Chips, and my other buddy ordered the nachos. About 10-15 minutes later our waitress eventually (notice a theme here?) came back saying the Fish and Chips would need to be thawed longer. Thus, my buddy upped and ordered a burger instead. As much as he wanted thawed Fish and Chips... he had to pass.

10:55 rolls around, we still did not have our food. We said we'll give her ten more minutes. I mean, if Kenny G can hold a note for 45 minutes, why can't we sit? It is not like we had anywhere to be... I mean, we knew we would eventually get our food. Five minutes later we did.

I' m sorry, but the only decent thing I consumed were the homemade chips. I wish I had gone to McDonald's or Burger for the burger. No taste. Mediocrity at its best. Not worth saying anything else.

When we tried to pay, she "forgot" to bring us our checks, so we waited for twenty more minutes. Eventually we got our checks. We paid and got the heck out of there... around 11:30. Talk about a buzz kill. We did not eventually get our moods back that night.


The atmosphere is pure sports bar. It a couple big rooms, which is nice. The pool tables and such make Morehead a cool lounging/chilling place with your buddies. Like I said earlier, I bet this place is great during sports games. This is a Tavern you go to for the atmosphere, plain and simple, not the food or service. I have to give Morehead Tavern credit for the atmosphere.

Our server.... wow. Awful. There was certainly a substance involved...

My Complaints:

*Time to be served
*Quality of food

What's "Special" about Morehead Tavern:


Closing Everything Out:

I spent about $13 with a beer and burger. I really do not like being so harsh and negative, but this experience absolutely ruined the vibe for the rest of the evening due to the poor service, long serving time, and mediocre food. If I had gone there just to drink and chill, it could have been a different story, but I did not. So, here's to a good atmosphere, but not much more.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Carolina Soda Shoppe - Ice Cream

Restaurant: Carolina Soda Shoppe
Location: 4121 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: n/a
Food Selection: Burgers, Ice Cream Floats, Milkshakes, Fast Foods
Health Score; 92.5 A
Dress Code: Wear what you want
Hours: Monday - Friday: 11:00am-8:00pm, Saturday: 11:00-5:00pm, Sunday: CLOSED

Course of Meals:

Ice Cream Sundae. It comes in a plastic cup. I had vanilla ice cream, with hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry. The ice cream was okay and the hot fudge was not good at all. The fudge tasted like maple syrup. If it were early in the morning, I may have a different sentiment, but not late in the afternoon. To be frank, I feel like I could taste each ingredient in the ice cream and hot fudge. Yuck. The best part of the sundae were the nuts.


50's themed (black/white checkered flooring and 50's music playing).

My server was very nice and friendly. She was very prompt and took care of me even though it was just ice cream.

My Complaints:

*Hot Fudge
*A little pricey for the sundae
*Stools were creaky and shaky

What's Special about Carolina Soda Shoppe:

*50's theme
*Sundae Nuts were good (please no jokes)
*Old Diner atmosphere

Closing Everything Out:

My total bill, including tip was $6.95. I found this slightly upsetting. While the portion size was good, the sundae was mediocre at best. I have heard their milkshakes, burgers, and such are better, so I will go back to check them out.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Dragon Fly Cuisine

: Dragon Fly Cuisine
Location: 5110 Park Road, Unit 1G, Charlotte, NC 28209
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: n/a
Food Selection: Chinese Food / Take-Out
Health Score; Didn't see it
Dress Code: Wear what you want
Hours: Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

The Initial Walk-In:

I had just finished having some pants tailored (waist taken in, not out!) and saw this place and thought why not? I need to keep my followerss abreast of places in Charlotte. Dragon Fly is tucked away in this Park Road shopping center (near the smaller Harris Teeter store) next to 1900 Mexican Grill (review here). Inside, there is a very small bar right when you walk in and then the rest of the restaurant is the standard table set up with a outdoor patio.

Course of Meals:

Shortly after Lunch Time: Seat yourself (on a Saturday)

Appetizers: They provide, what I assume to be, Chinese bread sticks with both a sweet and sour sauce and a hot mustard sauce. It was a nice little combination. The spicy sauce, while spicy, did taste watered-down, but it could have been because it was supposed to be light and not heavy. It was not heavy enough for me, even though it was an appetizer.

Main Meal: Four Happiness (one of the Chef Specialties)

This is a tasty dish. It consists of broccoli, red bell peppers, shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, baby corn, water chestnuts, green beans, and a spicy brown sauce. Served with a side of white rice.

When it comes to Chinese food, I thought this dish was nicely prepared. It was not too salty, it was smooth, and it had a variety of meats. The broccoli, red bell peppers, corn, and green beans were all very fresh, light, and crisp to eat. The pork dissolved in my mouth and was easy to chew. It was not at all rubbery or gristly, which was a major plus. The chef's special sauce was not at all over saturated with sodium as so many dishes typically are. My only mild complaint was the shrimp was not as fresh as I would have liked. Compared to everything else it was not crisp nor fresh as the other ingredients. Other than that, I had no qualms. It was a filling dish that allowed me to have left overs and enjoy them for dinner.


Dragon Fly's atmosphere is simple. Of course they have a Chinese-theme to the restaurant, but it is not overdone. They keep it very straight forward. I did find the music selection odd. At times they had Johnny Mathis playing, then some weird stuff, then some classic jazz. Very "interesting" fluctuations to say the least. Aside from the music, it has a calm vibe to it. I would take a date here, not on a first date, but I would take one here. As it is right next to 1900 Mexican Grill, it does have a patio as well.

My server was okay. He got the job done, but he really did not want engage in any conversations with me. There were only two other people in the place so I know he was not busy. Even when I was complimenting the food he did not seem all to interested. Regardless, he kept my water full and served me my food.

My Complaints:

*Music selection
*The floor was a little dirty in places

What's Special about Dragon Fly Cuisine:

*Not "cheap" Chinese food -- pretty good quality food
*Fresh ingredients
*Nicer than typically take-out/sit down Chinese restaurants I have been to

Closing Everything Out:

My total bill, including tip was $14.95 and I had some left overs. However, I did not have any alcohol nor anything else. I found my dish to be good, crisp, fresh, and filling. Aside from being distracted sometimes by the music and the somewhat non-talkative server, I was happy with the overall dining experience. It was nice to go to a Chinese restaurant that had a nice sit-down area to enjoy their food.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rudino's Pizza and Grinders -- Lunch Time Treat

Restaurant: Rudino's Pizza and Grinders
Location: 2000 South Blvd, Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28203
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Official Web Site
Telephone: 704.333.3124
Food Selection: Pizza and Grinders
Health Score; Didn't see it
Monday-Saturday: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Sunday: CLOSED
Monday - Friday: Pizza BUFFET! 11:30am-1:30pm

The Initial Walk-In:

I am so glad my co-worker brought this restaurant to my attention. Solid. All I can say. You go there for pizza and grinders. This is a cool pizza joint and I'm glad I found it. While it is along South Blvd, it is secluded. You walk in and the cash register is right there. The high-rise tables (no skirts ladies) are to your left and the traditional tables are to your right. During the buffet hours, the buffet area is to the right. It's clean and does not try to be anything, but a pizza place.

Course of Meals:

Lunch Time: Seat yourself

Main Meal: Lunch Buffet -- all you can eat with drink (sodas, water, tea).

So, it was my day off from riding the bike and it was raining, so I went to town with the pizza selections. I enjoyed pepperoni, BBQ chicken, cheese, ham/pepperoni/meat, and cheesy bread sticks. Which I topped off with a slice of cinnamon "pizza". I think I had a total of nine slices.

All the pizzas were light, fluffy, airy, and smooth. I have never had a pizza that had an "airy" taste/feel to it and it was great. It was not too heavy on the stomach. The sauce was great. It was smooth and light once again, but it had a sound flavor to it.

My favorite pizza was the BBQ chicken. Out of all the BBQ chicken pizzas I have ever had, this ranks right up there. What I like about Rudino's is the hot sauce taste it has. It is not just BBQ. It has a hot sauce foundation. Thumbs up!


The atmosphere is laid-back. At lunch, you seat yourself. They have televisions around the place with ESPN. Rudino's has a mill-feel to it. Brick foundation and they have an open ceiling where you can see the vents, but they are clean and give it a pizza-joint feel. They have murals of old-school Charlotte on the main right wall to give some history to the restaurant. Overall, Rudino's has a simple atmosphere. You can take your kids here, meet friends here, or just grab a bite to eat.

As it was a buffet, there was not a real need for a server. However, when we paid for the buffet, the host asked if there was any pizza we would like/ what our preferences were to ensure they had what we wanted. That is great customer service right there. I was very pleased.

My Complaints:

*As I just found out about this place, I'm curious why they do not have longer hours. While they are not in the heart of "Uptown", I would love this pizza late at night.

What's Special about Rudino's:

*Awesome pizza that is light/fluffy
*You come here for pizza... you get great pizza

Closing Everything Out:

My buffet total was $9.00. I ate nine slices of pizza and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The pizza tasted great. Probably the only downside of Rudino's is you will eat more than you would want to because it is so good. I am so glad one of my friends took me here! You have to check this place out.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Charlotte Restaurant Reviews is on Twitter!!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ginbu 401: Chinese.Sushi Bar

Restaurant: Ginbu 401
Location: 401 Providence Rd. Charlotte, NC 28207
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Official Web Site
Telephone: 704.372.2288
Food Selection: Chinese & Sushi
Health Score; 95% A
Monday-Thursday: 11am-9:30pm
Friday: 12pm-10:30pm
Saturday: 12pm-10:30pm
Sunday: 4pm-9:30pm

The Initial Walk-In:

A quaint little place along Providence Road with a crisp red neon sign guiding you to its doors. As we parked our car, we liked the single row of patio furniture outside. Inside the restaurant is one medium sized room. You are met by the sushi bar and to your right is the dining area. Booths along the far walls, a single row of high-rise tables to your right, and standard dining tables in the center.

Course of Meals:

We were seated immediately.

Main Meal: Volcano Rolls and a Sake Salmon roll

Both my sushi and my partner-in-crime's (PIC) sushi were brought out on the same plate in a simple "design".

My Volcano sushi (squid-based) was mushy and had a mild spice/kick to it. I was hoping for more spice, but it was lacking. Now, my PIC thought otherwise about the spice. She said it was spicy. I like spicy foods, so maybe I was being too picky. The sushi had a mayonnaise "dressing", which covered the rice on top of the sushi rolls. It was good. I strongly dislike mayonnaise, but enjoyed this "dressing", so props to them. It was subtle, yet made its presence known in the dish.

The Sake Salmon had a salmon strip placed on top of a small pile of rice. The salmon texture was spongy/mushy. I have never had fresh salmon before (uncooked that is), so that could be how it tastes, so I am neither against nor for it right now. The rice was mushy as well. Not as crisp as some other establishments.

The food had no real after-taste. It was almost a "flat-taste". My PIC and I both agree that other sushi places in Charlotte have fresher and more crisp sushi. (It could have been an off night?)

The fortune cookie was amazing. It was one of the best I have ever had!

My meal left me full and not needing anymore food. However, it was slightly upset afterwards. I did have one big bite of wasabi, which may have caused that feeling. I wish the food had a fresher taste.


The atmosphere is calm and simple. It is certainly a place to eat and then leave. As it is a fairly small place, I guess they want to get people in and out as quickly as possible. The music has a hint of a trendy-vibe to it, but on a whole it is calm. They have lights (Christmas-esk) along the front-side windows that give the restaurant some life.

Our server seemed bored with her job. She had an emo-vibe to her (not that there is anything wrong with that!). I wish she did not seem bored. We really did not see here too much either.

My Complaints:

*Mushy Sushi

What's Special about Ginbu:

*Secluded / Quaint
*Relaxing atmosphere
*Fortune Cookie!

Closing Everything Out:

Both our meals amounted to $34.60 (including tip). so it was not the cheapest meal in the world. My meal was about $14.00. I left feeling full with hints of being stuffed. The restaurant is not "out of this world" good, but it satisfied my hunger. Had the food been more crisp and fresher-tasting, things might have been different. However, I will go-back to try their Chinese food entrees next time.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

131 Main Restaurant

: 131 Main Restaurant
Location: 1315 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
3 Locations total. (Lake Norman, South Charlotte, Dilworth)
Click here for 131 Main's Map Guide
Website: Official Web Site
Telephone: 704.343.0131 (Dilworth location)
Food Selection: "Fresh Prepared Food Restaurant"...
Health Rating: Didn't see it. It is dimly lit.
Sun 10am-10pm
M - Th 11am-10pm

Fri & Sat 11am-11pm

South Charlotte
Sun 10am-10pm
M - Th 11am-10pm

Fri & Sat 11am-11pm

Lake Norman
Sun 10am-9:30pm
M - Th 11a-9:30pm
Fri & Sat 11am-10:30pm

The Initial Walk-In:

131 Main Restaurant is a stylish-urban feeling dining experience. It is one big room, but is seamlessly divided into three sections. The left side has booths and i more secluded while the main area has a huge sleek looking bar area, and the right side has tables along the walls. There is a patio as well.

Course of Meals:

Main Meal: Crab Cake Salad

The initial opinion of the portion size was "$15 for this?" size. But would I be saying that at the end of the meal? It consisted of corn, tomatoes, assorted greens, croutons, a vinaigrette dressing, and a crab cake.

The salad was smooth and light, yet very flavorful. My crab cake had a delicious crust and the inside was good. it had a very light taste to it. (I'm originally from New England, so seafood not at the ocean is a sin for me). The only downer for the salad was the croutons. While they were a thick-ish cornbread, which typically is great, they were very moist, not crunchy. I am not sure if they were stale or what.

After I finished my meal I felt full, almost stuffed. I was surprised the salad accomplished that.

Beverage: The Old Fashioned was not very good. Another bartender needs work on this American Staple. (This was a Sunday night for the record)


The atmosphere tries for a stylish, sophisticated, yet simple and intimate vibe. It is certainly dimly lit. There are individual lights over each table, so you can at least read your menu. The tables are dark wood. 131 Main has trend-ish/pop music playing in the background.

One really cool aspect of 131 are the water pitchers and glasses. They are very cool looking and add to the stylish vibe of the establishment.


The serving for the most part is excellent. I cannot remember how it came up with the hostess, but my partner-in-crime informed her that she can only eat gluten-free food. When our waiter came, he was already aware of PIC's request. Our server's name was George and he was great. He knew the menu inside and out and was able to recommend dishes easily. He worked with her to ensure her meal was going to great for her. It was only towards the end that the staff began to let us down.

My Complaints:

*After we finished our meals, it took forever to get the check and leave.
*The urban vibe gets in the way of the quality of food I feel.

What's Special about 131 Main:

*Stylish and Sleek
*Servers are prompt (until the end)
*Nice location
*Water Glasses

Closing Everything Out:

My meal (dinner and drink) was right over $25.00 with tip, so 131 isn't cheap, but it isn't expensive. I left feeling full and having enjoyed the relaxed feel. The location is great with a friendly staff that knows the menu. I will try this place again and have something more than a salad-based meal next time.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thai Taste Charlotte

: Thai Taste Charlotte
Location: 324 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
3 Locations total. (Matthews, Charlotte, University-area
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Official Web Site
Telephone: 704.332.0001
Food Selection: Thai
Health Rating: 94, A
  • Lunch: Monday to Thursday: 11:30am-2:30pm; Friday: 11:30am-2:30pm; Saturday: Closed; Sunday: Closed
  • Dinner: Monday to Thursday: 5:00pm-9:30pm; Friday-Saturday: 5:00pm-10:30pm; Sunday: 5:00pm-9:30pm

The Initial Walk-In:

Thai Taste is a nice little quaint restaurant. Simple and straight to the point. You walk in and can see the entire restaurant. Tables along the walls and some tables in the middle of the floor. We were seated immediately (Sunday night).

Course of Meals:

The typical routine: We were seated and then asked for our drink orders.

Appetizer: Dumplings with Rice.

They were easy to chew and light. They had a meaty taste to them and the "skin" of the dumpling had a slight plastic taste/feel. As a result, I felt it to be slightly bland. There was not a lot of flavor.

Main Meal: Pra Ram Sham Long

Dinner was served on one plate. The initial opinion of the portion size was a good size. My meal had spinach, green beans, carrots, onions, and pork glazed in peanut sauce.

The sauce had a "cloudy" taste, almost chalky. As Peanut Sauce varies in intensities, this was a more subtle sauce. The pork began to harden as the meal went on as the cuts were very thin. The vegetables were tasty.

After I finished my meal I felt full. However, upon reflecting on my meal, I felt chalky and blandish. Thus, my satisfaction with my meal was mediocre, at best.


The atmosphere is relaxed. The lighting is adequate. It is easy to carry on conversations with your counterparts. They have Asian music playing, which is just loud enough so you will not be distracted by other people's conversations. The main window faces East Blvd. They also have Thai photos all along the walls and umbrellas hanging upside from the ceilings.


The staff is friendly. They were prompt with filling our glasses.

My Complaints:

*The sauce bottles were sticky on the outside
*We had to ask for chop sticks

What's Special about Thai Taste:

*Food served quickly
*Hole-in-the-Wall atmosphere
*Cost effective

Closing Everything Out:

My meal (appetizer and dinner) was $14.20 with tip, so TT will not break the bank. I left feeling full, but not having enjoyed myself (food-wise). It has a simple location with a friendly staff and quick to serve. I will try this place again though because I like Thai food. It simply could have been the dish I selected that was not memorable.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Zealand Cafe: Seafood & Sushi Bar

Restaurant: The New Zealand Cafe
Location: 171 North Sardis Road, Suite 6A, Charlotte, NC 28270
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Official Web Site
Telephone: 704.708.9888
Food Selection: Seafood & Sushi
Hours: Open 7 days a week; Mon-Fri: 11am-10pm, Sat/Sun: 12pm-10pm

The Initial Walk-In:

This restaurant is part of a shopping center and is a nice little hole-in-the-wall place. It consists of one main room with three columns of seating/tables and the sushi bar at the back. NZC (New Zealand Cafe) has bamboo sticks all along the ceiling and one big picture on the right wall. I checked the Health Rating right away (94%, A). It adds nicely to the overall scheme of the cafe. NZC has a warm atmosphere.

Course of Meals:

The order process consists of the servers providing you with a paper menu where you mark what you would like.

Main Meal: Dynamite Roll & Salmon Roll

Both rolls came out on one big platter with a simple design. It even had fake grass with it! The Dynamite Roll had layers were: rice, seaweed, then fish. It had a nice subtle spice/kick to it. The Salmon Roll was layered as seaweed, rice, then salmon. Both Rolls dissolved in my mouth. They were extremely smooth and overall delicious!


The atmosphere is mellow and friendly. My accomplice, who is a regular, was greeted by the Sushi Chef (I was told he does this to all the regulars) within minutes. As it was the Christmas Season, they had Christmas music playing. It is a cozy one room cafe.

Our server was prompt. She asked if the checks were going to be together or separate. Then, she brought out the napkins, sauces, and chopsticks. The waitresses also know the regulars and welcome them accordingly. They are very attentive.

My Complaints:


What's Special about New Zealand Cafe:

*Personal attention to regulars
*Hole-in-the-Wall atmosphere
*Cost effective, yet good

Closing Everything Out:

My meal (two main sushi rolls (a total of 10)) was $10.55 with tip, so NZC will not break the bank. I left feeling satisfied. I was not stuffed nor still hungry. It was just right. I look forward to going here again.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Big Daddy's Burger Bar

Restaurant: Big Daddy's Burger Bar
Location: 1626 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
Click here for Google Maps (simply fill in your address)
Website: Official Web Site
Telephone: 704.714.4888
Food Selection: Burgers and its close relatives

Because sometimes I have to put the cycling food regime on hold and enjoy myself!

The Initial Walk-In:

As you approach the restaurant, there is a patio outside that runs along East Blvd for people to sit. As you walk into the restaurant, watch your step as there is a slight step. Aside from that, it is a bar/burger joint. The middle is high-rise tables (girls, I wouldn't suggest wearing a skirt) and outlined by booths.

Course of Meals:

Sunday Drink Specials:
$4 Bloody Mary's
$4 Mimosas
$4 Champagne

Main Meal: Western Burger with french fries.
Burger: Cooked Medium. Topped with monterrey jack cheese and fried onion rings. There was BBQ sauce already on the bun and I asked for the chipotle ranch on the side.

This burger was AWESOME! Despite not being able to have it medium rare, I could sink my teeth into it and the flavor was fantastic. The onion rings were excellent as well. They had a slight kick to them. Not to be forgotten, the chipotle ranch was delicious too.


The atmosphere is great! Daddy's has a very laid back feel and design. It has vintage signs plastered everywhere. Like I said earlier, booths, high tables, and a bar. The space is somewhat cramped.

Our server was prompt and cute.

My Complaints:

*The one pesky fly that would not leave me alone.

What's Special about Big Daddy's:

*The outside patio.
*Location/area (on East Blvd).
*Atmosphere is relaxed/fun.

Closing Everything Out:

It was a great Sunday afternoon. This is a fantastic place to go for burgers. I would highly recommend eating at Big Daddy's. The service was fine, atmosphere relaxed, and it was not expensive. My burger was around $8 and I had a couple beers, so it was a round $17.