Over the course of this quarantine, I’ve taken to cooking. Luckily, our spice rack, pantry and fridge are almost always stocked, but not everyone has the time or patience to go shopping. So, if you’re an avid DoorDash or Grubhub user, these restaurants are local and will be a great way to expand your international pallet. These are a few restaurants, and interesting menu items, that you may not have tried before. (Note: “best dishes” are as voted and reviewed by patrons).
1. Oh My Soul
Location: 3046 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205
This is a vegan café that specializes in South African cuisine. The names are quirky, but the produce is fresh. There are several gluten-free options and several shakes. I know that a lot of people are hesitant to try foods that are made without cheese, milk, or eggs, but there are foods now that can imitate dairy products pretty well. Of course, it’s not a perfect match, but it can be delicious when prepared well.
Waka Waka/“Taste of Africa” South African spicy patty on cilantro, tomato, red onion, chili mayo, avocado, chakalaka* (a spicy relish made of tomatoes, beans and onions), and fresh chili
2. Yafo Kitchen
Location: 1331 Central Ave #101, Charlotte, NC 28205
Boasting authentic Mediterranean street food, this restaurant only serves Halal options. This means that there are a lot of dishes with just chicken or with no meat at all. The sauces at this place are incredible; I recommend sampling their tahini, schug (cilantro jalapeno sauce), spicy red schug, or amba sauce.
“Amba Chicken Salad, Stuffed Avocado” Pulled chicken and amba sauce* (made from pickled mangos) inside two halves of fresh avocado atop natural, uncooked, vegetables
3. Machu Picchu Peruvian Cuisine
Location: 315 S Polk St Suite #4e, Pineville, NC 28134
This place is best known for their ceviche and cancha. For those of you who, like me, don’t know what that is, ceviche is a seafood mixture that has been marinated in lime juice and onions. Cancha is a topping to ceviche that adds a sort of crunch; originally made from corn. They also serve interesting appetizers including boiled potatoes, Peruvian cheese sauces, fried calamari, and yucca* (this is a plant from which the fruits, seeds, flowers, and roots can be cooked and eaten).
“Ceviche Tropical de Mariscos” a seafood mix with Peruvian rocoto chilis* (these are fruity and juicy rather than spicy), avocado, corn, and mango
4. Pho Hao
Location: 3000 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205
Vietnamese noodle soup (also known as pho) is one of the healthiest alternatives to mac n cheese. They provide several choices of broth, meats, herbs, spices, and vegetables
“Pho Tai” a pho broth of steak, flank* (tough kind of meat from a cow’s abdomen), tendon, and tripe* (cow stomach). Essentially, a lot of different kinds of meat in a clear broth with long white noodles, chives, leaks, and other vegetables.
5. Abugida Ethiopian Café and Restaurant
Location: 3007 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205
As the name suggests, this is classic Ethiopian breads, meats, and many more entrees. This is one of the only cafes in Charlotte that offers aybe (a homemade Ethiopian cottage cheese). Their coffee, much like Turkish coffee, is famous around the world. This restaurant offers not only Ethiopian coffee, but, for just a few extra dollars, they also offer a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. This ceremony is very important to the social structure of Ethiopian culture and includes burning incense, placing jebena (black clay coffeepots) over hot coals, and the processing of raw coffee beans. I’m not sure if this is the ritual that takes place in Charlotte, but I would certainly recommend trying it out.
“Gomen” chopped collard greens, onions, minced garlic, jalapeno peppers, with some added protein of the consumer’s choice
6. Thai House
Location: 230 E W.T. Harris Blvd b9, Charlotte, NC 28262
From sweet Jasmine tea, to yellow curry, to spicy pad thai, this restaurant serves the absolute best of Thai cuisine. This is one of my favorite lunch spots in Charlotte and I would personally recommend either the pad see-ewe or the pad kee mow. These both have wide steamed rice noodles as their base and are adorned with green onions, eggs, and several spices. They have specials on every weekday and offer brunch on the weekends.
“Kang Masaman” chicken prepared in curry with potato slices, peanuts, and coconut cream
7. Bulgogi Box
Location: 1750 Camden Rd #104, Charlotte, NC 28203
This is a Korean restaurant that is said to have amazing pot stickers, barbeque, and spicy pork. Focusing more on pork, chicken, and beef, this restaurant also offers several dishes with tofu and vegetables.
“Bibim bowl” this is served in a sizzling pot with either spicy pork Bulgogi or beef along with boiled eggs, corn, carrots, collard greens, mushrooms, radishes, cucumbers, and Kimchi* (typically spicy fermented cabba