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Where to find it: Charlotte's elusive signature dish 

San Antonio has breakfast burritos. Charleston has shrimp and grits. New Orleans has po' boys. And Charlotte?

Five years ago, I asked then-mayor Pat McCrory to name Charlotte's signature dish. While he pointed out that Bojangles' is headquartered in Charlotte, as is Lance, he noted Charlotte doesn't have a signature dish — yet. He predicted, "Within the decade, we will see some kind of signature dish — probably from some of the homegrown restaurants which will come from the culinary graduates of one of the three schools [CPCC, Johnson & Wales University, and the Art Institute of Charlotte] in town".

OK. With less than five years to go on that prediction, where is the "twinkle in the chef's eye" signature dish? Where is the Q.C.-styled whatever that Charlotte can claim as its own? With the Democratic National Convention arriving in 13 months, bringing the appetites of delegates and reporters to town, if not now, when?

A signature dish is not the exceptional dish made by one talented chef in his restaurant; rather, it's the same dish made throughout town with subtle differences in flavors and/or cooking methods. A signature dish is available throughout the city at all levels, including chef-driven restaurants.

Some have suggested that fried chicken may be Charlotte's signature dish. After all, Price's is the place many out-of-town chefs visit when here. Additionally, Terrace Cafe, a homegrown restaurant co-owned by a Johnson and Wales culinary grad, has fried chicken on the dinner menu. Hmmm.

Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: or 704-522-8334, extension 136.

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