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18 Making Indian food at home — and not just opening the jars of masala sauce from Trader Joe's — can become reality with the premade dosa mix from India Grocers (509 N. Polk St., Pineville, 704-889-2210). The mix is located in the refrigerated dairy case near the yogurt. One container makes about a dozen large dosas.
More Than a Sandwich
19, 20, 21 My favorite burgers in town are from Mueller Sandwich & Salad (119 Huntley Place, 704-940-6880), and Arthur's. Here's why: Although I know many people who like that edge-to-edge, gigantic burger, I don't. I like a balance of meat, bun and condiments. Dave Mueller makes the burger you would expect to find at a neighborhood cookout. Arthur's, on the other hand, is a family tradition. Located in the basement of Belk SouthPark (4400 Sharon Road, 704-366-8610), Arthur's is one of the last vestiges of department store food. For bison burgers, though, Big Daddy's Burger Bar (all locations, www.bigdaddysburgerbar.com) is the place.
22 In late spring, I thought I might be addicted to the bánh mì (sub) sandwiches at Zen International Market and Tea (10225 Park Road, 704-541-4748). The menu at its small deli includes French cold cuts, barbeque pork, grilled pork and a Vietnamese pork poll. All are made on crusty French baguettes and layered with meats; pickled daikon radishes and carrots; slices of jalapeño; and sprigs of cilantro (or sometimes mint).
23 Lee Katz offers a bit of the Big Apple metro area at Katz New York Deli & Restaurant (8045 Providence Road, 704-543-4666). It's a place for people who love deli foods and monstrous stack sandwiches ... and miss New Jersey.
24 For gyros, I go to the Little Village Grill (710 W. Trade St., 704-347-2184), which usually has a line out the door at lunchtime. While it is true Little Village uses that processed, but popular, gyro meat for their sandwich, I like the authentic touch of adding a few French fries.
25 Barbecue is a serious business in Charlotte — even though we do not have a preponderance of barbecue places. My favorite spot is Old Hickory House (6538 N. Tryon St., 704-596-8014), which has undergone some subtle changes in the years since Gene Carter passed. I like its meat-smoked-over-wood style barbecue. I order an outside brown cut; if you know what that means, eat here.
26, 27 Barbecue as a fundraiser is common. Two of these events are ones you should note on your calendar. The first is the barbecue cooked by BSA Troop 33 across the street from Sardis Presbyterian Church (6100 Sardis Road). This event is scheduled the Friday and Saturday before the Super Bowl. If you ever want to witness part of North Carolina culinary history, show up the day before while the scout leaders tend the fire — a 24-hours-a-day job. Another troop that sells outstanding barbecue is Troop 355 at Sharon United Methodist Church (4411 Sharon Road) in January. I buy several bottles of their homemade vinegar based sauce.
28 Cocina Latino (5135 Albemarle Road, 704-531-5757) offers Mexican dishes of auténtico sabor casero, or authentic homemade flavor. On Saturdays, barbacoa de Borrego (lamb barbecue) is available and sells out quickly. This barbecue is made in the traditional Mexican way over a wood-burning fire. The meat is covered with maguey cactus leaves that slowly release the juices from the leaves and keeps the lamb tender. The meat is served with tortillas and salsas.
29 Seats are a premium at Barrington's Restaurant (7822 Fairview Road, 704-364-5755, www.barringtonsrestaurant.com) and in roughly 10 years of dining at this grand food emporium, I have only tasted excellent meals by chef and owner Bruce Moffit. While other restaurants had to rein in their entrée prices, most of the prices here have climbed to the $30-plus range. On the menu now is the beautifully prepared citrus glazed duck with confit stuffed won tons — worth every penny.
30, 31 Just down the road is Georges Brasserie (4620 Piedmont Row Drive, 980-219-7409, www.georgesbrasserie.com). This menu does not deviate much from the grand French brasserie canon. Memorable are the generous pots of mussels, the frisée salad studded with lardoons and a poached egg, and the meltingly delicious goat cheese and onion tart. Also in SouthPark is Chef Scott Wallen. I've been a fan of his Alaskan halibut for years. Now he's the executive chef at Zink American Kitchen (in its new SouthPark location, 4310 Sharon Road, 704-909-5500). On the new menu at Zink, he pairs the halibut with sweet pea risotto.
32, 33 Lamb is one of my favorite dishes, but good lamb dishes are hard to find. Frequently the flavor is obscured with too-heavy sauces, or the meat is overcooked; however, the Lamb Wellington starter at Bistro La Bon (1322 Central Ave., 704-333-4646) is quite lovely and inventive with its finely grained lamb infused with mint. At Global Restaurant (3520 Toringdon Way, 704-248-0866, www.global-restaurant.com), artistry with lamb is one of Chef Bernard Brunet's signature dishes, featuring both pulled shank and loin in a dish.