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Dinner and more 

When food isn't the only main course

For some, watching chefs cook is entertainment enough, and certainly this is a popular premise for the design of such restaurants as Rooster's in SouthPark. For others watching sushi chefs at super Nikko's provides diversion. But there are a few places in town where more than the food shares the stage.

Sofram is Charlotte's only outpost of Turkish delights – both culinary and cultural. Just as the Ottoman Empire spread its shish kebabs across the Middle Eastern world, the Turks may also have shared belly dancing with the rest of the world. While belly dancing is represented in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, the origins of this dance are unclear. Most countries in the Middle East have their own versions. In Turkish, the translation is exotic oriental dance. At Sofram, belly dancers perform every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. On the second Tuesday of the month, a local club of 35 to 40 people gather to belly dance, and on the last Sunday of the month a well-known belly dancer comes in to perform at 7 p.m. for about 25 minutes.

Sofram Contemporary Turkish Cuisine, 8652 Pineville-Matthews Road, 704-302-1181. www.soframcuisine.com

A richly colored costume worn by traditional dancers in Thailand hangs in Thai Orchid. Periodically on Monday and Tuesday nights, co-owner Nudi Lilienthal dances or has dancers come in to perform the graceful movements of classical and Thai folk dances. Since many of the dances convey a story through gesture and movement, this art form is considered theatrical.

Thai Orchid, 4223 Providence Road, Strawberry Hills Shopping Center, 704-364-1134. www.thaiorchidcharlotte.com

Of course, for a full dramatic performance, the Pineville Dinner Theater offers a dinner and a show for $48 per person. On Thursday the buffet begins at 6 p.m. and is closed at 7:45 p.m. with curtain at 8 p.m.; on Saturday the buffet is from 5:30 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. and the show is at 7 p.m. The buffet includes a carving station, beef, chicken, fish dishes, a salad bar and dessert station. The items change daily. On Friday nights, there are two comedy shows without the buffet. In its stead is an a la cart menu with such items as salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, entrées and nachos. Prices range from $8 to $14.

Pineville Dinner Theatre, 10403 J Park Road, 704-544-0607. www.pinevilledinnertheatre.com

From 11 p.m. until the early morning hours (2 a.m.) on Wednesday through Saturday, Villa Antonio's Ballantyne location converts the bar into a club complete with DJ. Although the kitchen closes at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, it stays open until midnight on Saturday for those looking to graze and dance. Earlier in the evening, from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m., a piano player takes requests from Dancing with the Stars wannabes and romantics alike. At the South Boulevard location, Saturday night is Latin dance night from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. At this location a bar menu is available until the morning.

Villa Antonio, 14825 John J. Delaney Drive, 704-369-5060. 4707 South Blvd., 704-523-1594. www.villaantonio.com

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