Restaurant Round-Up: January Hidden Gems

How many times to you find yourself looking for a new restaurant? When you travel and want to stop for a non fast food bite, how many times do you ask Siri, “Restaurant Near Me” ?

The six hidden gems in today’s round up will give you a half dozen new choices – all places that should be on your January Restaurant Radar. Go, enjoy and remember to #TellThemHeidiSentYou !

Consider this a “Preview Post” with a bit of tasty info to whet your palate. This morning – Friday January 4, 2019 I’ll be appearing on WCNC’s Charlotte Today sharing one of my Hidden Gems Restaurant segments. The show will be broadcast between 11 and noon in and around the Charlotte NC viewing area. My segment on at 11:40 am, will include more delicious details on each of these great restaurants with samples of some of my favorite menu items as well.

Then, I’ll update this post with another new and improved version. More photos and the video from the show. Stay tuned for more; but in the meantime read on and get these hidden gems on your must try list. I love that all of them are family run, Mom and Pop operations, offering the foods they love to cook and share with friends and family. You’ll love that about each of these places too!

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Let’s Start in South Carolina

The Donut Guy ( and The Restaurant Next Door) in Winnsboro, SC  

Located at 149 South Congress Street, in Winnsboro, SC. This tiny little donut and breakfast shop is the brainchild of Crystal and Shawn Paulk.


These tiny bite-sized donuts are the signature menu item from Winnsboro’s most popular donut-centric restaurant. The also make “Big Boy” donuts and serve a to-go breakfast menu as well. But at The Donut Guy, always “Hot Now” tiny, made-to-order donuts are the name of the game. What started as a donut food truck has grown into not just one, but two popular South Carolina storefronts.


In February, look for the opening of “The Restaurant Next Door” where the Paulks will focus on lunch and dinner and a little something they make called wingnuts. What’s a Wingnut, you ask? Its a boneless Cajun seasoned chicken wing batter dipped in donut dough and drizzled with a maple glaze. Sweet, salty and spicy all in one delicious bite! Follow them on Facebook and Instagram and get more info as they update their website at

The Po Boy Restaurant in Clover, SC

Possibly the newest restaurant in this roundup, The Po Boy Restaurant in Clover, SC is located next door to its sister establishment, Saltwater Market. Both places are located in a strip at 733 Bethel Street in Clover, SC. The Po Boy, closed for the holidays till Monday January 7, is regularly open for lunch and dinner. Saltwater is a great little seafood shop with lots of local products that pair will with each of the seafood selections.


At The Po Boy, owners Clint and Elizabeth Boyd, wanted to share a taste of some N’awluns favorites they love with their South Carolina neighbors. To that end, the menu at The Boy Boy focuses on – you guessed it, seafood Po Boys and marvelous muffaletta!


At The Po Boy it’s always time to ” laissez les bon temps rouler ” and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the fries here are The Bomb! For hours of operation and more info follow them on Facebook.

In Charlotte, NC, two Family-Style restaurants with something for everyone…

Fenwick’s Restaurant in Charlotte NC

If The Po Boy is the youngest restaurant in this January round up, Fenwick’s may be the oldest, celebrating 35 fabulous years this year, in the Queen City! The secret to the restaurant’s success, owned by Catherine and Don Rabb, is consistency and an attention to detail. Add to that classic comfort food, great service and a cozy casual atmosphere and you’ve got a winning recipe. Catherine shares the kitchen with son Dustin and her brother Andy. Together they keep the neighborhood coming back for more.

Photographs courtesy of Fenwick’s in Charlotte, NC. Photographs by Peter Taylor

Fenwick’s is located at 511 Providence Road. If you live in Eastover or Myers Park, maybe this Charlotte restaurant isn’t such a hidden gem – instead its a mainstay. But, if you are new to Charlotte or live in the burbs, its a fabulous reason to make the drive back towards town. The dining room is small with cozy booths, tables and seating at the bar. Fenwick’s doesn’t take reservations, but it is always worth the wait.

Photographs courtesy of Fenwicks. Photographs by Peter Taylor

Serving Lunch and dinner daily, and weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, you’ll enjoy favorites like the Tuesday night Pot Roast, fried oyster salad and a myriad of homemade soups. Not to mention Fenwick’s famous fresh baked, bran muffins. Enjoy the popular tomato bisque with or before a meal and whatever you do, don’t miss the bread pudding or fresh baked pies for dessert. For more info visit them on line at

The Mad Greek Cafe in Charlotte NC

Open nearly as long as Fenwick’s, The Mad Greek Cafe originally came on the Charlotte restaurant scene as Hugo’s Diner in 1991. Ever since, Charlotte’s Limberakis family has been serving classic Greek favorites to friends and family alike. Located in Charlotte at 5011 South Blvd, The Mad Greek Cafe is open all day long serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Here the atmosphere is casual and the service is top notch. if you don’t know what to order, the family is happy to guide you along, but let me get you started with a recommendation of the spanekopeta and a crispy fresh Greek Salad. The grape leaves are delicious and if you are a coffee drinker, the Greek Fresco Cappuccino is a must! Don’t miss the lamb and save room for dessert. Nuff said. For more info follow them on facebook and instagram or visit them online at 


Head to Matthews to Tamarind – THE place for Lao and Thai Street Food

The cuisines of Thailand and Laos beautifully incorporate sweet, spicy, hot and sour into classic and contemporary dishes. No doubt about it, these are flavors you are going to love.


Owned and operated by Bim Thapa and his sister-in-law, Prianee Loffer, this tiny family run restaurant has always shared the flavors of the family’s heritage. Bim is from just outside of the small Himalayan country of Nepal; and so originally, Tamarind had an Indian food focus. This year with Prianee’s Laotion culinary background, they decided to make the switch and now the focus is on the street foods of Thailand and Laos.


On the menu you’ll see dishes -Lao favorites – you’ve probably never seen before. Go ahead and dive on in its all delicious. Order as hot and spicy – or not – as you would like. Casually served on environmentally friendly paper and plastic, its street food in all its glory.

You’ll be tempted to just go with the noodle dishes you know such as Pad Thai, but take it from me, you should step outside the box this time. Order the Chef Signature dishes and enjoy every bite! Also ask for the list of curries – each one with a delightfully different nuance. For more info follow the social media on instagram and Facebook and visit them on line at TamarindMatthews.

The Stone Table in Monroe, NC

The last of this month’s restaurant round up is a hidden gem in Monroe, NC. The Stone Table is the heartbeat of chef and owner Matthew Sganga. The focus here is on Modern Southern cuisine with a spotlight on local, as Matthews sources as much from local Mecklenburg and Union county farmers as he can. This family owned restaurant is about community. Large tables are for sharing – its a coffee house atmosphere that makes you feel right at home; and the food on the plate tells the story.


Look for breakfast and lunch favorites such as a classic egg and spinach sandwich with cheese grits or Matthew’s delicious take on avocado toast during the day. At night daily specials spot the menu. On Friday and Saturday nights come for the prix fixe chef’s menu all based on what is fresh and local in and around Monroe.


For more info on The Stone Table follow their social media or visit them online at TheStoneTable

That’s it for now – click here for a second helping with more info on each of these hidden gems. And remember to always lt your culinary adventures begin at


  1. The Stone Table is awesome and very near is The Franklin Court Grille. It has the best burgers for miles as well as homemade soups, salads pastas and daily specials. Both restaurants are worth the drive to Monroe.

    1. Thanks so much for the heads up Kristen – I’ll put The Franklin Court Grille on my list for sure!

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