Time to tune in and turn on your restaurant radar. How many times to you find yourself in search of something new? While there is always time to enjoy the “same old – same old”, its also fun to venture out of the box and try on a new and flavorful find.
The six hidden gems in today’s round up are all in and around my home base of Charlotte NC. We live in south Charlotte and nothing was more than a hour drive. The list will give you a half dozen new choices – all places that should be on your January Restaurant Radar. Go, enjoy and remember to #TellThemHeidiSentYou !
My preview post with this info first went live on Friday January 4, 2019. That same morning. I appeared in a Hidden Gems Restaurant Round Up segment on Charlotte Today, a midday television magazine program on WCNC, Charlotte’s NBC affiliate.
I do love what I do. Its always fun to share the restaurants in my Restaurant Radar posts with my friends Colleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson, hosts of the Charlotte Today program. I bring sample dishes from each restaurant on set so we can really showcase what each of the restaurants on my list has to offer.
In Case You Missed It, the copy of the Charlotte Today video follows. Sometimes, things happen. If for some reason you are reading this in your email and can’t see the video here; just head to my blog at HeidiBillottoFood.com and click on this post – UPDATED: ON YOUR RESTAURANT RADAR JANUARY HIDDEN GEMS. You’ll find this post complete with the video.
Get Ready to Feed Your January 2019 Restaurant Radar
The Po Boy and Saltwater Market in Clover SC
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.
Saltwater is a great little seafood shop offering cut to order seafood selections. In addition to seafood, look to this family run market for lots of local ingredients and condiments. Including, local product are much of the line from the fine folks at Geechie Boy in Edisto, SC.
Plan to read more about the heirloom Geechie Boy grains and peas in my recap of a Christmas Day Eat Local post live on this blog, later this week.
Clint and Elizabeth Boyd own both the Saltwater Market and The Po Boy in Clover. The couple has another location of Saltwater in Gastonia, NC.
The Po Boy is open from 11-2 for lunch; and 3-7 for dinner. The menu is wowing the folks in and around Clover, SC. You’ll find counter seating and a few tables inside and picnic tables outside, and a smiling staff inside behind the counter. Everything is prepared to order.
“We wanted to share a taste of the Crescent City with this part of South Carolina,” owner Clint Boyd told me. But the goal was to keep pricing reasonable, quality high and turn around for waiting customers quick. The answer was a restaurant that features signature N’awluns sandwiches and seafood. Happy to report that The Po Boy does it well. As the restaurant was not open the week the TV segment was taped, I was unable to get sammies to bring into the studio. Happy to say, I had several photos of all the deliciousness packed inbetween The Po Boy’s authentic, straight from N’awluns, Leidenheimer buns. Let’s start with the muffaletta…
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler…
Stacked on a Sicilian bun, this sandwich is a mouthful, weighing in at a solid pound! If you need a visual, in this photo I’m only holding a quarter of a The Po Boy’s muffaleta! It’s a great choice to get and share with friends. Look for double layers of ham and cheese, double of the classic olive spread and house pickled veggies – wow!
The po boys at The Po Boy are classic. Fried shrimp, oysters or catfish are dredged in a Geechie Boy seasoned dredge and friend to perfection. Or, you may also order the fish grilled if you would like. The buns are toasted to order for the perfect crunch when you bite in to enjoy. The side of hand cut, twice cooked fries, as I said on the video, are the bomb.
One caveat of which you must be aware, these delicious fries should be consumed on site. They just don’t travel well – you could , of course, eat them on the go; but I think best to savor them while you sit. If you are picking up to go and to eat later on, opt for the Zapps chips with your sammie. Save the fries for a time when you can come, sit and stay a while.
Keep up with all that is happening at The Po Boys on their Facebook page. Clint and Elizabeth often share fun Facebook Live videos relating to specials and the catch of the day. These impromptu videos are always worth a watch!
The Mad Greek Cafe in Charlotte NC
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.
The first thing we noticed ( and loved) upon our first visit to the Mad Greek was the service. As soon as you sit down you feel like a member of the family. Pair that with excellent food and you can see why The Mad Greek is a much loved by everyone who already has this hidden gem on their restaurant radar.
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.
Love iced coffee? The Greek Fresco Cappuccino is a must!
If you are a meat eater the gyros salad I showcased on television, served with hot pita bread, salad dressing and tatziki sauce, is a winner. Or, if you want something a bit heartier, don’t miss the lamb in any of its incarnations.
If you would rather forgo the meat, try the mezze platter with hummus, pita, veggies and delicious rice stuffed grape leaves. What ever you do, save room for a myriad of Greek pastries and cakes for dessert. Nuff said. For more info follow them on facebook and instagram or visit them online at MadGreekClt.com
Fenwick’s Restaurant in Charlotte NC
Fenwick’s is proudly one of Charlotte’s longest running restaurants and certainly the oldest establishment in this roundup. Fenwick’s is delighted to be 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 and cooking duties with son Dustin and her brother Andy. Together they keep the neighborhood coming back for more.
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.
Join the for lunch, dinner and on Saturday and Sunday there is a weekend brunch you do not want to miss! 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, pictured above, with or before a meal; and whatever you do, don’t miss the bread pudding or fresh baked pies for dessert.
Follow Fenwick’s on Facebook and Instagram to stay tuned for lots of birthday specials this year. For more info visit them on line at FenwicksOnProvidence.com
Try the Thai Street Food at Tamarind in Matthews NC
My husband Tom and I love eating ethnic food from all different regions of the world and its particularly nice when the people cooking know the food as well as the team at Tamarind. You may recall this tiny hidden gem once specialized in Indian food, but made the transition to Lao and Thai street food several months ago. Both are cuisines of the homeland of the owners.
The restaurant is owned and operated by Bim Thapa and his wife Rebecca. When the couple decided to shift the culinary focus, their sister-in-law, Prianee Loffer, came on board. 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 it made sense that Tamarind started with 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 and you are going to love every bite.
Note that with the new year comes new hours at Tamarind. The restaurant is now open Tues-Fri, 4:30-8:30; Saturday Noon-8:30 ; and Sunday noon-3pm.
On the menu you’ll see dishes -Lao favorites – you’ve probably never seen before. Go ahead and dive on in its all delicious. I particularly recommend the Chef’s Specials – two of which are pictured above. 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.
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 culinary community in and around Charlotte is a tight one and its always fun to see chefs supporting each other. I’ve been wanting to post this shot for some time and todays post is the perfect place.
Thought this photo of Bim and Rebecca ( on the right), yours truly, Heidi Billotto in the center, with Chef Matthew Sganga and his wife Mallory of The Stone Table in Monroe on the left, would make a great transition to our next hidden gem.
The Stone Table in Monroe NC
This 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. Open early weekdays – enjoy breakfast and lunch or meet friends for coffee or tea and a little something sweet. 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 ( piled high with thin sliced cucumbers) during the day.
Chef Matthew and his team also offer boxed lunch service and cater on or off site and offer dinners to go. Whe The Stone Table is open for dinner – that’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday specials like the brisket with roast veggies and a fried egg pictured below, 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
The Donut Guy ( and The Restaurant Next Door) in Winnsboro, SC
We’ll wind up this January treasure chest of hidden culinary gems that should be on your restaurant radar on a sweet note. when you drive into the historic downtown area of Winnsboro, SC, you just need to follow the signage…
Located at 149 South Congress Street, in Winnsboro, SC. The Donut Guy is a tiny little donut and breakfast shop, 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 and they are made to order – each and every one!
The also make “Big Boy” donuts and serve a to-go breakfast menu as well. But at The Donut Guy, the always “Hot Now” tiny, made-to-order donuts are the name of the game.
What started as ( and still is) 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” which as the name suggests is in the space right next door to The Donut Guy.
While they will keep making donuts and to-go breakfasts in the tiny space that got them started, in the bigger digs, 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! No photo of a wingnut just yet, so we’ll have to end with this close up on the sweet and satisfying tiny unicorn donuts at The Donut Guy!
Follow The Donut Guy on Facebook and Instagram and get more info as they update their website at TheDonutGuySC.com
Don’t miss another Delicious Detail
That’s it for this January edition of Hidden Gems… but there are so many more places that should be on your restaurant radar. I’ve been doing a lot of eating in and around town and have lots to share in the way of local eats so stay tuned… there is always another wonderful meal to share, right around the corner.
Subscribe to HeidiBillottoFood.com by entering your email address where prompted in the upper right hand column of my home page. Then, enjoy all the good eats as each post, like this Hidden Gems Restaurant RoundUp Update comes right to your email inbox as soon as the copy goes live.
And when you go to eat at any of these hidden gems, be sure post your photos on all your social media feeds and tag me along the way. Don’t forget to #TellThemHeidiSentYou