Hungry? Grab a bite around campus

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By: Jane Fountain

This column has always been about cooking. I’ve always included what I feel are most excellent (and easy) recipes for your dining pleasure. However, this time, there won’t be one. The Diva took the summer off, and she got lazy.

Nonetheless, we all have to eat, so this column is still about food – just food you don’t have to cook yourself. Nothing here in my opinion qualifies as “fine dining,” but this isn’t a restaurant review, it’s merely a list of restaurants on and near Central campus.

For those of you who attend Central campus and are looking for places to eat, you have a plethora of choices – all within walking distance. For starters, for those of you who have early classes and are looking for breakfast, Bojangles is right there on campus in the new Overcash building.

The library is also opening Victory coffee shop on the first floor with drinks and pastries. (Read the full story on the coffee shop here.)

Heading down Elizabeth Ave toward the hospital is Leo’s Deli has the distinction of being the oldest deli in Charlotte. They’ve been around since 1948. They serve sandwiches, salads, and those great kosher dills. This is strictly a Jewish deli, so no ham and cheese orders, please. Prices average around $6, not including drink. Leo’s is smoke-free.

Next door to Leo’s is the S K Net Café, one of Charlotte’s best kept secrets. Forget all those “trendy” coffee houses. This one seems to have something for everyone: coffee, mochas, cappuccinos, lattes, smoothies, beer and wine (save the alcohol until AFTER class, please) Coke, Pepsi, juice and Gatorade. The most popular seller among CPCC students is the chocolate espresso shake – a chocolate milkshake with a shot of espresso. It sells for $3.85. Regular coffee is $1.85. Pastries and microwaveable food, such as sausage biscuits are also sold. As the name implies, the café is Internet friendly, offering free wireless access. The management only requires that you make a purchase while you’re there, so grab a cup of coffee, relax, and get that homework done. There’s a patio where you can sit outside and smoke – smoking is allowed inside after 8 pm. This is also the closest place to Central campus that sells cigarettes. For those of you who take classes in the evenings, Wednesday nights are comedy nights, and there’s no cover charge. Friday and Saturday nights, they have live music with everything from acoustic to head banger. There’s a $5 cover charge, with all proceeds going to the band. They open at 7 am, and close at midnight. Parking is available in back of the building – they share a parking lot with Leo’s and Cuisine Malaya.

Diversity is a good thing. Students from over 150 countries attend CPCC. Culinary-ally speaking (Yeah yeah, I know that really isn’t a word, but the Diva is allowed a little bit of artistic license every now and then) it would be impossible to have every cuisine represented, but there is a nice sampling of several different countries’ food right there near the campus. Leo’s, as I mentioned, is an authentic Jewish deli.

Cuisine Malaya, located on the corner of Elizabeth and Independence, is the first in a strip of restaurants that offers a more exotic lunch than burgers or dogs. Cuisine Malaya offers a wide range of food: Malaysian, Japanese, Chinese and Indian. They also have a huge sushi menu. They open at 11:30 am, and offer luncheon specials. Average cost of lunch is $5.95, not including drink.

Next door to Cuisine Malaya is The Red Sea, an Ethiopian restaurant. Red Sea has luncheon specials including chicken, fish (whiting) lamb or beef. The food is served on a huge platter on top of a soft, flat spongy bread. No utensils needed – the bread is to be torn, and used to pick up your food. The entrée is served with two vegetables, and a small salad. A fork IS used for the salad, but for those of you who want to be politically correct, put your fork aside when you finish the salad. Entrée and drink is around $7.

The final restaurant in this building is a Chinese restaurant, The Fortune Cookie. Soups, egg rolls, wings and other basic appetizers are offered, as well as the Chinese standards: sweet and sour chicken or pork, lo mien, beef and broccoli – the list goes on. Wraps are also on the menu. Portions are generous. A light lunch from the appetizer menu, soup, egg roll and a drink) is under $5. The luncheon specials are around $6 and up. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and is smoke free.

Last but not least on our progressive lunch walk is The Double Door Inn. Located in an old house a couple of doors down from Fortune Cookie, is Charlotte’s oldest blues bar, established in 1973. They’re open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 am-3 pm. Menu items include burgers, dogs, hoagies, salads, fish and chips, and fish and shrimp. A plain burger is $5, add cheese for $.25 more, and a bacon cheese burger is $6. Hoagies run from $3.75-5.50. Appetizers start at $2 for a basket of fries, and go to $5.75 for various others such as 8 chicken wings with celery and bleu cheese dressing, or 5 chicken fingers, or 7 jalapeno poppers. You can smoke in the Double Door, and listen to recorded music.

This concludes our trip down restaurant lane. If none of this sounds appealing, or you’re pressed for time, there’s always the vending machine. They're located in almost every building on all the campuses. Soft drinks, Snapple, candy bars, and chips are available from the machines. For information on healthier options from the vending machines, read the story here.

The Diva mentioned way back at the beginning of the column that none of these restaurants, in (my opinion) qualified as fine dining, but I will mention one on that is. Carpe Diem, on Elizabeth Ave. Although not open for lunch, is an excellent place to go for dinner, but it is rather pricy. The average cost of a meal there is around $35 per person, although each night they offer ½ price appetizers each night during “Appy Hour.” Appetizers, such as calamari, crab cakes, pizza and cheese plates that normally go for $9 are $4.50, and they’re shareable. Carpe Diem is a nice place to have dinner before attending productions at Halton Theatre. Enjoy ‘Appy Hour,” or have a full meal, and then walk down to the show. The food is excellent, but as I said, the experience won’t be cheap. Reservations are recommended, but not required. They open at 5pm and close at 10 pm on week days, and are open until 11 pm on Friday and Saturday.

There you have it. I hope this helps those of you who attend Central campus. For those of you at Levine, Subway is located there in the building. Other campuses have nearby fast food restaurants, but none that are within easy walking distance.
Now just because I got lazy this summer is no reason for you to do the same – go cook something, clean something – make your Mother proud.

The pet tips in this column up until now, have always been basically for dogs. My yellow Lab, Bubba gets most of the attention around here. However, my cat, Earl, a Diva in her own mind, is tired of being excluded, so this month is for you, Earl…

Cats are probably the cleanest animal you can have in the house. (The cat itself – not the litter box.) They constantly groom themselves. This is a good thing, but it can lead to a nasty little thing they tend to do from time to time: gacking up what is politely known as a hairball. You can buy something for them to swallow that takes care of this disgusting little operation, but I have an easier and less expensive trick for you. Put a small dab of Vaseline on the top of their nose within tongue’s reach. Don’t put it IN their nose – you want your cat to continue breathing. Kitty will lick it off, and the Vaseline acts as a lubricant, taking care of the hairball. No more gacking. It doesn’t take much – a small amount about the size of the fingernail on your pinkie will do it. Try this once a week. You’ll be glad you did.