Charlotte · Restaurants

Bad Daddy’s Burgers

What: Bad Daddy’s Burgers

Who Said So: Charlotte Magazine’s Best of the Best 2011 for Best Burger and Voter’s choice for best Milkshake  and Charlotte Magazine’s Summer Fun for Chocolate Shake

Bad Daddy's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Are you looking for the *best* hamburgers in Charlotte?  Look no further than Bad Daddy’s.  It used to be called Big Daddy’s Burgers, but for some legal reason they had to change it.  Whatever.  The delicious food is still the same.

Bad Daddy’s has 2 locations.  The one I visited was in Dillworth and is a hopping place.  And parking sucks.  But you have to go.  The only time I’ve ever been dissatisfied with my food was when we sat outside in November (covered area with big heaters) and my food got cold before we could eat it.  Next time in winter we will be patient and wait for an indoor table.

This is my standard order.  I never deviate from it, I feel you shouldn’t mess with perfection.  It is a build your own burger, well-done (but you can get them cooked any way you like!) with cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickle, crispy onions, mayo, ketchup and mustard. 

I opt for the tater tots as my side and they come with this amazing Bad Daddy’s dipping sauce that tastes like a smoky/spicy BBQ sauce mixed with mayo. My husband brilliantly asks for them to be fried extra crispy (I know what you’re thinking, but look, this isn’t health food anyway.).  I did not do that this trip, but they were plenty crispy for me.  Who needs mushy tater tots?  Napoleon Dynamite? 

I’m setting you up for my next admission by this picture and showing you how Bad Daddy’s “well-done” looks.  My husband decries my choice saying that my burger is dry, but it just isn’t so.  Plus, I have a terror of e-coli.  Now, the real reason I show you this is to prove I cut my burger in half and ate only half because I ordered THIS MILKSHAKE for dessert:

When it arrived, I was reminded of the scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta was complaining about the $5 milkshakes.  Which this was.  And worth it!  Thick and creamy, and you can even get adult versions with some liquor if you desire!  Our waitress was kind enough to separate ours into 3 small cups for sharing.

We love this restaurant.  It is a cheaper choice in Charlotte, but don’t expect it to be 5 Guys cheap.  But do expect it to be delicious. 

Charlotte · Restaurants

Polka Dot Bake Shop

Polka Dot Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

Who: Polka Dot Bake Shop

Who Recommended: DishTip and Charlotte Magazine’s Battle of the Cupcakes

For: Chocolate Cupcakes


  • Chocolate Cupcakes: 7/10
  • Red Velvet Cupcakes 8/10
  • Salted Caramel Cupcakes 9/10

I prefer my bakeries to be in a quaint little house with the smell of vanilla wafting out of the door when each customer leaves with their bags of delicacies.  Polka Dot Bake Shop isn’t like that.  It’s in a strip mall, but I can forgive that because the cupcakes were so yummy!

Inside is a smallish space with the baked goods case front and center, as it should be.  They had a modest offering the day we were there, but that’s just fine.  You don’t want a lot of mess just sitting around getting stale.  We went on a Friday about 1:30 and we had a line behind us out the darn door.  People love this place!

We sampled 3 varieties on our visit.  The first was a salted caramel cupcake.  The cake was moist and delicious, the buttery frosting just sweet enough to balance the little bite of salt from the caramel.  Topped with a dollop of caramel and a salty cashew makes it the perfect dessert.  This one has very little that isn’t perfect.  We gave it 9/10 stars!

Next up is the chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting.  This one was good, but my least favorite of the three.  The cake itself was a little on the dry side and the buttercream, while rich, was pretty overpowering.  A nice contrasting vanilla buttercream might have been a better choice.  And I could have done without the sugar crystal sprinkles altogether.  Don’t mess up my creamy dream. 7/10 stars

Back to the good stuff…Red Velvet cupcake was moist and delicious and we loved the bite from the cream cheese icing.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t too sweet.  Red Velvet cake can be either Ronald McDonald red or cloyingly sweet and be messed right up, but not so with this cake.  It was perfect.  nearly. I gave it 8/10 because it just wasn’t as luscious as the salted caramel.  I’m the customer, I can do that.

If you love cupcakes, and nice people, stop by Polka Dot today.

Charlotte · Restaurants

Fran’s Filling Station

Fran's Filling Station on Urbanspoon

Where:  Fran’s Filling Station

Who Recommended:  Charlotte Magazine’s Take a Bite

For What:  Thanksgiving Every Day (Rated 10/10)

Other Items: 

Cold Meatloaf Sandwich: 7/10

Croque Monsieur: 5/10

Warm Potato Salad: 9/10

Fran’s Filling Station is another restaurant resting in a strip mall, but what a little gem it is!  They have a handful of tables outside, but the view is of the parking lot, so I elected to sit inside with my party.  The eclectic art hanging on the walls and the funky furniture made me glad I did.  I will note that the handicapped access is pretty poor here.  It is to the right of the front door, and people park right up on the ramp.  Also, as you can see, the tables are crammed onto the narrow sidewalk, so good luck getting a wheelchair through there without asking diners to move.

We visited for lunch and was it ever crowded!  Of course, we were there on a Friday at noon, so that can’t be that unusual or unexpected.  Our waiter was a bit overwhelmed and not as attentive as I’d have liked, but the other staff members were pleasant and perky.

Behold the reason for our visit!  The Thanksgiving Everyday is possibly the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever come across.  This overstuffed sammie is full of goodness:  house roasted turkey (not from the deli!), cranberry, stuffing, and sage mayonnaise on house-made bread.   Just look at this house-made bread; nutty and substantial.  Nothing is escaping, not one scrap of turkey.  That darn thing was so big it was held together not by toothpicks, but by dowels.  It was heaven.  I have to rate it 10/10.  No way to make it better.  Yep, it’s that good.  If you’ll have a look at the tiny cup of potato salad, you will see hunks of potatoes mixed with creamy, perfectly seasoned mayo.  It was wonderful, and I’m not even a potato salad fan.  I give it 9 out of 10 stars.

I got the worst of our sandwiches, the real Croque Monsieur.  I make my own, so maybe I’m a snob, but the bechamel sauce tasted like wallpaper paste.  It was terrible, and fraught with nutmeg.  The ham and Gruyere were perfectly fine, and I should have just asked them to leave the bechamel off, which I would surely do next time.  I got mine with chips.  Out of 10 stars, I’m going to give it a 5.  And that is being nice.

My sister got the Cold Meatloaf sandwich. It comes with marinated onions, russian dressing, lettuce & tomato.   Now, if you like cold meatloaf, this is the best cold meatloaf sandwich I’ve had.  The dressing and onions make it sloppy and delicious, and give it an unexpected tang.  This was served with homemade potato chips that were crispy and salty.

Charlotte · Restaurants

The Great Sandwich Bite: Zada Jane’s “Druther’s Clucker”

Zada Jane's Corner Cafe on Urbanspoon

Who recommended?: Charlotte Magazine

For What?: One of Charlotte’s best sandwiches

Where?: Zada Jane’s

This article focused on finding sandwiches in the city that broke out of the traditional mold.  And you know girls, we love a frou-frou sandwich.  Zada Jane’s is near my sister’s house, and after getting my new cast the other day we picked her up for a lunch at this hipster hangout.  I quickly realized that 1. Charlotte magazine isn’t always right and 2. I am way too uncool for this place.

I’m told that Zada Jane’s is a popular brunch and breakfast spot, and on the weekends the outside eating area fills up in nice weather.  The inside is funky and everyone who works here is, too.  As we sat down in our casual clothing, I began to look around and realized that while I wasn’t cool, neither was everyone else in there.  We sat amongst hipsters, artists (I assume) and even a few suits.  It was cozy!

The waitress we had was a little on the surly side, but I noticed she was a bit friendlier to the artsy types in there.  Were we too vanilla or am I overly sensitive?  No matter, she was very efficient and met all of our needs.  I opted for the Druther’s Clucker as recommended by Charlotte Magazine.

The Druther’s Clucker is a grilled chicken sandwich deluxe.  It comes with grilled chicken, fresh basil, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and sun-dried tomato mayonnaise on rosemary foccacia.  It is also served with a side of your choice: chips, black eyed pea salad or a green salad (for $2 more).  I opted for the green salad, hubby opted for the black eyed pea salad.

The sandwich, much heralded by Charlotte Mag, was just ok.  I mean, I ate all of it, but it was really no better than any grilled chicken sandwich I’d had anywhere else.  It wasn’t packed with flavor like all of those bold ingredients would lead you to believe.  I think if they would take better care in seasoning the chicken breast itself, and not just piling on ingredients to the sandwich, the outcome would have been better.  Both my husband and I agreed we’d get something different next time.

The green salad was delicious.  It was full of delicious fresh veggies like peeled cucumbers, tiny diced tomatoes, sprouts and sweet shredded carrots.  The greens were a mesclun mix and it was topped by homemade croutons.  Served with a homemade dressing of your choice: I chose Ranch.  I tasted my hub’s black eyed pea salad, and found the black eyed peas to be a little underdone for my taste.  Also, it was in a sweetish vinegar dressing that desperately needed some acid.  I smirked because mine was clearly better.

Now, the “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” was my sister’s order.  She got the grilled chicken nachos and if she weren’t carrying my niece, I might have smacked her and stolen in, like in our childhood days.  These nachos were served in a bowl, so you could have eaten it like a salad, but the crispy chips lined the bottom of the bowl instead of lettuce.  The chicken had a yummy chargrilled taste and it was loaded with cooked veggies.  Homemade salsa, guacamole and sour cream topped all.  Perfection.

If I’m perfectly honest, I was a tad disappointed by Zada Jane’s.  Maybe I had too high hopes for a humble chicken sandwich?  Next time, if there is one, I’ll get the nachos.

Charlotte · Restaurants

Original Pancake House

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Recommended to me by: Charlotte Magazine, Voters Choice

Original Pancake House: Best Breakfast (Voters Choice)

I have been meaning to go to the OPH for YEARS, but good lord, who gets up early enough to drive an hour to go have breakfast in Charlotte?  It just so  happened that I had an early appointment with my surgeon, and my mom and I decided we needed breakfast after that painful experience.  OrthoCarolina Foot and Ankle Institute happens to be right around the corner from this joint, so it was a no brainer.

When we walked in, I noticed immediately the high ceilings.  It makes me feel like I have plenty of space around me, even in a crowded restaurant.  We were seated immediately at a booth and a waitress came by quickly to take our drink order and drop off the menus.  They also sat down crayons for my little one, for which I was grateful.

The menu had so many things I wanted to try, namely that Dutch Baby everyone talks about, but I just broke right down and got the mushroom omelet with a side of pancakes.  I must tell you that they were both just pretty average.  Breakfast is not that big of a deal to fix, but the sherry/mushroom sauce that accompanied my omelet was just wrong on top of that omelet.  The omelet itself was enormous and very fluffy and actually cooked well.  So there’s that.

The pancakes were just alright.  Nothing special, and I had the buttermilk pancakes with the plain old maple syrup, nothing fancy.  Sometimes going with the basic dish is a beautiful thing, an unspoiled classic; this was not so with my pancakes.  They lacked flavor and the syrup was just..there.  I would go for that Dutch baby next time, or maybe even a blintz if I was feeling really crazy.

OK, so I’m being a little snobby.  The fact is my mother and little girl loved their food.  Mom got a sausage omelet with the pancakes and loved them.  My little one got a grilled chicken sandwich and hashbrowns, and gobbled it all up!  I stabbed one of the potatoes, which turned out to be  more like homefries than the shredded hashbrowns she is used to, and sprinkled with Cajun seasoning.  They were tender and delicious!

I will return.  We had fantastic service and weirdly enough, the Coke was fab..really strong.  Burn your nose kind of strong.  I adored it.  Next time, however, you know..the Dutch Baby.  I’m beating a Dutch Horse, aren’t I?