LA PAZ OO1910 South Blvd., Ste. 100, 704/372-4168, www.lapazcharlotte.com
HOURS: Mon.-Wed. 11:30 A.M.-10 P.M., Thurs.-Sat. 11:30 A.M.-midnight, Sun. noon-10 P.M. This South End restaurant offers upscale Mexican cuisine in a festive atmosphere and has been a
Charlotte staple for almost three decades. In 2008, Ward Manning, who had been a regular customer since the restaurant opened, took over as the new owner. The restaurant has undergone a major renovation but the authentic cuisine remains the same. The menu highlights include shredded pork tamalesâ”roasted pulled pork, cheese, raisins, and almonds topped with green and red chili sauceâ” and chiles rellenos. Not sure what to try? Ask the servers, who have sampled everything on the menu and are happy to make recommendations. Be sure to ask about the award-winning margaritas, too. The Papa Patron Grande, which is made with Patron Silver, is the largest margarita on the menu.
SPANISH LAS RAMBLAS Â©OG2400-M Park Rd., 704/335-8444, www.lasramblascafe.com HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 5-11 P.M.
Owner John Duncan has a reputation for opening some of the most popular restaurants in Charlotte (his past successes include Mac’s Speed Shop and Bonterra), and he’s done it again with Las Ramblas. The restaurant was named after the most popular boulevard in Barcelona and brings signature Spanish cuisine to Charlotte. For the best experience, skip the dining room and request a seat at the counter, which overlooks the kitchen and will make you feel like you’ve landed on the set of the Food Network. You can make an entire meal out of tapas (there are 30+ selections on the menu); just be sure to save room for dessert: The toasted chocolates with olive oil and sea salt might sound odd, but may just be the best thing on the menu.
SOLE Â©O1608 East Blvd., 704/343-9890, www.solespanishgrille.com
HOURS: Mon.-Thurs. 11:30 A.M.-2 P.M. and 5-10 P.M., Fri. 11:30 A.M.-2 P.M. and 5-11 P.M., Sat. 5-11 P.M., Sun. 5-10 P.M.
With nods for best Spanish restaurant and best tapas restaurant, Sole has established itself as the place to satisfy a craving for traditional Spanish dishes like pollo relleno (grilled chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, spinach, roasted peppers, and mushrooms) and churrasco de cerdo (grilled pork tenderloin topped with chimichurri sauce). Meals at Sole were meant to be experienced the European wayâ”slowly and with lots of wine. Order a selection of tapas to start, move on to the main course, and save room for dessert. The wine list has an impressive selection of wines from Spain, Argentina, and Chile and servers are well versed in offering suggestions for wines that complement each course of the meal.
STEAKHOUSE SULLIVAN’S STEAKHOUSE Â©OG1928 South Blvd., Ste. 200, 704/335-8228, www.sullivansteakhouse.com
HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 A.M.-2 P.M. and 5:30-11 P.M., Sat. 5-11 P.M., Sun. 5-10 P.M.
Al Capone would have felt right at home in this 1940s Chicago-style steakhouse. A true steakhouse, it features an impressive selection of certified Angus beef on the menu. Meat lovers should order the 20-ounce bone-in Kansas City Stripâ”just be sure to save room for the signature horseradish mashed potatoes. Like all good steakhouses, Sullivan’s has a full bar menu that includes wine, bourbon, cognac, and single-malt scotch. There is even a stocked cigar humidor. On Thursdays, the typically sedate steakhouse turns into a hot nightspot for Swingin’ at Sully’s, an evening of live music and drink specials in the bar.