Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Charlotte 500, Lap 21: Tony's Pizza

There are a handful of Tony's locations; we picked up at the location in Huntersville. Tony's makes New York style pizza, and based on the people working the shop, I'm guessing the owners are New Yorkers - they just had that attitude. Anyway, there's not much to say other than that we like Tony's and it's one of the most recommended pizzas around. So far, it might be the best pizza we've tried in Charlotte, for what that's worth - Charlotte hasn't proven to be a pizza paradise.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Charlotte 500, Lap 20: Neck Road

I stumbled across Neck Rd in Huntersville one weekend when Tiffany had gone back to Chicago for a few days. Being on my own, I drove down Neck Rd in order to find a historic site that is on my local map-book (I didn't find the historic site). The road gets its name from the fact that it winds its way along a neck of land formed by a big bend in the Catawba River. Beginning as a paved road, Neck Rd eventually turns to gravel before ending at a wildlife sanctuary. Along the way, Neck Rd passes a few minor historic sites and some beautiful scenery. The historic sites will eventually have their own place on this list, so here are a few photos of the drive down Neck Rd. On my first trip, I was listening to some of Alison Krauss's more bluegrassy music, which fit brilliantly into the drive until the thought of dueling banjos, and accompanying Hollywood imagery, crossed my mind. Then I got a little creeped out because Neck Rd, while beautiful, is a lonely place.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Charlotte 500, Lap 19: Birkdale Village Christmas

Well, I'm a couple weeks late posting this, but that's okay, Christmas will be here again soon enough. Birkdale Village in Huntersville is one of those residential/shopping/business/dining village-type places that have become popular the last few years. The nearest I can think of for those of you in Chicago is The Glen of Glenview. Birkdale puts up a nice, not-too-busy display at Christmas, including a snow machine. Here are a few pictures from our Christmas visit to Birkdale, a night topped off by strolling through the snow, really a bubbly dish soap kinda stuff, puffed out by the snow machine while enjoying ice cream from Cold Stone.
Birkdale's Jewish reindeer


Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Charlotte 500, Lap 18: Blenheim Ginger Ale

Realizing that 500 is a much bigger number than it first appeared, I determined that if ever I wanted to finish this list of 500 things to do in Charlotte, I had better start including some things that may not be completely Charlotte-focused, such as road trips (coming soon) and a few little things, like soda. So, lap 18 (only 472 to go - what have I gotten myself into?), is simply a 12 ounce bottle of spicy hot ginger ale - Blenheim Ginger Ale, to be precise, which, if you look hard enough, can be found in the Charlotte area.

Blenheim ranks with Glendale, Wisconsin's Sprecher Ginger Ale (note: Sprecher also makes the greatest cream soda in the world) as my favorite real ginger ale, which I define as a ginger ale that actually has the spicy-hotness of ginger root, rather than the more common watered-down variety, such as that produced by Canada Dry. A friend told me about Blenheim, and after five months I finally found it at a dirty old gas station in Mooresville on my way home from work. Blenheim is manufactured in the town of Hamer in northeast South Carolina. Apparently, Blenheim Ginger Ale has gained quite a following; if you want to read more about it, click here. If you like ginger ale, and if you plan on visiting us, give me advance warning and I'll make sure we stock the refrigerator.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Charlotte 500, Lap 17: Poppa's Hot Dogs

While we haven't found a single pizzeria that offers Chicago-style pizza (there is an Uno's Bar and Grill in uptown, but that hardly qualifies as Chicago pizza), the towns north of Charlotte are home to a couple places that serve up Chicago style hot dogs, including Poppa's Hot Dogs of Mooresville.

Opened by a friendly Chicago native, who started chatting with Tiffany when he noticed my Northwestern Wildcats t-shirt, Poppa's offers all the sandwiches you'd expect in a hot dog stand - Italian beef, bratwurst, etc. - to go along with enough hot dog varieties to please all the transplants from Chicago and New York as well as the locals. My personal favorite is the Chicago dog, with the New Yorker (sauerkraut and mustard) and the Carolina dog (chili and cole slaw) tied for second. Poppa's also offers a Comiskey dog, which, as you'd expect of backwards White Sox fans, or my lovely wife, is the only hot dog that includes that heretical condiment, ketchup. Poppa's french fries are of the crinkly variety and are very good, but not quite great.
The decor consists entirely of Chicago or racing related artifacts. One wall is covered with photos of the local NASCAR drivers who have eaten at Poppa's, including Dale Earnhardt, Jr. My favorite item is a framed carry-out bag from Ditka Dogs. I'm not sure if that was ever a real place, but it's cool anyway - it's Ditka. There is also a large Scooby-Doo near the counter, which may or may not be a tribute to the semi-famous Scooby's Red Hots of Chicago (or one of the countless other hot dog stands that carry Scooby's name).
Located on Highway 150 (River Highway), just off I77 in Mooresville, has quickly become one of our favorites. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it is a just a little too far to go just for hot dogs.

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