I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina
N 35° 17.609’  W 080° 50.309’  Elev. 797 ft.

I sailed past the place and thought it looked interesting.

It was lunchtime and the parking lot was packed. Miraculously, there was enough room across the street to land the SS Me So Hungry. So I gave the order to “Come About!”

As I walked toward the place I started taking pictures, which is my usual modus operandi. I took a picture from across the street, and one of each of the signs on the outside. As I approached the front door a man, about 35 years old dressed in kitchen garb, appeared from around the corner.

“What you doing?” the man politely demanded, in a Greek accent. “Why you take the pictures.” He eyed me with great suspicion, which I understood as I look suspicious. So I explained about the food blogging, et cetera.

My explanation however was met with a somewhat bewildered stare. Finally I asked if he knew what a food blog was?  “No,” he said. So then I attempted to explain what a food blog was.

It quickly became apparent that he really didn’t understand and/or wasn’t interested in what I was talking about. He asked if I was going to come in and eat. When I told him Yes, he said “Okay then.” And off he went and I went in.

As I looked at the menu I was struck by the incredible variety of food this little family owned restaurant offered: from gyros and souvlaki to grits and livermush. But what I wanted was one of the specials I’d seen on the sign:
“One Meat, Two Vegetables + Cup Of Soup.”

There were five different specials offered under the menu section called Monday Specials. They offer different specials daily, which are all priced between $6.59-$7.59.

I ordered the Roasted Turkey ($6.59) over dressing w/cranberry sauce and gravy. For the sides I chose rice & gravy and lima beans. (Is there any bean more ignored than the lowly lima?) It was served with a corn muffin and a very heavy dinner roll.

On the waitress’ recommendation I chose the Clam Chowder; the other soup that day was Chicken with Rice. I was not disappointed. It was a classic New England chowder, with plenty of tender bits of clam and bacon, big chunks of potato, and not overly thickened. Perfect.

The roasted turkey, a mix of white and dark meat, was likewise perfect, incredibly moist and juicy, with dressing that was absolutely awesome. The dressing was so moist that, I swear, it must’ve been cooked in the bird. And, thankfully, it was of the turkey giblets variety and not that inedible sage crap.

(Dressing is really iffy on the road. Too many restaurants use a recipe for sage dressing that calls for, I think, six or nine tablespoons of sage per two-ounce serving that is, in a word, abominable.)

The rice and (turkey) gravy were likewise a delicious treat, and something I don’t think I’ve ever seen on a menu before. Like livermush, maybe it’s a North Carolina thing.

I was hoping that the lima beans would be as good as the ones I’d had at Jackson’s Soul Food Kitchen but, sadly, they weren’t. Of course, I’m not sure one could get lima beans — they called them butter beans — that awesome anywhere except Jackson’s. Still, they were good, tender little medium-sized limas, though markedly meatless.

The roll and muffin were also good, although I wished the muffin would’ve been a corn meal muffin rather than the corn flour variety. They’re just not as sweet.

In all it was a great meal at a great price, and the portion was so generous that I couldn’t finish it all. But it sure made for some great leftovers.

I would’ve liked to have taken more pictures but, as I was taking pictures of the menu, a woman came over — I think she was probably the owner/cook’s wife; she commanded the cash register — and said “He said you can’t take pictures inside.” As a result I had to take the pictures of my food furtively. (Furtive Food Fotos?) It would’ve been nice to’ve taken pics of the breakfast menu, which is served all day, as well as some of the other great stuff that came out of the kitchen, all of which looked scrumptious.

As I was paying the woman, who turned out to be really nice, I told her how great the food was, thanked her for the great meal, and again explained about my taking pictures. While we were talking the Greek Cook Guy peaked his head out the kitchen door.

The food was really great, I said to him, Thank you very much! “You’re welcome,” he said, and ducked back into the kitchen.

As I left I had the distinct feeling that he still felt I was up to something. Something suspicious. Probably no good.

And so we roll.

Sunflower Family Restaurant, 5400 Statesville Rd., Charlotte, North Carolina
Open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday 6-1.

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

15 Responses

  1. Jason Lam
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    Dang, I feel your pain. Sometimes I wonder if restaurant owners think I’m some kind of 16 year old Chinese hipster health-department agent.

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