Several noteworthy dishes and restaurants that I discovered while scouring Charlotte for international fare didn't make it onto the big chart we ran earlier. Here are a few:
A mouth-popping ceviche at Maria Bonita (7741 Colony Road at Colony Place). The citrus tang, with red onion, avocado and tomato, made the marvelously tender white fish sing. Though listed as an appetizer, it easily works as an entrée; get a basket of chips and you're good to go.
A mixed grill of chicken, lamb and kufta (a Middle Eastern meatball), followed by a slab of kanafa (a cheese and pastry dessert reminiscent of Greek galaktabouriko) at Jerusalem (3145 N. Sharon Amity Road). If the weather cooperates, sit outside, in front of the massive and ornate wooden doorway, and enjoy the hospitality.
A seafood stew called Siete Mares – but much more richly seasoned than the usual version of this “seven seas” soup – at Cantina 1511 (1511 East Blvd.). Flecked with decorative strands made of guajillo chiles, the dish is also flavored with this smoky pepper and comes with a dense, moist Mexican cornbread. The menu credits well-known Mexican chef Patricia Quintana for the recipe. It's worth seeking out.
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Smooth, thick, Salvadorean-style beans as a side dish, and a pastry I can only describe as a Salvadorean Napoleonesque Moon Pie, at Pan Salvadoreno (4800 Central Ave.).
A simple bowl of soup at Pollos Mario (6023 Albemarle Road). For $5.75, I got a huge bowl of sopa de tostones – green plantain soup – with a few crunchy tostones (little fried patties of green plantains, which taste something like round french fries) perched on the side, plus a huge plate of moist white rice, sweet fried plantains and a mixed salad. I took some home.
Yummy tom yum at Thai Orchid (4223 Providence Road at Strawberry Hill shopping center), a spritely version of this classic hot-and-sour Thai soup brightened with lemongrass.
Exceptionally smoky and vibrant baba ghanouj (a Middle Eastern eggplant spread) at Cedarland (4832 Central Ave.). This spot offers a spare dining area along with its grocery area, packed with goodies – from barrels of variously seasoned olives to colorful hoses for hookah pipes to boxes of frozen phyllo and good flatbreads.
Readers offer favoritesThough no reader added a new country to last week's list, several shared favorite ethnic eateries, including Pio Pio (Peruvian), Pollo Inka (Peruvian), Lang Van (Vietnamese), Pho An Hoa (“not to be confused with Pho Hoa”; Vietnamese) and PePeRo (Korean). And reader Sarah France pointed out that I mentioned Smithwick's (pronounced smitticks) with English food when it's “a VERY Irish beer.” Right she is. I can't fathom why I didn't remember which country I drank it in, because I do remember it as a VERY good vacation.