I’m always interested in new spots for lunch, whether it’s a sophisticated white-tablecloth experience in uptown Charlotte or a joint where I can grab a to-go order in a cardboard box.
For your consideration, here are three inexpensive lunch spots where you can also gas up your car.
QuikTrip has been on my radar since I read about the company’s blitz into CLT. Extensive food choices include made-fresh sandwiches and personal pizzas, packaged sandwiches and salads; dogs, brats and taquitos rolling on the roller; pizza slices and more grab and go. This is a stoner’s paradise of junk food.
I sampled a steak taquito (tasty), buffalo chicken roller (spicy) – each was $1.25 – and made-to-order Philly cheesesteak flatbread ($2.99) and supreme pizza ($4.99). That Philly seemed more like a quesadilla than flatbread, but it tasted like a cheesesteak. You can get pizza by the slice, made-to-order from the menu or with whatever toppings you like. My supreme was loaded with toppings and the crust was crunchy and had a nice bite. Not great, but better than some chain pizzas.
Staff was friendly and eager to answer questions. There are tables outside the Wilkinson Boulevard store, so you can dine al fresco and enjoy the view of the uptown skyline.
3025 Wilkinson Blvd. (multiple locations); www.quiktrip.com.
Finally stopped at this place in SouthWorth (the edge of South End and Dilworth) and the lunchtime parking lot was jammed with people gassing up and stopping for lunch.
There was a variety of chicken in the display case: Tenders, wings, dark, white, fried, spicy. I chose spicy, green beans and fried potato wedges. (Two pieces of dark, one side and a roll cost $4.89; three wedges were $1.09.)
My dark meat was crispy and moist on the inside. It wasn’t too spicy at first, but it built up heat with each bite. Not too powerful, just a reminder. Green beans with carrots and corn tasted canned but had a nice, salty flavor and made me feel like I was having a reasonably healthy meal. Other sides included black-eyed peas, cauliflower and greens – healthier choices than I expected.
I ate a few blocks away at the Latta Park picnic shelter and noticed the guy at the next table had a box of Price’s fried chicken. We both had the right idea for outdoor dining on a mild day.
201 East Blvd. (multiple locations); www.quikshoppe.com.
After scanning the food area, I made my decision: mozzarella sticks and a deluxe salad (for a total of just $4.46).
I had eyed the deluxe salad for a long time. It was the best-looking salad in the case, with its Romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, red cabbage, shredded carrots and cubed green apples.
Unfortunately, they carry only ranch dressing. I grabbed three of the little packets (you’ll want four). While the lettuce tasted like bagged greens, the salad had plenty of crunch and a variety of flavors. The tiny cubes of apple added a sweet contrast. And it was filling. If you like cheddar and apples, savor them at the end.
Mozzarella sticks were a tasty bargain, but eat them while they are hot.
Multiple locations; www.7-eleven.com.