This holiday season, when you can't face leftovers for one more meal, close that fridge and take the family out. The Lake Norman area has many restaurants suitable for taking the whole group over the holidays. We’ll help you narrow down your choices.
Red Rocks Cafe
An excellent pick for big family gatherings, the spacious and lively Red Rock Cafe in Huntersville's Birkdale Village has a menu to match its surroundings. Serving brunch (on weekends), lunch and dinner, there are abundant choices, from steak to chicken to seafood to pasta – a little something for everyone. A fish special one night of jerk mahi mahi with broccolini ($23.50) on a red rice risotto was tender and delicious with just the right amount of spice. Seafood pasta ($24) includes mussels, shrimp and scallops and is crowned with chunks of succulent lobster meat. Try the queso-spinach dip ($10) to start. It comes in a sourdough bread bowl with chips and is perfect for sharing. Portions are large and service is professional and prompt. Entree pricing ranges from $15 to $39 – but that $39 entree is two lobster tails. A large wine list is available and gluten-free items are marked on the menu. There are private rooms for groups and also tented and heated outdoor seating.
Red Rocks Cafe, 8712 Lindholm Dr., Birkdale Village, Huntersville.
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Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Toast Cafe in Davidson has long been a neighborhood favorite on Main Street. This homey space serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and brunch on the weekends. There are vegetarian and gluten-free options available. Breakfast and brunch offer several omelets, breakfast sandwiches and egg specialties. There are also pancakes and French toast as well as flavored flapjacks like raspberry walnut. At lunch, choose from sandwiches, wraps, burgers and salads. The California salad, with grilled chicken, strawberries, oranges, avocado, cucumbers, goat cheese and tomato is fresh and tasty. The salad contains a plentiful amount of juicy chicken, sliced off the breast. The dinner menu is full of comfort food staples like pot roast, chicken pot pie and meatloaf. Service is friendly and accommodating, and prices are reasonable. For breakfast, brunch and lunch, nothing is over $10. At dinner, the most expensive item is a pan seared red snapper for $18. Dinner also offers a prix fixe menu – a great deal at $17 for soup or salad, an entree and dessert.
Toast, 101 N. Main St., Davidson
Hours: Breakfast, Brunch & Lunch served Monday-Friday 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Dinner Wednesday - Saturday from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Cafe 100 is a great spot to take children – especially because it's right down the street from Discovery Place Kids. Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and dinner Fridays and Saturdays, this cozy and artistic space located in a small house serves breakfast favorites with some unique additions – a lox bagel platter, huevos rancheros and a Greek frittata. For lunch, choose from burgers, burritos, sandwiches, salads and wraps. There's a kids' menu, of course, and several vegetarian options. Service is prompt and efficient and prices are low – like Toast, everything is under $10 for breakfast and lunch. (In fact, this was formerly the Huntersville location for Toast.)
Cafe 100, 100 Huntersville-Concord Rd., Huntersville
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; dinner served Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
131 Main in Cornelius can be a great selection for a family lunch or dinner or a great date-night spot. This sleekly designed restaurant is popular with Lake Norman residents and has many devotees for dishes like cast iron cornbread with honey butter, crab cakes with pommery mustard sauce, chilled quinoa salad and key lime pie. Grilled salmon with wild rice salad ($22) consists of a large portion of fall-apart-tender fish, perfectly cooked medium, and its delightful accompaniment which had apple, pecan, parsley, golden raisins, red onion and currants in addition to tender wild rice. There are many vegetarian options and a gluten-free menu is available. The wine list is varied, with several organic or biodynamic options, and there are creative cocktails as well. The top-priced items at lunch are a full rack of Danish baby back ribs and a full order of Maryland-style crab cakes, each for $23. At dinner, a 12 oz. hand-cut rib-eye tops out at $24.
131 Main, 17830 Statesville Rd., Cornelius
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sabi in Davidson is a step away from American comfort food to sushi and pan-Asian fare. Open since 2008, its bright and modern decor make it a nice choice for big groups and couples alike. Start with the favorite Bang-Bang Shrimp – plump and juicy wok-seared shrimp tossed in a slightly spicy chili sauce and served over a bed of lettuce ($7).If you go the sushi route, there are a variety of special rolls, including the six-piece Wildcat Roll (a nod to Davidson College teams), which is shrimp tempura, crab and avocado ($7.25). You can also create your own roll. Non-sushi aficionados have much to select from as well – stir fries, spicy mango chicken, spicy Thai red curry are all available as are lo mein, pad thai and General Tso's chicken. Prices are very manageable, with entrees at lunch averaging $6.50 and $11 at dinner. There is also an extensive wine, beer and cocktail list.
Sabi, 130 Harbor Place Dr., Suite 120, Davidson
Hours: Sundays - Thursdays, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.