Dine out on us with WFAE’s MemberCard

By: Jay Ahuja

One of WFAE’s staffers shares some of his favorite restaurants included in WFAE’s Member Card, a benefit of being a member of the station. (Get yours here.)

Membership, they say, has its rewards.  Since 2008, local food enthusiasts have enjoyed two-for-one entrees at local eateries, courtesy of the WFAE Member Card.  The list of more than sixty participating restaurants extends from Rock Hill to Davidson; Matthews to Gastonia; Huntersville to Hickory, and beyond.

Favorites include Charlotte stalwarts such as Pewter Rose, Sonoma, and Lavecchia’s, as well as more casual establishments like Press, Terrace Café, and Zack’s Hamburgers.  There’s also a fine selection of ethnic options; Italian, Mexican, Jamaican, Indian, and Middle Eastern food.  From Amelie’s to Zebra, there’s a veritable smorgasbord to choose from…

Here, for your consideration, listed in alphabetical order, are half a dozen “WFAE meal deals.”

Cabo Fish Taco (North Davidson)- This place may have introduced fish tacos to Charlotte, but Cabo’s shrimp tacos, sauced up and loaded with beer-battered shrimp, are still the best I’ve had anywhere.  These days I often go for their equally delicious and more heart-healthy, grilled mahi taco, but for years I ordered the shrimp taco without so much as glancing at the menu.  As a side dish, I generally opt for beans and rice if nothing on the special board grabs my eye.

Since opening day, servers here have been attentive, friendly and helpful.  And, the No-Da people-watching is better than ever since this laid-back eatery recently expanded to offer more street-side seating.

Carpe Diem (Elizabeth)- Sisters, Bonnie and Tricia, first opened Carpe Diem in 1989, but have since changed locations twice before settling into this gorgeous space on Elizabeth Avenue.  They are typically open for dinner only, but also offer brunch on Easter and Mother’s Day.  Brunch consists of two courses.  Entrée choices include eggs Benedict, mushroom-spinach-and-red pepper omelets, fried chicken breast, crab cakes, and much more.

Another tremendous bargain at Carpe Diem is their “Appy Hour,” offering half-price appetizers in the bar from 5:00-6:30, Monday through Thursday.  Between the cheese plate, pizzetta, vegetarian tart, and boneless Asian shortribs, it’s easy to order a delicious, tapas-style meal at the bar.  It should be noted that the WFAE Member Card will not get you an additional discount on appetizers, especially during appy hour.

Comet Grill (Dilworth)- This place is not big or fancy and newcomers are not likely to just stumble upon it.  Nevertheless, locals have consistently ranked the French fries here as some of the best around.  For several decades now, I continue to enjoy lunch at the Comet.  Currently, the Buffalo chicken sandwich with pasta salad is my “go-to” lunch, but for years I was all over their turkey Reuben and fries.

For a really good deal, diners can take advantage of their WFAE Member Card on Wednesdays, when all alcoholic beverages are half-price.  Several days a week the Comet offers live music and, on Friday nights, local guitar legend, Lenny Federal puts on a gritty blues show.

Moosehead Grill (Montford)- A former Pizza-Hut, this place is low on frills, but offers consistently good entrees, appetizers and specials.  One menu item you can absolutely count on is Donnie’s Double-Blackened Wings.  Arguably the best in town, these wings are not overly spicy or slopped in sauce and they’re even better if you request them “extra-grilled.”

If you’re not a fan of wings, there are plenty of other options including sandwiches, burgers and quesadillas.  The reason this place has so many regulars is that the servers are top-notch, the mixed drinks are top shelf, and the daily specials always offer something new and intriguing.  If the place is packed full on the inside, don’t be afraid to venture out to the patio or the rooftop porch.

Sante (Matthews)- Husband and wife team, Adam and Veronica, have created an intimate place that’s become one of our favorite special-occasion spots.  Adam is a big proponent of the organic and local food movements and shops regularly for fresh produce at the Matthews Farmers Market.  The menu here is ever-changing, but one entree I order every time I see it on the menu is the honey mustard glazed salmon served with Basmati rice and mango salsa.

Appetizers that should not be missed include the lump crab meat and avocado tower and the duck confit spring rolls with orange hoisin dipping sauce.  The spinach and poached pear salad with buttermilk blue cheese and toasted walnut vinaigrette may be my favorite salad in all of Charlotte.

Woodland’s (East Charlotte)- I have to admit, I was suspect of this place when it first opened because they offered no meat, no beer or wine, and no Nan, a tasty Indian bread.  Today, there is a variety of Nan and what may be the best Indian beer selection in town.  So, being a vegetarian restaurant by design, they have since rectified the two issues that could be best addressed.

My family and I are not quite regulars at this Albemarle Road vegetarian spot, but I’m sure we’ve eaten here more than a dozen times.  I generally opt for a dosa, which are giant, lentil and rice crepes filled with subtly spiced onions and potatoes. The vegetable makhani; assorted vegetables prepared in a creamy sauce flavored with tomato, cashew, almond, and saffron is likely the most user-friendly dish on the menu.  Samosas, appetizers of potatoes and peas wrapped and folded into crispy, little pyramids, are among my favorites and the accompanying brown tamarind chutney is absolutely perfect.

So there you have it.  This is but a modest sample of discount dining deals, as the list of establishments participating in the WFAE Member Card has grown each year.  Bon appetite!

More:

  • Pizza lovers can get two-for-one deals at 7 different Fuel Pizza Café locations, 4 Wolfman Pizzas, 3 Brixx Woodfired Pizzas, and a pair of Toppers.  There’s also Mama Luisa’s Brick Oven on Montford Road, Pie Town in downtown Charlotte, and even one for Geppeto’s Pizza in Hickory.
  • And great lunch places: Simmons, Dixie’s Tavern, Anntony’s, Phat Burrito, Luisa’s Brick Oven Pizza, Providence Café.  (Good for client lunches or thank you lunches with colleagues.)

Museums and family activities
Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens
Mint Museum of Art
Levine Museum of the New South
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture
Carolina Raptor Center
Schiele Museum of Natural History
Catawba Science Center

Performing arts
Actor’s Theatre
Western Piedmont Symphony

Find out more about WFAE’s MemberCard, including how to get one!

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