Charlotte Map

MEDITERRANEAN BLUE OOO 214 N. Tryon St. (inside Hearst Tower), Ste. 100,

704/927-2583, www.bluerestaurantandbar.com HOURS: Mon.-Thurs. 5-10 P.M., Fri.-Sat 5-11 P.M.

There are a lot of reasons to go to Blue: authentic Mediterranean cuisine, a wine list that has garnered a place on the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 2004, or the intimate loungelike setting. But the restaurant is best known for its signature martinis (Mediterranean Blue and Caramel Flan are two favorites) and live music. Jazz musicians perform in the bar Wednesday to Saturday evenings and draw a crowd. Appetizers and a late-night menu that includes crab cakes, a Mediterranean sampler, Greek flatbread, and Israeli falafel are served in the bar. The restaurant specializes in Mediterranean food from the regions of Greece, Sicily, Morocco, and Tanzania. In addition to the regular menu, a prix fixe menu is served nightly and features a salad, entree, and dessert for $34.95.

MEZ OOO 210 E. Trade St., 704/971-2400. www.mezcharlotte.com

HOURS: Sun.-Tues. 11:30 A.M.-midnight, Wed.-Sat 11:30 A.M.-2 A.M.

Mez is dark. The walls and the tables are black, and at night the low flickering lights are turned down even further, adding to the supper-club feel. It’s not a place to rush through dinner; the environment, like the food, is meant to be savored. Sink into the deep couches and armless chairs, order a Ginger Smash and the Mez shrimp cakes, watch the hustle and bustle of the EpiCentre, order an Arctic Lemon Drop, admire the views of the Charlotte skyline, share a Mediterranean trio, and, eventually, choose one of the signature entrees for dinner. Dishes such as Mez black cod, pan-roasted pork tenderloin, seafood risotto, and prosciutto-wrapped prawns are served with sides, but additional sides including homemade gnocchi, ginger-glazed carrots, and grilled asparagus are offered family-style. Save room for dessert; the Mez crepe is the best thing on the menu.

MIMOSA GRILL

327 S. Tryon St., 704/343-0700, www.mimosagrill.com

HOURS: Mon.-Thurs. 11 A.M.-10 P.M., Fri. 11 A.M.-11 P.M., Sat. 5-11 P.M., Sun. 5-10 P.M. Mimosa Grill proves that Southern fare can be upscale. Traditional stick-to-your-ribs entrees like baked lobster mac-and-cheese, Southern braised greens, and seafood-stuffed Georgia hush puppies are made with a modern twist, using ingredients that are in season and grown or raised on local farms. Beef brisket burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and other casual fare are featured on the happy hour and game-day menus. Its location next to the Wells Fargo/Wachovia building makes it popular for business lunches, but after dark it’s couples, not bankers, who dominate the dining room. The best seats in the house are not inside at all: The oversized patio opens up to a quaint courtyard complete with a fountain and views of Uptown.

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