The Daily Grind’s cozy, earth-toned café houses a lengthy menu of fragrant beverages and a wall of packed bookshelves. Guests can chitchat on barstools or cuddle in cozy armchairs, fingers or ankles encircling freshly brewed café mochas ($2.75) or grasping wine stems supporting savory doses of merlot ($5; not included in today's deal). Nine flavors of hot chocolate ($2.85–$3.35) sate taste buds, including salted caramel and spicy hot chocolate. Gently used books for sale, scanning, or using to build impenetrable forts line the walls, inviting readers to dive into their lightly weathered pages, and ear drums can engage in the occasional live concert.
Chef Imani pays homage to his Southern roots by infusing his classical culinary training with Southern flavors. He whips up sandwiches and salads for lunch and hosts Sunday jazz brunches during which guests dig into jerk shrimp with fried cheese grits or blueberry pancakes. Chef Imani’s signature dessert—a housemade bread pudding—embellishes an old family recipe with a Jamaica rum sauce and spices of his own devising.
A chef slices the pineapple straight down the middle—stalk and all—and scoops out some of its sticky-sweet insides, leaving a hollow oval bowl. Then he fills it with a jumble of seafood—shrimp, scallops—scattered with chunks of the pineapple's innards. The extravagant seafood dish, known as the piña cantamar, is just one of many Mexican seafood specialties at Tacos & Tequila Cantina Grill. In addition to the piña cantamar, the menu includes south-of-the-border versions of red snapper, crab legs, and lobster. And for more traditional tastes, the restaurant also offers fajitas, tacos, and burritos—but any dishes goes well with one of its top-shelf tequilas, which can be served in a margarita.
Hibachi chefs are expected to be great entertainers, deftly flipping cuts of salmon or filet mignon from a tableside grill onto diners' plates. However, at Fujimi Sushi and Japanese Steak House—formerly Ajimi of Union County—showmanship also takes place behind the scenes. Sushi chefs arrange red salmon and succulent white tuna into sashimi roses, and red-snapper sashimi nestled on a bed of ice stays more perfectly chilled than a snowman trapped in a refrigerator. Signature rolls include the American Dream with rock-shrimp tempura, lobster, and crabmeat, as well as the Cobe, a fusion roll with tuna and filet mignon. Guests can venture farther into fusion with a tuna pizza laden with fresh herbs, avocado, and spicy mayo.
Start your cruise through Vinnie's menus with the pelagic flavors of one-dozen oysters, blackened and served hot and spicy ($10.99). For diners that are extra-hungry and in need of an odd hat, there's the big combo basket of all of Vinnie's fried delights: crispy oysters, butterfly shrimp, calabash shrimp, and fish fillets ($16.99). Vinnie's original fish sandwich with fries ($9.99) offers a handheld seafood option, not to be confused with the derivative fish sandwich—the chicken club ($8.99). Vinnie's seasoned chefs also put together wraps and entrees such as the shrimp and grits, which fuses ground-corn flavors with ocean-fresh shrimp ($10.99).
A well-rounded meal at Amor de Brazil Steakhouse will include picanha and caipirinha. The first is rotisserie-grilled top sirloin, skewered and carved at your table. The second is Brazil's national cocktail: crushed ice, lime, sugar, and sugar-cane rum. The servers at the restaurant—known as "gauchos," or ranchers—will happily teach newcomers how to pronounce these signature items, as well as the rest of the meats that they slow-cook in traditional churrasco style.
There's linguica, or cured pork sausage, lightly seasoned; cordeiro, or lamb, flavored by a mint marinade; and filet mignon, which, like the best camp care-packages, can arrive wrapped in bacon. Chicken, pork ribs, and rib eyes also make an appearance on the rodizio menu, and side dishes at the salad bar range from imported cheeses to roasted red peppers. Just feasting on the food is an experience in itself, with gauchos reporting to your table whenever you'd like to replenish your plate. But Creative Loafing Charlotte attests that the ambiance is also a draw—the room "positively oozes a fun spirit" and hosts Brazilian dancers in elaborate headdresses on certain weekends.