By Jimese S. Orange
We have Charlotte’s diverse immigrant population to thank for giving us access to a dynamic array of ethnic foods. Explore eastern European cuisine off the beaten path at family-owned restaurants specializing in Bosnian and Polish comfort foods.
Euro Grill & Cafe
2719 Central Avenue
Central Avenue, beyond the Plaza Midwood neighborhood, is home to a diverse pocket of international foods including Euro Grille & Cafe, a Bosnian eatery. Owners Dino Mehic and family dubbed the restaurant “House of Cevaps” after the national dish of Bosnia. “Cevapi is traditional Bosnian food number one,” says Mehic. Cevaps are small skinless sausages made from a blend of beef and veal. Their shape and texture are similar to breakfast-style sausage links. The grilled sausages are served on warm lepinje, a homemade Bosnian flatbread that’s moist and airy, a cross between focaccia and pita bread. Diced white onion accompanies the cevapi that’s served with ajvar and kajmak. Ajvar is a mildly spiced sandwich spread of pureed roasted red peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. Kajmak is a clotted cream similar to, but milder than, sour cream. Dress the sandwich generously with both for maximum flavor. Balkan expats flock to the restaurant for an authentic taste of home. “Back in Bosnia, there’s a cevapi place on every corner,” says Mehic, “McDonald’s tried for years to go into Bosnia, but people like cevapi better,” he says with a chuckle. Other Bosnian specialties are on the menu, such as burek—phyllo pastries filled with ground beef, cheese or spinach and cheese—and veal kabobs called raznjici. In addition to Bosnian specialties, the menu offers a variety of schnitzel born out of Mehic’s days of cooking in Germany. Vegetarians can delight in Mehic’s fresh spin on eggplant napoleon, a Mediterranean specialty of sliced tomatoes, eggplant, basil and fresh mozzarella. The cafe is attached to Bosna Market, a small grocery store, where Mehic sells all sorts of packaged and refrigerated goods, snacks, cookies, chocolates and candies sourced throughout eastern Europe.
Taste of Europe Polish Cuisine
10915 Monroe Road
A short trip beyond Charlotte city limits into Matthews will transport you to the heart of Poland. Taste of Europe is a quaint, inviting restaurant serving up traditional Polish dishes. Chef-owner Michal Przyk and wife Agata opened the eatery after missing comfort foods from their homeland. It’s become a popular spot for Polish expats and adventurous foodies craving authentic pierogies, potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage and other Polish specialties. “This is the same food my grandmother would have cooked,” Michal Przyk says with a warm smile. The food is flavorful and filling “meat and potatoes” fare. Traditional Polish dumplings, known as pierogies, are a highlight of the menu. Savory stuffings such as sauerkraut and mushrooms, spinach and ricotta cheese and potatoes and beef are customer favorites. Try the “Pierogi Mix,” which lets you sample a couple of varieties in one dish. Kielbasa is another fan favorite. Chef Michal serves up this smoky sausage with a subtle sweetness grilled to perfection. Stuffed cabbage, known as golabki, with rice and beef filling accented with a creamy tomato sauce is Polish comfort food at its best. For a range of flavors and sampling of the country’s cuisine, the “Polski Talerz” is a must. This Polish sampler platter comes with grilled sausage, stuffed cabbage and pierogi. The next time you’re craving a hearty stew, savor a bowl of Hunter Stew packed with chunks of sausage, pork and beef with stewed sauerkraut and mushrooms.
Sustain small business, support immigrants and keep diversity alive while expanding your palate right here in Charlotte and surrounding areas.