Vietnamese: The Perfect Cheap-eats Cuisine
For cheap but filling and flavorful Vietnamese food in Charlotte, there is a holy trinity: Ben Thanh, Lang Van, and Truc. Each has its devotees. None have much in the way of ambience. But all offer an array of classic dishes, such as the light and crunchy spring roll, hands-on banh xeo (crepe that you stuff with shrimp, lettuce, and herbs), hearty bowls of pho, and the cheap-but-filling sandwiches called banh mi. Vietnamese food, which is influenced by French cuisine, is full of bright flavors, with less emphasis on heat than, say, Thai, and more emphasis on varying textures and fresh herbs. Staff at each restaurant speak varying degrees of English, but with a little persistence you'll find out anything you need to know. Or, just point and smile. You won't come away hungry, and your wallet will hardly know the difference.
Ben Thanh: 4900 Central Ave., 704-566-1088
Lang Van: 3019 Shamrock Ave., 704-531-9525
Truc: 4520 N. Tryon St., 704-598-1191