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Indian street food comes to uptown Charlotte

Tom Hanchett

In India, say “banktown” and you’re talking about Mumbai. Like Charlotte, it’s an old textile city reborn as a financial center.

Now you can get Mumbai street food amid the bank towers of uptown Charlotte. But you’ve got to know just where to look.

Kamlesh Shah came as a young man from India to Seattle where he fell in love with coffee. Moving to Charlotte to join sisters in 1995, he launched Coffee & More, a coffee bar in the recently-opened International Trade Center on College Street. When the building became a training facility for Bank of America, Shah noticed more and more finance and information technology professionals from his homeland.

Gradually he’s added Indian teas, the traditional lemonade called nimbu sarbat, hand-mixed soft-drinks with masala flavoring, curry-filled pastries, and now piping-hot vada pav and pav bhaji.

What’s vada pav? “It’s sort of an Indian burger, but no meat,” explains Charlotte native Raymond Kirkpatrick, who works behind the counter with Shah. A potato patty is daubed with garlic chutney and green spicy chutney, then nestled into a hamburger bun – perfect for munching as you walk.

Got time to sit on an uptown bench? Order the pav bhaji. It’s a savory stew of nine vegetables topped with fresh onions, cilantro and butter. You can eat it straight out of the bowl or spoon it into pav – that burger bun again.

Where to find this? Queen Charlotte marks the way. Locate the statue of Charlotte’s namesake at Fifth and College streets, duck through the glass doors behind her, and there you are.

Coffee & More
6am – 5pm Monday – Friday

200 N. College Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 375-6882

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