Since you all were kind enough to give me some suggestions, I though I would fill you in about our college tour and let you know where we ended up eating (or at least give you the highlights). We visited six colleges over a period of four days: Elon University in Elon College, NC, UNC-Asheville in Asheville, NC, Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, Furman in Greenville, SC, and Emory University and Morehouse College in Atlanta. (Of these schools, Furman was my son's first choice, followed by Elon, Emory, Morehouse, UNCA and Johnson C. Smith.) The culinary high points of our tour were the Moose Cafe in Asheville, Mert's Heart and Soul in Charlotte, Mary Mac's Tea Room and Pappadeaux in (or near) Atlanta, and, of course, Lexington #1 in Lexington, NC.
Given the area of the country that we were visiting, I wanted to make sure that we ate some good Southern cooking, and this was what was featured at the Moose Cafe, Mert's Heart and Soul and Mary Mac's Tea Room.
The Moose Cafe is located next to a great, and very extensive, farmer's market in Asheville, and you can tell that they get their vegetables there, because they are absolutely fresh, well-seasoned and -prepared, and delicious. They also have great fried chicken, and the biggest, fluffiest and best biscuits that I've had in a long time. I had a barbeque platter, which consisted of chopped pork and chicken, and, while it didn't measure up to the 'que I had earlier at Stamey's in Greensboro or the barbeque we had later at Lexington #1, it was still pretty good. The peach cobbler that I had for dessert was made in-house and was also very good. This place is a roadfood classic, with rock-bottom prices (the four of us had a great, full dinner for about $35) and plenty of local color.
I seriously considered eating at the Coffee Cup Grille in Charlotte, based on the recommendations of posters to this site, but, after reading an article about the place on the Charlotte Observer website, I found out that there had been a change of ownership, and I got the impression that the quality of the food had declined. I can't provide the URL because the article has apparently been removed from the website. So we ate at Mert's instead, based on another review on the Observer website. http://events.charlotte.com/reviews/show/16834-review-merts-heart-soul
We weren't disappointed. Although we had trouble finding a parking space in downtown Charlotte due to the presence of the American Idol tour at the nearby Charlotte Coliseum, once we got into the restaurant, everything was fine. I had salmon cakes, collard greens and candied yams. The 'cakes and yams were delicious.The collards were tasty, but I have to admit that I would have preferred that they be cooked with a ham hock, which they weren't, for health reasons. I'm all for healthy eating, but sometimes you've got to add a little fat. Again, the peach cobbler was very good.
In Atlanta, I was tempted to go to Pittypat's Porch, based on a recommendation from my uncle, rather than Mary Mac's Tea Room. However, I read several internet reviews from posters who had eaten there, and who had said that it was basically a tourist trap. I'm glad we went to Mary Mac's. The food was great, the prices were low and the service was fast and friendly. There was a retired employee who went from table to table, asking people how their food was and giving people impromptu back massages. I had roast pork with dressing and gravy, with candied yams and cabbage, which was all very good. The rest of the family had fried chicken, which they greatly enjoyed, and the peach cobbler was the best I had on the whole trip. The next evening, we ate at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, which, as I've explained at length in other posts, is one of my favorite places to eat. Suffice it to say that it was by far the most expensive meal we had on the trip, we all left stuffed to the gills, and we all loved it.
Finally, on the drive back to DC from Atlanta, we stopped for lunch at Lexington #1. We had a little trouble finding the place and I think that my wife got a bit frustrated, but I absolutely was not going to spend so much time driving around and through North Carolina without stopping here. And we weren't disapointed. The chopped 'que, hushpuppies and slaw were outstanding