I have a few simple rules for Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week:

(1) Don’t eat at national chains (sorry, Firebird’s, no hard feelings).

(2) Splurge. Don’t eat at a place you’d normally eat at — go to the “special occasion” place you’ve been dying to try.  (Sorry Paco’s Tacos and Tequila. I still love you.)

(3) Try something new. This is the perfect way to get introduced to that hot new restaurant you still haven’t tried.

With those rules in mind, Sallie Funderburk, Richard Brooke and I broke down our top picks for this summer’s Charlotte Restaurant Week, happening July 21-30 at more than 130 Charlotte-area restaurants.

During Queen’s Feast, restaurants of all types and sizes offer three courses at dinner for just $30 or $35 (not including tax and gratuity). You can find a list of all the participating restaurants and the prix fixe menus here.

Charlotte Restaurant Week a great way to try new places and get a feel for Charlotte’s restaurant scene. I like it because it gives me an excuse to eat at fancy restaurants that I normally can’t afford.

Listen to this week’s podcast for our picks, and share your top restaurant picks with us on Twitter @Charlotte_Five or via email.

Also on this week’s podcast:

– We broke down the 10 things you MUST do this month around Charlotte.

– We recapped our 4th of July celebrations, including me getting caught up in a manhunt and Richard getting extremely sunburnt.