Charlotte is a sprawling metropolis near the heart of the Tarheel State. As the largest city in North Carolina, it’s a cultural mecca with an expertly crafted and ever-evolving culinary scene and there are some fantastic restaurants in Charlotte to try. Queen City is a mouthwatering melting pot that’s home to some truly innovative cuisine.
You’ll find fantastic fare to tickle any fancy – from the Southern classics to whimsical takes on delicacies from around the world. A delicious blend of charmingly old school and refreshing modern, here are all the very best Charlotte restaurants to get your grub on.
Best Restaurants in Charlotte
This eatery is inspired by the mill town era of the city. The decor is rustic chic with exposed wooden beams and reclaimed spindles adorning the interior. The brindled, battered, and fried chicken has made quite a name for itself among the foodies on the scene in Charlotte. However, there are a whole host of delightful dishes to discover on this menu.
We highly recommend starting with some smoked trout deviled eggs or hush puppies with sweet tea butter. The brunch here is the full package with a dedicated section just for biscuits, exactly the way we like it. Enjoy all the local classics with a side of Southern hospitality at Haberdish.
Brooks Sandwich House
You may not think of a burger and hot dog joint as one of the best restaurants in Charlotte. Brooks has gained legendary status by having the best burgers in town and has been feeding the hungry masses since 1973. Their sandwiches and hot dogs are equally tasty and include all the Southern classics such as the chuckwagon. It’s a family owned and operated establishment with the current third generation learning the ropes. The menu is simple which feels like a charming nod to their old-fashioned flair. Even the sodas seem special with original Carolina classics like Cheerwine and Sundrop.
Their secret chilli recipe has been passed down for generations – you can order it on its own, as a topping for any other menu item, or by the pound to take home. It’s a no-frills roadside joint in the heart of NoDa that always has a line around the block. Hop in the queue and you’ll soon find out why. This hidden gem is the heavenly hole-in-the-wall that no trip to Charlotte is complete without.
Haymarker honors the history and heritage of food from this region while maintaining a modern upscale ambiance. The space features brass fixtures and large leather banquettes, all drenched in natural light, providing comfort and elegance at the same time. This is one of the best restaurants in Downtown Charlotte and the menu features fares inspired by the South but with a fresh take!
All local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients are used. The beer and wine selection is always rotating. From truffle tater tots to the famous Billy D’s Fried Chicken Sandwich, your taste buds are in for a real treat here. This is one of the most beautiful and best Charlotte restaurants.
Fin & Fino
Fin & Fino serve up some of the freshest seafood anywhere in Queen City and one of the best uptown Charlotte restaurants. Be transported to a tropical oasis with tiki inspired cocktails and an impressive raw bar. They source sustainable shellfish that are delivered daily. There are a minimum of 12 different types of oysters on deck at all times.
The menu is inspired by seafaring cultures and includes an array of delectable dining options such as the scallop ceviche and grilled octopus. The cocktails are expertly crafted and exciting in every sense, from the ingredients to the taste to the quippy names. Be sure to inquire about their personalized tasting menu which includes a small donation to the charity of your choice in the price.
The Artisan’s Palate
The unassuming facade of Artisan’s Palate does not prepare you for the adorable rustic charm you are about to experience. They aim to cultivate a unique and immersive ambiance inspired by all five senses. The space is adorned with warm reclaimed woods, soft lighting, and touches of metal. As well as an eatery, it serves as an all the time art gallery and a sometimes music venue for local bands to play. The pieces displayed change monthly, so there’s often something new and exciting to see.
Enjoy the secret garden seating for some al fresco fares out back. The wine selection boasts varietals from all around the globe, and the cocktails are mixed to perfection and creatively crafted. The share plates perfectly reflect the ethos of this creative gathering space designed to foster artistic community. We recommend pairing one of the boards with your beverage, for the flavor and for your Insta feed, you can get cheese, olive, smoked salmon, or sausage. This dining destination is a dream come true for any artisan.
It turns out the US National Whitewater Center is a surprising hotspot for culinary delights. The River’s Edge was named quite literally, as it offers breathtaking views above the rushing man-made rapids, with the Catawba River sparkling in the distance as well.
The taps boast a varied selection of drafts. They serve up gourmet sandwiches, snacks, and salads. This is the perfect place for a bite and a beverage after a thrilling outdoor adventure in Charlotte.
A bit off the beaten path, this Italian eatery is hidden away in a historic home. Its atmosphere is warm and inviting, with a cozy decor that will have you feeling comfortable within seconds. The beer choices are local, and the wine list is a curated collection of the best Italy has to offer, both by the bottle and by the glass.
While the menu may look familiar, with plenty of pizzas and pastas to order, each provides an unexpected quirk designing to delight the senses. We highly encourage everyone to try the Truffle Tagliatelle. As a seasonal menu, the meals are always changing, meaning you’re in for something fun and new each time you visit. This must be the reason why locals love to go to Stagioni.
Pinky’s Westside Grill
Pinky’s is a rollicking rite of passage for all who pass through Charlotte. Even its exterior boasts unmissable kitsch with a giant dinosaur statue greeting you at the entrance and a Volkswagen Beetle sitting securely atop the facade. The inside is cozy and quirky, a setting completely unique to them.
They specialize in good, old-fashioned comfort food, and who are we to deny ourselves a festive evening full of fried foods? The burgers are piled high with patties and toppings, the hot dogs come in all forms, and the sandwiches cover all the classics. The cocktails are as inventive and amusing as you’d expect, but the Cheerwine is an especially enthralling libation. Pinky’s is the most beloved lowbrow institution in the city, a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience.
You’ll find this quaint eatery in the 4th Ward of the city, where it’s been a fixture of the community for decades. The walls are adorned with vintage photographs that attest to this. This gives a charming and laid-back ambiance for a real friendly neighborhood feel.
The menu is eclectic but inspired by Cajun cuisine, and as such the flavors are bold and vibrant. The Blackened Catfish Plate and the Shrimp Marsala are both impressive offerings. Enjoy a wide range of local brews on tap here. This tried-and-true tavern is one of the best Charlotte restaurants.
Heirloom is a haven for all foodies fixated on where the ingredients on their plates come from and how they are sourced. These fares give a new meaning to the phrase farm-to-fork. Everything is seasonal, down to the sides and craft cocktails. The menu is full of meals celebrating North Carolina products, whether they’re foraged or grown locally.
The six-course tasting menu is a real treat if you’re in the mood for an expertly crafted culinary adventure. The Beer Can Rabbit Ravioli is a revelation, and the Pickle Fried Chicken is a fan favorite. The decor is country chic, with rustic touches like warm wood paneled walls and mason jar chandeliers.
Leah & Louise
Designed as a modern juke joint, Leah & Louise is a must visit in Queen City and one of the most amazing black owned restaurants in Charlotte NC! They are cooking up modern takes on the classic cuisines from the Mississippi Valley foodways. With a large communal table as a focal point of the decor, the community feel really comes through here. It’s clearly a place for gathering and sharing. The furnishings are eclectic and vintage, making it a warm and comfortable atmosphere that anyone would want to spend some time in.
Each dish feels like a labor of love, from the fried chicken skin starter to the oxtail and dumplings. You’ll find some vague listings on the menu, which leave room for changing up ingredients each day based on what is fresh and available locally. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a touch of mystery and surprise on their plate? The layers of flavor in this food are sure to leave you impressed and craving more.
Sweet Lew’s BBQ
Sweet Lew’s gives us an authentic North Carolina barbecue experience, and for that we are eternally grateful. Set inside an old service station, this no frill joint lets the sweet taste of perfectly smoked meats speak for themselves.
They use a blend of hickory, pecan, and peach woods to slow roast spareribs, beef brisket, and chopped pork just to name a few. Be sure to stock up on all the fixings as well, such as collard greens and mac and cheese. Their boiled peanuts are even infamous made with a secret family recipe.
5Church is a buzzy steakhouse and hip hotspot in the city. The space feels industrial and cool with such fixtures as sleek black leather banquets, soaring black ceilings covered in white scribbles, and bare wooden tables. It’s set inside the sleek hotel the Ivey’s and feels like a sexy extension of that atmosphere for sure. The cocktails offerings are often a contemporary take on old school classics, such as the Viper, made with tequila, orange liquor, cucumber, lime, and cayenne pepper.
The wine list is extensive with some offbeat bottles and options as well like a rose flight. Expect the unexpected from this funky and inventive menu. It’s best to leave your preconceived notions about food at the door and try each tasty concoction bravely. The Yellowfin Tuna Tater Tots and the Moroccan Meatballs are just a few such scrumptious selections. This is definitely our favorite church in Queen City.
La Belle Helene
If you’re in the mood for an exquisite French affair, this is the perfect place. It’s a refined brasserie in the heart of Charlotte celebrating the classic culinary traditions of the city of love. The ambiance is upscale yet inviting with globe lights, wicker seats, dark green accents, and checkered floors.
The Crispy Duck Confit and Boeuf Bourguignon are delectable dishes to die for. The beverage offerings honor the elevated and elegant culture of France with vintage varietals and classic cocktails. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate any occasion or make one up, because you can always find a reason for some champagne and madame charlotte cake.
Superica has been creating craveable tex mex cuisine for many years, and the Charlotte location is set in a restored building that’s over a century old. They pride themselves on fares that are heavy on the flavor and light on the fuss. They’ve carefully cultivated an atmosphere reminiscent of the southwest, with decor depicting Texas in the early days, accented with exposed brick and brown leather banquettes. The outdoor space is charming as well for savoring some nachos and sipping a margarita in the warm Carolina sunshine.
The street style and wood grilled tacos are all delectable as are the other familiar favorites, like the fajitas or enchiladas. Their beer list ranges from tecates to local craft brews. The cocktails are a true testament to the versatility of tequila, but if you are really craving beer you’ll have to check out one of the best breweries in Charlotte.
Also, don’t miss out on their south of the border brunch – the huevos rancheros are muy rico. Some of the displayed curios aren’t just for added kitsch, you can actually purchase them. Come in for an authentic Mexican meal and leave with the tortilla warmer of your dreams.