Lake Norman, renowned as one of North Carolina’s premier lakes, owes its popularity to its expansive size and strategic central location. Nestled just minutes away from Charlotte, the state’s largest city, Lake Norman stands as North Carolina’s largest artificial lake. It meanders through the charming suburban towns surrounding the bustling metropolis, creating a distinctive blend of natural splendor and a plethora of recreational activities.
The lake has become a hub for annual festivals, making it a must-visit lake destination near Charlotte. In the summertime, Lake Norman comes alive with a variety of events that are sure to capture your attention.
Thanks to its close proximity to urban centers, Lake Norman offers a diverse range of options for food, and there are plenty of amazing restaurants on Lake Norman to enjoy year round!
The Best Restaurants on Lake Norman
1. Barrel and Fork
What seems like an unassuming house with a porch on Main Street, is one of the best restaurants in this part of North Carolina. Barrel & Fork has been serving patrons since 1903, even during prohibition times, and you get to see glimpses of these eras when you visit. One incredibly beautiful detail is the 120-year-old red brick wall.
The bar serves some incredible cocktails with unusual ingredients like herbed honey, chocolate habanero, peppercorns, brown butter, and even saffron. The food is equally incredible, earning rave reviews from visitors and locals alike.
2. Sports Page Food & Spirits
- Price: $$
- Cuisine: Bar and Grill
- Address: 7490 Waterside Crossing Blvd, Denver (GPS)
- Website: See menu
Your vacation to Lake Norman shouldn’t get in the way of you watching your favorite team’s big game and sports shouldn’t compromise your vacation either for your family. At Sport’s Page, you get a win-win compromise! With a lively atmosphere, great food, and, of course, sports, the entire family is sure to have fun. Also, when there aren’t any games on, you can expect live music and other events as well.
Sports Food is located on Waterside Crossing Boulevard in Denver, NC, and is open from 11 AM to 10 PM on Sundays, 11 AM to 10:30 PM on Mondays to Thursdays, and 11 AM to 11 PM on Saturdays.
3. Clean Eatz Cafe
- Price: $
- Cuisine: Health food restaurant
- Address: 17111 Kenton Dr. Unit 101B, Cornelius (GPS)
- Website: See menu
Located on Kenton Drive, Clean Eatz Cafe is all about healthy and fresh food options at an affordable price, with a focus on customizable dishes, like the “Build a Bowl”, where you mix a grain or rice base with a protein, veggies, and sauce, all with a calorie counter.
The team at Clean Eatz is also mindful of different tastes and preferences, while also providing high-protein, gluten-free, and keto dishes. They’re open from 11 AM to 7 PM Mondays to Fridays, 11 AM to 3 PM on Saturdays, and 1 PM to 4 PM on Sundays. If you visit, you have to try their signature buffalo sauce!
This California-style taqueria offers all the Mexican classics like quesadillas, tacos, tostadas, and, as the name of the restaurant implies, burritos, along with six different types of salsa.
Not only is the food made fresh every single day, but the portion sizes are also very impressive. The restaurant also has a bar that serves Mexican beer and margaritas, some of which have even won awards.
Easily one of the best restaurants in Davidson, Carrburritos is closed on Sundays and Mondays, operating from 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM Tuesdays to Thursdays, and from 11:30 AM to 9 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
5. Big Bite’z Grill
If you’re looking for fast counter service, a large menu, and affordable, yet high-quality, food, then this is the go-to spot. Big Bite’z serves sandwiches, pitas, chicken, beef, seafood dinner entrees, Greek plates, gyros, and salads.
It’s located on Catawba Ave in Cornelius and is open from 10:30 AM to 9 PM Mondays to Saturdays. If you visit, be sure to try their lamb and beef gyro, a popular option amongst many who regularly visit Big Bite’z.
6. Westlake Family Restaurant
This restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, but it might just be the best way to start the day. The restaurant also serves homemade lunches, which adds more depth and flavor to its menu.
Picky eaters will also be able to easily find something to their liking. Westlake Family Restaurant is located on Highway 16, on the west side of Lake Norman, and is open every day from 6 AM to 2 PM.
Good, wholesome, and delicious food, in a chic setting! Milkbread offers crispy chicken entrees, salads, bowls, toasts, and biscuits. This isn’t any dry Popeye’s biscuit and plain toast, but delicious (almost gourmet) dishes made with a range of sweet and savory ingredients.
The signature milk bread (the restaurant’s name for donuts) is a specialty that is available in many delicious flavors.
If you are a vegan there is even more reason to try Milkbread. The restaurant offers plant-based meat substitutes for all their meat dishes without any extra charge. Milkbread is located on Jetton Street in Davidson and is open every day from 9 AM to 7 PM.
8 The Soda Shop
This diner first opened its doors in 1951, but the building where it’s housed goes back to 1907. This long and storied history is on display for visitors to experience themselves when they visit The Soda Shop.
This place has all the staples of a classic American diner, with high stools, booth seats, and a menu that is as long as your arm. Located on Main Street, this little gem of Davidson, NC, is open from 10 AM to 8 PM Mondays to Thursdays, and 8 AM to 8 PM on Fridays and the weekends.
9. Pita Pit
- Price: $
- Cuisine: Sandwich shop
- Address: 21726 Catawba Ave Ste B-3, Cornelius (GPS)
- Website: See menu
While this might be a chain restaurant, Pita Pit’s pita sandwiches and brown rice and quinoa bowls are quite popular among the locals. At Pita Pit, you get a lot of customizable options for your pita sandwich (16 different types of meat and a meat substitute too!).
The service is fast and the ingredients are fresh. There are also a lot of set menu items, one of the most popular, among both meat lovers and vegetarians, being the Southwest Fajita.
Pita Pit is located in Cornelius on Catawba Avenue and is open 10:30 AM to 8 PM, Mondays to Saturdays, and 10:30 AM to 7 PM on Sundays.
10. Masala Mastee
If you’ve never tried Indian food before, then your trip to Lake Norman just might be the chance to do so. Masala Mastee, located in Davidson, focuses on Indian street food, something which has become very popular recently, even to the point of the mainstream. You might have a hard time pronouncing the names of the dishes, but enjoying the delicious food won’t be a problem at all.
And it’s not just street food; if you want to experience Indian food in all its glory there are several full entrees and even a lunch buffet on Sundays. Masala Mastee is open every day from 11:30 AM to 3 PM, and then from 5 PM to 9 PM.
11. Crafty Burger N’ Tap
If you’re looking for juicy authentic burgers, then definitely visit Crafty Burger and Tap located on Brentwood Road, Denver, NC. The staff works diligently to keep things fresh by baking buns and grinding meat daily (nothing is saved for the next day).
All their delicious sides are also prepared in-house. The restaurant is a bit cozy, so things can get a bit tight on a busy day, but the food is absolutely worth it.
12. Pinky’s Westside Grill
Even though located in the relatively small suburban town of Huntersville, there’s nothing small about Pinky’s Westside Grill. It’s been featured on television networks and one of their signature dishes, the “Kinda Fried Turkey”, has won acclaim as one of the best sandwiches in North Carolina, and holds many other accolades.
It’s not just sandwiches though; there’s a full American-style menu featuring burgers, hot dogs, tacos, snack baskets, and salads.
Pinky’s Westside Grill is open from 11 AM to 9 PM from Sundays to Tuesdays, 11 AM to 10 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 11 AM to 11 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
13. Slice House Pizza
- Price: $
- Cuisine: Pizza restaurant
- Address: 101 S Old Statesville Rd, Huntersville (GPS)
- Website: See menu
Nothing beats a good slice of pizza and at Slice House, you get the best kind, New York style. Located on Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, this pizzeria offers 16 flavors (including veggie and gluten-free options) and also makes customized pizzas.
There’s a lot of other Italian cuisine, as well, including calzones, pasta, and stromboli. The cannolis are on point too! All produce and ingredients used by the pizzeria are sourced locally and the flavor they deliver is unbelievable.
Slice House Pizza is open Mondays to Saturdays from 11 AM to 9 PM.
14. Brickhouse Tavern
While the Brickhouse Tavern has a large menu of delicious, high-quality food, and an equally wide and impressive selection of drinks, the best part about this place is the ambiance. The restaurant is housed in a 120-year-old cotton mill in Davidson and everything about the decor is cool and stylish.
It’s a brilliant setting to enjoy a drink and have some incredible food, which mostly consists of burgers, pizza, sandwiches, tacos, pasta, and some entrees. Brickhouse Tavern is open every day from 11:30 AM to 10 PM.
15. eeZ Fusion & Sushi
- Price: $$
- Cuisine: Sushi restaurant
- Address: 16925 Birkdale Commons Pkwy F, Huntersville (GPS)
- Website: See menu
If you find yourself close to Birkdale Village while visiting Lake Norman, then eeZ is the place to go, especially if you’re a fan of Asian cuisine. The sushi is made using fresh and sustainably harvested seafood and is prepared by highly trained and experienced sushi chefs.
You’ll also find customizable bento boxes and stir-fry dishes. The staff is also very accommodating, customizing meals in case you have any allergies or intolerances. They’re open Sundays to Thursdays from 11 AM to 9:30 PM, and from 11 AM to 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
16. Joey’s Fine Food and Pizza
Joey’s Fine Food and Pizza is where fancy and fun meet wonderfully. Here you’ll find a lot of upscale options, like herbed salmon and espresso ribeye, but you won’t have to deal with all the pomp and show that usually comes with fine dining.
You’ll also get popular options like cheese pizza, wings, sandwiches, and fries. Regardless of what you eat, rest assured it’s all delicious!
Located on Natalie Commons Drive in Denver, Joey’s is open from 11 AM to 9 PM on Sundays, 11 AM to 10 PM on Mondays to Thursdays, and 11 AM to 10:30 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
17. Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse
If you’re feeling a bit peckish late at night, there’s nothing like some Philly cheese steak and hand-cut fries from Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse to hit the spot.
Open from 11 AM to 2 AM, Duckworth’s has a large menu filled with pizzas, burgers, wings, sandwiches, wraps, and hearty entrees. The bar is just as impressive, with a large selection of craft beers and signature cocktails like the Strawberry Chipotle Margarita.
It’s also worth mentioning the decor is incredible, filled with brick, wood, and leather. You can even catch a game on one of the many television screens that adorn the walls.
18. Choplin’s Restaurant
Choplin’s Restaurant is one of the best Lake Norman restaurants if you’re looking for fine dining. You can expect to eat some high-quality food with premium ingredients like lobster, scallops, and Angus rib-eye.
For lunch, in addition to a full menu of delectable gourmet treats, there is also a daily special of “Soul Warming Plates’ that they serve from Tuesdays to Fridays, featuring dishes good enough to make your soul sing and make you feel good.
There is an extensive wine list and some choice beers as well. Choplin’s Restaurant is located on Norman Boulevard in Cornelius and is open on Mondays from 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM, Tuesdays to Thursdays from 11:30 AM to 9 PM, and Fridays from 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM.
19. Dressler’s Restaurant
This steak and seafood spot in Birkdale Village not only provides high-quality delicious meals, but it also puts a great focus on friendly service and customer care. Among the many gourmet dishes, some that stand out and are considered a specialty are the Shrimp and Lobster Linguini and the Verlasso Salmon.
They also know how to make a mean martini. Dressler’s is open from 5 PM to 9 PM on Mondays to Thursdays, and 5 PM to 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
20. Il Bosco Ristorante & Bar
Historic Davidson is also home to an incredible Italian restaurant with a menu that includes regional Italian delicacies like homemade pasta, antipasti, quintessential Italian meat dishes, and a daily seafood special.
The dishes do change from time to time since it’s a seasonal menu and the team at Il Bosco is big on using fresh ingredients from everywhere in Italy that are in season. Il Bosco is open Mondays to Saturdays, from 5 PM to 9:30 PM.