7 Top Charlotte Restaurants | Must-Try Charlotte Restaurants

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Charlotte’s food culture is thriving. Although Southern cuisine and barbecue remain popular, the broader culinary scene is expanding faster than ever.

Since Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, you can practically taste the globe in its eateries.

It has evolved into a melting pot, making it an easy area to settle and establish roots. A plethora of eateries in downtown Charlotte contribute to this ethnic melting pot.

The city has various new areas with a variety of fantastic Charlotte restaurants to try, breweries to visit, and events that draw visitors from all over the globe.

It has its old-fashioned charm, yet there is something dynamic and innovative going on. Because of the thirty-seven miles of greenway paths for hiking and mountain biking, it has become a popular location for active individuals.

The different rivers and lakes, notably Lake Norman, attract paddleboarders and kayakers. With over thirty outdoor activities, including white water rafting, zip-lining, and events throughout the year, the 1,300-acre US National White Water Center draws thrill-seekers and environment enthusiasts.

It is a cultural city that features both performing and visual arts. There are areas devoted to muralists and music, museums for design aficionados who visit the Mint, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame for stock car fanatics.

Charlotte is easily accessible by plane. It takes an hour and a half to fly from New York to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Traveling from the same location takes around 10 hours.

Once in Charlotte, driving is simple since traffic isn’t yet a problem. The newly constructed light rail system links many of the areas, which is wonderful for the Queen City and will make traveling to all of these planned locations much simpler.

Here are seven amazing culinary options to try (for varied reasons), but there could easily be seventy on this list of Charlotte restaurants. If you’re not satisfied (and I’m not), check out my list of the greatest Barbecue in Charlotte!

Not in the mood to dine out tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver right to your door from the greatest restaurants in town.

Interested in seeing these additional North Carolina attractions? Check out our gastronomy guides to the cities listed below: Mooresville’s Top 13 Restaurants Manteo’s Top 11 Restaurants

When in Charlotte, don’t miss out on the following activities that will help you immerse yourself in the city (get them while they’re hot!):

  • SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium General Admission
  • Charlotte: 90-Minute Electric Cart City Sightseeing Tour
  • iFLY Charlotte First Time Flyer Experience
  • Charlotte: Historic Uptown 90-Minute Segway Tour
  • Charlotte: Queen City Ghost Tour
  • North Carolina: GetOutPass Including 50+ Attractions

7 Must-Try Charlotte Restaurants

Noble Smoke

703-525-2216 Freedom Dr.

Jim Noble grew raised in High Point, North Carolina, and has liked barbecue since he was a child. His father sold furniture while traveling over the state sampling delicious Barbeque and sharing his stories.

Young Jim’s love of hamburgers and Lexington BBQ was so strong that it stayed with him. He aspired to be a chef after learning how to prepare French food from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking on PBS.

He combined wine and cuisine in Napa, cooked with wood for over thirty years, and had an aha moment in Texas when he tasted mind-blowing brisket.

He set out to master his art and create his own barbecue restaurant in Charlotte. His investigation took him all throughout North Carolina and to Texas, where he read and met the greats.

He pays tribute to the 23 barbecue experts he studied from (by reading, tasting, and discussing the skill) in order to find the best approach to introduce his BBQ to North Carolina. Noble Smoke is the result of much study, and we are the fortunate receivers.

Noble Smoke is housed in an 11,000 square foot area with a beer garden and 2,000 square feet devoted to the smokehouse.

There are 200 seats inside a complete bar with beer, wine, and creative cocktails, as well as an outside terrace to enjoy all of the meat. His menu begins with 1,200 pounds of quality beef, hog, turkey, and chicken that has been slow smoked over hickory coals for hours, depending on the ingredient.

The brisket takes the longest and is cooked in twelve to fourteen hour sessions.

He had six 1,000-gallon off-set smokers constructed in the Texan manner. All are continually operational for service, including classic Lexington Style Brick pits for Boston butts (pork). Any food left over from the restaurant is given.

The Nobles’ sister restaurant, Kings Kitchen, which the Nobles founded to teach the local community about the food industry, has been put on hold in order to concentrate completely on feeding the poor in the neighborhood. Noble Food & Pursuits, in collaboration with the Charlotte Dream Center, is feeding meals to needy populations in the Charlotte region using public contributions.

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They want to provide 2,000 hot meals each day to families, teenagers, and the elderly, and to deliver those meals straight to their homes. This generous community service should be incentive enough to visit this A-list Charlotte BBQ restaurant.

I ordered a NoDa Lager and a pimento cheese appetizer with toasts. The cheese was a creamy dream next to a mound of crispy and buttered toasts (bread cooked in-house). I came to a halt before I wrecked my appetite.

The meats were then served.

I got a quarter-pound of smoked turkey breast, a brisket slice, and a house-made bratwurst (sausage changes daily). All of the house-made sides sounded delicious, but I settled on Zacks collards and mac & cheese.

The brisket was fork tender and so juicy that it didn’t need the three varieties of sauce (Lex Sauce, Smoke Sauce, Sauce 19).

The turkey was tender and moist, and it went well with the sauces. The brat was wonderful, not too smoky, and precisely seasoned.

That was all so excellent in the hands of a determined cook dishing up some of Charlotte’s greatest barbeque. This is a true BBQ palace and a cue lover’s paradise.

Louise and Leah

+ (980) 309- 0690 North End Camp, 301 Camp Road.

Greg Collier, a two-time James Beard nominee, and his business partner and wife, Subrina Collier, developed Leah & Louise, a contemporary juke joint. It’s their second restaurant idea in Charlotte, located in the new Camp North End neighborhood.

This is a must-try. Charlotte’s restaurant is a contemporary rendition of the meals they grew up with, classics that pay homage to Mississippi River Valley foodways (Memphis, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama).

A juke joint was a place where hardworking Black People could unwind, drink, and let their hair down. The Colliers wanted their place to provide a sense of camaraderie for everyone. They set up a huge community table in the middle of the room for people to gather and enjoy wonderful food, specialty drinks, and music. And it certainly seems like way at this renowned Charlotte restaurant.

The room is warm and inviting, thanks to the varied vintage furniture and cushions. Justin Hazleton, recently selected Best Mixologist in Charlotte, oversees the Bar Program. Hazelton reinvents Black Historic Cocktails.

Chef Collier creates recipes that pay homage to his southern ancestry but are far from soul cuisine.

He named the eatery after his late sister and grandparents. Chef Greg pays respect to them while infusing new touches on southern food.

We began with the River Chips, which are fried chicken skins seasoned with voodoo spices and topped with ranch dressing and green onions known as granch. Wow. The crispy skin is the greatest part of fried chicken, and this addicting appetizer is a labor of love stacked high on the dish to chew and enjoy.

We had the house salad, which was described as having greens, dressing, something crunchy, and something sweet. Chef Greg leaves it open because he likes to utilize fresh local food every day. The greens with pickled radish, golden raisins, and smokey-slivered almonds in a sweet vinaigrette were delicious.

My favorite course was 2 N Da Bush, which was characterized as brownin chicken and Jefferson red rice pelau, Callaloo, with field pea-chili relish and squash puree.

This meal was extremely delicious, with so much heart and soul on the plate. With all the layers of wonderful flavor and spice, I tasted history and legacy on the dish.

I couldn’t leave without sampling the day’s bread pudding. It was triple chocolate with graham cracker topping and a banana foster glaze. It was delicious and gooey, with a crunchy banana-caramel taste. Extremely fulfilling. This restaurant was fantastic.

This is one of the greatest places to dine in Charlotte if you want outstanding, inventive regional cuisine.

Cat Smelly

704-374-9656514 East 36th Street

Smelly Cat Coffee House opened in 1999 in the heart of a mill community in Charlotte’s North Davidson district. Customers were drawn in by the unique name and distinctive style, and a devoted following grew.

The company got more community-minded as it changed ownership over the years. Since 2006, its current owner, Cathy Tuman, has pursued community support, preserved the eccentricity, but added a focus to become Charlotte’s top coffee business.

For each kind of bean, the coffee is ethically picked and sensory roasted. Depending on where it comes from, each bean has a point at which it is perfectly roasted.

There are a number of roasts of coffee drinks, pour overs, and cold brews, so if you are unsure, ask a barista for assistance and they will take you to the right cup.

If you don’t like coffee, there’s organic tea. Throw in house-made syrup, scratch-made cookies, pastries, and quiches, and you’ve got a wonderful coffee shop right in the middle of NoDa (North Davidson).

The menu includes gluten-free and carb-free alternatives. Moreover, the coffee grounds are composted, no straws are used, and you earn a discount if you bring your own cup. All this makes it a terrific destination for breakfast or brunch in Charlotte.

The biscuits are cooked from scratch, and the eggs are cage-free. All of the meat, fruit, and dairy items are locally sourced. I can’t resist a biscuit, and these, like the baked products, are not to be missed.

I like a nice chocolate chip cookie, so I also got one, along with an iced coffee. To be honest, it was a delectable treat that washed down with a great cup of cold coffee.

Everything here is created with love, including the coffee, pastries, and cookies. Although I’ve heard the indoors is nice and appealing, the beverages and food are now only available for consumption outside.

The patio of the brick structure boasts a fantastic range of outdoor dining spots as well as a humorous mural painted on the wall. I am a coffee connoisseur, and this cup was exceptional. If you’re looking for something fresh and handmade, Smelly Cat will be a terrific location to dine in Charlotte.

National White Water Center of the United States

Whitewater Center Parkway, 704-391-39005000

Since 2001, the US National White Water Center has been located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Its purpose is to bring people together outside to participate in various leisure activities.

The center also offers outdoor contests, events, and festivals on its 1,300-acre grounds all year. The community may either watch or participate, depending on the qualifying, and enjoy any festivals or activities.

The protected property will be expanded over time to allow even more outdoor recreation. White water rafting, white water and flatwater kayaking, high ropes courses, zip-lining, fifty miles of mountain biking, hiking, and jogging paths, and several climbing adventures are available.

With all of those activities, you’re certain to become hungry. The Rivers Edge is the full-service dining restaurant of the White Water Center. It offers an excellent assortment of cuisine, beer, and wine, both indoors and outdoors on the terrace overlooking the man-made whitewater river.

You may view all the excitement on the river while eating a fantastic lunch. There are four other kiosks in the park where you can get a quick bite to eat, but this is the spot to unwind with a drink and some wonderful cuisine. Particularly after riding a few kilometers on the track, dropping 100 feet from a high platform, or zip-lining across the park.

We chose fried pickles with a spicy ranch dipping sauce instead of pulled pork nachos or smoked chicken wings from the menu.

Pickles are delicious on their own, but fried pickles are even better. Dipping them in a zesty ranch simply increased the sour taste, and pairing them with a beer is pure bliss.

My main course was the biggest triple-decker bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich you’ve ever seen. That was enormous.

Salads are among the lighter alternatives. Other hand-held meals, such as burgers and a fried chicken sandwich with lettuce slaw and chipotle aioli on a brioche bun, are also available, as my buddy did.

I had to order the BLT when I saw it. It was served with herb aioli on sourdough toast. The bacon was thick sliced and delightfully crisp, served over crispy lettuce and beautiful ripe tomatoes from local farmers. We worked hard zip lining and kayaking, and we were hungry, but I took half of it with me.

If you prefer to dine later (Rivers Edge is open until 7:00 p.m.) and want supper instead of lunch, the menu also includes steak, salmon, and pasta meals.

There are also some delectable dessert options, such as key lime pie. We still wanted to do some more of those amazing things, so we decided to give it a go on our next visit.

If you like being outside and want to reward yourself with delicious cuisine and a breathtaking view, Rivers Edge is the place to go in Charlotte.

Fin and Fino

+ (704) 800-5680135 Levine Avenue of Arts

Fin & Fino is a gorgeous Charlotte seafood restaurant on Levine Avenue of the Arts, close to museums and the Knight Theater. You can enjoy excellent seafood and a guaranteed happy evening every day of the week, thanks to a magnificent bar and one of the finest wine and craft cocktail menus around.

Being an oyster enthusiast, I was overjoyed to learn that Fin & Fino boasts one of Charlotte’s freshest oyster choices. They have sustainable seafood and shellfish supplied every day.

If you like such options, the raw bar is ideal. A Dish of Fish, which includes eight oysters and six each of North Carolina shrimp and mussels; A Tower of Power, which includes sixteen oysters, fourteen North Carolina shrimp, and sixteen mussels; or the Penthouse, which includes sixteen oysters, fourteen North Carolina shrimp, sixteen mussels, snow crab claw clusters, and lobster and shrimp salad. A complete feast!

There are other great delicacies such as the bay scallop ceviche and the grilled octopus with a sunchoke latke, agrodolce onions, and sunchoke chips. The octopus was delicate and nicely cooked, and the sunchoke cake was a delightful complement.

If you don’t like marine fruit, you may substitute duck, lamb, steak, or vegetables.

If you have a party of seafood lovers, purchase The Treatment. For $59, the chef will give you a tour of the menu and contribute $5 to a charity of your choosing.

The craft cocktail program is overseen by B.K. and the Clams, with Bar Manager Brittany Kellum at the lead.

The bartenders like creating great drinks based on a theme. The series’ sixth theme is named 80s Yearbook Superlatives. My Blanco tequila, Dolin blanc, chartreuse, and sage cocktail had an ombre effect. That was incredible, similar to my superlativean completely engrossing time at Fin and Fino.

Looking for a seafood restaurant in Charlotte? Looking for a steakhouse in Charlotte? Looking for one of Charlotte’s greatest restaurants? Fin & Fino, one of Charlotte’s best restaurants, can meet all three criteria.


(704) 626-6116225 South Poplar St.

Chef William Dissen combines a contemporary setting with traditional Appalachian traditions. He makes advantage of the riches of the Piedmont region. He reinterprets it using local, seasonal ingredients and sustainable meat and fish to reflect the old foodways. He gets fresh delivery from local farmers and sells artisanal items in the kitchen, dining area, and bar.

The restaurant is relaxed and informal, yet the atmosphere is also classy. The brass bar and leather banquettes are both comfy and stylish. The ambience alone makes this one of Charlotte’s best restaurants.

The menu combines southern influences with international cuisine items, making it a fascinating read. There are small and big platters, as well as snacks and sides.

We ordered the Billy Ds Fried Chicken Sandwich with celery seed slaw, B&B pickles, and white BBQ sauce served on a potato bun with seasoned fries since we had heard amazing things about it. It did not disappoint and lived up to all of the expectations.

The soft, juicy chicken and toppings combined to form the most wonderful, huge sandwich. Every item was so fresh and exquisite that we would have ordered it again if we hadn’t been such gluttons.

I ordered the chili-rubbed hog shoulder steak with a pear and herb salad, Carolina gold rice middlin risotto, and calvados jus. This meal was delicious. The pork was tender, and the sauce was irresistible, similar to a barbecue sauce but enhanced. The rice preparation was novel, and when combined with the jus, it created a creamy side dish that complemented the tender, spicy pork.

We enjoyed the homely vibe of this trendy but comfort cuisine restaurant in Charlotte that reflects North Carolina’s heritage and character.

Brook’s Sandwich Shop

+704-375-78082710 N. Brevard St.

The little boutique on Brevard Street in North Davidson, sometimes known as NoDa, has been in business since 1973. It’s a Charlotte institution that serves the greatest hamburgers in town. Please do not take my word for it. Brooks is always at the top of the Best List. It’s just that fantastic.

Apart for the color of the structure, nothing has changed. It has now been handled by David and Scott Brooks, identical twin brothers who took over the firm when their father died. Scott, sadly, also died lately.

Customers used to be mostly blue-collar railroad employees and truckers, according to Dad. Almost everyone now comes to Brooks for their outstanding burgers.

Brooks is also famous for its chili, which boasts a secret formula that hasn’t changed in forty years. It is available individually or as a topping for anything on the menu, but you must order it All The Way, which includes beef chili, mustard, and onions.

Burgers, fries, hot dogs, bologna, livermush, bacon, BLT, fish filet, chicken filet, country ham, smoked sausage, and chuckwagon are the only items on the menu.

The chili and slaw are sold by the pound. The shop only accepts cash, however there is an ATM on-site, and there are picnic tables if the weather allows.

I ordered a cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato and fries on the side. I neglected to request condiments. You must request each topping. Fortunately, I had ketchup packets. That was excellent. Really excellent.

You know they’re doing something well when a roadside business has picnic tables and a queue around the block.

There’s nothing extravagant here, and maybe that’s all you need: a solid burger and crisp, oil-fried fries. And if that’s your thing, Brooks is a fantastic Charlotte restaurant. Yum.

So there you have it: a rundown of seven of Charlotte’s top restaurants. You may try any of them, and we assure you will not be disappointed.

It was difficult to limit down the list to seven restaurants and places to dine in Charlotte, but feel free to add your own favorites to the list.

Furthermore, although not exactly in Charlotte, I couldn’t end this piece without adding two other places worth the short trek to Davidson.

These two eateries, located less than thirty minutes from Charlotte, are well worth the short travel to Davidson!


N. Main St. + 1 (908) 231-5000131 N. Main St.

Joe and Katy Kindred worked at some of the top restaurants in the country. He works as a chef, while she as a sommelier. They explored the globe, but finally returned to Davidson with their expanding family, culinary skills, and sense of flair.

They debuted Kindred in 2015, and it quickly became one of Bon Appetit’s top eateries. The compliments and customers kept flowing.

The James Beard semifinalist and his wife have created a friendly environment at the refurbished pharmacy shop on Main Street, which is almost a century old. It’s no surprise that Davidson College teachers are regulars. The cuisine is both elegant and rustic.

Seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and producers are used in the cuisine, which is handpicked and chef-driven.

The platters are supposed to be shared, and all of the pasta is prepared from scratch.

The only pasta that does not alter is the squid ink conchiglie with Georgia royal red shrimp in sea urchin butter and tarragon, which is a fan favorite.

We began with the free milk bread and cultured butter. It was tender, pillowy, and delicious.

The Tuna Crudo with green coriander, white asparagus, rhubarb, and English peas, sprinkled with edible flowers, was next on the menu. I was astounded by the appearance and the delicate and light flavor.

We chose two pasta dishes for our entrees: squid ink and spring onion bucatini with maitake mushrooms, asparagus, and crème fraiche.

Both meals included crisp shrimp and earthy mushrooms in subtle sauces. Both were eye-opening.

We had to try the chocolate birthday cake for dessert. It came with rich chocolate cake layers, creamy cream cheese frosting, and a dollop of sweet vanilla ice cream. The rainbow sprinkles added the right finishing touch.

From the bread to the skill in each dish, the outstanding service, and the warming dessert, I felt all the love here.

This is a must-see establishment. It’s just a 25-minute drive from Charlotte and well worth the trip.

The Pickled Peach

202 S. Main St.

Davidson is such a lovely place. It’s an excellent day trip from Charlotte. Stop in for lunch at the Pickled Peach if you opt to visit the boutique stores and beautiful sculptures on show on the Davidson College campus.

To offer at their restaurant and market, the proprietors acquire local and organic products as well as grass-fed or natural meats. They aim to choose the freshest products to feed your body and spirit while also supporting the local merchants and hardworking farmers.

The menu has three daily soups, prepared salads with protein toppings, and gluten and carb-free sandwiches.

My attention was sparked by southern classics like jerked chicken and a BLT with pimento cheese.

Nonetheless, the cornmeal fried shrimp with spicy mayo, butter lettuce, and tomato on a long bun piqued my interest. I chose a salad and am very delighted that I did. Tossed with mustard vinaigrette, the chopped butter lettuce, chicken, celery, red onion, chickpea, tomato, and feta salad was simple yet filled with great local vegetables and taste. That was the most delicious, fresh salad, with a pleasant crunch.

I took it to go, but there is also an interior dining area. I sat at a picnic table, taking in the warm Carolina weather and the bustle of Main Street.

The constant flow of clients coming and leaving from the Peach demonstrates that they have devoted consumers who appreciate the attention and craftsmanship. The market sells artisan foods, beer, and wine, as well as grab-and-go products and take-home entrees.

If you’re searching for a restaurant that takes a green, sustainable, and ecologically friendly approach, this is one of the greatest places to dine in Charlotte.

Which of these Charlotte eateries do you wish to try the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!

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