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Dining Hotspots

Charlotte restaurants have something for everyone, from soul food to barbecue to global fusion cuisine.
Mac's Speedshop on South Blvd
Mac's Speedshop on South Blvd

Charlotte’s Center City and its surrounding neighborhoods offer an abundance of great restaurants, from upscale-trendy to down-home casual and just about everything in between. Here are some of the best and brightest spots in Queen City cuisine.

BBQ, Soul Food & Other Classics

North Carolina’s reputation for BBQ is well-represented in Charlotte. In South Charlotte, family-run McKoy’s Smokehouse and Saloon welcomes everyone from bikers to bankers to devour pecan wood-smoked meat, USDA prime steaks and perfectly seasoned pork. Mac’s Speed Shop, located in a former South End transmission shop, boasts brisket that rivals any Texas joint.They also have locations in Lake Norman and Steele Creek. First Ward’s Queen City Q hits the mark with their family recipes, homemade everything and the belief that “the best Q in the world is what you’re raised on.”

In Uptown, Mert’s Heart and Soul puts a spin on soul food with Low Country and Gullah-inspired dishes. The award-winning macaroni and cheese, cornbread and shrimp and grits are a few of the favorites, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here. Price’s Chicken Coop in South End is another Charlotte classic – it’s been the place for fried chicken since 1962.

Find superior pub fare at Mortimer’s Pub & Cafe at the EpiCentre. They serve up roast beef au jus sandwiches, burgers, paninis and pitas, all with old-fashioned style and service. For more “beer food,” check out Growlers Pourhouse in NoDa – their Reuben was named “Best Sandwich” by The Charlotte Observer. For breakfast or brunch, try the much-praised Terrace Café in South Park or Ballantyne (they’re open for lunch and dinner, too).

Italian, French & New American Cuisine

In Center City, the award-winning Blue Restaurant & Bar offers a high-end Mediterranean culinary experience. Nearby, Aria Tuscan Grille brings the best of Italy to Charlotte. Carpe Diem Restaurant does New American cuisine but takes cues beautifully from the Mediterranean.

The decadent crepes at Crêpe Cellar Kitchen & Pub add a French accent to NoDa (also try the Pesto Brie French Fries – they’re unforgettable). In South Park, Georges Brasserie blends modern and traditional French cuisine (try the tarte flambee, a pizza with bacon, onion and crème fraiche). Nearby Zebra Restaurant offers fine dining French-style with plenty of fresh seafood.

In Uptown and South Park, Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen weaves a European feel into its Carolina-based concept. In Dilworth, Bonterra Dining & Wine Room is big on flavor and ambience – it’s housed in a former 20th-century church.

Steak, Seafood & Sushi

Impeccable steak and seafood dominate the menu at Bentley’s on 27, where you can also enjoy magnificent skyline views from the 27th floor of Charlotte Plaza. Back on street level in South Park, Upstream presents the freshest catch in an upscale setting. Also in South Park, don’t miss innovative fusion dining at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, which is as delicious as it is innovative. Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar in the EpiCentre is a great spot for late-night weekends – there’s a DJ and sake bar.  

Keeping it Local: Farm to Fork Dining

Many Charlotte restaurants embrace the Farm to Fork movement. Inside Uptown’s Mint Museum, Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth sources from artisanal farms, dairies and wineries.

The Asbury and Mimosa Grill also rely on local farms and growers for fresh, seasonal ingredients. Something Classic Café offers a “sandwich boutique” and homemade desserts in a few different locations around town.