Black-Owned Restaurants in Charlotte
Whether you’re a native Charlottean or planning to visit soon, check out some amazing Black-owned restaurants that you can support in the Queen City.
by Tierany Griffin
Charlotte’s vibrant history has led to a thriving business community filled with creative entrepreneurs. The contributions of local Black businesses, restaurants, communities and legacies have proven that even through limited resources and a heightened awareness of economic inequalities across the country, Black businesses are a mainstay in the city’s cultural landscape.
1501 S. Mint
Neighborhood: South End
This speakeasy-style cocktail lounge offers American food and a variety of cocktails, craft beers and wines. 1501 S. Mint describes itself as “the spot before the spot” due to its convenient location to many Uptown attractions. On any given night, stop in to enjoy live music, chill out on the patio (open all year) and even bring your furry companion to enjoy the vibes.
7th Restaurant & Lounge
From signature dishes and craft cocktails to flavorful hookah and great music, 7th Restaurant & Lounge is home to a can’t miss eclectic dining experience. Great vibes matched with a chef-inspired low-country menu, featuring dishes like Chicken & Waffles and Creole Shrimp Clam Bake, are just some of the reasons why 7th is a fan favorite in the city.
Abugida Ethiopian Cafe & Restaurant
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Authentic Ethiopian cuisine is famous for the use of fresh vegetables, top-quality cuts of meats and exotic spices. At Abugida, find all that and then some, including terrific selection of vegetarian dishes on the menu, making this a great choice for everyone. Even if you're new to the cuisine, the helpful and friendly staff are happy to walk you through the menu.
Neighborhood: West Charlotte
Come for the coffee, stay for the culture. Archive CLT is a coffee shop filled with throwback items from Black culture, such as HBCU yearbooks, posters and first-edition books. This café offers the unique experience of enjoying an iced latte and pastry as you flip through a vintage JET magazine.
Blue Bison Coffee
Affectionately named after her alma mater’s mascot, the Howard University Blue Bison. The cozy coffee carriage is well-known for fan favorites, such as the Georgia Ave. Blend, a dark roast with notes of dark chocolate that’s named after the street near Howard University. In addition to serving great coffee, Blue Bison Coffee sells its java and merch online and ships across the country.
BW Sweets Bakery
Neighborhood: East Charlotte
This popular bakery, owned by Frankie White, was featured on Food Network’s “Girl Scout Cookie Championship” and has easily secured its spot as a sweet staple in the QC. With offerings like cupcakes, cheesecakes, brownies, doughnuts, cereal treats and pies, not to mention the hot cinnamon rolls, hot cobbler and ice cream add-ons, it’s easy to see why.
Neighborhood: Wesley Heights, University City
Cuzzo's Cuisine is a gourmet restaurant, with two locations in the Queen City, best known for Southern fare with bold flavors. Cuzzo’s delicious menu ranges from wings, fried shrimp, veggie plate, red velvet waffles, chicken tenders, tacos and more, but their claim to fame is lobster mac and cheese.
Detour Coffee Bar
No matter where you are in Charlotte, or what time of day it is, a side quest to Detour Coffee Bar is always a good call. Established in 2019 by a former bookstore barista with a passion for people, community and coffee, this full-service mobile coffee shop is known for serving locally roasted coffee and espresso, as well as other hand-crafted beverages and pastries throughout the Queen City.
Infused with Cajun and Creole cuisines, Freshwaters is the place to be if you’re looking for a menu that consists of boldly flavored appetizers, deeply satisfying entrees and homemade desserts. Stop in to enjoy a nicely cooked crab cakes, delicious fried catfish or succulent grilled prawns.
Hip Hop Smoothies
Neighborhood: West Charlotte, Uptown, East Charlotte
We got “Nuttin’ But Love” for Hip Hop Smoothies, a delicious, made-to-order smoothie shop offering guests the sweet opportunity to roll alongside while they drop sick beats and even sicker treats. The funky fresh offerings include the coconut milk-based C.R.E.A.M, Red Bull-based Turn Down for What and juice-focused Gin and Juice smoothies.
Jimmy Pearls is an ode to Afro-Southern food, located at The Market at 7th Street. The menu features seafood options that blend Southern and coastal cuisines, such as crispy fried shrimp, creamed corn fritters served with tomato jam and Uncle Gene’s Fish Sandwich with homemade hot sauce.
JINYA Ramen Bar
From its customizable menu to sleek interiors, JINYA Ramen Bar is best known for its slow-cooked broths, simmered for 20 hours in-house. Walk into this Uptown location and you’re greeted by a lively, eclectic atmosphere and Japanese scratch-made menu items. Try a bowl of something delicious and be sure to take a pic by the Japanese whiskey display.
Leah & Louise
Neighborhood: Camp North End
Described as a "modern juke joint," Leah & Louise is founded and owned by Charlotte power couple, Chef Greg and Subrina Collier. The duo created a menu featuring Southern dishes and cocktails inspired by Mississippi River Valley foodways. The menu changes frequently based on seasonality and product availability, but favorites like the River Chips chicken skins and Mud Island catfish stew cannot be missed.
Lulu’s Express Fry House
Neighborhood: Wesley Heights
Formerly known as Lulu’s Maryland Style Chicken and Seafood, Lulu’s Express Fry House is the rebranded concept of one of Charlotte’s most notable Black-owned restaurants. Lulu’s is known for their Maryland flair with a southern twist. The menu that consists of house specials like Lulu’s Shrimp & Grits, crab cakes and Honey Old Bay Wings.
Merts Heart & Soul
In the mood for some down-home, low-country cookin’? You’re in good company. Mert’s Heart & Soul has hosted famous diners, including comedian Kevin Hart, President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden, and has been featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Treat yourself to one of the Gullah-inspired dishes, such as shrimp and grits, Charleston red rice and award-winning macaroni and cheese. Make sure you save room for a slice of cake.
Nacho Average Truck
Owned by Ashley Troxler, Nacho Average Truck is bringing nachos with a twist to the masses. You can enjoy homemade toppings on a bed of chips, lettuce or pork rinds. The truck even offers a Margarita Kit that features new flavors every week.
Nick and Mike Bar & Grill
Neighborhood: University City
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, Nick & Mike Bar & Grill is the place to be. Located in the University City area, Nick and Mike are serving up delicious appetizers and burgers, a wide variety of specialty cocktails and a warm artistic atmosphere to relax. Word on the street is the chicken wings are a star dish.
The People’s Market
The People’s Market is so much more than just an eatery—it’s a place for community. Located in Elizabeth, this market serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a bakery, bar and coffee shop all in one space. Start the day with a hearty fried chicken and eggs breakfast platter or grab a salad, sandwich or personal pizza to-go.
If decadence on a stick is your thing, then make sure Popbar Charlotte is on your list. This local franchise, owned by Kia Lyons, serves up 40-plus rotating gelato and sorbet flavors, from classics like chocolate and vanilla to the more unique green tea and passion fruit. Explore the menu for seasonal options, along with premium dippings and toppings.
Romeo’s Vegan Burgers
Neighborhood: Lower South End
Where’s the beef? Not at Romeo’s, but you’d never know it. Romeo’s Vegan Burgers is a 100% plant-based food truck and restaurant in Charlotte dishing out vegan-friendly burgers, fries and shakes. Even non-vegans swear by the flavors and spices these dishes bring to the table.
Roy’s Kitchen & Patio
One of NoDa's popular spots, Roy's Kitchen & Patio has a laidback vibe with a heavy reggae soundtrack. Stop in to try perfectly seasoned island fare, like the rotisserie chicken, oxtails or curry goat. If the weather permits, grab a tropical drink and hang out on the large patio.
In the mood for a delicious salad? Salata is the spot. This Uptown eatery is owned by two investors, with former ties to the Charlotte Hornets, and features over 50 toppings and a dozen signature dressings. Not in the mood for a salad? Customize a wrap and warm up with a side of house-made soup. Don't forget the limeade.
Sub-One Hoagie House
A Charlotte culinary landmark, Sub One Hoagie House is a quaint neighborhood staple offering subs, sandwiches and everything in between. Don’t miss the chicken hoagie, hot Italian or the New Jersey Steak—all winners.
Two Scoops Creamery
Neighborhoods: South End, Plaza Midwood, Lake Norman
The only thing sweeter than the homemade, fresh churned ice cream and toppings is the story of how Two Scoops creamery came to be. Co-owner Marques Johnson and his best friends came together to open an ice cream parlor that offers over 32 staple flavors, as well as rotating seasonal flavors. One seasonal flavor to get excited for? Vanilla Fudge Brownie.
Ve-Go Food Truck
With a focus on providing healthy, classic dishes with twist and flare, this award-winning food truck specializes in great-tasting vegan fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kick the day off with Peach Cobbler Pancakes or wind down with wheat-based BBQ Ribz or dairy-free Truffle Mac and Cheez dinner entrees.
What the Fries
Get ready for an elevated fry experience. This local, family-and-friends-owned culinary concept offers unexpected and inventive menu items like Shrimp Hibachi Fries and Mac & Cheese Fries topped with three types of cheese. Complement your gourmet fry experience with something sweet, such as the Sweet Potato Bread Pudding made with multi-colored tots.
Weathered Souls Brewing Co.
Neighborhood: South End
Weathered Souls Brewing Co. is a more recent addition to the Charlotte craft beer scene. Owner and head brewer Marcus Baskerville is best known for brewing barrel-aged stouts like the Black Is Beautiful Imperial Stout. Not a beer drinker? Stop by the brewery’s LoSo Cocktail Lounge or order a bite from the food menu curated by renowned chef Greg Collier.