Gather Around: Dining Options for Groups in Charlotte
Big group? These area restaurants are your best bets.
by Jared Misner
We’ve all been there. Your family and friends are coming to town and they want to dine on top-notch cuisine in the Queen City. Whether you’re a group of four or are looking for a space for a larger group, there’s no need to panic. Celebrate your time together by toasting to good food and even better company at these dining options in Charlotte.
Located inside an old textile factory, this brewery in Charlotte’s bustling LoSo neighborhood is just as serious about its food as it is its beer. After you sink your teeth into the fried cauliflower, deviled crab hushpuppies and the restaurant’s well-known pizzas, you’ll understand why this isn’t just “bar food.” Make a reservation for your group by calling 704.452.4001, and then start your own bar crawl by walking to Queen Park Social, Protagonist, Sugar Creek Brewing Company and the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.
Tapas are made to pass around the table, with everyone sampling a little bit of everything. And you’ll want to sample everything at Bulla. Create your own charcuterie board from nearly a dozen meats and cheeses, order just as many tapas or partake in some paella with the group. You can’t go wrong here. Just don’t forget to order a pitcher of sangria for the table, too. Make your group reservations here.
Neighborhood: Gold District
At Let’s Meat, come hungry. For just $30 per person, dive in to all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue featuring vegetables, salad and fresh toppings. What you should expect from the menu is right there in the name: a whole lot of meat – and you cook it all right at your table. Let’s Meat isn’t accepting reservations but they’re happy to accommodate your group if space allows. Friday and Saturday evenings are this spot’s busiest times, so if you’d rather not wait, try to go on a Sunday night or for lunch during the week. You can add your name to the restaurant’s waitlist but your entire group must be present to be seated. Call 980.299.4389 to add your name to the waitlist.
Neighborhood: South End
Much like Bulla, Barcelona is primarily a Spanish tapas restaurant that’s practically made for groups to share. The patatas bravas, crispy potatoes with a spicy sauce and the pork belly are particularly delicious here. The restaurant also serves brunch, so grab your group and make reservations here. If you can snag a table outside, we highly recommend this spot’s beautiful patio.
This is real down-home Southern comfort food, and it might be better than grandma’s. From staples like succotash, macaroni and cheese and pimento cheese to the extensive drink menu, you certainly won’t leave this place hungry. Head to OpenTableto make your reservation, and then start talking about what dishes you’re going to pass around the table.
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
After much fanfare and anticipation, this restaurant, created by the same owners of the beloved Haberdish, opened in March. The restaurant’s concept is “Southern steakhouse meets church potluck,” and the restaurant goes to great lengths to meet it. From the delicate, ornate China to the refurbished church pews, this spot has a genuine, authentic feel that you won’t want to leave. If you want to guarantee a table for your group, this restaurant charges a $2 reservation fee per seat during the week and a $3 reservation fee per seat on the weekends. For groups larger than six, call 704.817.7514. This spot is newly opened and popular, so you’ll want to call with as much notice as you can.
There’s a simple genuine pleasure about sharing a few baskets of chips and bowls of salsa with friends, and Paco’s Tacos is a perfect spot to do just that. The Tex-Mex concept from the same restaurant group that owns other favorite Charlotte eateries like Mama Ricotta’s, Yafo and Midwood Smokehouse, has all your favorites, including fajitas, tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Make your group reservations (and daydream of your soon-to-be-sipped margaritas) at OpenTable.
You don’t get to call yourself the “Heart & Soul of Uptown” for nothing. You have to earn that title, and Mert’s has certainly done that. As one of the many restaurants featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” Mert’s is home to some of the best Southern food in Charlotte. Order any (or all) of your favorite comfort foods here and then head to their website, where Mert’s has posted 28 pages of recipes for you to make at home. For reservations, call 704.342.4222.
If barbecue is what you’re hungry for, look no further than this joint for “beer, bikes and BBQ.” As if this place couldn’t get any better, there’s often live music here to enjoy. Order a variety of your favorite barbecue plates and enjoy the company. (Bonus: If you fall so in love with the sauces or dry rubs here, you’re in luck. Mac’s sells them both for you to use at home.) Mac’s doesn’t accept reservations but pick from one of its three locations and call to see if the spot can fit your group in.
Neighborhood: Optimist Park
Food halls like Optimist Hall are the quintessential group gathering spot. Everyone can scatter to different restaurants depending on their cravings and then everyone’s happy. The only problem? Choosing which restaurants from which you want to sample. There’s everything here from Indian street food, Chinese dumplings, sushi, grilled cheese sandwiches, empanadas and more. There are no reservations to be made here and unoccupied tables are sometimes hard to find. But that just means you have to stick around longer, and that’s not the worst thing in the world. Visit Optimist Hall’s website and peruse the variety of vendors before you visit.
At this Italian restaurant, there are, of course, pastas and salads. But you came for the pizza, and you came to the right place. Get your famigliaready to gorge because Capishe offers its “feast” special for four to five people that, for $40, comes with two large pizzas, two large pastas or one of both. For reservations, call 980.819.9494.
Area: University City
At Famous Toastery, breakfast and brunch are every day. From classic pancakes to tasty benedicts, you’ll get your fill on the best morning treats. Don’t forget to hit up nearby Ninety’s Ice Cream and Sandwiches to grab a famous homemade ice cream sandwich and stroll along the area’s beautiful boardwalk. The Wine Shop, a cavernous-yet-homey spot for oenophiles, is right next door as well. Which one’s it going to be? Famous Toastery doesn’t take reservations but call 704.503.9599 for more information on current wait times.
Outside of Charlotte
With a local tie to the Jonas Brothers, this restaurant is named after Joe Jonas Sr.’s grandmother. You’ll find all the fixings for a spectacular Southern supper here – biscuits, shrimp and grits, chicken and dumplings and more. Don’t leave without getting a drink on the upstairs open-air balcony. For group reservations, head to Yelp. This spot frequently comes with a waiting time, so you’ll want to make your reservations as soon as possible.
Area: Rock Hill
This might just be the most physically beautiful restaurant on this list, so it’s worth the drive across the border to South Carolina. The seasonal menu frequently changes, so peep the current offerings online before you go. But you can expect fresh fare like salmon, ahi tuna and fried sweet tea chicken. To make reservations for your group, go to OpenTable. (Bonus tip: Join the Pump House’s email list before you go, and you’ll get a free plate of fried green tomatoes to share with your group.)
Jekyll and Hyde offers “a traditional English pub feel with a touch of steampunk décor.” Translation: A very cool place to bring friends. You’ll find the usual English regulars like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash, all alongside less-traditional offerings like pork belly and pineapple flatbread and pimento chicken biscuits at brunch. To make reservations, call 704.846.HYDE and prepare to hoist a pint or two with friends.
This traditional German restaurant shines during its annual Oktoberfest celebrations, but it’s just as delicious during the rest of the year. From schnitzel to strudel, you’ll feel like you’re in Munich here. Waldhorn offers a dozen German beers on draft and a whopping 27 in bottles. (Bonus tip: Join the beer club for $30 and you’ll receive a beer stein and discounts every time you return.) For your group’s reservations, call 704.540.7047.