The 15 Best Burgers in Charlotte
Hamburger or cheeseburger? Plain or all the way? Classic or adventurous? Whatever kind of burger you have a hankering for, Charlotte’s got it.
by Ally McCain
A free-standing building located on the outskirts of NoDa in the heart of the Belmont neighborhood, the original ACE No. 3 opened in late 2019 after a survey was taken in the neighborhood and residents said they would love to see a burger or pizza joint take up residence in the vacant building. The three owners worked very hard to create the tastiest and simplest burger, thus their mantara of “less is more.” ACE No. 3 is best known for its namesake, “the ace” burger: two thin beef patties topped with American cheese, steamed onions, house-made pickles and comeback sauce on a perfect brioche bun from the local Golden Grains Bakery.
First opened in 2013 in the heart of the Elizabeth neighborhood, Bang Bang Burgers quickly became one of the best burger joints in the Charlotte area. With nine different burgers to choose from, you really can’t go wrong with anything you pick. Too many great options to choose from? Start with the classic “Bang Bang” burger, a specially-cured beef patty from LaFrieda Meat Purveyors topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onion, with homemade pickles and bang sauce. There’s not much to it but that’s what makes it so good.
Established in 2011 by best friends Aaron Ludwig and Mike Sabin, Billy Jack’s is a fun bar atmosphere with creative comfort food, craft beer and specialty cocktails. Located in the heart of NoDa, good times and great meals are central to Billy Jack’s. The menu is diverse and creative, so you can’t go wrong any way you choose. Labeled as “10 Napkin Burgers” on the menu, burgers are overflowing with delicious goodness perfect for any burger lover. The B-Real is a hefty beef patty topped with monterey jack cheese, guacamole and smoked bacon, garnished with lettuce, tomato and sriracha mayo. Ask for at least 10 napkins with this one — you could easily need more.
Blacow’s flagship, which first opened its doors back in 2017, is located in Fort Mill, SC. Its popularity reached the city of Charlotte when it was named Best Burger during the Moo & Brew Craft Beer, Burger & Music Festival in 2018. Located in University and South End, Blacow is quickly becoming one of the best burger spots in Charlotte. The Blacow burger, which was voted best burger in Charlotte in 2020, is composed of a Wagyu patty (Japanese black cow beef), lettuce, teriyaki glaze, seaweed seasoning, mayonnaise and tempura avocado all perfectly assembled on a house-made brioche bun.
Named best burger in North Carolina for 2022 by Reader’s Digest, Brooks Sandwich House has been a city staple since its 1973 opening. If you like simple and quaint, then Brooks is the place for you. Small and unassuming from the outside, this burger place is a walk-up, cash-only joint open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. There are a handful of toppings you can choose to add to your burger, but their suggestion is to order “all the way” which includes chili, mustard, and onions. They weren’t voted best burger in Charlotte for nothing.
Opened in 1996 by John and Jeanie Wicker in the heart of Dilworth neighborhood, the Comet Grill is the perfect hangout for live music and good food. Ownership has changed over since 2008 bringing renovations and some menu changes, but it’s still the same lively place it was originally intended to be. Their namesake, the Comet Classic Burger, earned its name because it is the best on the menu. A juicy grilled beef patty cooked to your preference dressed with perfect pimento cheese, savory bacon, grilled onions, and completed with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. Add a side of hand cut fries and you’ve got the perfect meal.
“Long live rock-n-roll, burger joints and whiskey flights.” The Cowbell Burger & Whiskey Bar is a gourmet burger lounge in Uptown Charlotte. With decor and menu items inspired by John Lennon, Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley, this place is sure to leave a lasting impression, especially on your tastebuds. Burgers made with choice cuts of chuck and beef brisket, hand-ground by a fourth-generation butcher, make the perfect foundation for any of their select burgers. Their featured favorite is the “GFY” burger, whose ingredient lineup speaks to its grandeur. A grass-fed beef patty comes between an onion kaiser roll and is topped with fois gras, arugula, prosciutto, a sweet apricot marmalade and a tangy Creole mustard sauce. Don’t be fooled by the description of ingredients; these flavors compliment each other perfectly.
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Opened in 1945, the Diamond has been a household name in the Plaza Midwood community for decades. While the restaurant has changed ownership several times over the years, its foundational elements of home-cooking and southern hospitality have been steadfast. From fried pickles, to spaghetti, to gyros, The Diamond offers an array of delicacies for any craving. Most notable is the Full Blown Hemi burger. Made up of three beef patties, totaling a full pound of meat, you can try it Southern-style with chili, mustard, onions and slaw. Go “all the way” by adding cheese and bacon, too.
Neighborhood: Optimist Park
Established in mid-2020 inside Optimist Hall, Harriet’s Hamburgers is quickly on its way to becoming another Charlotte staple restaurant. Their business model is more than being the best simple burger in town — it’s about connection with the community, too. From their random act of kindness on Tuesdays, where they give out a free meal to a customer at random, to supporting local nonprofit organizations through donations, and donations of hamburger meals to frontline workers, Harriet’s mantra makes it very clear that they’re “in the mood boosting business” as well as being in the food business. The short-and-sweet menu features the choices of hamburger or cheeseburger and that’s what makes Harriet’s so good. This is simplicity at its finest — a perfectly seasoned and grilled black angus patty on a buttery brioche bun with house made pickles, red onions and simple sauce. Add cheese or make it plain; any way you order will be delicious.
Opened in 1987, Lupie’s cafe has been a landmark and staple of its community since it opened. Fueled by loyal patrons, kind neighbors, and good home cookin’, Lupie’s has had quite the history of hardships during its time of operation. And through it all it's been the love and support of the community alongside Lupie herself that has made this gem what it is. The list of burgers is a short one, but don’t worry, the quality is there. Lupie’s chili and slaw burger is just like it sounds. Juicy beef patty piled high with a heap of flavorful chili and a scoop of creamy coleslaw. Add lettuce, tomato, and onion and you’ve got yourself the perfect burger.
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Sitting just on the other side of the hustle and bustle of Plaza Midwood, Moo & Brew is an easy spot to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Across the street from another local favorite, the Thirsty Beaver Saloon, Moo & Brew is a well-known hang out amongst Charlotteans. With ample outdoor seating for those perfect summer days and heated outdoor space in the winter, you can come grab a bite and a brew for any craving you may have. If you’re a fan of flavor and spice, the Peter Piper burger is the way to go. This angus beef patty is topped with pimento-cheese-stuffed and bacon-wrapped jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, house-made pickled jalapeños and finished with a spicy mayo. Make sure you’ve got plenty to drink before biting into this one.
Neighborhood: Myers Park
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a perfectly 50s style diner since 1999, this local joint covers just about everything under the sun from burgers and dogs to grilled sandwiches and blue plate specials — a meat and two veggies and, yes, mac ‘n cheese is a veggie in the south. The burgers are simple. Try a classic five-ounce hamburger and make it Carolina-style by going “all the way” with chili, slaw, mustard and onions. Add fries and a shake and you’ve got the perfect old-school meal.
Featured on the popular Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Guy Fieri has visited Pinky’s Westside Grill on more than one occasion. Located on the edge of the Wesley Heights neighborhood at the intersection of Morehead Street and Freedom Drive, Pinky’s has been a part of the West End community since 2010 and is known for its fun retro atmosphere and southern comfort food with a twist. When Guy Fieri made his trip to Pinky’s, he indulged in their Triple G Burger: three five-ounce beef patties stacked high on a bun — it's not classified as a “championship burger” for nothing. Add sliced or pimento cheese and get everything on it — mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles — and you’ll see why Pinky’s draws crowds from near and far.
Located on the corner of Fifth and Tryon Streets, Rí Rá staked its claim on the Queen City in 1993. One of several locations along the east coast, with Charlotte as its flagship, Rí Rá has been a place for great food, drink and merriment for years. If you’re in the business of adventurous eating, swing by and try the Queen’s Burger. A tender lamb patty topped with arugula, grilled tomato and their signature curry mayo, it’s sure to satisfy your taste buds.
Neighborhood: East Charlotte
Step back (or drive up) into the 1950s at the old school South 21 Drive In. Opened in 1955 by the three Copsis brothers, this Charlotte landmark was originally located on South Boulevard, moving to Independence Boulevard five years later. Aesthetically, not much has changed since it originally opened, giving it a sense of sweet nostalgia for muscle cars and cheaper prices. The Super Boy is this landmark’s most iconic burger. Two hamburger patties topped with mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato- simple yet inimitable. Order it Carolina-style with chili and slaw and you’ve got one of the city’s top-tier diner-style burgers. Don’t forget to check out the other dine-in locations located throughout the city.