Eat & Drink

5 Hyper-Local Dishes to Try this Spring

Charlotte chefs are taking farm-to-table dining to new heights—don’t miss these five dishes that showcase the best of what’s in season right now.

Every city has its signature food, but in Charlotte it’s our local food that truly sets us apart, according to Kristen Wile, Charlotte magazine’s editor and restaurant expert. Being in the Carolina Piedmont area allows Uptown chefs easy access to rural growers, which gives restaurants a steady supply of fresh, quality ingredients and gives farms continual demand for more. Whether they’re creating a classic dish in an upscale restaurant or a high-end ramen in a trendy spot, the local produce, meats, cheeses and grains create dishes that are uniquely Charlotte.

Here are five dishes that show off Charlotte’s local ingredients. But hurry: they’ll be gone with the spring.

Photo courtesy of Barrington's

Pan-Seared Grouper at Barrington’s

For 18 years, Barrington’s has topped many best restaurants lists in Charlotte, due to its intimate fine dining experience and chef Bruce Moffett’s commitment to high-quality, local ingredients. Here, he pan sears North Carolina grouper and serves it with grits and candied root vegetables—carrots, turnips and rutabegas. In a fun twist, he sprinkles popcorn on top; along with the grits, the popcorn is made from organic grains from a South Carolina farm. The flavors and textures of the grouper, vegetables and grits create a unique dish with a pop (ahem) of something different.

Stoke - Photo by Michael Tulipan

Pork Chop with Chestnut, Apple Mostarda and Grilled Cabbage at Stoke

Diners who enter this Uptown restaurant can’t help but notice a 12-foot chalkboard: on it are names of about 25 farms that source the restaurant’s menu. Chef Chris Coleman, a North Carolina native, aligns his menu with offerings from local farms and artisans. This spring, Coleman offers a pork chop, sourced from a North Carolina farm that provides meat with a dark pink—almost red—color. He brines it overnight before grilling it to order over a wood fire. The local vegetables in this dish are cooked down with mustard from Lusty Monk, an Asheville favorite, creating a dish with sweet and spicy acidic notes. 

Photo courtesy of Futo Buta

Butternut Miso Ramen at Futo Buta

The crowd waiting outside this hip restaurant for a table knows what awaits them: chef Michael Shortino’s proof that ramen can be a high-end dish. Through winter, Shortino’s serving a butternut miso ramen packed with local produce. It’s a vegan dish that has garnered wide appeal, which Shortino attributes to the meaty flavor created by smoking cauliflower with pecan wood. His commitment to local food extends to the noodles in each bowl, made with organic North Carolina wheat. Futo Buta takes the idea of local dishes literally as well: the ramen bowls are handmade by a North Carolina artist.

Mimosa Grill

Low Country Shrimp & Grits at Mimosa Grill

Mimosa Grill creates classic Southern dishes with unexpected twists. For the Low Country Shrimp & Grits, the surprise is in its smokiness: smoked tomatoes and charred peppers add a unique character to a familiar dish. The ingredients are pure North Carolina, including grains from a century-old organic farm and dairy supplied by a milkman from an Amish community. The restaurant makes Andouille and tasso ham in-house for this dish, using meat supplied from a farm in the foothills that raises forest-raised heritage pork.

Photo courtesy of WP Kitchen + Bar

Grilled North Carolina Trout at WP Kitchen + Bar

With an internationally renowned name on the door—the WP stands for Wolfgang Puck—it’s surprising to discover this restaurant’s commitment to local food. Chef Stephen Schmitt says that the Puck name shows the restaurant’s commitment to hospitality, and the menu mingles Wolfgang Puck signatures with local dishes that rotate with the seasons. This dish offers a grilled North Carolina trout with pureed honeycrisp apples and roasted red curry squash, all from local farms, served with brown butter breadcrumbs. “The trout isn’t at the center of this dish,” says Schmitt. “All ingredients speak equally.”