Culinary Delights for Visitors and Locals
Whether you're in town for a few days or a few weeks, sample the sophisticated local fare offered up at some of Charlotte’s most notable restaurants and breweries.
by Amanda Lea Jan 28, 2020
Charlotte’s undeniable energy and welcoming spirit greets visitors as they discover a diverse city brimming with tastemakers, trendsetters and incredible encounters. There’s no doubt if you’re visiting Charlotte, you’ll want to savor every bite and brew the Queen City has to offer. Here are just a few to choose from.
Nestled in a restored Victorian home in the heart of Dilworth, 300 East is a neighborhood mainstay for a cozy meal. Chef and owner Ashley Bivens Boyd has kept the restaurant in the family since her mother, Catherine Coulter, opened it more than 30 years ago. With weekly trips to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, the dishes are truly fresh and seasonal. When you dine here, try the grilled shrimp BLT panini, caramelized winter squash, goat cheese flatbread or grilled gorgonzola-stuffed filet mignon. You won’t forget about your experience at this Dilworth treasure.
Neighborhood: NoDa, Uptown, Myers Park
Playful meets Parisian at this café and bakery best known for its salted caramel brownies and colorful array of French macarons. Although there are several locations across Charlotte, the Uptown location is the largest, with space to sprawl and nooks to nestle. While Amélie’s proudly serves locally roasted blends from Magnolia Coffee, they also have beers on tap, wine and specialty mimosas. Be sure to look out for the café’s seasonal specials.
Neighborhood: Optimist Park
Charlotte's first food hall has something for everyone and every taste. Savor city favorites like dumplings from the Dumpling Lady and gourmet grilled cheese from Papi Queso. Other options include custom sushi rolls from Zukku, flavorful salads and sandwiches from Village Juice Co. and sweet gelato scoops from Honeysuckle Gelato. You can even enjoy a craft cocktail (or two) from the Spindle Bar or Billy Sunday.
“Southern” is in the name for a reason. Down-home hospitality greets you at the door and embraces you throughout the meal. The menu is a true celebration of country cuisine with a locally inspired approach. Southern staples like North Carolina shrimp, oysters on the half shell and pimento cheese are elevated with sophisticated touches like candied coriander and pecan remoulade.
A combination of the word “haberdashery” and “dish” form this dapper NoDa establishment that brings the former mill town’s history to life. Jeff Tonidandel and his wife, Jamie Brown, put a modern touch on Southern favorites. Try the fried chicken and mac and cheese. You won’t be disappointed.
The name is a nod to a Greek legend, and the restaurant is a legendary dining experience. With a menu featuring seasonal farm-to-table creations, the offerings change weekly. But options like coffee and pistachio rubbed rack of lamb and crispy shaved catfish sandwich show the creativity and care that go into each dish. The windows overlook Halcyon’s patio and offer a view of the Firebird, the iconic 17-foot mirror sculpture by artist Niki Saint Phalle that sparkles outside the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
As soon as you step inside this SouthPark watering hole, you’ll know this isn’t just any brewery. The circular bar is the focal point of the two-story, 12,000-square-foot space. Want something a little more chill? Head upstairs to the mezzanine level for televisions, games and a more intimate bar space. Aside from more than 40 beers on tap (try the Juicy Jay IPA, a local favorite), the menu goes beyond your usual bar bites. Split the giant beer pretzel with friends and snag the half barrel burger for yourself.
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood and Myers Park
You can’t come to the South without experiencing the Queen City’s barbecue scene. Named one of the “50 Best Barbecue Joints in America” by Business Insider, owner Frank Scibelli and executive pit master Matthew Berry started the original Midwood Smokehouse in Plaza Midwood in 2011 after Scibelli gathered insight from barbecue experts across Texas. He brought back what he learned and gave it a Carolina twist. From queso dip to build-your-own salads, the restaurant has plenty to choose from. Make sure to save room for dessert – the banana pudding is not to be missed.
Owner, founder and executive chef James Bazzelle and his wife Renee brought their passion for cooking from Atlanta to Charlotte in 1996 with G.A. Catering. This began their path to what Charlotteans now call “Mert’s,” the low country, Gullah-inspired restaurant that has received numerous accolades and even an appearance on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” On the menu, you’ll find Southern favorites like shrimp creole and red rice and beans. Order the “Soul Sampler” for the restaurant’s top four legendary dishes: soul rolls, fried chicken wings, salmon cakes and cornbread.
This Chapel Hill original – named one of the “Six Best Bourbon Bars in the South” by Garden & Gun magazine – graced Charlotte with its culinary presence in 2018. Bartender and co-owner Gary Crunkleton, the namesake of this members-only club, ensures the menu is thoughtfully curated to complement the cocktails. From the duck and oyster gumbo to the fried chicken sandwich, The Crunkleton makes everyone from the Miller High Life lover to the Manhattan cocktail fan feel right at home.
Neighborhood: South End
Venture to South End for a little vitamin sea. Here, you’ll find traditional coastal classics like chargrilled oysters and shrimp po’boys, as well as tacos and burgers. The urban-meets-low-country ambiance welcomes you at the door with oyster basket lamp shades and nautical notes that are reminiscent of your favorite beachside hangout. Grab a seat at the rooftop bar, Topside, for views of the Queen City with a side of “bites and boat drinks.”