Charlotte, North Carolina, is a city where new restaurants seem to appear on every corner.
Its culinary scene is a dynamic blend of tradition and innovation, deeply rooted in Southern flavors.
Each district, from NoDa to South End, offers a rich variety of tantalizing cuisine to satiate any taste.
Renowned for its sweet tea and fried chicken, Charlotte now presents a diverse menu, from sushi to tapas.
Years of exploration have revealed many hidden gems and reliable favorites within this gastronomic landscape.
This guide aims to share the top restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Capital Grille
I must have passed by this place a hundred times, but one night I finally decided to step into the polished, refined setting of The Capital Grille.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but boy was I in for a treat!
I decided to start off with the French onion soup - a blend of sweetness, tanginess, and a luxurious heap of cheese that was downright decadent.
The star of the night, however, had to be the steak.
As someone who prefers their meat well done, I've often been disappointed with restaurants that leave it too dry or overly charred.
But The Capital Grille nailed it! The steak was still juicy, garnished with a wonderful salt crust that heightened the whole experience.
Though I found the creamed spinach to be a tad heavy on the garlic, it was still a satisfying side dish to the main course.
The dessert, while not extraordinary, was a delightful finish to the meal.
One of the highlights of the night was the chance to partake in their generous pour wine tasting.
Seven different wines to try and not a single miss amongst them, all for $35.
It's not just about the food here, it's about the whole experience.
I also had the pleasure of being served by Lorenzo who was nothing short of spectacular. He was not only helpful but also infused the evening with humor and warmth.
I've been back a few times since that first visit and even brought my father along on one occasion when he was in the city for a Vikings/Panthers game.
He tried the Dry Aged NY Strip au Poivre with Courvoisier Cream and declared it might be the best meal he's ever had.
I opted for the Roasted Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Parmesan Risotto along with the Lobster and Crab Cake with Lemon Basil Aioli.
We were both thrilled with our choices and vowed to return.
Exquisite food, a vibrant wine selection, impeccable service and a refined setting - The Capital Grille in Charlotte truly offers an upscale dining experience that you wouldn't want to miss.
The Fig Tree Restaurant
Have you ever stumbled upon a place that seems to effortlessly blend the charm of yesteryears with modern sophistication?
That's exactly what I found at The Fig Tree Restaurant nestled in a beautifully restored 1913 Craftsman bungalow.
The first time I visited The Fig Tree, it was for a business dinner with clients.
The service was impeccable - spotless and unmatched.
The menu offered a variety of options, but it was the salmon that left an indelible impression on my palate.
The dessert menu was a treat to our sweet tooth with a variety of choices.
The Beignet with ice cream was exceptionally tasty.
It was the ambience, however, that really won me over.
The second time I visited, I took my partner for a dinner date.
The bungalow is charming, clean, and well-maintained.
Yes, it is a bit on the darker side, but that does add to its old-world charm.
We particularly enjoyed the terrace option for our seating.
In terms of accessibility, free parking is another plus point.
It's not every day you come across a place that truly feels like home.
In the heart of our neighborhood, lies Alexander Michael's, a cozy and unpretentious pub that serves up some of the most delectable American fare and craft beers.
The charm of this place is in its simplicity and the warmth it exudes - it's like stepping into a friend's home for dinner.
At Alexander Michael's, a bustling spot nestled in a gorgeous neighborhood, I've had some of the most memorable meals.
The down-to-earth setting enhances the dining experience, making it feel like a comfortable and familiar gathering.
There's a sense of community here that you don't often find in bigger establishments, and that's what makes it so special.
The food is always a treat to the palate. I remember my first bite of their honey glazed chicken pasta.
The flavor was exquisite, and the portion size was perfect - hearty enough to leave you satisfied and longing for more.
Not to mention the grilled chicken sandwich with homemade french fries.
The tender chicken coupled with fresh vegetables and a soft pretzel bun, was just heavenly.
And of course, the beer.
With a great selection of craft beers on tap, Alexander Michael's is truly a paradise for beer enthusiasts.
Whether you're waiting for a table or just want to unwind after a long day, a cold pint from their selection is sure to hit the spot.
For those interested in visiting, you can check out their menu and more at Alexander Michael's Tavern.
Just a heads up, the place can get pretty busy, so you might want to plan ahead.
131 MAIN Restaurant
It was a late Sunday morning when I decided to escape the bustling brunch crowd and ended up at 131 MAIN Restaurant.
Their menu doesn't stretch for miles, but in this case, less is more.
The hidden gem here was the cornbread, which isn't listed on the menu but is a must-try treat that is simply out of this world.
The Blackened Chicken Pasta also deserves a special shout out.
The dish was cooked to perfection and the addition of broccoli added an extra dash of flavor.
The roasted chicken, paired with a side of rice pilaf, was not as impressive as I thought it would be, but that didn't spoil the overall experience.
It's worth mentioning that 131 MAIN might appear as a high-end dining spot with the price tag to match, but the food quality and taste are above par.
The coffee was excellent, and I was pleased to find ample parking available just outside the restaurant.
On another visit, I tried the Cajun chicken pasta and added a wedge salad.
While the pasta was a bit too spicy for my taste, the salad was spectacular - one of the best I've ever had.
The restaurant's decor and ambiance are perfect for a romantic dinner or a laid back business meeting.
You know when you discover a place that feels like your own little secret, a hidden gem that you can't help but share with everyone you know?
That's exactly how I feel about BrickTop's.
Nestled in our bustling city, this upscale chain has become my go-to spot for a sophisticated yet comfortable dining experience.
BrickTop's is more than just a place to get good food - it's a place that encapsulates warmth, inviting you in with its stylish, contemporary setting.
The diverse menu caters to a variety of tastes, with each dish being a gourmet take on New American cuisine.
Whether you're in the mood for Shrimp & Grits that warm your soul or perfectly poached eggs that make your Sunday brunch extra special, BrickTop's never disappoints.
The highlight for me is always their cheeseburger and fries. Sounds simple, right? But oh, the magic they create!
The burger is juicy and flavorful, paired with golden, crispy fries that are arguably the best in town.
Even my little ones can't resist them!
Speaking of which, BrickTop's is remarkably kid-friendly, providing coloring sheets and crayons that keep my kids entertained as we wait for our food.
One surprising aspect of BrickTop's is their offering of sushi.
It's not something you'd expect in a New American restaurant, but let me tell you, their sushi rolls are out of this world!
It's refreshing to see this unique touch to their menu, making the dining experience even more interesting.
And if you're lucky enough to visit when the weather's nice, their patio is a dream.
It's covered and has a comforting water feature that, along with their heaters and fans, creates a serene ambiance that you can't help but fall in love with.
Every visit to BrickTop's is a memorable one.
From the delicious food to the attentive service and the family-friendly atmosphere, this place has etched a special place in my heart.
And while it's no longer my little secret, I'm more than happy to share this neighborhood gem with others!
So if you're ever in the area, do yourself a favor and give BrickTop's a try. You won't be disappointed.
If you're looking to experience one of the best dining establishments in Charlotte, look no further than Angeline's.
From the moment you step into the stylish interiors of this place, you're taken on a culinary journey through Italy with contemporary takes on classic dishes.
The minute you walk into Angeline's, the ambience sets the tone for the culinary adventure that is about to unfold.
I remember when I introduced my family to this Italian gem during their first visit to Charlotte. It was nothing short of an incredible experience!
Every dish was a masterpiece!
I also recall hosting a bridal shower in their private dining room.
The space was cozy yet sophisticated, perfect for intimate gatherings.
They took care of every little detail, making the event truly memorable. Their impeccable service combined with the delicious food made it an event to remember.
The food, needless to say, was phenomenal, making every visit to Angeline's worthy of a return trip.
McNinch House Restaurant
Just around the corner from my home, nestled in a beautiful Victorian house, lies the gem that is McNinch House Restaurant.
You can't just walk in, it's not that kind of place.
This is a destination. A retreat from the ordinary, where the set menus and tasting menus of high-end Continental fare transport you to a different era.
From the moment you step in, the air is thick with an air of anticipation, as if each guest is privy to some shared secret.
The service is unmatched.
The food at McNinch House is generally a high point. The starters, especially the crab cake, she crab soup, and lobster bisque, are a delightful dance of flavors.
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
If you are ever in a pickle trying to decide where to eat, let me tell you - The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is where the magic happens!
This unique food joint perfectly blends the art of sushi with the heartiness of gourmet burgers.
Whether you are a sushi enthusiast or a die-hard burger fan, this place caters to all types of taste buds.
The first time I walked through those doors, I was instantly smitten by the vibrant colors and the lively atmosphere.
It's like stepping into a tasteful fusion of two cultures, and it feels refreshing!
One thing that constantly amazes me is how they manage to maintain the authenticity of both sushi and burgers.
The sushi is top-notch, always fresh, and served to perfection.
My personal favorite? The Mad Mango-cado roll!
It's an explosion of flavors that you wouldn't want to miss.
Now, if we talk about burgers, trust me, they are every bit as delicious as they sound!
In fact, if you’re a fan of turkey burgers like me, you’re in for a treat. Most places don't have those but luckily, Cowfish does.
The build-your-own burger option is just like a cherry on top.
The fusion combinations are a ton of fun, and rest assured, you won't be disappointed.
Whether you're planning to have a night out with friends or simply want to enjoy a sumptuous meal with your family, Cowfish is the ideal spot.
It all began the night my cousin decided to celebrate his 30th birthday at Haberdish, a stylish Southern kitchen renowned for its comfort food and craft cocktails.
With its classy Southern charm, the place promised an evening of fun and indulgence for our party of eight.
We were delighted by the family-style serving of really big portions!
From the tender fried chicken to the extremely flavorful greens cooked in veggie stock, and the thick, creamy mac and cheese, the food was an absolute delight.
However, the star of the night for me was the Flintstone’s sized ribs, a dish that could easily become a staple in my weekend dining.
Yet, the standout dish that had all of us coming back for more was the cast iron trout served with compound butter – a true culinary masterpiece.
Even the kids' menu stood out with a variety of well-rounded meals, much to the delight of the young ones in our group.
The ambiance was warm and inviting, perfectly complementing the wonderful service we received.
This cool spot, with its stylish design and nice bar, was buzzing with activity, making it a fun place to hang out.
But the night didn't end just there.
Haberdish also served up some absolutely inventive cocktails, adding a twist to the evening.
And then there were the desserts!
The butter pound cake, which was both yummy and unique, left us wanting more.
While the fried chicken was a bit dry for my taste, it was perhaps just a one-off.
I've heard great things about their chicken strips - they might be more moist and could be worth a try the next time!
For those of you looking for good southern food with a creative twist, Haberdish is definitely the place to be.
The portions are heavy so be prepared!
And the flavors... they’re a real homage to the South! So, the next time you’re planning a night out, do give Haberdish a try.
I'll tell you about a place that has become my go-to for special occasions - North Italia in Charlotte.
Stepping inside, you're welcomed into a spacious, airy atmosphere with a stunning outdoor patio - perfect for those warm Carolina days.
But even on chilly days, the ambiance and the service warm you right up.
I had one of my best dining experiences there recently.
The highlight of the meal, undeniably, was the Salmon dish I ordered.
It was cooked to perfection, enhancing the natural flavors of the fish.
Accompanied by a round of drinks, the meal was nothing short of delightful.
But wait, let me tell you about the pizza.
I've tasted pizza in many places but this one - a unique blend of sweet and spicy flavors - is one I still can't shake from my mind.
You would think being such a specialty, it wouldn't be a permanent option but oh, how we wish it were! It's hands down a top three pizza I've ever had.
What's particularly commendable about North Italia is the service.
They also go the extra mile by providing ice stands for wines and even validating parking passes for up to two hours.
And though North Italia isn't a mom-and-pop restaurant, it gives you the same feeling of comfort and homeliness, from the food to the ambiance.
I might caution that the prices lean towards the higher side, but I assure you, every dollar spent here is absolutely worth it.
Whether it's a date night or a group dinner, North Italia promises a memorable dining experience, making you want to return sooner than you'd expect.
The Cajun Queen
I am not the type who often dines out, but one place that has a special spot in my heart is Cajun Queen.
The first thing that always strikes me about this place is the charming restored house it is in, complete with a 1st-floor and rooftop terrace.
It almost feels as if you've transported back in time as you walk in.
My last visit was for a good friend's birthday party, and they managed to squeeze us in despite the rush. Boy! What an atmosphere it was.
The live jazz band was playing some funky tunes and the vibe was just electric.
The tables were a bit close together, but that only added to a festive spirit.
The food, as always, was a culinary symphony in my mouth.
The rich flavours and the right amount of spice make their dishes a delight to the senses.
I particularly relish their cocktail drinks - the Louisiana Lemonade is my personal favourite.
On another occasion, when I hadn't made a reservation, I found a spot at the upstairs bar.
I ordered the blackened shrimp and grits, and I can assure you, the flavor was out of this world.
The peach bread pudding for dessert was the perfect end to an already fabulous meal.
The live jazz band in the background just added to the overall charm of the place.
And, for the non-seafood lovers, fret not.
They have plenty of options for you as well. I remember thoroughly enjoying a perfectly cooked medium-rare ribeye.
The Cajun Queen offers a unique dining experience – fancy food in a semi-casual environment.
Whether you dress up or dress casual, you always feel comfortable. And the best part?
No need to worry about parking, thanks to the complimentary valet!
Sea Level NC
When you reside in a city that thrives on its food scene, finding that one place you can call your favorite can be tough.
That is, until I discovered Sea Level NC.
Oh boy, let's talk about their oysters. I've tried a lot of oysters in my life, but something about the ones at Sea Level NC has me hooked.
The first batch I ordered was a tad salty for my taste. I chose options 3, 4, and 5 from their expansive selection.
And they were spot-on!
The James Rivers oysters were a standout, full of flavor and absolutely scrumptious.
The restaurant's ambiance during restaurant week was alive and buzzing.
I decided to try their course menu and let me tell you, their shrimp and grits were simply out-of-this-world.
To put a cherry on top, if the banana pudding was served cold, it would have been just perfect.
The shrimp cocktail and the seafood dip make for fantastic starters, and if you're a fan of cocktails, they have a pretty decent selection.
But what truly blew me away were the scallops and risotto - a combination that I wouldn’t have imagined working, but it did. Exquisitely.
And their Peach Cobbler? It's the kind of dessert that makes you want to come back for more.
The thing about Sea Level NC is that it's not just about the food.
It's the entire vibe of the place that gets you.
The coastal ambiance, the upbeat music, the mood lighting - it all comes together to give you a dining experience that is truly memorable.
Good Food on Montford
There's something almost magical about that first walk into Good Food on Montford.
Dimly lit and buzzing with the hum of engaged conversation, it's clear from the get-go that this place is a favorite among locals.
The night started with the French fries and let me tell you, they were nothing short of delicious.
Crispy, perfectly salted and oh-so-tempting, it's a dish I'd find myself recommending to friends.
On the other hand, the falafel was a bit of a disappointment.
The hummus was too chunky and didn't quite hit the mark.
However, the highlight of the night was, without a doubt, Larry's Buns.
The tender and flavorful pork belly nestled within was an instant hit.
Then, our table got the local mushrooms dish, which was a delightful blend of well-seasoned mushrooms and a sunny-side quail egg.
While the garganelli was a pleasant surprise for all of us.
The homemade fennel sausage and tomato sauce was the star of the dish.
Even my usually picky 9-year-old couldn't get enough of it.
The Korean beef was tender, flavorful, but the rice cake didn't quite contribute much to the dish.
And let's not forget about the scallops.
The jumbo scallops were cooked to perfection, but I wish they were a bit crispier.
The broccoli purée was an aesthetic addition, yet lacked flavor.
The single stalk of perfectly grilled broccolini turned out to be the unsung hero of this dish.
I can't end this without mentioning how much I felt at home here.
This is the kind of place you'd want to spend hours in, chatting and laughing with your friends and family.
And I have to agree with a friend who once told me that this place is a must-visit gem in the Charlotte foodie scene.
Take it from someone who's been to a Michelin rated restaurant in Italy - Good Food on Montford is a culinary experience you don't want to miss.
Did I stumble upon a little corner of Italy or is this a Charlotte secret?
One trip to Mama Ricotta's and I'm hooked!
It's a treasure trove of mouth-watering traditional Italian dishes and New Haven-style pizza served in a cozy, spacious setup complete with a covered patio.
Don't even get me started on the aroma that greets you as soon as you walk in – it's like being transported to a charming Italian nonna's kitchen.
My dinner at Mama Ricotta's was an unforgettable culinary journey.
The Wagyu Meatballs are a revelation, perfectly paired with their robust tomato sauce, it's a dish that can make any foodie swoon.
While I'm not a huge ravioli fan, theirs was quite good.
But the lasagna - it was beyond good - generous portions and bursting with homemade freshness.
The best part? The impressive selection of draft beers and wine to wash down the heavenly food.
Oh and you must save room for their chocolate cake - words fail to do it justice!
As I walked into Supperland, I was immersed in a unique ambiance.
The rustic-chic steakhouse, housed in a repurposed church, immediately evoked an intriguing fusion of traditional American and Southern charm.
There's just something about dining under vaulted ceilings and stained glass that adds a touch of grandeur to every meal.
The open kitchen, however, served as a reminder that Supperland is all about the food.
I still dream about the juicy, smoky Pork Can Can I had that night.
It was slightly overdone but the cherry sauce on top was divine.
I must admit, the sweet and salty flavor might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me, it was a delightful dance of flavors on my tongue.
The Ambrosia salad, which was more like a dessert than a side dish, came highly recommended and I wasn't disappointed.
The Baked Brie Bites and Croquettes were exactly what you would want for starters, and the Mussels from the special menu were a flavorful delight.
If you're looking for an upscale dining experience, there's no better place in Charlotte than Bentley's Restaurant.
Stepping through the door, you're immediately welcomed by the warm ambiance of the place.
It's a spacious establishment, with modern decor and a polished feel.
The twinkling lights in every window and the pristine white tablecloths add an air of elegance and refinement.
The real star at Bentley's, though, is the food.
Let me tell you, no special occasion or celebration dinner is complete without a visit here.
Whether you're in mood for American or French cuisine, the high-end menu here never disappoints.
The dishes are a gastronomic delight, but my personal favorite has to be the New York Strip steak.
Tender and flavorful, it's cooked to perfection at your requested temperature.
Bentley's isn't just about the food, the extensive wine list is worth exploring.
Their service is friendly, attentive, and ensure you have a delightful dining experience.
Rooster's Wood-Fired Kitchen - Uptown
Every once in a while, you stumble upon a gem in your own city, and that's exactly what Rooster's Wood-Fired Kitchen - Uptown is for me.
Tucked away in the hustle and bustle of downtown Charlotte, it’s a place I have come to love.
Right from the get-go, Rooster's sets the tone with its sophisticated decor and welcoming ambiance.
The upscale menu is a creative blend of Southern food, spiked with international influences, all prepared from local ingredients.
The buffalo chicken skins, a dish I had never thought of trying, are now a staple whenever I find myself here.
Trust me, there's an adventure awaiting your taste buds at every turn.
But Rooster's isn't just about the food.
One of the things I appreciate most is the attention to detail.
Their service is equally excellent, and they even validate your parking ticket, a rarity in the city.
From the high-end dining at The Capital Grille to the unique fusion of The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, the culinary scene is as diverse as it is delicious.
If you're ever in Charlotte, I highly recommend setting aside time to explore these gastronomic gems.