Charlotte's eclectic dining scene has just about anything for you to relish, from humble to high-end restaurants. The Southern city naturally offers traditional home-style cooking of barbecue and grits, but its locals also enjoy South American, European, and Asian cuisines. But where can a fanatical foodie go to rub shoulders with the locals in Charlotte?

    The city’s top culinary haunts need a little insider know-how to find, which is why we’ve rounded up the best eats in town into a handy list. From lavish steakhouses to oriental delights and low-key fast food digs, here’s where to find Charlotte's best local food scenes.


    Midwood Smokehouse

    Enjoy succulent wood-smoked meats

    • Food

    Carnivores adore dining at Midwood Smokehouse, where hardwood hickory logs smoulder 24/7 to smoke a succulent selection of slow-cooked meat. And with such tasty comfort food on the menu – think caramelised brisket, bacon-wrapped smoked salmon, and St. Louis-style pork ribs – it’s a superb space to indulge in a heavy protein hit.

    Local Charlotteans pack out the place in droves (do make a reservation), but the staff will prepare a picnic to enjoy in the adjacent park if the restaurant is full. Just be sure to grab a side of slaw or fries to top off your mouthwatering meal.

    Location: 1401 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 704-295-4227


    Lang Van

    The best Vietnamese joint in the city

    • Food

    Lang Van plates up some of the best Southeast Asian dishes in Charlotte. Don’t be put off by the unassuming décor – this unpretentious restaurant is a hit among the local crowd thanks to its exquisite Vietnamese fare, served piping hot at very reasonable rates.

    The asparagus and snow pea tofu goes down a treat, though the chef’s signature bo bia (spring rolls) and pho are equally divine. Other local favs include the lemongrass curry and Vietnamese hotpot – you won’t leave disappointed whatever you choose. Attentive service and an intimate, homely vibe complete the scene, and it’s always worth waxing lyrical with the amicable owner. Book ahead on busier nights because this place fills up fast.

    Location: 3019 Shamrock Dr, Charlotte, NC 28215, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 704-531-9525


    Sea Level NC

    Sumptuous seafood dining, North Carolina style

    • Food

    At Sea Level NC, seafood doesn’t get much fresher as this farm-to-table restaurant reels in a ravenous crowd. Fishermen from all over the Carolinian coast haul in their catch each day, which the skilled in-house chefs make to order at this unpretentious locale.

    Oysters are the big drawcard here, so try to rock up during happy hour when they’re flogged off at a buck apiece. Other exceptional options include the seafood paella, NC shrimp, and the swordfish, while corn fritters and crispy cut fries go down a treat on the side. If you can squeeze in dessert, a must-try is the chocolate mint mousse with whipped cream and roasted pecans.

    Location: 129 E 5th St, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11.30 am to 10.30 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11.30 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 704-412-2616


    Green’s Lunch

    Serving decadent fast-food favourites since 1926

    • Families
    • Food
    • Budget

    Green’s Lunch has been quashing hunger pangs in uptown Charlotte since way back in 1926. The laidback fast-food haunt serves all your favourite southern comfort foods at an affordable price, and its legendary menu has remained largely unchanged for a century.

    Hot dogs are the star of the show, topped with tomato sauce, mustard, homemade slaw, and a tangy chilli sauce. Grab a pack of greasy onion rings on the side, made fresh to order, and served extra crispy. You’ll probably need to line up a while, but believe us when we say it’ll be well worth the wait.

    Location: 309 W 4th St, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 7.30 am to 3 pm, Saturday from 9.30 am to 2 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 704-332-1786


    Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

    The biggest and baddest burgers in the state

    • Food

    Burgers are big business in North Carolina, and Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar serves the meanest of the lot. The popular fast-food franchise has over a dozen branches around the state, a testament to how magnificent these meaty creations can be.

    Feeling especially hungry/hungover? The Bad Ass Burger will become a cure, with a 10-ounce beef patty, butter-fried bacon, handmade American cheese, and a few token veggies wedged in between. Every order comes with a side of crispy golden tater tots, and you can wash it all down with an Oreo milkshake and/or local craft beer – calorific yet delicious.

    Location: 1626 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 704-714-4888


    Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth

    A fantastic farm-to-table feast

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Luxury

    Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth is an unabashedly upmarket eatery where Charlotte’s well-to-do come to celebrate a stylish night out. Perched up above the Mint Museum, the chic venue also offers some of the best views in town, making it the go-to option for young local couples on a date night.

    But it’s the exquisite farm-to-table cuisine that makes Halcyon so legendary among the locavore crowd. High-end produce sourced from artisanal dairies, farms, and wineries comprise the menu, which rotates with the seasons to ensure optimal freshness. Give the butternut squash a shot, though you can’t go wrong with the jalapeno shortbread or mushroom ravioli with sherry cream.

    Location: 500 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 4 pm to 8 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +1 704-910-0865


    Sweet Lew’s BBQ

    Tasty BBQ meat just the way momma makes it

    • Food

    North Carolina is synonymous with barbecue, and Sweet Lew’s has refined this longstanding tradition to a tee. Peach, pecan, and hickory wood fan the flames of their trusty smoker, which churns out delectable grilled meat every day of the week. Grab a chair on the patio and a pitcher of craft beer to crank your culinary experience up to 11.

    As for the menu, the pork, chicken, brisket, and ribs are all out of this world – grab a shared sampler if you can’t settle on just one. The traditional sides like collard greens and boiled peanuts are divine, as is the banana pudding for dessert. This casual spot is always busy, so don’t be surprised if they sell out of your favourite dish (or everything).

    Location: 923 Belmont Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 10.30 am to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10.30 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 10.30 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 980-224-7584


    The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar

    Who knew sushi and burgers could be so good?

    • Food

    The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is a hit for indecisive couples who can’t settle on western or eastern fare. This one-of-a-kind restaurant serves both traditional Japanese cuisine and tantalising Carolinian comfort food – sometimes on the same platter.

    Sushi and burgers are the signature dishes, although adventurous diners may combine the 2 by ordering from the innovative burgushi menu. It may sound outrageous, but the combo works surprisingly well, and other creative concoctions like fried chicken teriyaki also go down a treat. A 600-gallon aquarium housing cowfish sits in the centre of it all and serves as a suitable namesake.

    Location: 4310 Sharon Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211, USA

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 704-365-1922


    Seoul Food Meat Company

    Korean BBQ classics with karaoke

    • Food

    Seoul Food Meat Company proves once and for all that Carolina meat can be a treat outside your traditional Southern-style barbeque. Boasting a wide array of smoky flavours from the orient, this outstanding Korean joint satisfies even the most insatiable of carnivores.

    The crispy soy garlic chicken wings are our pick of the bunch, perfectly crispy and extra tasty with a dash of chilli. You’ll need sides, so be sure to give the ramen mac and cheese a try (there’s kimchi if you’d rather go traditional). After you’ve had your fill, grab a bottle of milky rice wine, and hit the in-house karaoke room. 

    Location: 1400 S Church St a, Charlotte, NC 28203, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm and 4 pm to 11.30 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11.30 am to 11.30 pm

    Phone: +1 980-299-5143


    Barcelona Wine Bar

    Tapas in the heart of Charlotte

    • Food

    Barcelona Wine Bar made quite the splash when it first arrived in Charlotte as the city isn’t known for its Spanish cuisine. And even though the hype appears to have eventually settled, this bustling tapas bar still does a roaring trade almost every night of the week.

    Friendly and attentive staff will guide tapas newbies through the menu, often pointing towards the grilled hanger steak as the signature house dish. Other outstanding options include the squash hummus and the manchego croquetas, best washed down with Spanish wine or vermouth. Dress to impress and grab a seat on the patio for the best atmosphere in town.

    Location: 101 W Worthington Ave #110, Charlotte, NC 28203, USA

    Open: Friday–Saturday from noon to 8 pm, Sunday–Thursday from noon to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 704-741-0300

    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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