Where do foodies get their fill in Charlotte? We’re so glad you asked. The Queen City is bursting with flavor, and we have the bucket list to back it up: Here are 15 restaurants in CLT that you’ve got to introduce to your taste buds.
Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar
No, your eyes are not deceiving you: That burger exists and you can order it at this local fan favorite. Bigger and juicier than you could possibly imagine, these burgers are completely customizable, offering customers the chance to get creative with their cuisine.
Choose from a plethora of options, including beef, chicken, black bean, tuna, and even buffalo. The locally owned mini-chain is also renowned for their tater tots, a side that fans say is a must-have. Family-friendly and ready for your feasting pleasure, Bad Daddy’s boisterous atmosphere is the perfect place to find your next favorite burger.
Is it hot in here or is it just the wings? (Hint: It’s the wings.) While they’re certainly nothing to scoff at, Fahrenheit is known for much more high-brow menu items, like their Dutch Harbor King Crab (scroll on to see).
One of Charlotte’s more popular dining destinations, this chic New American restaurant sits atop the 21st floor of Downtown’s Skye Condos. View all that Queen City has to offer while sipping specialty cocktails from the restaurant’s wraparound bar or lounge on the patio by one of the firepits to take in the skyline. It’s no wonder this sky-high hideaway is a royal favorite.
Pro Tip: Be sure you save up before coming in—Fahrenheit’s sophisticated atmosphere comes with a matching price tag.
Looking for traditional southern comfort only fried food can provide? Look no further than Pinky’s Westside. This hidden gem boasts an inexpensive menu featuring all the classic favorites. Tar Heels from all over North Carolina flock to feast on Pinky’s perfectly fried foods—one Facebook reviewer even drove four hours just to get her fix.
If you’re headed to Pinky’s, you’ve got to try to the hush puppies. So good their customers would pay just to have the recipe, these inexpensive treats are to die for. Other hot items include the championship burger selection and “Weiner Wonderland” menu. Come hungry and leave on a golden-fried cloud nine at this piece of pure southern joy.
The Fig Tree
An absolute must to add to your bucket list, The Fig Tree is equal parts culinary genius and historic edifice. Located in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood, this 1913, Craftsman-style bungalow known as the Lucas House has since been repurposed as the elegant dining establishment the Queen City knows and loves today.
Begin your evening with an appetizer of foie gras, pan-seared and served over stone-ground grit cake with bacon praline and cranberry gastrique. For dinner? Sauteed Scottish salmon fillet with cranberry chestnut couscous and pumpkin cream. Pair with a wine from the restaurant’s massive, award-winning selection and finish off the night with one of their homemade, seasonal desserts. You’ll never want to leave this delicious time capsule.
Fun Fact: The restaurant gets its name from the four Brown Turkey fig trees located on the grounds.
For over 20 years, Mimosa Grill has been crowned one of the Queen City’s best restaurants, featuring an eclectic and worldly menu with a “unique southern twist.” A trip to this marvelous eatery means a meal that’s guaranteed to be fresh: Executive Chef Thomas Marlow ensures all dishes are prepared with the freshest, natural ingredients from local farmers and artisans for a true farm-to-table dining experience.
Renowned architect Bill Johnson designed the establishment, giving it a unique and eye-catching flair that is truly stunning. Be sure you go in for the brunch buffet, where walnut-crusted french toast, scrambled eggs, grits, shrimp, bacon, sausage, and salmon all commingle on one magical table for your choosing pleasure. Bon appetit!
Cabo Fish Taco
Take your taco to the next level at this California-inspired Baja-style restaurant located in NoDa. Combining coastal Mexican cuisine with the farm-fresh, healthy California feel, the food and atmosphere at Cabo Fish Taco are unlike any other you’ll experience at similar restaurants.
The restaurant’s fresh take on fish tacos makes for an impressive menu selection, including such favorites as the Mahi Mahi and Lemon Shrimp Tacos. Be sure to be prepared for an emphatic crowd: Fans of this eatery love to let everyone know how happy their bellies are.
Bistro La Bon
Locally sourced and inspired by culinary genius the world over, Bistro La Bon is Plaza Midwood’s hottest brunch joint. Featuring a selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu items, this quaint little bistro truly has something for everyone to enjoy.
Known for their killer brunch (there are chocolate waffles; need we say more?) this is definitely the place to go after a morning stroll through the adorable neighborhood Bistro La Bon calls home. The relaxing atmosphere will have you feeling right at home, ready to come back time and again for more tapas and mimosas.
Stagioni: Four Seasons of Food
Enter the walls of the historic Reynolds-Gourmajenko House to a Tuscan paradise in this old-school Italian restaurant. With Chef Andrew Hurst-Dodd at the helm to ensure all meals are prepared with locally sourced, fresh ingredients, a meal at Stagioni is never a disappointment.
“Stagioni” means “seasons” in Italian, and the name was selected to reflect the change of one’s palate through the changing seasons. For this reason, Stagioni’s seasonal menu is always changing to include hand-made pasta, wood-fired pizzas and slow-roasted meats that pair perfectly with Mother Nature herself. Stop in soon to find out what’s on the menu this season. (Hint: It’s going to be delicious.)
Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen
Don’t let the restaurant’s claims of simple cooking fool you—the food that comes off the grill at Rooster’s is as outrageously delicious as it gets. Using only the finest, freshest ingredients from local farmers and artisans, this farm-to-table dining experience is the last word in BBQ goodness.
The beef spare ribs are so tender, you’ll forget why you were holding your knife in the first place. Fans also rave about the Hanger Steak with au gratin potatoes and pan-fried corn. If you’ve got barbecue on the brain, satisfy your craving at Rooster’s. You won’t be disappointed.
The place has a one-pound donut on the menu. If that’s not reason enough to go, perhaps the locally sourced ingredients, hand-crafted cocktails, and excellent service will entice you. Their signature lamb shoulder and Berkshire pork shank are slow-roasted overnight in the double-entry wood-fired oven that lights up the dining room.
Libations, anyone? Stoke’s got you covered: All of the 24 beers on-tap are seasonally sourced from local breweries to bring your suds an added layer of sophistication. Housed within the Marriott City Center, this place is a must for your Charlotte bucket list.
Located in the historic Dilworth neighborhood, this family-owned and operated gem has been serving the Queen City for 32 years. Serving an eclectic menu of creative American-style food, you’ll love experiencing the full flavors in this rehabilitated Victorian home from 1900.
The French onion soup is absolutely out of this world. For lunch, pair it with The Usual: A heavenly open-faced hoagie with Joyce Farms chicken salad, asparagus, mushrooms, and baked cheddar. Join this Dilworth dining favorite for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Trust us, you’re making the right decision when you dine here.
This isn’t the ramen you shamelessly stashed in your college dorm. Futo Buta is the real deal, with an authentic flare that will have you cursing the day you ever dug into a microwavable cup of ramen. Chef Michael Shortino, a third-generation chef with an impressive portfolio of equally delicious restaurants, brings a taste of Japan to Charlotte with rich flavors and endless possibilities to please your palate.
Aside from ramen, favorite menu items include the gyoza (dumplings), pork belly buns and Japanese fried chicken. Enjoy your meal in style in the modern-style dining room, or request a table outside to take in the neighborhood hustle and bustle. Grab your chopsticks and enjoy!
Paco’s Tacos & Tequila
Tex-Mex comes to life in this Queen City jewel. With each dish crafted under the guidance of James Beard award-winning Tex-Mex culinary expert and cookbook author, Rob Walsh, customers know that Paco’s is nothing short of genuine.
The guacamole appetizer is a must-have according to frequent diners, and the margarita selection is top-notch featuring frequent specials and seasonal twists. With over 100 tequila varieties to choose from, Paco’s has your cocktail needs more than covered. The best part about this eatery? They deliver!
Think plant-based, organic, vegan food can’t be delicious? You’ve clearly never been to Living Kitchen. Featuring an elaborate menu of fresh-made juices, sandwiches and other tasty treats, this deliciously nutritious juicery has plenty of healthy eats to make your taste buds sing.
Whether you choose the avocado basil sandwich or the pad thai, Living Kitchen’s plant-based creations will leave you speechless. Give your body the love it deserves with this unparalleled dining experience.
The Cellar at Duckworth’s
Winner of the 2018 Diners’ Choice Award from OpenTable, The Cellar at Duckworth’s is one of Charlotte’s best-kept secrets. Inspired by the Prohibition-era speakeasies and built in 1912, this underground restaurant’s original brick walls and exposed ceiling joists provide a cozy and nostalgic atmosphere that will transport you back in time.
While not solely a seafood restaurant, The Cellar’s most-talked-about items are the char-grilled oysters and butter basted scallops. However, the truffle mac and cheese along with the impressive list of steak selections should also make the top of your must-try list.
The Queen City is serving up some of N.C.’s most scrumptious meals, and now you know exactly where to get the royal treatment. Be on the lookout for Queen’s Feast updates as Charlotte’s restaurant week is set to begin in January. Have a favorite restaurant that didn’t make our list? Give us your recommendations in the comments below. Happy eating!