One of the fastest growing cities in the United States, Charlotte has developed a vast array of dining options. Reflecting its diverse population (nearly 20 percent were born outside the country), the flavors of the world have come to the Queen City.
The brewery scene has also exploded in recent years – and each month seems to bring yet another option for beer lovers to the eclectic neighborhoods in and around Charlotte. With enough dining and drinking options to fill a book – or two – here are some of our favorites.
Mariposa is one of Uptown Charlotte’s latest luxury dining locations. Executive chef Jonathan Moore delivers an impressive menu inspired by the small mezze plates of the eastern and southern Mediterranean, paired with an inventive cocktail selection. The only ordering mistake you can make is not leaving enough room for the Burnt Basque Cheesecake dessert.
La Belle Helene
For a French brasserie experience in Charlotte, seek out La Belle Helene. Opulent surroundings and a menu that would satisfy the pickiest Parisian combine for one of the Queen City’s premier dining experiences. Traditional French preparations mark dishes from a crispy porchetta sandwich to chilled Maine lobster and Duck A l’Orange for two.
Blue Blaze Brewing
If you’re in the mood to walk up a thirst, the 1.5-mile Stewart Creek Greenway west of Uptown starts next to Bank of America Stadium and ends at Blue Blaze Brewing. This laid-back taproom offers a wide selection of brews made from locally sourced ingredients – including its namesake Blue Blaze Altbier and Black Blaze Milk Stout – and a seasonal and specialty list perfect for every time of year.
Mert’s Heart and Soul
Southern-inspired comfort food in Uptown Charlotte means Mert’s Heart and Soul. The Soul Roll, a fried wrap filled with veggies and fried chicken, has been featured on the Food Network, and we love the spicy salmon cakes. The restaurant can also call upon two U.S. Presidents for an endorsement – both Barack Obama and Joe Biden have dined here.
The Market at 7th Street
Right next to a light rail stop, the Market at 7th Street prides itself on its connection to the community and the entrepreneurs of Uptown. The non-profit food hall features various walk-up food options including pizza, a raw bar, momos, cupcakes, and waffles – truly something for every taste.
For dining and drinking options, South End has it all. Cuisines from all over the world and an abundance of breweries – all within easy walking distance of each other – deliver a true agony of choice.
Looking for what might be the best ramen in Charlotte? Futo Buta is located right on the Rail Trail with year-round patio dining – a popular location to watch the world go by. Seating is limited and claimed on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you have your spot – and if you have a taste for spice – order the Buta Bowl, made with chicken and dashi broth, pecan smoked pork belly and duck confit. If you have to wait, it’s worth it.
Located in a historic South End bungalow, Copper effortlessly combines traditional Indian cuisine with a modern flair. Whether you are familiar with Indian dishes or are exploring them for the first time, prepare to be pleasantly surprised – the staff is great at guiding diners toward a dish they’ll enjoy. The potli samosa with savory and crunchy vegetables and a hot-sweet-sour chutney, and the chicken mirchi-malai with roasted onion-cashew sauce and Kashmiri chili paste should appeal to Indian food novices and experts alike.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
The patriarch of the Charlotte beer scene feels like a small patch of Germany in Lower South End (“LoSo”). With every brew at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery remaining faithful to the Bavarian “Reinheitsgebot” (Purity Order), and served in a Bierhalle and Biergarten that would make Munich proud, OMB continues to lead the way in the Charlotte brewery scene.
Sycamore Brewing has become the place to be on a weekend afternoon. Frequent live music, food trucks, and pop-up markets entice those on the adjacent Rail Trail to pause for a moment. The convivial atmosphere and the quality of beer gets them to stay. Try a Mountain Candy IPA, Southern Girl Blonde Ale, or Special Brownies Chocolate Stout.
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Named for North Davidson Street that runs through its heart, NoDa is the original artsy capital of Charlotte. Just a couple of light rail stops from Uptown, NoDa has an impressive array of eating and drinking options.
At the Goodyear House, originally an old mill home dating back to the 1900s, you’ll find chef Chris Coleman – 2019 winner of the Food Network’s Chopped cooking competition. The attention to detail paid to the house’s restoration is reflected in this farm-to-table restaurant’s exquisitely prepared, locally sourced food. Don’t leave without ordering the smoked cashew mac.
Oh My Soul
At Oh My Soul you can enjoy a full plant-based, vegan menu including unique dishes that reflect its owners’ South African heritage. If you get a loaded Gatsby sandwich, you can then choose whether you want it the spicy ‘Durbanite’ way or the ‘Capetonian’ option with crispy fried onion rings. Oh My Soul’s spacious courtyard is a calm and relaxing oasis just a few steps from the North Davidson Street bustle.
With a wide-ranging mix of international food options to satisfy any taste – plus a long list of events and ad-hoc attractions – Optimist Hall will definitely put a smile on your face. Multiple vendors provide everything from empañadas to eastern Mediterranean delicacies that can all be enjoyed in the relaxed inside and courtyard seating areas.
Among the earliest entrants to the brewery scene in Charlotte, NoDa Brewing’s impressive range of year-round and seasonal beers is headlined by “Hop Drop N’ Roll,” an IPA that took a gold medal at the 2021 U.S. Open Beer Championship. Come for the award-winning beer, stay for the chill vibes – and the occasional Charlotte Symphony ensemble.
Birdsong Brewing has developed what is arguably one of the most interesting beer flavors in the Queen City. A mainstay of the menu for many years, its Jalapeño Pale Ale is something you just have to taste. Grab a pint, have a seat and prepare yourself for a great conversation. Tip: try to time your visit for a small-batch THURSty THURSday.
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On the east side of Charlotte, Plaza Midwood is known for its casual bars, eclectic shops and restaurants, and brewery options. It also found global fame when Mick Jagger’s 2021 solo visit to the neighborhood’s Thirsty Beaver pub went viral.
Legion Brewing has been a part of the Plaza Midwood social scene since 2015. Offering a diverse range of beers – IPA fans must try the Juicy Jay – and an extensive food menu unusual among the city’s breweries, there is always a happy buzz at its original Commonwealth Avenue location.
Another favorite location for local beer enthusiasts, Resident Culture prides itself on ‘beers brewed with neighborhood funk.’ From mid-March to mid-November, a rain-or-shine Food Truck Friday delivers good food and live music enjoyed with some hop-forward beers. Check out the Vicky Virago Triple Dry Hopped Double India Pale Ale.
Celebrating Charlotte Food
Charlotte Restaurant Week – “The Queen’s Feast” – is a twice-yearly event that showcases the best of the greater Charlotte area dining options. For 10 days in January and July, dozens of mid- to high-end restaurants offer three-course, prix-fixe menus for $30-$45, providing residents and visitors with a cost-friendly possibility to experience the best of the city’s cuisine.
A Taste of Charlotte (generally scheduled for the last weekend of September) features the favorite menu items of more than 20 local restaurants in a single location. The 2022 event will take place at the Uptown, Truist Field home of the Charlotte Knights.