Best Restaurants in Charlotte, N.C.
Whether you’re a banker, barrister or Bobcat, you'll find a restaurant to suit your mood in this financial center.
Over the last decade, exciting culinary changes have been taking place in Charlotte, N.C., now the country’s second largest banking center (Bank of America, Wells Fargo and more). As its population has become more international, dining options—particularly in Uptown’s financial center—have grown more sophisticated and varied, with ethnic restaurants springing up and chefs using ingredients from local farms, giving diners choices beyond BBQ joints and steak houses. It has also benefited from the opening of a Johnson & Wales campus in 2004, as its creative young graduates are now manning kitchens—all of which make the Queen City not just a banking hub but a culinary one as well.
327 S. Tryon St.; 704-343-0700
This Queen City favorite (with a trio of Charlotte-based sister restaurants) is located in the Wells Fargo Center (formerly Wachovia) in the heart of Uptown’s financial center, making it a natural for the power-lunch crowd. Start with the warm biscuits with strawberry butter, then tuck into modern southern dishes like pecan-crusted mountain trout, hickory-grilled steak frites and Carolina crab cakes.
110 N. College St.; 704-972-4380
Best: Private Dining Room
Within the Ritz-Carlton (which since its opening in 2009 has become the city’s most luxe digs) is a branch of the popular BLT chain with its menu of steaks, chops and sides (plus addictive cheese popovers). On any given night, you might find BofA bankers, lawyers and Bobcats/Panthers executives in the bar or main dining area or perhaps in the wood-accented private dining room, which seats up to 24.
500 S. Tryon St.; 704-910-0865
Best: Near the Convention Center
On the Mint Museum’s second floor with its stellar Uptown views, just a five-minute walk from the convention center, is this rustic chic eatery (twig chandeliers, menus attached to cutting boards) helmed by Marc Jacksina. The farm-to-fork menu changes nightly but might include lamb neck from Border Springs Farm along with roasted crab apples and Poultry Junction chicken breast with creamed kale.
511 N. Church St.; 704-332-6159
In Uptown’s Fourth Ward, this Queen Anne–style 1892 house owned by former Charlotte mayor Sam McNinch is now one of the city’s most elegant dining establishments. Amid decorative woodwork and tiled fireplaces, choose from a four-, five- or seven-course menu featuring smoked potato bisque, rosemary-and-Dijon-crusted rack of lamb and bread pudding topped with cinnamon crème anglaise.
201 S. College St.; 704-343-9201
Best: Wine List
For a bird’s-eye view of Charlotte, book a window-facing table at Bentley’s on 27, atop Uptown’s Charlotte Plaza Building. Complementing the classic French menu (steak au poivre with a Cognac cream sauce, stuffed shrimp Provençal), with many dishes served tableside, is an extensive wine list with top-tier Wine Country labels like Stags’ Leap, Cakebread Cellars and Opus One as well as a fabulous selection of Champagne and sparkling wines should the need arise to make a toast.
132 E. Trade St.; 704-377-0400
Best: Burger Joint
Locals love Bad Daddy’s but its out-of-Uptown location could be a travel challenge, and while boisterous Nix Burgers in Uptown also has its fans, a more relaxed atmosphere can be found at the recently renovated Trade at the Omni Hotel. Its burger bar has six choices (beef, lamb and herb, crab cake and more), served on brioche buns with toppings including Brie, bacon, guacamole and salsa—be sure to sample a local beer from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery along with your meal.
206 N. College St.; 704-927-2583
In the plaza of the 46-story Hearst Tower is this stylish Mediterranean restaurant with live jazz on most nights. Start off with a cocktail in the busy mosaic-floored bar, then enjoy chef Gene Briggs’ flavorful dishes of Moroccan lamb tagine, roasted sea bass with artichokes and pancetta-stuffed risotto balls from your table in the sunken dining room (great for seeing who’s coming and going).
210 E. Trade St.; 704-333-1999
Best: After-Meeting Drinks
Uptown’s EpiCentre entertainment complex houses plenty of bars/restaurants including the upscale Mez, but there’s also the trendy W XYZ bar at the Aloft Hotel (within the complex), where, amid a mix of conventioneers, locals and concertgoers (the Time Warner Cable Arena is steps away), you can sip mojitos or martinis while mingling in the sleek lounge area or playing a game of pool.
Jill Fergus writes travel and lifestyle pieces for numerous publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons and Spa Magazine.