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Eating Out in Charlotte, NC | 10 Great Local Restaurants to Try

Picture of Chloe Hay
Chloe Hay
Updated: 9 February 2017
The largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte is a hotspot for cultural pursuits and is packed full of museums, art galleries, parks and some of the best eateries in the USA. Here is an updated version of Charlotte’s 10 Best Cultural Restaurants: Dining in North Carolina: from sushi-burger fusions to sophisticated tapas, these are 10 of the best cultural restaurants in Charlotte.
Southend4 | Courtesy of Mac's Speed Shop
Southend4 | Courtesy of Mac’s Speed Shop

Mac’s Speed Shop

Part-biker bar, part-barbecue joint, Mac’s Speed Shop invites diners to sample their delicious family recipes, succulent meats and ice-cold beers in their Charlotte restaurant. Specialising in ‘Mexicue’ – that’s Mexican tortillas and tacos stuffed with barbecued meaty goodness – and anything else barbecue-related, Mac’s serves up a variety of dishes including grilled chicken wings, beef burgers, brisket and pulled pork sandwiches. There’s also an impressive menu of 300 cold beers and the staff are well skilled in matching the perfect pint to each food item, giving guests a rounded dining experience.

Mac’s Speed Shop, 2511 South Boulevard, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 522 6227

Image courtesy of Midwood Smokehouse
Image courtesy of Midwood Smokehouse

Midwood Smokehouse

Hardwood hickory logs are burnt 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the custom-built, computer-controlled smoker at Midwood Smokehouse. This lengthy cooking process ensures that the meats are all cooked to perfection and taste absolutely incredible. You can choose to enjoy your lunch or dinner in the restaurant, outside on the patio or order a selection of meats to take away and eat picnic-style in the park. With its extensive menu, customers can enjoy caramelized cubes of brisket, St. Louis-style pork ribs, or even a fillet of salmon served with bacon-wrapped jalapenos and pimento cheese fries.

Midwood Smokehouse, 1401 Central Avenue, Suite 101, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 295 4227

Image Courtesy of 5Church
Image Courtesy of 5Church


5Church Restaurant

Both an upmarket restaurant and a bar, 5Church is ever-growing in popularity and despite being relatively new on the scene, it has already marked itself out as one of the best eateries in the city. Offering imaginative and tasty dishes such as wasabi-crusted salmon, North Carolina mountain trout and crispy marinated tofu, the flavour combinations here are inspiring and innovative. A carefully chosen selection of local delicacies is available to order directly from the bar, best enjoyed alongside a glass of wine, champagne or with one of 5Church’s signature cocktails. The industrial design of the restaurant’s interior is expertly contrasted with the scriptures from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War that cover the ceiling adding to the uniqueness and intrigue of the establishment.

5Church Restaurant, 127 N. Tyron Street #8, Charlotte, NC, USA, + 1 704 919 322

The Culture Trip
Courtesy of Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

For premium burgers nowhere does it quite like Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar. Guests can relax in the chicer-than-average American diner, safe in the knowledge that their burgers are being made from scratch using fresh ingredients and cooked to perfection by a top chef. Meat lovers should go for the Bad Ass Burger consisting of a 10-ounce beef patty, lettuce, tomato, buttermilk fried bacon, horseradish mayo, handmade American cheese and pickles. For vegetarians there’s a choice of black bean burger combinations and for those that need gluten free there’s beef, chicken and buffalo options. Wash it all down with a hand-spun milkshake or a craft beer.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, 1626 East Blvd., Charlotte 28203, + 1 704 714 4888

Good Food on Montford

Exposed brick walls, unusual light fixtures and wooden ceiling beams create the cosy, rustic feel that makes Good Food on Montford such a sought-after restaurant for romantic dates and casual dinners. Set up by two brothers in 2009, Good Food has quickly become a firm favourite amongst locals. The cuisine is based on tapas-sized bites and sharing a selection of dishes is highly encouraged. Go for the southern fried quail, steamed buns, seared scallops and creamy risotto for a truly enjoyable meal. Located on the edge of Myers Park, Good Food is worth the drive slightly out of town and is the perfect stop for lunch after a morning’s meander through the parkland.

Good Food, 1701 Montford Drive, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 525 0881

Firebird’s Wood Fire Grill

There’s no beating around the bush at Firebird’s Wood Fire Grill: this restaurant serves classically simple, American, tasty dishes. Start with the smoked chicken wings or the crab cakes, follow with either an aged rib-eye steak or a pecan-crusted trout and finish with a slice of key lime pie or a warm chocolate brownie for a meal sure to satisfy even the largest of appetites. There are plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options available too and Firebird’s Wood Fire Grill is open for both lunch and dinner so there’s never a reason to go hungry in Charlotte.

Firebird’s Wood Fire Grill, 7716 Rea Road, StoneCrest Shopping Center, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 752 7979

Halcyon, Flavours from the Earth

Combining the best of Southern and Old World cuisines, Halcyon practices farm-to-table cooking methods to ensure that each dish is served as fresh as it could possibly be. Halcyon sources its ingredients from artisan farms, dairies, cheese-makers and wineries from across the state and as such, the menu changes seasonally to reflect the produce currently available. Previous dishes on the menu have included venison with cranberry, apple and spiced walnuts and mushroom ravioli with sherry cream and a black olive emulsion. Situated inside the Mint Museum on the Levine Cultural Campus, Halcyon’s dining room offers a stunning view of the Charlotte cityscape.

Halcyon, 500 S. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 910 0865

Lang Van

Raved about by locals, Lang Van is the most popular Vietnamese restaurant in Charlotte. Don’t be put off by the exterior: the food here is simply divine and the service is excellent. Diners can order their favourite dishes or ask the waiting staff to recommend something for them. The menu is packed full of all the usual soups, noodles and rice dishes but it is the Vietnamese hot pot and the lemon grass curries that really make a visit here worthwhile. Book a table in advance or be prepared to wait a while because Lang Van has many loyal customers ensuring that the restaurant is nearly always full.

Lang Van, 3019 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 531 9525

Image Courtesy of The Cowfish
Image Courtesy of The Cowfish

The Cowfish, Sushi Burger Bar

Serving both top quality burgers and delicious sushi, Cowfish appeals to a variety of foodies and enables couples and friends with differing favourite cuisines to dine side by side in equal enjoyment. Diners can choose items off of the extensive fresh sushi menu, from the organic burger menu or they can try something slightly more unusual from the ‘burgushi’ menu. Fusing burgers with sushi, these dishes are definitely interesting but good fun to try. If ‘burgushi’ doesn’t quite appeal, customers can still get creative by ordering off of the ‘build your own sushi roll’ menu allowing them to try out their own flavour combinations and invent new rolls. Completing the unusual dining experience, there’s a 600-gallon live cowfish aquarium acting as the restaurant’s centrepiece.

The Cowfish, 4310 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 365 1922

Image courtesy of Zebra Restaurant
Image courtesy of Zebra Restaurant

Zebra Restaurant & Wine Bar

The perfect choice for fine dining, Zebra Restaurant focuses on blending upscale contemporary cuisine with classic French influences. The fixed a la carte menu is more than enough to allure guests into this superb dining room but the real intrigue lies in the nightly changing tasting menu, ideal for celebratory meals and special occasions. Guests can rest assured that there is the perfect bottle of wine to match every dish as Zebra has a wine list featuring more than 900 different bottles and to keep things all the more interesting, the restaurant even changes its soufflé option every day.

Zebra Restaurant, 4521 Sharon Road, Ste 100, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 442 9525

By Chloe Hay