Updated Feb 2, 2024 - Food and Drink

35 iconic restaurants that have been serving Charlotte for 30+ years

man standing outside of restaurant

Owner Jermaine Blackmon, pictured here, serves up the same chicken and ribs today as his grandfather did during the 1950s. Photo: Danielle Chemtob/Axios

New restaurants open every day in Charlotte, it seems, and that can make it easy to overlook the classics.

Why it matters: Charlotte's longstanding restaurants helped make the city's food scene what it's grown to be today. Often new restaurants draw inspiration from these classics.

Driving the news: Every time one of these iconic restaurants closes, we lose a piece of classic Charlotte. We've seen that happening a lot recently.

This list is meant to highlight the spots that have been around before the developers rolled in and built shiny new restaurants and shops. There's no shame in trying new places, but keep the old ones in your rotation, too.

  • Restaurants are listed from newest to oldest.

1998: Mert's Heart & Soul

Low Country and Gullah-inspired soul food in Uptown. It's also a popular tourist spot, as evidenced by Joe Biden's visit in 2020.

Tia Bazzelle GM with Mr Biden at merts
General manager Tia Bazzelle with former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo courtesy of Mert’s

1997: Eddie’s Place

Casual neighborhood Cotswold diner famous for its She Crab soup. They also serve an all-day breakfast.

Photo: Axios archives

1996: Sir Edmond Halley’s

Quirky basement-level pub in the backlot at Park Road Shopping Center. If you're up to it, try their beer tower.

Sir Edmond Halley beer tower
Sir Edmond Halley beer tower. Emma Way/Axios

1995: Mimosa Grill

Banker-approved, Southern-inspired restaurant in the Wells Fargo Atrium. It's known for its Sunday brunch.

Mimosa Grill, long-standing Charlotte restaurant, uptown, brunch
Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

1992: Mama Ricotta’s

The classic Midtown Italian restaurant also has a sister concept called Little Mama's. Both are great for a big family dinner or takeout. The penne alla vodka is a must-try.

Go deeper: Mama Ricotta's celebrates 30 years. This is what owner Frank Scibelli would order there

lasagna mama ricottas past charlotte restaurant
Photo: Axios archives

1992: Sub One Hoagie

The family-owned sandwich shop has been serving up subs for more than 30 years. If it's your first time stopping in, order the New Jersey Steak Hoagie.

Go deeper: 85 Black-owned businesses in Charlotte you can support right now

1992: Red Rocks Cafe

Upscale American cuisine in a casual, family-friendly setting in Birkdale Village and SouthPark.

hand holding cup that reads "birkdale village"
Take your drink to go and stroll around Birkdale Village, like Axios' Mckenzie Rankin recommends in her Huntersville guide. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

1991: Luisa’s Pizza

Family-friendly pizzeria in Montford with some of the best pizzas in town.

peperoni pizza
Pepperoni pizza from Luisa's Pizza. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

1990: Selwyn Pub

Quintessential Myers Park hangout in a repurposed old house with a great front patio. The bar made a name for itself for its cheap Transfusion drinks.

Selwyn Pub was established in 1990 in what was an old house on the eastern edge of Myers Park.

1990: Lang Van

This popular family-run Vietnamese restaurant on the east side is one of the best restaurants in Charlotte.

Photo: Axios archives

1989: McNinch House

Located in the Victorian home of Charlotte Mayor Sam McNinch, the upscale restaurant has a small menu with dishes like lobster bisque and filet mignon.

McNinch House, long-standing Charlotte restaurant, mayor mcninch
Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

1988: Thai Taste

Charlotte's first Thai restaurant has rotating daily specials and large, flavorful dishes.

Photo: Axios archives

1987: Lupie’s Cafe

No-frills diner known for its four types of chili — Texas, Cincinnati, Vegetarian and Southern. Diners have the option to add toppings like beans, onions and cheese. You can also mix the different chilis.

Photo: Axios archives

1986: French Quarter

Uptown favorite in historic Brevard Court serving comfort food with a touch of Cajun.

outside of French Quarter Tavern in Uptown
Photo: Axios archives

1986: Floyd’s Soul Food

Homestyle Southern favorites passed down through generations. Founder Otis Floyd Jr.'s mother, Mrs. Cattie-Bell Floyd, is honored with a mosaic monument on Freedom Drive.

1986: 300 East

Eclectic American dining in a historic 1900-era Victorian home in Dilworth. A popular spot for brunch.

Go deeper: The 30 best brunch spots in Charlotte

Breakfast pizza at 300 East. Photo: Axios archives

1985: Cajun Queen

Charlotte's spot for New Orleans-inspired food, like étouféé and cajun pasta, and live jazz in a 100-year-old house.

Cajun Queen, long-standing Charlotte restaurant, cajun
Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

1984: Fenwick’s

Quaint Myers Park staple serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

1983: Alexander Michael’s

Cozy neighborhood tavern in Fourth Ward "where everybody knows your name."

Alexander Michael's Tavern
Photo: Axios archives

1978: House of Pizza

The Central Avenue classic has some of the best pizza in the city, plus cheesesteaks and wings.

1977: Bojangles

Charlotte’s beloved fried chicken chain with super sweet tea and buttery biscuits.

Go deeper: One of Charlotte's unofficial historic landmarks, the first Bojangles is undergoing extensive renovations

cajun chicken filet pimento cheese at bojangles
Photo: Axios archives

1976: Carolina Family Restaurant

Family-run diner on the west side near the airport.

1976: Nakato Japanese Steakhouse

The Nakato originally opened the restaurant across from where the Bojangles Coliseum is on Independence Boulevard. In 1990, the family moved the restaurant to its current location on Pineville-Matthews Road.

  • In 2004, they expanded to the University area and in 2023, the owner's son opened Menya in Elizabeth.

Go deeper: Menya Daruma specializes in Japanese comfort food and will open a hidden omakase-style dining room soon

1973: Brooks' Sandwich House

Humble family-run burger shack in NoDa — get the cheeseburger "all the way" and remember to bring cash.

Go deeper: Brooks' Sandwich House property listed for sale after five decades in NoDa

Photo: Axios archives

1962: Riccio's

Family-run Italian restaurant. Often referred to as one of Charlotte's best pizza spots.

1961: Pressley Park Restaurant

Classic small-town diner in the big city. Sit in here for a few minutes and just watch how many customers the staff knows by name. Go for the country ham.

country ham and egg sandwich at Pressley Park
Country ham and egg sandwich at Pressley Park. Photo: Michael Graff/Axios

1959: South 21

Old school burger drive-in on Independence Boulevard.

Photo: Axios archives

1959: Bar B Q King

Retro curb service barbecue drive-in on the west side. American restaurateur Guy Fieri has told Axios that the restaurant is one of his favorites in Charlotte.

Photo: Axios archives

1958: Beef N Bottle

Special occasion steakhouse in an unassuming little building on South Boulevard. Get half-priced wine on Monday nights.

beef n bottle exterior
Photo: Axios archives

1952: The Open Kitchen

Eye-catching Italian restaurant in Wesley Heights. Their menu has all the classics, from ziti to pizza.

Open Kitchen, longstanding Charlotte restaurant, Italian
Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

1952: Original Chicken 'n Ribs

Simple to-go counter featuring made-to-order burgers, fried chicken and seafood.

  • Chicken 'n Ribs is part of Carolina history. It's the only Mecklenburg County business still open that was listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide listing businesses like restaurants, hotels and gas stations that did not discriminate against Black travelers.

Go deeper: Most of Charlotte's Green Book sites were destroyed

Photo: Axios archives

1947: Greystone Pub

Longstanding family-run pub passed down through generations that prides itself on having a "Cheers" atmosphere. The Andy's Heavyweight sandwich is one of the restaurant's most popular hoagies.

1945: The Diamond

Charming retro diner in Plaza Midwood. Most menu items are under $10.

Photo: Axios archives

1933: Providence Road Sundries

Landmark family-friendly Myers Park restaurant and bar. Popular dishes include the fried chicken sandwich topped with sweet chili, slaw, bacon, "Picabu" sauce and pickle chips.

Providence Road Sundries
Photo: Axios archives

1928: Reid’s Fine Foods

The gourmet grocer has evolved over time — passing through different buildings and ownership throughout the years. The original location opened on Morehead in 1928.

chicken sandwich from reid's fine foods in charlotte
Photo: Axios archives

Go deeper: 126 new restaurants, bars and businesses that opened in 2023


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