35 iconic restaurants that have been serving Charlotte for 30+ years
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.
- Updating this list was a little sad. We had to delete Charlotte's oldest restaurant, Green's Lunch, which opened in 1926 and closed last year.
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.
1997: Eddie’s Place
Casual neighborhood Cotswold diner famous for its She Crab soup. They also serve an all-day breakfast.
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.
1995: Mimosa Grill
Banker-approved, Southern-inspired restaurant in the Wells Fargo Atrium. It's known for its Sunday brunch.
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.
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.
1992: Red Rocks Cafe
Upscale American cuisine in a casual, family-friendly setting in Birkdale Village and SouthPark.
1991: Luisa’s Pizza
Family-friendly pizzeria in Montford with some of the best pizzas in town.
1990: Selwyn Pub
1990: Lang Van
This popular family-run Vietnamese restaurant on the east side is one of the best restaurants in Charlotte.
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.
1988: Thai Taste
Charlotte's first Thai restaurant has rotating daily specials and large, flavorful dishes.
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.
1986: French Quarter
Uptown favorite in historic Brevard Court serving comfort food with a touch of Cajun.
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
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.
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."
1978: House of Pizza
The Central Avenue classic has some of the best pizza in the city, plus cheesesteaks and wings.
Charlotte’s beloved fried chicken chain with super sweet tea and buttery biscuits.
Family-run diner on the west side near the airport.
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.
1973: Brooks' Sandwich House
Humble family-run burger shack in NoDa — get the cheeseburger "all the way" and remember to bring cash.
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.
1959: South 21
Old school burger drive-in on Independence Boulevard.
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.
1958: Beef N Bottle
Special occasion steakhouse in an unassuming little building on South Boulevard. Get half-priced wine on Monday nights.
1952: The Open Kitchen
Eye-catching Italian restaurant in Wesley Heights. Their menu has all the classics, from ziti to pizza.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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