13 restaurants you should check out, according to Charlotte chefs and restaurant owners
We asked local chefs and restaurateurs what their favorite local restaurant is (other than their own) and why.
Why it matters: We on the Axios Charlotte team dine at a lot of restaurants. Every year, our combined experiences culminate in the release of our list of best restaurants in Charlotte. But nobody knows our local restaurant scene better than the people leading it and shaping it.
Listed in no particular order, here’s what nine local restaurateurs and chefs said when we asked them where they love to eat and why.
- Of note: Some of their responses have been edited for brevity.
“Restaurant Constance. The food is hyper-seasonal, simple, but elegant. The attention to detail throughout the entire experience was top-notch. Everything from the food, service and drinks was exceptional … Another restaurant that I go to often is Menya. Extremely delicious, super consistent and just an incredible price point for the quality you receive.” — Andres Kaifer, chef and owner of Customshop
“What makes a great restaurant is a consistent drive to push creative boundaries and surprise their guests, while still sourcing sustainably and employing responsibly. Going from good to great means no mistakes. It means no bad days. You can only execute at a high level, period. This kind of consistency, warm hospitality, attention to detail and creative flavors is showcased at Stagioni.” — Sam Hart, chef and owner of Counter- and Biblio
“The best restaurant in Charlotte is Botiwalla. They serve innovative flavors and a style that’s grounded on both the past and present. Their food has soul.” — Sam Diminich, chef and owner of Restaurant Constance
“Goodwurst Co. is my go-to for sandwiches. In my opinion, they have the best Reuben in town … Menya is one of my favorite quick lunch spots. I normally start with the cucumber and wood ear mushroom salad, cabbage salad or the gyoza. Then for my entree, I normally get the tonkatsu or one of the chicken sandwiches … And Curry Gate which has become my go-to for Indian food in town.” — Mike Long, Executive Chef at Rosemont Market & Wine Bar
“There’s too many great restaurants in Charlotte to choose, so I’ll cheat and say Optimist Hall. My family loves the variety of food available (something for everyone). They’ve done a fantastic job recruiting local and regional talent, and it’s fun to hang out and eat all day. I’m also a huge fan of Mal Pan, especially for brunch.” — Trey Wilson, executive chef and owner of Flour Shop
“Musashi in Pineville — my go-to Saturday lunch spot. This is an authentic, family-run Japanese place with amazing specials like Japanese curry with fukujinzuke (red pickled vegetables) and Nabeyaki Udon Hot Pot with tempura, scallions, napa cabbage, mushrooms and the perfect poached egg. When in doubt, order the lunch special for a delicious culinary adventure … I almost don’t want to tell anybody about this special place.” — Jill Marcus, owner of The Mother Earth Group (Mariposa, Fern)
“Kindred and Hello, Sailor are chef-owned and family-run and have a true heart for food, plus talented! We worked together and I am so proud of them … Flour Shop is chef-owned and highly involved; [the chef] works from his heart … Harriet’s Hamburgers, finally a great hamburger!” — Jim Noble, chef and owner of Noble Food and Pursuits (Noble Smoke, Bossy Beaulah’s, Rooster’s, The Jimmy)
“Jeff and I are often caught up enjoying our own restaurants, but we had the chance to take a night away to try Restaurant Constance … Sam’s space may be small, but the food is anything but. The dishes are bold, innovative, inspiring — and exquisitely focused on local produce. We moved from one course to the next finding surprises in every dish. That element of wonder is unusual to find in this city. Kudos to chef Sam and his team!” — Jamie Brown co-founder of Tonidandel-Brown restaurant group (Supperland, Haberdish, Ever Andalo)
“My favorite restaurant in Charlotte is Yunta in South End. After living on the West Coast for a while, I fell in love with Latin Cuisine and love fresh seafood ceviches and tiraditos. Peruvian cuisine is a unique South American cuisine that focuses on amazing heirloom ingredients and hyper-fresh seafood. And on Friday and Saturday nights, Yunta has a DJ setting the vibe for the night making for a fun and unique experience with bright, fresh flavors.” — William Dissen, executive chef and owner of Haymaker
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