Jul 14, 2023 - Food and Drink

25 best restaurants in Charlotte, right now

Customshop

Customshop in Elizabeth. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

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"Where do you want to eat tonight?"

It can be overwhelming to keep up with the number of restaurants opening every month. Our goal is to make the question above easier to answer.

Why it matters: Charlotte’s restaurant scene, much like the city itself, is growing and changing. Each year, we become more of a culturally diverse city and we gain new restaurants to match our evolving population and palates. This list is a culmination of the best of the best our city offers — from tried and true staples to new additions that are solidifying Charlotte as the foodie city we know it is.

What they’re saying: We recently surveyed our newsletter subscribers and Instagram followers, asking them “What’s your favorite restaurant in Charlotte?” More than 300 people responded. These were the most popular answers:

Our methodology: We dined at every restaurant on this list more than once, and we always pay our own way. All of these restaurants deliver what they say they’ll deliver — in service, ambiance and quality food.

Restaurants to watch: Pending supply chain issues, license approvals and other reasons restaurants delay opening, we’re anticipating several restaurants will open by the end of the year and into 2024, including Puerta by the Crunkleton team, Pizza Baby by Flour Shop’s owner and Leluia Hall from the owners of Supperland and Ever Andalo.

No. 1: Customshop

This intimate restaurant has been an Elizabeth fixture for more than 15 years, and it’s only gotten better under a new chef and owner 

Why we love it: Each visit will be a new experience because owner and executive chef Andres Kaifer, who moved here from Miami in 2022, changes the menu weekly based on the availability of ingredients from local farms. Customshop is elegant without being pretentious, with a flavorful but approachable menu. It’s a favorite for us because it’s a warm, celebratory spot for any occasion, from date night to a girls’ night out. 

Must-order dish: Start with burrata ($16), a rich mainstay on the menu. All of their hand-made pasta is divine, but the blue crab ravioli ($28) stands out.

  • And be sure to save room for the brioche bread pudding for dessert.

Cost: Expect to pay about $28 for a plate of pasta, and $43 for a ribeye. Starters range from $12-$16.

Details: Customshop is at 1601 Elizabeth Ave. 

  • It’s open Tuesday-Thursday from 5pm-10pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm-midnight. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
  • There’s a parking lot across the street from and behind the restaurant in addition to street parking. It’s also located along the Lynx Gold Line Trolley.

Go deeper: Customshop’s new owner wants to bring Michelin Star-worthy meals to Charlotte

Customshop
Burrata at Customshop. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
Customshop
Pasta at Customshop. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

No. 2: Yunta

A Peruvian and Japanese restaurant with shareable plates.

Why we love it: Restaurants like Yunta (yoon-ta) that draw inspiration from cuisine from around the world are what make Charlotte a foodie city.

  • Pro tip: The vibes are always fun but different depending on whether you go on a weekday or weekend. If you’re looking for chill, opt for a weekday reservation. The restaurant has a DJ on the weekends, making it feel more like a club.

Must-order dish: The tiger’s milk ceviche ($22).

Cost: The menu is split into 10 categories from bites ($6-$15) and ceviche ($16-$22) to maki rolls ($16-$19) and “the wok” ($16-$27).

Details: Yunta is in South End at 2201 South Blvd.

  • It’s open Tuesday-Thursday 5-10pm, Friday-Saturday 12-11pm and Sundays 12-10pm. Closed on Mondays.
  • If you can’t find street parking nearby, try Hawkins Street garage.

Go deeper: Ceviche and house music are recipe for cool at new Charlotte hotspot Yunta

Tiger’s milk ceviche. Photo: Emma Way/Axios
Yunta
Chicharron ($12) – Crispy pork belly, sweet potato, Chalaquita. Photo: Ted Williams/Axios

No. 3: Counter-

Chef and owner Sam Hart was nominated for best chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation for this tasting-menu restaurant. 

Why we love it: With its immersive experience, range of flavors and ever-changing menu, Counter- is the type of restaurant you’d expect to see in New York, Las Vegas, or Chicago, Axios’ Laura Barrero wrote. 

Must-order dish: Counter– is a tasting-menu restaurant, meaning you can expect about 10 to 14 courses throughout your meal. Each meal (along with the restaurant’s decor, playlist and overall theme) changes every quarter.

Cost: Prepaid reservations range between $175 for a 10-course meal and $235 for a 14-course meal, not including tax and tip.

  • Wine pairings range from $85-$325. The spirit-free pairing is $75.

Details: Counter-, located at 2001 W Morehead St., is reservation only and open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner.

  • The restaurant serves one dinner on weeknights (7pm) and two services on weekends (5:45pm and 8:15pm, sometimes 9pm).
  • There’s plenty of parking at the lot Counter- shares with sister restaurant Biblio and Legion Brewing.

Go deeper: 5 things to know before eating at Counter-

Counter-
Counter– in Wesley Heights recently released its latest menu —  a vegetarian meal called “Here & Now.” Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

No. 4: Leah & Louise

The James Beard-nominated restaurant that has everyone talking about Charlotte’s food scene.

Why we love it: Chef Greg Collier has come closer to claiming the prestigious James Beard Award than any other Charlotte chef. Camp North End’s first restaurant pushed Charlotte into the spotlight with features in the New York Times and Esquire. Headlines aside, Leah & Louise is putting out some of the best food in Charlotte.

Must-order dish: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but you must try Leah’s Cabbage ($10), a slow-roasted cabbage dish with pepper honey, smoked sausage and a lick-the-plate-it’s-that-good pork neck bisque base.

Cost: Starters range from $7-$16, main dishes are $23-$32 and desserts are $9-$13.

  • Cocktails are $14.

Details: Leah & Louise is located at 301 Camp Road.

  • It’s open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 5-8pm, Friday-Saturday 5-10pm. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Camp North End has several paved lots.

Go deeper: Chef Greg Collier loses James Beard Award, but makes Charlotte history

Leah & Louise
The Mud Island ($23) which is a blackened catfish over smoked catfish stew, rice grits, pickled field pea and candied pepper. Photo: Alexis Clinton/Axios

No. 5: Kindred

Gorgeous, award-winning small-plate restaurant

Why we love it: Located on Main Street in Davidson, the two-story restaurant has a charm you won’t find at most city spots, plus unparalleled service from the moment a free loaf of milk bread hits the table.

  • Joe and Katy Kindred, who also own Hello, Sailor and Milkbread, have received numerous accolades for Kindred. Joe, the chef, has been James Beard semi-finalist three times, and Kindred was named the best restaurant in North Carolina by Southern Living in 2018.

Must-order dish: Crispy oysters with dill yogurt and Calabrian chile oil ($15).

  • Pro tip: Order a “Barkeep’s Choice” and the bartender will surprise you with a cocktail of his/her choosing.

Cost: Kindred’s dishes (and therefore, the prices) change frequently. During our latest visit, we paid in the $20-$35 range for heartier dishes, such as the bucatini ($23) and the scallops a la plancha ($34). Lighter plates, such as the duck fat potatoes ($11) and the little gem lettuces ($18), are around $10-$20.

Details: Kindred is located at 131 North Main St,  Davidson.

  • It’s open Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm-10pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
  • There’s free street parking just outside the restaurant and along the downtown strip.

Go deeper: Kindred team to open two restaurants in Uptown Charlotte

Kindred
Scallops and char-grilled ribeye at Kindred. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

No. 6: Supperland 

Southern steakhouse in a remodeled historic Plaza Midwood church.

Why we love it: The service is spectacular, the vibes are unbeatable and the food never disappoints. It’s no surprise that Southern Living named it Charlotte’s best restaurant in 2023. For these reasons, it can be tough to get a reservation.

  • Of note: They charge a $3 reservation fee per seat.

Must-order dish: The miso mac and cheese ($16) and the lobster tail ($64). If you’re craving some surf and turf, splurge and get the prime filet ($64).

  • Bonus: Supperland recently started serving a brunch buffet on the weekends for $65 per person, plus tax and tip.

Cost: A dinner for two will send you into the triple digits.

Details: Supperland is in Plaza Midwood at 1212 The Plaza.

  • It’s open Tuesday-Wednesday from 5-11pm, Thursdays 5pm-midnight, Fridays 5pm-1am, Saturdays 11am-1am and Sundays 11am-10pm. Closed on Mondays.
  • Street parking in Plaza Midwood is very limited. We recommend you Uber or Lyft.

Go deeper: 5 quick takeaways from my first visit to Supperland

Supperland July 2023
Wagyu NY strip ($120), poached lobster tail ($64), wood-oven brussels ($15) and bone marrow broccoli ($15). Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

No. 7: Ever Andalo

Italian restaurant in the former Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub space by the same owners. 

Why we love it: When restaurateurs Jamie Brown and her husband Jeff Tonidandel closed the highly regarded Crepe Cellar, fans of the decade-old restaurant were skeptical, to say the least. But the new upscale Italian spot exceeded expectations with a large selection of Italian wines, a romantic setting and delicious Italian dishes. 

Must-order dish: The focaccia ($10), which is served with a flight of olive oil. The burrata ($16) includes a few slices of focaccia, but you’re going to want extra bread, trust us. Get the cannoli ($14) for dessert.

Cost: Antipasti range from $7-$16, pasta plates range from $20-$28 and secondi plates like branzino and short rib range from $25-$52.

  • Of note: Reservations will cost you $2 per seat on weekdays and $3 per seat on weekends. Seats at the bar can be hard to come by.

Details: Ever Andalo is in NoDa at 3116 N Davidson St. 

  • It’s open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-10pm, Friday and Saturday from 5-11pm and Sundays from 5-10pm. Closed on Mondays.
  • Street parking is limited; we recommend Uber or Lyft.
Ever Andalo short rib and tortellini
Ever Andalo short rib and tortellini. Photo: Michael Graff/Axios

No. 8: Good Food on Montford

The O.G. of Charlotte small-plate restaurants. 

Why we love it: Bruce Moffett, as the story goes, opened his second restaurant, Good Food on Montford Drive after a barista allegedly told him “There’s no good food on Montford.” Moffett proved that saying wrong, and the small plates restaurant has become a classic, with influences from countries like Greece, Korea, Italy and Spain.

  • Pro tip: Sit at the chef’s counter for a full culinary experience.

Must-order dish: Larry’s pork belly buns ($14) the fava bean spread ($12), the scallops ($26) and the red curry mussels ($17).

Cost: Starters range from $5 biscuits to $30 charcuterie boards, the pastas (available in half or whole plates) are $24-$30 and large paellas that feed four to six people are $38-$62.

Details: Good Food on Montford is located at 1701 Montford Dr.

  • It’s open 5-10pm, Monday-Saturday. Closed on Sundays.
  • The restaurant has plenty of nearby street parking.
Good Food on Montford
Scallops from Good Food on Montford. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

No. 9: El Puro

Authentic Cuban restaurant run by the family behind Havana Carolina in Concord. 

Why we love it: Dinner at El Puro is an experience meant to take you back in time to 1950s pre-revolutionary Cuba. On Wednesdays, they have live music and free salsa lessons. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel like you’re not in Charlotte anymore.

Must-order dishes: The portions are generous, so here’s our recommended order for two. Start with empanadas ($4). Then, do a surf-and-turf setup for entrees, with an order of Rabo Encindido — a red wine braised oxtail with asparagus ($40) and an order of the Paella O Pa’ El — mussel, calamari, mahi mahi, peas, white wine infused rice ($36). Most entrees come with a side, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not throw an order of sweet plantains.

  • Bonus: El Puro has one of the best brunch menus in Charlotte. Order the Tres Leches Pancakes ($16).

Cost: Appetizers range from $4-$20, entrees are $16-$48,  sides are $6 and desserts are $10.

Details: El Puro is located at 5033 South Blvd. in Madison Park.

  • It’s open Tuesday-Thursday from 11am-10pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-midnight and Sunday from 11am-10pm. Closed Mondays.
  • There’s plenty of parking on their lot.

Go deeper: Havana Carolina owners open new Cuban restaurant in Charlotte

El Puro
The oxtail and paella (and as you can see, the empanadas had a very short lifespan at our table). Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

No. 10: Stagioni

Modern take on classic Italian dishes in a romantic setting with an open kitchen. 

Why we love it: Stagioni’s pizza scissors get all the buzz — as they should; they’re fun — but this Myers Park restaurant also should be celebrated for fresh pasta dishes and excellent slow-roasted meats, including the meatballs.

Must-order dishes: Dining at Stagioni is like stepping into an Italian villa. The exterior is beautiful, with the arches and string lights overhead, and inside it is dimly lit and fitting for a date night. The dishes come out in courses, and you have to order the fresh focaccia to start. The pasta is fresh and flavorful, and the pizzas are a must. 

  • Pro tip: On a date, one person should order the pasta and the other should order the pizza to share.

Cost: Pizza pies range between $16-$20 and pastas are $18-$38.

Details: Stagioni is located at 715 Providence Road. in Myers Park.

  • It’s open 5pm-9:30pm on Mondays and 5-10pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
  • There are a few parking spaces in the front and additional parking in the rear.
Stagioni
Mortadella pizza. Photo: Danielle Chemtob/ Axios
Stagioni
Truffle tagliatelle pasta. Photo: Danielle Chemtob/Axios

No. 11: Restaurant Constance

Owner and chef Sam Diminich has been a personal chef for Christian McCaffrey, the owner of a successful meal delivery and catering service called Your Farms Your Table, and in 2020 he beat Bobby Flay. Now, he owns a restaurant in Wesley Heights, a mile from where was once experiencing homelessness.

Why we love it: You can see the whole restaurant from almost any seat in the dining room, and you’ll spot Diminich coordinating with the staff and speaking with guests throughout your meal. With nods to his daughter and his past in the decor, you leave the restaurant feeling like you know the chef and owner personally.

Must-order dish: Because of the nature of the farm-to-table restaurant, the menu changes often. Start with the japaleño cornbread waffles ($16).

  • Bonus: Restaurant Constance has a thoughtful mocktail menu and an extensive wine list.

Cost: Starters range from $15.50-$18 and entrees range from $35-$44.

Details: Restaurant Constance is at 2200 Thrift Road in Wesley Heights.

  • It’s open 5-10pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday-Monday. 
  • There’s plenty of parking on the adjoining lot.

Go deeper: Farm-to-table restaurant from chef Sam Diminich now open in west Charlotte

Restaurant Constance
The jalapeno cornbread waffles. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
Restaurant Constance
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

No. 12: Flour Shop

66-seat restaurant focused on pasta with a central kitchen in the middle of the dining room. 

Why we love it: Flour Shop’s simple, rotating menu consists of fresh pasta and bread, along with roasted and grilled meats, seafood and vegetables. Choose a seat at Flour Shop’s bar and watch the chef prepare your dishes in the restaurant’s central kitchen. It’s like a dinner and a show.

Must-order dish: Burrata toast ($18) with pistachio pesto and sourdough bread.

  • Pro tip: After dinner, walk across the parking lot to Dot Dot Dot for a nightcap.

Cost: Starters range from $5-$20, pasta dishes are $26-$32.

Details: Flour Shop is at 530 Brandywine Road.

  • It’s open 5-10 pm, Monday-Saturday and 5-9pm on Sundays.
  • There's plenty of parking in the back lot of Park Road Shopping Center.
Flour Shop
Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
open kitchen at flourshop in charlotte
The exposed kitchen at Flour Shop, where you can sit at the bar and watch them make pasta and bread from scratch. Photo: Axios archives

No. 13: Fin & Fino

Seafood and small plates in Uptown with a fun cocktail program. 

Why we love it: Here, you’ll find some of the best seafood in Charlotte. If you can’t decide what to order, splurge for “The Treatment” for $70. It’s a chef-driven tour of the entire menu, and $5 goes to charity. Every night it’s a little different, but you’ll likely leave stuffed.

Must-order dish: “Tower of Power” ($95) is an over-the-top seafood dish that includes oysters, shrimp and mussels.

  • To drink, order the “Call of the Clam,” ($16) where you choose the spirit and the bartender takes care of the rest.  

Cost: It’s a bit of a splurge but you’re getting quality food. Oysters are about $3.25 each.

Details: Fin & Fino is at 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts.

  • It's open 11:30am-9pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-2pm for lunch and 5-10pm for dinner on Fridays, 5-10pm on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays.
  • There isn't a designated lot or nearby street parking. We recommend taking an Uber or Lyft.

Go deeper: Best seafood restaurants in Charlotte

Fin & Fino
Pan-seared scallops ($16) with asparagus. Photo: Alexis Clinton/Axios

No. 14: Menya

Japanese comfort food in the form of handmade noodle dishes, like ramen and soba.

Why we love it: Menya opened in early 2023, joining a robust restaurant lineup in Elizabeth that also includes Crunkleton and Bang Bang Burgers— and it has already become a local favorite. The cozy noodle bar offers authentic Japanese cuisine, with noodles and broths all made in-house and soy sauces and salts imported from Japan.

Must-order dish: Tonkotsu red ramen ($15.50), spicy tantan ramen ($15.50) and spicy chicken wontons ($5).

Cost: Great food at a reasonable price.

Details: Menya is at 1941 E 7th St.

  • It's open Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 11:30am-10pm. Closed Mondays.
  • Find additional parking at Pecan Point Shopping Center (after 5pm on weekdays, all day on weekends) and Elizabeth on Seventh parking deck.

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

Menya
Tonkotsu red ramen ($15.50), spicy tantan ramen ($15.50). Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

No. 15: The Fig Tree

Fine dining classic inside a renovated historic Craftsman-style bungalow in Elizabeth. 

Why we love it: Husband-and-wife duo Greg and Sara Zanitsch opened The Fig Tree in 2005 after a year of renovations to a historic Elizabeth bungalow. That attention to detail comes through in the dishes and service, too. The Fig Tree isn’t focused on what’s new or trendy, and that’s evident in the restaurant’s longstanding signature dish, the elk chop, which has been on the menu for nearly 15 years.

Must-order dish: That famous elk chop ($58) — served with crispy parmesan Yukon gold potatoes, bacon-braised red cabbage and whole grain mustard demi-glace.

  • Of note: Their wine selection is as thick as a bible and has by-the-bottle and glass options.

Cost: A dinner for two will put you well into the three digits.

Details: The Fig Tree is at 1601 E 7th St.

  • It's open Monday-Friday 5:30-10pm, Saturdays 5-10pm and Sundays 5-9pm.
  • There is a private parking lot to the right of restaurant. Additional parking is on Louise Avenue.
The Fig Tree
Filet mignon ($62): stilton-crusted filet mignon with Parmigiano-Reggiano polenta cake, sautéed spinach, shiitake mushrooms, and Madeira demi-glace. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

No. 16: Peppervine

Progressive American restaurant from the owners of Banner Elk’s Artisanal. 

Why we love it: The SouthPark fine-dining establishment has an experienced team behind it: Bill and Anita Greene, who are also the couple behind one of North Carolina’s most picturesque restaurants, Artisanal, located in a converted barn in Banner Elk.

Every item is made with meticulous, intentional ingredients that burst with flavor. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an art museum, with earthy tones, a window into the kitchen and trendy music.

Must-order dishes: Start with the melt-in-your-mouth, oh-so-buttery yeast rolls ($7). Then choose a small and large plate from their menu, which changes with the season depending on what’s fresh. Try the general Tso’s cauliflower ($16), a tangy take with tempura and orange glaze. For your main plate, go for the creamy yet smoky mushroom agnolotti ($26).

Cost: Expect to spend around $80 to $100 per person, depending on whether you order drinks.

Details: Peppervine is at 4620 Piedmont Row Dr.

  • It's open Monday-Thursday from 5-9, Friday-Saturday 5-9:30pm. Closed on Sunday.
  • There's retail parking right outside the restaurant, surrounding Piedmont Town Center.
Peppervine
The Spanish octopus ($27). Photo: Alex Sands/Axios

No. 17: Calle Sol 

Latin café and cevicheria inspired by Latin restaurants in cities like Miami and Tampa. 

Why we love it: Large portions, affordable prices and dishes that’ll make you think you’re eating at a restaurant in South Florida. A second location will open in SouthPark this year. 

  • Pro tip: Calle Sol’s cafeteria menu is a great bang for your buck — you get one entrée and two sides for $8. It’s available 11am-2pm on weekdays.

Must-order dish: The Tampa-style Cubano ($13) with Cuban bread from Tampa.

Cost: Expect to spend about $20-$30 per person and leave with plenty of leftovers.

Details: Calle Sol is at 1205 Thomas Ave. in Plaza Midwood.

  • It's open 11am-9pm Sunday-Wednesday and 11am-10pm Thursday-Saturday.
  • Your best bet is to find street parking or get a ride share.
Calle sol
Lechon asado ($13) – Roast pork marinated with house mojo for 24 hours and roasted for 10 hours. Served with rice, beans, sautéed onions, and sweet plantains. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

No. 18: 300 East 

Reliable standby in picturesque Dilworth home.

Why we love it: 300 East feels like coming home, and that’s not just because it’s located in a renovated house. The restaurant has been a gathering place for colleagues, families and friends since 1986, a few lifetimes compared to most of its neighbors in nearby South End. 

  • Pro tip: Definitely stop by for weekend brunch.

Must-order dish: Start with baked marinated Vermont goat cheese ($13) and then dive into the bronzed sesame salmon with shoyu glaze, brown rice and sauteed kale ($23). Or try the stuffed airline breast, which is filled with country ham, tomato jam and cheddar and served with a shitake-rosemary gravy, mashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day ($21). Finish your night off with the peach ice cream sandwich, which includes peach ice cream and ginger cookies ($12).

Cost: Expect to pay about $25-$50 per person.

Details: 300 East is located at — you guessed it — 300 East Blvd.

  • It's open Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm and 10am-9pm Saturday-Sunday.
  • You'll find plenty of nearby street parking off East Boulevard and behind the restaurant.
300 East stuffed airline chicken breast
Stuffed airline chicken breast. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

No. 19: Mama Ricotta’s

Traditional longstanding Italian restaurant. 

Why we love it: The 30-plus-year-old Midtown favorite isn’t about gimmicks or reinventing Italian-American cuisine; it’s focused on the classics. Penne alla vodka ($20/$35) arrives with sautéed pancetta in a peppery tomato cream sauce. And Mama Ricotta’s lasagna ($18), with layers of ground beef, veal, sausage, and a whole lotta cheese, is so good it’s like a hug straight from nonna.

  • Pro tip: For a different experience but a similar menu, consider Little Mama’s in SouthPark.

Must-order dish: Besides the penne alla vodka, Mama’s has some of the best pizza in town ($17-$23). They’re New Haven-style, which means a thin, crispy crust, cooked in a wood-burning oven.

Cost: Expect to pay about $30-$50 per person not including tax or tip.

Details: Mama's is at 601 South Kings Dr. in Midtown.

  • It's open 11am-9pm daily.
  • There's plenty of parking on Mama's lot.

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

pizza-at-mama-ricottas-italian-restaurant-charlotte-nc
penna alla vodka at mama ricottas restaurant charlotte
Penna alla vodka at Mama Ricotta’s. Photo: Axios archives

No. 20: Lang Van

Beloved Vietnamese restaurant.

Why we love it: No place in Charlotte has better service than Lang Van. It feels like Christmas all the time in the east Charlotte favorite, thanks to the twinkle lights up year-round and the delicious pho.

Must-order dish: The No. 26 — pho dac biet — with a combo of beef, tendon and meatball in a beef broth ($12.95).

Cost: Expect to pay about $25 per person.

Details: Lang Van is at 3019 Shamrock Dr. in Shannon Park.

  • It's open 11am-10pm Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-11pm Saturday-Sunday.
  • The restaurant has its own parking lot.
Photo: Emma Way/Axios

No. 21: Alexander Michael’s 

Cozy Fourth Ward restaurant and pub.

Why we love it: Everything about Al Mike’s — the ambiance, the hearty dishes, the service — is comforting. It’s a place we’ve been scared to lose with a recent building sale, but we’re comforted knowing it’s still here after more than 40 years.

Must-order dish: Stroganoff ($19.75) with aged beef, mushrooms and rotini pasta served with red wine, shallots and sour cream sauce.

Cost: Expect to pay about $30-$50 per person.

Details: Al Mike's is at 401 W. 9th St. in Fourth Ward.

  • It's open 11am-10pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
  • Street parking is your best bet; we also recommend Uber or Lyft.
Stroganoff at Al Mike’s. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

No. 22: Saku

An Uptown sushi spot that checks off every box when it comes to vibe, taste and aesthetic.

Why we love it: The fresh signature sushi rolls and grilled yakitori make Saku one of the best sushi spots in town. Their extensive drink menu provides a range of tasty options. Plus, it’s conveniently located next to several bars if you want to continue the night.

Must-order dish: If you’re a sushi lover then you’ll appreciate The Earth & Sea Roll ($25), a signature roll with tempura lobster asparagus, avocado and cucumber that’s topped with seared ribeye, spicy aioli, eel sauce, scallions, tobiko.

Details: Saku is at 123 E 5th St. in First Ward.

  • It's open 11:30am-2:30pm and 5-10pm Tuesday through Friday, 12-3pm and 5-11pm Saturday and 5-10pm Sunday. Closed Monday.
  • There's paid parking in the Truist Center Garage but we recommend taking an Uber or Lyft.

Go deeper: New sushi restaurant Saku now open in Uptown

Saku
The Earth & Sea Roll ($25). Photo: Alexis Clinton/Axios

No. 23: Barrington’s

The classic SouthPark restaurant that helped establish Charlotte’s culinary scene. 

Why we love it: As one of Charlotte’s first chef-owned restaurants, Barrington’s is an icon in the local food scene. Barrington’s is an early venture from Bruce Moffett — of Good Food on Montford and Stagioni — after he moved to Charlotte. The space is welcoming and non-fussy — in a good way. The menu has is similarly approachable, but refined.

Must-order dish: The rigatoni ($25) is big enough to share and could sub as an appetizer. The Springer Mountain Farms chicken ($32), which has been on the menu for over 20 years and the pork chop ($39) are also a must-try.

Cost: Expect to pay about $100 per person.

Details: Barrington's is at 7822 Fairview Rd.

  • It's open Monday-Saturday 5-10pm. Closed on Sundays.
  • There's plenty of parking on the lot but if you're having more than one of their (very strong) cocktails, we recommend Uber or Lyft.
Barrington's
Rigatoni ($25). Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

No. 24: Beef ‘N Bottle

Old-school steakhouse. No frills, just great steak. 

Why we love it: Open since 1958, Beef ‘N Bottle hasn’t changed much over the years. Inside, the South Boulevard restaurant is dark and cozy with wood paneling and decades-old photographs on the walls. It’s one of those places that brings families and friends back together around holidays and anniversaries. Steaks always arrive tender and cooked to your preference, and come with a salad and a side or two sides if you don’t want a salad.

  • Pro tip: Wine is half off on Mondays.

Must-order dish: 12-ounce choice-cut ribeye. Every steak comes with your choice of two sides. The onion rings are delicious.

Price: Expect to pay $75-$100 per person.

Location: Beef 'N Bottle is at 4538 South Blvd.

  • It's open 5-10pm Monday-Thursday, 4-10pm Friday-Saturday, 4-9pm on Sunday.
  • The restaurant has a designated lot with overflow parking next door.

Go deeper: Best steakhouses in Charlotte

Beef N Bottle
6oz filet and a New York strip steak. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

No. 25: Noble Smoke

Carolina and Texas-style BBQ spot by Jim Noble, the restaurateur behind Rooster’s, The King’s Kitchen and Bossy Beulah’s.

Why we love it: The massive (10,797-square-foot) space makes it fitting for large gatherings. It’s a great place to take family and friends who are visiting from out of town. It’s always busy, so reservations are recommended, but if you show up spontaneously you can always grab a drink at the bar while you wait to be seated.

Must-order dish: Order a bunch of meats and sides to share with the table. You can’t go wrong with the beef brisket and the pulled BBQ chicken, available in quarter, half and one-pound quantities. For sides, order the mac & cheese, pan-fried corn, Anson Mills hush puppies and Brussels sprouts (seasonal). 

Cost: Meat is served by the quarter, half and whole pound and ranges between $6-$39 depending on what you order. Expect to pay about $30-$50 per person.

Details: Find Noble Smoke in Wesley Heights at 2216 Freedom Dr.

  • It's open Sunday-Thursday from 11am-9pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-10pm.
  • There's plenty of parking on the restaurant's lot.

Go deeper: Noble Smoke, the new flagship barbecue concept by Jim Noble, now serving up tasty pork, brisket, ribs, chicken and fish

ribs brisket turkey pork noble smoke barbecue charlotte
Photo: Ted Williams/Axios

Looking for more Charlotte food and drink guides? Here’s a complete list of Axios guides including best burgers, best bars, best sushi, best new restaurants, best pizza and best brunch.

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