Dec 20, 2023 - Food and Drink

13 best new restaurants in Charlotte, right now

Chapter 6

Chapter 6's bar will be full-service and fits up to 20 people. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Following the fast-casual boom of 2022, Charlotte’s dining scene took it up a notch in 2023.

A few of the restaurants on this end-of-year list made it onto our best restaurants list in June, joining several local classics that have stood the test of time.

The big picture: Social distancing is out and shareable plates are in. We reported about 91 new restaurants and bars in 2023 — many with small bites, seasonal menus and intimate settings.

Of note: Although many national spots expanded to Charlotte this year — Sixty VinesCulinary Dropout, STK and Catalina Kitchen + Bar, among others — we didn’t include national chains in this year’s list.

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

What’s next: We predict more out-of-towners will want to capitalize on Charlotte’s booming restaurant scene. Keep an eye out for favorites in nearby Southern towns like Atlanta-based Big Daves and Charleston-based Taco Boy.

  • Plus, local restaurateurs already have big plans for the new year. James Beard-nominated chef Sam Hart is cooking up two new spots – a robatayaki food stand in Uptown called Maneki and a pasta and cocktail house called Spaghett.
  • Jeff Tonidandel and Jamie Brown are turning the former Bonterra spot in Dilworth into a surf-and-turf restaurant called Leluia Hall.

Keep reading about Axios Charlotte’s most anticipated restaurants, bars and breweries still to come.

Here are our picks for the 13 best new restaurants in Charlotte, listed in no particular order (this is not a ranking).

Restaurant Constance

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

Our thought bubble: The farm-to-table restaurant opened in January and it’s still tough to get reservations. It quickly rose to “best restaurants” status this year. The intimate dining room only seats 36 people and Diminich will often go around and greet guests, making you feel like you’re in his home.

Details: Because of the nature of the farm-to-table restaurant, the menu changes often. Its thoughtful mocktail menu is a nice touch. 

  • Restaurant Constance is at 2200 Thrift Road.
  • It’s open 5-10pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday-Monday. 

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

short ribs from restaurant constance
Short ribs are one of Chef Sam’s signature dishes. Photo: Bri Crane/Axios
interior of restaurant constance
Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Puerta

Owned by The Crunkleton team, this Mexican restaurant opened in August in The Stanley’s former space. 

Our thought bubble: Puerta is one of the hottest spots in town right now. It took us two weeks to score a reservation. The Crunkleton team knows how to execute vibes and cocktails.

Details: Puerta’s menu is inspired by various regions in Mexico and includes dips and salsas, soups, salads, empanadas, pork belly chicharron and tacos. It recently added a brunch menu with chilaquiles, breakfast quesadillas, carne asada and huevos. 

  • The address is 1961 E. 7th St. 
  • It’s open Sunday-Wednesday from 5-11pm, Thursday-Saturday 5-midnight and Saturday-Sunday from 11am-3pm for brunch.

Go deeper: Mexican restaurant Puerta opens in the former Stanley space in Elizabeth

Puerta short rib
Chipotle short rib ($40). Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
The bar at Puerta in Elizabeth.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Menya

Japanese noodle counter Menya Daruma opened at the beginning of the year in Elizabeth. In November, it opened a dining room in the back called Kappo En, a speakeasy-style Japanese tasting menu restaurant.

Our thought bubble: Menya is another new addition that quickly cemented itself as one of Charlotte’s best restaurants, touted by food lovers and local chefs alike. It has counter-style seating with an open kitchen, similar to ramen shops found in Japan. If you’re looking for authentic Japanese in Charlotte, this is where to go. 

Details: All noodles and broths are made in-house, the soy sauces and salts are imported from Japan and its menu also has a variety of Asian entrees and snacks like bao buns, wontons and sandos.

  • Menya Daruma is located at 1941 E. 7th St.
  • It’s open Tuesday-Sunday from 11:30am-9pm. Closed on Mondays.

Go deeper: Menya Daruma specializes in Japanese comfort food

Menya
Menya
Photo: McKenzie Rankin

The pork bao bun ($4.50). Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

Chapter 6

The Mediterranean restaurant by local restaurateur Jon Dressler — of  The Porter’s House, Fin & Fino and Dressler’s, among others — opened in September in South End. 

Our thought bubble: You’re going to want to try a little bit of everything, so bring friends who are willing to share. Like Dressler’s other restaurants, you can expect quality food and service.

Details: Chapter 6’s menu features cuisine from six different regions in the western Mediterranean including Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, France and Italy. Expect house-made pasta, fresh seafood and seasonal produce.

Chapter 6
Chapter 6
The mosaic on the left was created by local artist Denise Torrance and highlights the six countries that makeup the food at Chapter 6. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Go deeper: New Mediterranean restaurant Chapter 6 opening in South End with a patio overlooking the Rail Trail

The seafood salad, with octopus, shrimp, shallots, herbs, calabrian chili, evoo, sourdough gremolata and lemon ($15). Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Coquette

A French cafe and restaurant in Uptown from the owners of Mariposa and Fern Flavors in Uptown.

Our thought bubble: Coquette has some of the best French food in town, if not the best. It’s the kind of place you can go to for a casual, quick bite during the day, or dress up for a special occasion in the evening.

Details: Coquette offers coffee and pastries by day, and staple French dishes, like oysters and duck fat fried chicken, by night.

Coquette
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
  • Coquette is located in Uptown at 400 S Tryon St., next to The Bechtler.
  • Dinner is served Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9pm and Friday-Saturday from 5-10pm. The cafe and pâtisserie are open Tuesday-Saturday 8am-4pm.

Creme brulee from Coquette. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Pizza Baby

Pizza Baby is the third restaurant for chef Trey Wilson, owner of Flour Shop in Park Road Shopping Center. Pizza Baby’s first location in Wesley Heights opened this year and a second location will open in Elizabeth in early 2024. 

Our thought bubble: Pizza Baby‘s rosemary pizza is the best pie I’ve had in North Carolina, Axios’ Ashley Mahoney writes. I say that with love as a New York transplant who is picky about her pizza, she adds.

Details: On the menu, you’ll find 18-inch, New York-style pizzas; sandwiches; starters like burrata, meatballs, and prosciutto and melon; plus soft-serve ice cream.

  • Expect signature cocktails like el diablo (El Jimador blanco, Chambord raspberry liqueur, ginger beer, fresh sour and Hellfire bitters on the rocks), classic cocktails, wine and local beer.

Go deeper: Team behind Flour Shop opens Pizza Baby in Wesley Heights

Pizza Baby West rosemary pizza with pistachio pesto, shaved red onion, hot honey and pecorino ($27), burrata ($14), prosciutto and melon ($18) and el diablo signature cocktail ($14). Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

L’Ostrica

A seasonal tasting menu restaurant that opened in Montford in November with a chef’s market in the back.

Our thought bubble: With its seasonal tasting menu, craft cocktail program and chef’s market, L’Ostrica is the kind of place you can go to for a quick drink, fancy night out or lunch to go.

L'Ostrica
Pork agnolotti — Piedmontese pasta pockets stuffed with pork and herbs on a light pork borodo. Pairs well with a glass of Italian red wine. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
L'Ostrica
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Details: L’Ostrica’s main attraction is its tasting menu restaurant, which starts at $175 per person and includes eight to 10 courses, made with seasonal ingredients and optional wine pairings. Dishes will include a range of global culinary influences, including Italian, Korean, Japanese and French.

  • L’Ostrica is 4701 Park Road, between Park Road Shopping Center and Selwyn Avenue.
  • The market is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11am-3pm; the bar is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30pm-close. Reservations for the tasting menu can be made here.

Go deeper: New tasting menu restaurant and chef’s market LʼOstrica opening near Montford

Rosemont Market and Wine Bar

An all-day restaurant, neighborhood market and wine bar wrapped into one, located in Elizabeth. 

Our thought bubble: Rosemont is one of many new additions to Elizabeth’s restaurant options. Owned by the same team as The Crunkleton and Puerta, this all-day restaurant is great for a quick lunch or a casual night out.

  • Pro tip: Call ahead if you can. We went recently on a busy and beautiful Friday and waited about 20 minutes before getting sat.
Rosemont Kitchen and wine bar
rosemont
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Details: Rosemont Market and Wine Bar offers breakfast, lunch and dinner plus market items, grab-and-go meals and drinks like beer, wine and coffee.

  • It’s open Monday-Thursday from 11am-9pm, Fridays 11am-10pm and Saturdays 10am-10pm. Closed on Sundays. 

Go deeper: New all-day restaurant and market called Rosemont Market and Wine Bar opens in Elizabeth

Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

HEX Coffee, Kitchen and Natural Wines

The Camp North End coffee shop recently moved a few feet away to a new location more than double the size of the original. 

HEX
The new 2,700-square-foot spot is across from Grow and catty-corner from Free Range Bar, in Camp North End’s Mount district. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
HEX
The spam musubi ($8) — seared spam, teriyaki, nori and rice. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Our thought bubble: Although technically HEX started as a pop-up in 2015, its new spot is nothing like previous versions of the popular local coffee brand. Even Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler went to check it out while he was in town.  It’s a great lunch option in Camp North End — we recommend the spam musubi.

Details: HEX now serves wine, mocktails, breakfast and lunch in addition to coffee. Its menu has Japanese-inspired cuisine like rice porridge with pork belly and a katsu sando made with pork and cabbage slaw on Hawaiian shokupan.

  • HEX is now located at 201 Camp Road.
  • It’s open Monday-Tuesday from 8am-5pm, Wednesday-Saturday from 8am-9pm and Sundays from 8am-3pm.

Go deeper: HEX Coffee transforms into all-day cafe in Camp North End, serving food, coffee, wine and mocktails

Muraya

The Colombian tapas restaurant, by the same owner as El Puro Cuban Restaurant, opened in the former Hot Taco spot in South End in September. 

Muraya
Salmon with cilantro risotto. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
Muraya

Our thought bubble: Muraya’s vibe is a standout for South End — it feels like a restaurant in Miami, not Charlotte. Do you want a lively spot for dinner and drinks with the friend group? Muraya. A delicious cocktail or two before drinking watery rum and cokes the rest of the night? Muraya. A restaurant with a background that’ll look fire on the ‘gram? Muraya, Muraya, Muraya.  

Details: The restaurant, bar and lounge has an old-fashioned flair reminiscent of Cartagena, Colombia, combined with modern touches like the Latin-House music bumping through the speakers.

  • Muraya is located at 200 E. Bland St., right off the light rail.
  • It’s open Monday-Wednesday from 5-10pm, Thursdays 5-11pm, Fridays 5pm-midnight, Saturdays 11am-mdnight, Sundays 11am-10pm.

Go deeper: El Puro owner brings a taste of Colombia to South End with new restaurant Muraya

Teal Turnip

From the team behind local catering company Tayste Catering, Teal Turnip opened in the Oakhurst shopping Center in May. 

Our thought bubble: Oakhurst has few sit-down, haute cuisine options; Teal Turnip changed that without bringing the stuffiness that’s associated with fine dining.

Teal Turnip
Blackened Salmon with sweet corn purée, crispy prosciutto and a red wine agridolce ($14). Photo: Alexis Clinton/Axios
The 1,000-square-foot patio can seat 40 people. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

Details: Its menu is hyper-seasonal and changes often. You’ll also find a selection of wine and a full bar with signature cocktails.

  • The Teal Turnip is located at 1640 Oakhurst Commons Dr., in the same shopping center as Swirl, NoDa Yoga and Night Swim Coffee.
  • It’s open Wednesday-Saturday 11am-9pm.
  • Of note: On Tuesdays, they have limited service with live music and a bar bites menu from 5-8pm.

Go deeper: Teal Turnip opens in Oakhurst with chef’s table, seasonal menu and specialty cocktails

Dumpling Lady South End

The Dumpling Lady
The pork belly and leeks over rice ($8.54). Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios
Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

Owner and head chef Zhang Qian started The Dumpling Lady in 2015 to bring Sichuanese home cooking to Charlotte after she moved here from Sichuan, China. Dumpling Lady’s new South End spot marks the first brick-and-mortar location for the brand, which started as a vendor at local farmers markets, gained popularity as a food truck, and later opened a stall at Optimist Hall. 

Our thought bubble: I don’t mean to be hyperbolic, but this was a top 5 best meal I’ve ever had in Charlotte, Axios’ Katie Peralta Soloff writes. The pork belly was rich and tender, and the leeks gave the bowl a lovely texture. The dish had a little bite to it but wasn’t too spicy. I had to restrain myself from licking the bowl, she added.

Details: Dumpling Lady is located at 327 W Tremont Ave. in South End.

  • It’s open Sunday-Thursday from 11am-8:30pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-9:30pm.

Go deeper: The Dumpling Lady expanding to South End with new restaurant

The Fox & Falcon by David Burke

The Fox & Falcon opened in September, making it the latest restaurant in Charlotte for celebrity chef David Burke, who’s been featured on Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters. 

Fox & Falcon by David Burke
Moroccan Spiced Rack of Lamb – merguez sausage tomato and olive couscous, preserved lemon ($68). Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
Fox & Falcon by David Burke
The steakhouse has an open view into the kitchen and is decorated in pink Himalayan salt blocks — a nod to how Burke uniquely dry-age his meats. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Our thought bubble: Every item on the menu sounds tempting at David Burke’s new SouthPark venture, Axios’ Alex Sands writes. In its first year, Burke’s steakhouse is an easy contender for one of the best restaurants in Charlotte, she adds. 

Details: The Fox & Falcon’s menu focuses on prime-cut beef, like the tomahawk steak for two. Seafood lovers can expect what Burke calls “ocean” steaks, like the halibut T-bone and lobster dumplings. And, in typical David Burke fashion, you can order his signature DB clothesline bacon or popovers for dessert.

  • The Fox & Falcon is located at 4905 Ashley Park Lane at Sharon Square in SouthPark.
  • It’s open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-10pm, Fridays 5-11pm, Saturdays 11am-3pm for brunch and 5-11pm for dinner and Sundays 11am-3pm for brunch and 5-9pm for dinner. Closed on Mondays.

Go deeper: David Burke expands culinary empire to SouthPark with new steakhouse The Fox & Falcon

Flashback: Check out our past best new restaurants list here: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Charlotte.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Charlotte stories

No stories could be found

Charlottepostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Charlotte.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more