My most recent visit to Charlotte, North Carolina marks my fifth time to the city in less than one year. I’ve explored the large majority of its neighborhoods and ate in MANY of its restaurants. While I may not be a local expert, I’ve taste tested my fair share of food in the area. That is why I am bringing all of you the Charlotte Food Lover’s Travel Guide.
As always, I will provide the disclaimer that this is not a full comprehensive list of the area. I don’t live there so it’s hard to say I’ve done it all. But, this list encompasses some of the “must stops” along with some solid choices for food enjoyment!
Some of these I have already done full length write-ups on so I will include links out to those if you want to full scoop. But let’s first start with some ways to start your day in Charlotte.
Not Just Coffee can be found in 4 locations across the city (a fifth is on its way). It’s a minimalist inspired coffee shop and I’ve yet to see it empty. The constant lines (they move!) are proof of the love for Not Just Coffee around town. The company prides itself on its ethical and locally sourced mantra.
While I don’t drink coffee myself their pressed herbal teas and small food menu are my main focus. I’m talking homemade pop tarts and toasts! I know avocado toast is all the rage, but Not Just Coffee does it right. There are slivers of crispy radish and a crunch of crumbled pistachios that top off the avocado. But, just using amazing quality sea salt and olive oil really make the difference. My fellow diners who have experience with me also LOVE the fig, prosciutto and goat cheese toast.
Pop in a shop for breakfast or an afternoon snack for a delicious bite.
Charlotte ‘s downtown has a large warehouse that is home to about a dozen different food and beverage purveyors. It’s the ideal lunch spot for the group who can’t decide. But, I love the thought of this for any meal of the day. In fact, I think every city should invest in a locally driven market like this one. You can chow down on just about anything you can think of… sushi, crepes, homemade pasta, pizza and açai bowls.
They also have local brews for tasting at Tank’s Tap. Oh and did I mention the wine shoppe, Assorted Table? Grab a glass for your meal or pick up a whole bottle on the go. There’s also a stand to foster local pride and artistry. Grab a local made set of earrings or charlotte stamped shirt.
I’ve had two fantastic meals at this stop and it will continue to be on my must-hit list when I go down for a visit.
homemade pasta from Zia Pia stand!
Sandwich platter from Local Loaf
What a simple but outstanding idea Pop Bar has created. Pick your gourmet yogurt or sorbet pop. Decide your dip flavor. Then add toppings and a drizzle as desired. And serve with the cutest topping catchers so you don’t miss any last bites of the crunchy chocolate or waffle cone that might be adorned on your pop.
I loved this concept and a lot of people felt the same. The line was wrapped around the store. But, it moved efficiently and while I was 20 customers deep I had my Pop in 10 minutes.
Popbar is a franchise and can be found in a handful of major cities across the US. But, if you can take advantage of the sweet treat while in Charlotte (in NoDa section of town) or one of their other locations I think you’ll be a happy camper.
If you’re coming to North Carolina you need to do barbecue. Midwood Smokehouse gives you that chance AND it’s one of the best in town. I did a full write-up on this Midwood Plaza area restaurant on one of my earlier visits. So read up on my experience.
But, in summary you cannot go wrong with their burnt ends, ribs, or brisket. Don’t let me forget to mention the baked beans and bacon wrapped jalapenos. You’ll want those on the side! This place is one of my husbands all-time favorites and he’s been sampling barbecue in places like Kansas City, so he knows his stuff. No reservations taken so show up and saddle up at the bar until it’s your turn.
In need of some southern fried chicken for brunch? Haberdish is your spot (located in NoDa)! This rustic yet industrial styled eatery serves up tons of classic southern comfort sides. Hushpuppies, corn bread pudding, Mac & Cheese, house made pickles, kale grits and so many more are served up on antique (mix and match) plates. This would be alongside your fried chicken of course. You can choose all white meat, all dark, or the whole bird.
Don’t like fried chicken? Well there’s a very finite list of other options like a cauliflower steak, pork shank, and North Carolina Trout. But, fried chicken is what they do.
Haberdish also has some unique, perfectly decorated and delicious craft cocktails. I recommend the Melon cocktail. The restaurant does not take reservations either so grab one of the enchanting cocktails at the bar and wait your turn.
Good Food has been my favorite food Charlotte experience. I have visited twice and they didn’t let me down either time. It’s Modern American Tapas (also no reservations) with hints of numerous culinary cultures.
Of all the restaurants I’ve shared, this one will most likely have the longest wait. But, the end result is well worth it.
The menu changes seasonally (and I’ve been there in various seasons) to highlight local suppliers’ produce and meats. Some of my favorite bites have been the falafel, the steamed bun ( A MUST), Korean beef, and the gnocchi (which the sauce changes seasonal but they are homemade and downright delicious no matter how topped! The Biscoff ice cream that topped our dessert this past visit was also a momentous taste.
Read all about my first visit here
It’s a traditional Irish pub (also in Midwood Plaza area) with a little shabby chic style. Sit by the fireplace and eat your bangers and mash. Sit at the bar for some Irishman’s grilled cheese and speak to the bartenders about their latest Gaelic football game. Or take a seat at the outdoor picnic table area and wait for your fish and chips platter to arrive.
It’s got solid food, a casual crowd and an authentic Irish vibe. You can find my full experience from earlier this year here
Now I’ve equipped you with enough options for your visit to Charlotte. This Charlotte Food Lover’s Guide puts you in good hands. Just sit back, enjoy that cocktail and get ready for some great bites.
…all for the love of the dish