If you find yourself in the Queen City, you can naturally anticipate a royal food court of top-tier cuisine. The best restaurants in Charlotte tend to highlight local ingredients via farm-to-table preparation with impressive wine menus to match.
Whether you’re seeking a massive, juicy burger, a comforting bowl of ramen, or a one-of-a-kind tasting experience that you won’t find in any other North Carolina city, Charlotte’s best restaurants are enough to warrant a return to the Queen City.
2001 W Morehead Street D, Charlotte, NC 28208
Pull up a seat to Counter, what is undoubtedly the most sensory-stimulating dining experience in Charlotte. Each quarter, James Beard Award Semifinalist Sam Hart serves themed 10- and 14-course tasting menus driven by musical and cinematic storylines. In 2020, for example, the entire tasting menu revolved around Beethoven’s 5th Symphony! Everything from the floors to the tableware and countertops is adjusted to fit the alternating theme, adding to the ambiance of the unique culinary journey. Space is reserved for 16 guests per seating, and reservations are absolutely recommended for one of the best restaurants in Charlotte.
2200 Thrift Road, Charlotte, NC 28208
One of the best restaurants in Charlotte for fine dining, Restaurant Constance is helmed by acclaimed Chef Sam Diminich, whose lobster risotto beat out Bobby Flay on the eponymous Food Network competition! The menu at Restaurant Constance elevates local, fresh produce through concoctions like jalapeno cornbread waffles with pepper jelly, marinated scallops with preserved tomato dashi, and Saroya potato gnocchi – essentially pillows of potato-ey goodness swaddled in a rich mushroom bolognese.
The Fig Tree
1601 E 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
A beloved gem within the historic Lucas House, The Fig Tree is one of the best restaurants in Charlotte for fabulous French and Italian seasonal cuisine. Pair delectable appetizers like Edisto Island Middleneck clams, fried oysters and pork belly, or seared foie gras with cherry gastrique with memorable selections from the restaurant’s extensive wine list. After indulging in your entree, make sure not to overlook the tantalizing dessert menu, which features stunners like cinnamon coffee beignets, a yuzu souffle cheesecake with candied strawberries, or banana split with toasted peanuts, hot fudge sauce, and poached cherries. As a matter of fact, you might want to start with dessert here!
Curry Gate 2
5516 South Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28217
After their first restaurant experienced such rapid success, co-owners Nara and Chuda Dhimal moved quickly to set up a second location for exceptional Indian and Nepalese cuisine in Charlotte. Curry Gate 2 offers all the beloved dishes of the original Curry Gate, like chicken tikka masala, samosa chaat, and lamb vindaloo – perfect hearty meals to warm your soul on a cold day! If you’re looking for something new, order the Manchurian Gravy, which consists of deep-fried chicken balls in a savory stew of cabbage, carrot, capsicum, and assorted herbs and spices. Curry Gate 2 is easily one of the best restaurants in Charlotte for soulful Indian food!
131 N Main Street, Davidson, NC 28036
Technically located a few miles outside of Charlotte, Kindred is well worth the jaunt to Davidson, NC. With a daily-changing menu, diners can always expect something new and exciting. Start off with a bright appetizer of NC flounder crudo, accompanied by grapefruit, benne seed, and puffed farro, before moving on to a decadent eggplant tortelli steeped in chiles in adobo. For dessert, the “Take Two & Call Me Amaro” is a fun alternative to heavier options, serving up a petite fernet branca alongside an elderflower and lime slushie. No matter the season, the culinary team at Kindred consistently brings creativity to the table!
33 Glenway Street, Belmont, NC 28012
Another local farm-to-table jewel, Heirloom draws countless foodies to the charming town of Belmont, only minutes from downtown Charlotte. You’ll undoubtedly cherish each bight of crispy crab rangoon egg rolls or blistered shishitos in coconut cream – two of the current rotating weekly specials on the menu. While diners can certainly order a la carte, we recommend taking part in the weekly 3-course or 6-course tasting menu. Enjoy mouthwatering bites of duck prosciutto, almond-crusted scallops, beet pecan pate, and other creations innovated from seasonal, locally grown ingredients.
Pinky’s Westside Grill
This flavorful burger joint is one of the best restaurants in Charlotte
1600 W Morehead Street, Charlotte, NC 28208
You may recognize this fun Charlotte restaurant from Season 22, Episode 10 of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! What originated as The Penguin Drive-In evolved into Pinky’s Westside Grill. While you can’t go wrong with show host Guy Fieri’s Triple G Burger – a 15-ounce mountain of ground beef oozing pimento cheese and all the toppings – we additionally recommend the Korean pork barbeque tacos, crab puppies, or infamous Ding Dong Chicken sandwich. Inspired by Thai flavors, the Ding Dong smothers grilled chicken breast in crunchy peanut butter, sriracha, and honey-cilantro slaw. Pinky's is hands down one of the best restaurants in Charlotte for burgers and sandwiches!
222 E Bland Street, Charlotte, NC 28203
If you’re in search of the best ramen bowl in Charlotte, Futo Buta is the place to go! Chef Michael Shortino sources pork from the Blue Ridge Mountains and serves his fun fare in bowls formed from Carolina clay. The tonkotsu entree includes pecan-smoked pork belly floating in a pool of steaming hot pork bone broth, accompanied by egg, black garlic, scallions, and pickled ginger. If you’re taking a break from the ramen bowls, the buns, donburi, and izakaya are equally satisfying. Pair your courses with eclectic sake offerings served hot or cold.
Of course, Charlotte is home to many more excellent dining options — it truly depends on what you're looking for and whom you're feeding! Check out our list of the best hotels in Charlotte, which are close to several of the restaurants featured here, as well as the best events in Charlotte throughout the year to plan your vacation around your activities and food! If you're bringing the kids with you, you'll likely find our ranking of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC helpful — featuring attractions like Freedom Park and Carowinds amusement park, you're sure to find something to entertain your entire group!