More often than not, Eater tipsters, readers, friends and family have one question: Where should I eat now? What are the new restaurants? What is everyone talking about? While Eater 18 is a vital resource that covers the city’s old standbys and essential amenities, it is not a history of the current “it” places. Enter the Eater Heatmap, which changes constantly to highlight places that are currently getting a crowd or creating a big buzz. People ask, “Have you gone yet?” Try one of these newcomers today.
The Best Restaurants In Charlotte
Caviar, potato chips and a killer natural wine list? What more do you want? Bar à Vince is a hip new NoDa wine bar from sommelier Jeff Kellogg with a little help from Katy Kindred (Davidson Kindred), who designed the interior. All the good kids in Charlotte will be there.
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Delightful taste with Italian comfort in Ever Egga. Owners Jeff Tonydandel and Jamie Brown have spent a lot of time in Italian and wanted to share those experiences with Charlotte. They import many ingredients to serve things like Calabrian chili parpadelle, fresh focaccia and fettuccine all’amatriciana.
Popular Korean-meets-Southern barbecue spot Seoul Food Meat Company has opened a second location in the Optimist Park neighborhood. Just like the original, expect menu mashups like pimento corn cheese, green tea cornbread, soy-pickled deviled eggs and lots of smoked meats.
Chefs Oscar Johnson and Daryl Cooper opened Jimmy Pearl’s in 2020, but continued the life of the food truck in 2021. Now they’re back at the Food Hall Market on 7th Street to serve up their famous Uncle Gene’s fish sandwich, shrimp rolls and other Virginia. Tidewater to bring cuisine to the people. Get the bubba chunks – basically hot corn fritters/hush puppies with sorghum butter – no serious name, it’s a good dish.
Chef Sam Hart and his team at the counter have a shiny new culinary home in Wesley Heights. The counter’s original Thrift Road location has been praised for its ever-changing flavor menu themes and unique music pairings (think MF Doom and Pixies on the same soundtrack). With the updated address, the group plans to be more ambitious with its offering. Customers basically sit in the kitchen as plates like expertly cooked duck with spicy truffles are prepared for them. At just 16 seats, it’s a unique and immersive experience.
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Biblio is a sister wine bar to the tasting menu restaurant counter. It has the same extraordinary flair as its siblings, but is more accessible to those who can’t score the adjacent reservation. Biblio has a catalog of more than 500 wines, and each one has small plates made to pair with the wine and the customer. A recent Instagram caption read, “We don’t serve cheap wine, cook crappy food,” so it’s a different attitude for an upscale wine bar.
From milkbread to crispy chicken sandwiches, fluffy donuts or crispy rice salads, you don’t have to go to Davidson. Davidson duo Joe and Katy Kindred (of acclaimed restaurant Kindred) started making these items during COVID to facilitate takeout, and the idea became so popular that the owners decided to turn it into a permanent restaurant. The second location in Plaza Midwood is an adorable former Dairy Queen and serves breakfast all day.
Vinyl (as in record; they have a whole wall behind the bar) has the idea that music brings people together. To be sure, it’s the rare South End bar that attracts more than the recent college graduates who have come to define the neighborhood, and it’s almost standing-room-only the moment it opens for business. Vinyl’s prime location between Wana and Wooden Robot Breweries on the corner of Tryon and Summit can be visited, but doing so requires the hands of a gathering of industry veterans to create a moment of profound connection. Almost immediately with everyone who came to visit. (Really, have banker bros, Tinder dates, influencers, and LGBTQ friends of a certain age ever sat down, had a drink, and realized they had so much in common?) The food menu, especially the garlic fries, is delicious, even surprising, and not “just one shot at you.” Served straight from the tap, the drink is a coffee-infused Frenet Branca from local favorite Pepperbox Donuts, and despite the name, it’s definitely okay to have two. –
The bustling new restaurant Para is in the South End neighborhood with a hip dining room and a small plate menu that leans heavily on seafood and Asian influences. Chef Alex Verica, formerly of Dot Dot Dot and Stanley, says he wants to incorporate as many local farmers as possible into the menu, aiming for “a more global approach to the whole menu.” Items range from lobster toast with caviar to wagyu beef tartare with caviar to foie gras, milk bread with peanut butter and jam. It’s a delicious menu that’s sure to make some rounds with glittering Instagram crowds and people looking to make it rain for a lobster shooter.
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Yunta offers nicky cuisine in a hip, modern setting. Nikki’s food is crafted with Peruvian ingredients – tropical fish, quinoa, aji amarillo peppers – and Japanese techniques. Many chefs recommend a modern preparation for ceviche, particularly Nicky’s style. And Yunta offers plenty of ceviche with pisco sauce, shrimp croquettes, tostones and more.
Prime Fish chef Robin Anthony recently added an extension to his sushi business with an omakase experience, and it’s booked up nightly. With only six seats in the dining room, reservations go quickly. For $300, customers get 16 courses of Edomae-style omakase — which Anthony claims is the only chef in North Carolina to offer this style. Edomé style involves treating fish (whether boiled, cured, or aged) to bring out additional umami flavors. Place the ramekins on the baking sheet. Bake for 25-35 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. With a comfortable spatula, remove the layers
You can start your day with fresh corn tamales for breakfast, go for Japanese ramen with 18-hour broth for lunch, and end with Bosnian sausages for dinner. There are so many ways to eat around the world when you come to Charlotte. The trick is to find them.
Charlotte does not have a Chinatown like New York City, San Francisco and Vancouver. It doesn’t have Koreatown like Los Angeles or Little Havana like Miami.
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What Charlotte does have is a world of food that’s intermingled and spread all over the place, from the young and hip restaurants that populate districts like the South End to the small, family-owned spots sprinkled along Central Avenue and other affordable neighborhoods. On the outskirts of Mathews.
“Charlotte is a globalized city,” says Laura Simmons of the Urban Institute at UNC Charlotte. “To me, that’s one of the most exciting things about living here.”
Indulge in Korean-style wings and bao buns at Hawker’s Asian Street Fare in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood. Photo by Tim Robison
The largest international population in Charlotte is from Mexico, Simmons said. This is followed by the people of Honduras, El Salvador and Colombia. Asian countries are also well represented in Charlotte: people from India are the largest segment, but other countries include Vietnam, China and Korea. That diversity — racial, ethnic and national — helps fuel Charlotte’s economic success, Simmons said.
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Today, the city has dozens of international restaurants. But how do you find them? Older cities tend to have single districts based on nationality — something that’s not often the case in young cities with new immigrant populations like Charlotte.
Instead, Charlotte historian Tom Hanchett called “salad-bowl suburbs”: people moved to areas with reasonable prices for affordable housing and commercial space, not exclusive neighborhoods. The result is a combination of species, like a mixture of ingredients in a salad.
This means that if you want to explore the city’s diverse food scene, you’ll need to get in your car—and be prepared to venture into some hole-in-the-wall. These weeks are a good place to start. You’ll find many more restaurants than we can list here, but this guide will give you a taste of international Charlotte.
One of Charlotte’s oldest Vietnamese restaurants, Long Van opened in 1990. Today, it’s known for owner Dan Nguyen, who always remembers repeat customers, and for a menu of more than 130 classics. Don’t do this
Best Restaurants In Charlotte, North Carolina
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