Best Places to Eat in Charlotte, According to a Local

  • Charlotte is famous for barbecue and comfort food, but there’s much more to explore.
  • Grab bacon flapjacks at the Original Pancake House or get a boozy brunch at Little Spoon. 
  • Try Southern food at Mert’s Heart and Soul. End the night with vintage cocktails at The Crunkleton.

Charlotte is famous for its delicious comfort food, but there’s much more to try when you visit the “Queen City.”

As someone who’s lived here for years, I’ve tried everything from popular restaurants to unexpected shops.

Here are all the best places to eat, according to a local: 

Rise and shine for breakfast at the Original Pancake House

One of the best breakfast options in the city is the Original Pancake House, which has SouthPark and midtown locations.

Both open early, and they close just after lunchtime, so don’t dawdle if you want a chance to nibble on comfort food that’s been perfected over the past 20 years.

In addition to pancakes, you can get omelets, salads, crepes, and freshly brewed coffee. 

Tip: The bacon pancakes are a must.

LittleSpoon is a funky spot for fresh, seasonal offerings

Grab brunch on the patio.

Dara Brewton

If you want a boozy-breakfast option, swing by LittleSpoon Eatery.

It updates its menu often with seasonal and regional options, but the vibes are always amazing. I highly recommend the cinnamon-toast brûlée when it’s on the brunch menu.

Tip: Head to the Selwyn Avenue location if you’re looking to enjoy your brunch on a patio. 

There are all sorts of options to choose from at Optimist Hall 

For your midday meal, head to the “happiest place on earth.” Previously an industrial complex, Optimist Hall is now home to eateries, bars, and specialty shops. 

It’s a fun place to spend a few hours roaming the different offerings after you’re done eating, too.

Tip: You won’t want to miss the food at the Dumpling Lady.

Reigning Doughnuts’ hot-and-fresh offerings make the perfect snack or treat

Make sure to bring your card to Reigning Doughnuts.

Dara Brewton

Anytime you visit the NoDa neighborhood, make sure to snag something from Reigning Doughnuts.

This walk-up window hands out heavenly treats with flavors that vary from day to day. The doughnuts are cooked to order, which means you’re guaranteed a hot-and-fresh treat.

Tip: The stand is card-only and doesn’t accept cash. 

There’s a husband and wife duo serving up dinner at Mert’s Heart and Soul

For dinner, head uptown for Mert’s Heart and Soul.

The Charlotte establishment serves traditional Southern dishes and was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.”

Tip: You don’t want to miss the cornbread.

Your late-night sweet tooth can be satisfied at Crave Dessert Bar

Crave Dessert Bar offers a cozy, cool atmosphere with tasty treats.

Here you’ll find farm-to-glass cocktails, desserts to die for (I recommend the s’mores platter), and some great savory options.

Tip: Crave is a 21-plus establishment.

You can’t leave Charlotte without a visit to Amélie’s

Amélie’s is a Charlotte landmark.

Dara Brewton

With its quirky style, delectable desserts, and expansive hours, Amélie’s French Bakery is a Charlotte staple.

You can sample one of the bakery’s spectacular pastries, tarts, and cakes, or snag your favorite flavor from its rainbow selection of macarons.

Tip: The NoDa location is open 365 days a year, barring any terrible blizzards in the winter. 

The Crunkleton has a full staff of knowledgeable bartenders serving up vintage cocktails

The Crunkleton has a highly curated spirit collection that’s unrivaled in the city.

Don’t worry if you don’t know your way around vintage cocktails, the staff is all very knowledgeable and can help answer any questions you may have.

Tip: I recommend giving the elderflower sour a try.

The Park Road Shopping Center is an unexpected destination for a night out

This shopping site has the best spot for cocktails.

Dara Brewton

A shopping center may not be the first place you think of when you consider your nightlife options, but Park Road has one of the best cocktail lounges in the city, Dot Dot Dot.

In addition to the Prohibition-style bar, the shopping center also boasts Sir Edmond Halley’s Irish pub and Burtons Grill and Bar, which both offer great drink options. 

Tip: Dot Dot Dot is a members-only establishment. Learn how to become a member here.

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