This Myers Park, brunch-all-day spot has a laid-back vibe with exposed brick and floor-to-ceiling windows that encourage you to spend a few hours with mimosas and avocado toast. Sourced locally and inclusive of vegan and gluten-free diners, the menu ranges from shared plates to bowls and sandwiches. On the must-order list: the slab bacon to share.
BTW: Spend some time in the Selwyn Avenue area after brunch, checking out nearby wine shop and chocolatier Petit Philippe, boutique KK Bloom, upscale men’s outfitter the Sporting Gent or marketplace Reid’s Fine Foods.
LittleSpoon Eatery, 2820 Selwyn Ave. Suite 180, Charlotte, N.C. 28209
Fresh off his James Beard Award semifinalist nomination, chef Greg Collier and his wife, Subrina, are serving the city’s best breakfast inside Seventh Street Public Market. This small food hall is full of options, including a juice bar and crepes, and is open through dinner, but it’s Collier’s cooking that stands out most. His style is elevated in flavor yet unfussy, and the menu is locally sourced. You don’t want to miss his grits, which are the best in town.
BTW: Orrman’s Cheese Shop and Assorted Table Wine Shoppe are also in the market. Grab a cheese plate and a bottle of wine to take onto your hotel balcony later in the day.
The Yolk, 224 E. Seventh St. Charlotte, N.C. 28202
Sweet Lew’s BBQ
Charlotte has never really stood out among barbecue towns. Sweet Lew’s is looking to change that. After opening his joint in a former mechanic’s garage in an up-and-coming neighborhood, chef and co-owner Lewis Donald serves barbecue cooked over wood and wood alone. His menu includes brisket, ribs, pork and chicken with classic barbecue sides. If you’re a first-timer, a good order is a pulled-pork sandwich or the brisket with mac and cheese and collard greens and a tea. The restaurant serves daily specials, including fried chicken on Sundays. Order it, and dunk each juicy, crispy bite in the house-made Alabama white sauce.
BTW: The sauces for sale by the bottle are a great gift to bring back home.
Sweet Lew’s BBQ, 923 Belmont Ave., Charlotte, N.C. 28205
Fin & Fino
Locals love to say Charlotte is a great place to live because it’s only a few hours from the beach and a few hours from the mountains, but this Uptown restaurant makes the seaside feel much closer. Stellar service and a seafood-focused menu is a welcome break from the heavy eating one tends to do on vacation, especially in the South. Calming blues and subtle nautical touches make the restaurant feel elegant, not kitschy. The attentive and friendly service will make you appreciate Southern hospitality.
BTW: One of the most talented bar staffs is here working under an oyster-shell chandelier. If you’re up for day drinking, sit at the bar and ask for a Barkeep’s Call — or come back for a nightcap later on.
Fin & Fino, 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts, Suite 100, Charlotte, N.C. 28202
North Carolina cuisine is changing. We no longer claim fried chicken and biscuits as our most notable dishes (though both are fantastic). The Stanley shows what “New Southern” is all about. With a seasonal menu that changes almost daily, this restaurant celebrates the farmer as much as the chef. It’s not unusual to find dishes here simply called “Spring,” a medley of the first harvest of the season, or “corn,” one ingredient presented as many ways as the kitchen could dream up. Chef-owner Paul Verica is cooking in a way that takes advantage of North Carolina’s long growing season and dedicated farmers — the way of the New South.
BTW: Even things that sound predictable aren’t what you think. Order a dish that calls back to a memory, like “peas and carrots” or chicken wings, and you’ll be deliciously surprised.
The Stanley, 1961 E. Seventh St., Charlotte, N.C. 28204
Much like D.C., Charlotte is a city of transplants. Chef Bruce Moffett, owner of N.C. Red, along with standout restaurants Good Food on Montford, Stagioni and Barrington’s (all worth visiting), grew up in Rhode Island. N.C. Red fuses his New England upbringing with his Southern adulthood. The menu includes stuffed clams, lobster rolls and a raw bar, along with fried chicken — served Nashville-hot or mild — and traditional Southern sides. A covered patio in one of Plaza Midwood’s most walkable areas is pet-friendly and great for people-watching.
BTW: Enjoy a drink before or after dinner at Legion Brewing just across the street. Juicy J, an East Coast IPA, is one of the brewery’s most popular offerings.
N.C. Red, 1205 Thomas Ave. Charlotte, N.C. 28205
A modern reincarnation of the fish camp, Hello, Sailor is the second effort from the owners of nationally recognized restaurant Kindred. It’s a bit of a drive from the city — about 25 minutes without traffic — but worth it for the lakeside view. Dishes such as fried catfish, hush puppies and Calabash-style shrimp are throwbacks to the days of fish fried to order, while hamachi and crab claws give the restaurant a touch of haute cuisine.
BTW: Order the negroni slushie, a blended version of the classic, bitter cocktail.
Hello, Sailor, 20210 Henderson Rd., Cornelius, N.C. 28031
This no-reservations restaurant has remained a favorite in the city since it opened in 2009. The eclectic menu includes sushi, Southern-tinged tacos, meat skewers and ramen. The interior matches the menu’s quirks: a taxidermy peacock midflight on the wall; comfortable, mismatched furniture that creates a lounge area; antiques that give the feeling that you’re in the home of a well-traveled collector. Prepare for a wait, and be sure to order the pork belly tacos. Glazed with an Asian barbecue sauce and topped with compressed watermelon, they’re sweet, savory, heavy and light all at once. For an indulgent Southern bite, order the Dirty South Nachos — fried chicken skins topped with pimento cheese and pickled okra. They’re so rich, you may not want more than two, but you’ll be glad you tried them.
BTW: Ask for a table on the patio on a nice night, then grab a drink nearby at Legion Brewing or Snug Harbor while you wait.
Soul Gastrolounge, 1500 Central Ave. Suite B, Charlotte, N.C. 28205
Dot Dot Dot
You’ll have to buy a $10 membership for entry into this bar, but in return you’ll find some of the city’s best cocktails. Dot Dot Dot’s slightly hard-to-find entrance at the back of a shopping center in the Montford Park area only enhances its speakeasy vibe. Inside, you’ll be seduced by dark wood, deep reds and a beautifully lighted back bar drawing your eyes to the work of the bartenders. Choose a classic, like a Boulevardier, or go with one of the bar’s tried-and-true drinks, such as the Hot Box, an Old Fashioned smoked in a torched Booker’s box. The food menu makes this place suitable for dinner, too.
BTW: Sunday night is industry night, when Dot Dot Dot sells pours of an interesting spirit at-cost.
Dot Dot Dot, 4237 Park Rd. Suite B. Charlotte, N.C. 28209