Got a date and looking for the perfectly designed space for just the right occasion? Here’s a list of the 13 most beautiful restaurants in our city.
[Agenda related guide: 12 most romantic restaurants in Charlotte, ranked – Valentine’s Day 2019 edition]
New chef-driven upscale restaurant and lounge in South End
Go for: Group dinner with buddies who don’t mind spending money on tasty small plates and unique cocktails. I didn’t think they’d be able to pull off a “Soul Gastrolounge for South End” but that’s exactly the track that Zeppelin’s on as of right now.
Don’t forget: Zeppelin’s take on an Old Fashioned is dramatically served in a smoke-filled glass dome you’ve probably seen on Instagram.
Money: $$. Sharable small plates range from $11-$23.
Agenda guide: 5 things to know about Zeppelin
Location: South End. 235 W. Tremont Ave.
Hours: 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday; and Sunday brunch.
Italian restaurant that’s right at home in a historic Tuscan-inspired villa built as a private residence in 1920
Go for: Date night — it’s cozy and romantic.
Design element we love: A bookcase with a secret door that the former owner Ms. Blanche Reynolds used to hide her liquor during Prohibition.
Don’t forget: The pizzas are served with giant scissors for cutting, which is just oddly delightful and satisfying.
Money: $$. Apps and small plates run about $10, pizzas about $15 and both pastas and entrees are around $30.
Location: Myers Park. 715 Providence Road.
Hours: 5:30-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5:30-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and closed on Sunday.
11. The Crunkleton
84-seat upscale cocktail bar and restaurant
Go for: Group outing with buddies where you walk in at 5 p.m. and the next thing you know, it’s midnight.
Don’t forget: The Crunkleton Charlotte is a private club, and membership will run you $10 per year.
Layout: When you walk in the 30-foot bar is on your right, four large u-shaped elevated booths are on your left, four top tables will be in the center, and you’ll find three high tops near the windows (my favorite seats). Straight back, you’ll find an open kitchen featuring an 8-foot hearth in the back center.
Quote: “We paid attention to the design details in order to give the community a special place for which they could be proud,” said owner Gary Crunkleton. “Yet, we wanted the place to feel comfortable and unassuming.”
Background: This is the Crunkleton’s second location. The original Crunkleton on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill has garnered national attention for its Prohibition-era cocktails, most recently being named one of the Six Best Bourbon Bars in the South by Garden & Gun magazine.
Popular Spanish tapas and wine bar with a chic European vibe
Go for: Date night or wine night with friends
Design elements we love: U-shaped bar and four different dining areas, and even though the space is large, each table feels cozy and intimate.
Don’t forget: Mix and match to make your perfect cheese and meat board with Barcelona’s selection of meats and cheeses sourced from Spain, Italy and other nearby European countries. It’ll run you $6.50 for one and $17.50 for three. Barcelona offers about 15 choices for your mixing and matching pleasure.
Agenda guide: 11 things to know about Barcelona Wine Bar in South End
Money: $$. Tapas range from $4.50-$13.50 and entrees are about $20.
Location and hours: Design Center in South End. Barcelona is open everyday starting at 4 p.m. and stays open late.
9. Dot Dot Dot
Upscale speakeasy with killer craft cocktails in an adult setting
Go for: Grown up cocktail with a buddy, date or friends when you want deep conversation without any distractions.
Design elements we love: Bookshelf above the round, leather red booths in the back right of the speakeasy give it that Ivy League library vibe. Oh, and the copper ceilings.
Don’t forget: You need to be a member ($10, it’s easy). They don’t take reservations, but if there aren’t any seats available just add your name and grab a drink at the Midwood Smokehouse bar which is about 50 yards away.
Money: $$. Small plates are about $10-$15. Cocktails aren’t cheap either, but they’re strong and made by arguably the most well-respected bartenders in the city.
Location: 4237 Park Road Unit B in the Backlot of Park Road Shopping Center.
Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Monday.
8. The Stanley
Seasonally driven, locally sourced restaurant by James Beard Award Semifinalist chef Paul Verica
Go for: Date night with a foodie.
Design element we love: Intimate dining area with natural light. Grab a reservation in advance as there are only 63 total seats, including a private dining room in the back that can accommodate 28 and an 11-seat bar in the main dining room. Bar seats are first come, first served and I’d ask for the front dining room if they’ll let you choose.
Don’t forget: Yes, the menu really does change and you can actually view the version number on the top right-hand corner of the menu. In the first month, they changed the menu about 25 times.
Money: $$. Small plates range from $10-$18 and entrees are about $30.
Location and hours: 1961 E. 7th St. 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday (brunch); and closed on Monday.
Farm-focused restaurant led by chef William Dissen of The Market Place in Asheville
Go for: Classy meal with a friend. As the sun sets, the horseshoe-shaped bar has a beautiful glow. Plan on spending time there before or after your meal. Cocktails, including the Haymaker Punch, range from $10-$12.
Design elements we love: The roughly 4,000-square-foot restaurant features soaring floor-to-ceiling windows, mezzanine-level seating and a cool four-seat chef’s table overlooking the open kitchen.
Don’t forget: Most people will look at this as a dinner spot but it’s actually open all day — as early as 7 a.m. on weekdays — and serves breakfast fare like coffee, egg sandwiches and yogurt parfaits.
Money: $$$. Popular dishes include the NC shrimp a la plancha ($15), Brasstown beef burger ($15) for lunch, grilled NY strip ($32) and I loved the side of mac & cheese ($8).
Location: 225 S. Poplar St.
Hours: 7-10:30 a.m. (breakfast), 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (lunch) and 5-11 p.m. (dinner) Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
6. Hello Sailor
Joe and Katy Kindred’s new Palm Springs-inspired, mid-century modern lakeside restaurant features Sputnik chandeliers, stacked stone walls and slate and terrazzo flooring
Go for: Refined lakeside dining in a casual atmosphere
Design element we love: A small seating area with a bright yellow retro fireplace
Don’t forget: They’ve got dedicated boat slips and a tiki bar on the back deck that will open when the weather is right. Until then, pretend it’s summer by sipping a frozen negroni, one of their signature drinks.
Money: $$. Sandwiches run about $10 and most plates/platters range from $14 to $20.
Location: Lake Norman. 20210 Henderson Road,Cornelius.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday.
Stunning rooftop bar on the 19th floor of the Kimpton Hotel in Uptown overlooking Romare Bearden Park
Go for: Swanky rooftop cocktails and killer Uptown views
Design element we love: The use of rocking chairs in the lawn area gives it a real “back porch in the sky” kind of vibe. And the 10,000 programmable LED lights on the roof add new visual interest to the skyline as a whole.
Don’t forget: You can most likely expect a line to get on the elevator to the 19th floor. Also, there’s a strict dress code that bans flip flops, baseball hats, athletic shoes, sweatshirts and sports apparel, among other items.
Money: $$. Cocktails are $14. Small plates are $10 – $15.
Location: Uptown on the 19th floor of the Kimpton Hotel. 303 S. Church St.
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 4:30 p.m to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Famous for its Southern comfort food and jaw-dropping cocktails, Haberdish is located in an old general store building in the heart of the early 19th-century north Charlotte mill town now known as the NoDa neighborhood
Go for: A huge Southern meal served on dishes that make it feel like you’re eating at home
Design element we love: Handcrafted tabletops made from wood from the rafters and bar taps made from repurposed mill spindles
Don’t forget: They serve weekday brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and you deserve the kind of life that includes brunch in the middle of the work day.
Money: $$. Apps range from $5-$9, fried chicken is about $9.50 and sides range from $3.50 to $6. Cocktails are about $12.
Location: NoDa. 3106 N. Davidson St.
Hours: 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday; and closed on Monday.
Quadruple threat coffee shop, brewery, restaurant and full bar in an airy industrial space that’s dripping with plants and located just steps from the light rail
Go for: Anything — coffee on the way to work, lunch or dinner with friends, happy hour beers or late-night cocktails.
Design element we love: The sprawling light rail-adjacent patio has a practical retractable awning that makes it a more comfortable space on scorching sunny days
Money: $. Small plates are $5-$12. Entrees are $10-$19.
Location: South End at the New Bern light rail station.
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to midnight on Friday; 9 a.m. to midnight on Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Exquisite award-winning small plate restaurant located in an old 1914 pharmacy in downtown Davidson
Go for: A celebratory dinner — birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc.
Design element we love: Aside from everything, the bar is a centerpiece of the restaurant and a real work of art
Don’t forget: The answer to “Would you like bread?” should be a resounding “YES PLEASE” because their free milkbread is legendary. Also, you can order a “Barkeep’s Choice” and the bartender will surprise you with a cocktail matched to your flavor profile preferences.
Money: $$. The average small plate is about $12, and you should do at least two small plates per person.
Location: Davidson. 131 N. Main St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. & 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays and Mondays.
New upscale French brasserie in the heart of Uptown
Go for: Date night in Uptown or fun business dinner when you’re tired of the steakhouses.
Design element we love: With super high ceilings and detailed interiors that include a mixture of pewter, antique wood and leather, it’s freaking gorgeous in this 166-seat restaurant.
Don’t forget: You’ve probably seen photos of LBH’s steak tartare on Instagram, but order the tuna tartare ($16) — with sweet corn, confit lemon and a few pieces of popcorn on top, it was the best thing we ate.
Money: $$$. Small plates cost around $15 and entrees are about $35.
Agenda Guide: 6 quick takeaways from my first visit to La Belle Helene
Location: 300 S. Tryon St.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday; 5-11 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.