17 best new restaurants in Charlotte

17 best new restaurants in Charlotte
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Looking for which new Charlotte restaurants to try you? Here’s your quick guide to the best new restaurants in our city.

We’ve been covering around 100 restaurant grand openings over the past 12 months.

That’s a lot to keep up with — and it’s our job. For you, we imagine all the opening coverage is bleeding together so we’ve narrowed it down to the 17 best new restaurants that have opened in the past 12 months (most to least recent). Note: The list below is not a ranking, I just numbered it so that it’s easier to follow.

Honorable mentions:

Siggy’s Good Food – New York-style neighborhood cafe.

MERE’S – European-inspired cheese and wine shop in Dilworth.

Sukoshi – Grab-and-go sushi restaurant based on styles and flavors from sister restaurant O-Ku.

The Manchester – Modern gastropub with a rustic English flare in South End

The Dunavant – $25 steak & bottomless fries restaurant in South End

Two to watch:

NC Red – Latest restaurant from Bruce Moffett, the owner of Charlotte staples like Good Food, Stagioni and Barrington’s. NC Red’s menu will consist of Southern food (think fried chicken) and New England food (think lobster roll). Projected opening: March or April.

Noble Smoke – Latest restaurant from Jim Noble, the restaurateur behind Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen and King’s Kitchen. It’s a massive barbecue restaurant in an old bus storage facility on the west side. Projected opening: summer.


(1) Peppervine

Progressive American restaurant from the owners of Banner Elk’s Artisanal restaurant, now open in SouthPark.

Opened: March 2019 in SouthPark. Before it opened, Food+Wine Magazine listed Peppervine as one of the 16 most-anticipated spring restaurant openings in the country. Yes, they do accept reservations on OpenTable.

Space: Peppervine is 7,800 square feet and, just like Artisinal, it’s beautiful. They partnered with Shain Gallery (shout out to owner Sybil Godwin) to rotate cool art throughout the restaurant. The best table is the booth with a window into the kitchen.

Menu: Peppervine’s menu features 18 sharable small plates and six large plates. Go with the yeast rolls ($5), cauliflower soup ($9) squid ink bucatini with Spanish octopus and dry-aged ribeye cap ($40).

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Peppervine’s smoked butternut miso with pickled bok choy and labne ($9)

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Main dining room at Peppervine. Agenda guide: Go inside Peppervine and view their full menu


(2) Hawkers Asian Street Food

Orlando-based Asian restaurant inspired by hawker stalls of southeast Asia now open next to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in South End.

Opened: February 2019. Hawkers is open for lunch and dinner in South End, but they do not take reservations.

Pricing: All dishes are $9.50 or less. Yes, seriously. Noteworthy small plates include Seoul hot chicken steamed boas, roti canai, lettuce wraps, bulgogi beef skewers, ‘Nam nom spring rolls, Yi-Yi’s chicken dumplings and the chef’s favorite dish Singapore ‘Chili’ crab.

Cocktails: If you’re boozing go with the “Margari-Thai” or the Capri-Sun-like “That’s my Bag, Baby” Hawkers offers 12 speciality cocktails and six classic cocktails ranging from $10-$12. Sake bombs are $7.

Vibe: Expect a party-friendly Seoul Food Meat Co. vibe at Hawkers. It’s an ideal spot for a group date. The restaurant group spent close to $2 million on the upfit — and it’s evident. Inside you’ll find about 165 seats, including a 30-seat indoor/outdoor bar, 1,000 Asian street posters, neon lights, cool overhead wok lights, dozens of old bird cages, open kitchen and glass accordion walls that will open to a 25-seat patio when the weather warms up.

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Bar area at Hawkers

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Pad Thai – rice noodles, shrimp, chicken, eggs, bean sprouts, carrots, spring onions, red chili pepper, roasted peanuts and lime ($9.50). Agenda guide: 5 things to know about Hawkers Asian Street Food


(3) Barcelona Wine Bar

Popular Spanish tapas and wine bar with a chic European vibe located in South End

Opened: February 2019 in South End. Currently, Barcelona is open daily starting at 4 p.m. Other locations offer weekend brunch, but this is not available in Charlotte right now. They do not take reservations.

Menu: Barcelona offers 27 small plates to choose from. Go with the lamb skewers ($12.50), potato tortilla ($5), garlic shrimp ($9.50), grilled hangar steak with a truffle vinaigrette ($11.50) and spiced meatballs in a ham tomato sauce ($8.50)

Cheese situation: You can mix and match to make your perfect cheese and meat board. Barcelona offers a Charcuterie + Cheese board that you can customize with your own specific 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.

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Lamb Pintxos (lamb skewers) with chickpea romesco ($12.50)


(4) The Yolk

Beloved Uptown breakfast spot with James Beard semifinalist chef Greg Collier leading the kitchen

Opened: January 2019 at 7th Street Public Market in the space formerly occupied by Local Loaf.

Menu: The Yolk serves breakfast and lunch. Dishes include Greg’s take on classics like the fried chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits and eggs benedict.If you’re going to get one dish, order their popular “Two If By Land” – cheddar grits, two eggs, toast ($8). The grits are heavenly.

Owners: The restaurant is owned by husband and wife team, Greg and Subrina Collier.

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(5) The Crunkleton

84-seat cocktail bar and restaurant in Elizabeth

Opened: December 2018 in Elizabeth. 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. Don’t forget: Membership is $10 per year. Yes, they do take reservations.

Cocktails: The Crunkleton focuses on classic cocktails like the Sazerac, Old Fashioned, Vieux Carré, Tom Collins and Manhattan – no Fireball. If you venturing out, go with The Dusty Cactus (tequila based).

Menu: The focused menu offers about a dozen dishes ranging from oysters ($18) to wings ($12) to fried sugar toads ($16). If you’re there with a meat-loving group, order the massive 36-ounce dry-aged tomahawk ribeye ($110). We also recommend their signature Crunkleton Burger ($10).

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Agenda guide: 8 things to know about The Crunkleton

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The Crunkleton Burger is topped with cheese, lettuce, pickles and house made Crunkleton sauce served with fries ($10).

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Tomahawk steak ($110). Agenda related guide: 11 top cocktail bars in Charlotte


(6) Capishe

Fast-casual Italian restaurant just outside of Uptown

Opened: December 2018 in Dilworth.

Menu: This fast-casual Italian concept offers a focused menu of nine Neapolitan-style pizzas (red and white options), six handmade pastas, four sandwiches (with made from-scratch bread), four salads and a handful of small plates and desserts. Everything is handmade, fresh and fast — the neapolitan pizza only cooks for 90-120 seconds in the oven. The most popular dishes are their rigatoni and chicken pasta and the margherita pizza.

Quote: “In general the pasta has been keeping pace with pizza, a nice surprise. Initially, I was concerned we were going to sell nothing but pizza,” owner Bruce Willette told the Agenda. “David Cavalier [previously at Kindred] has been producing some great product.”

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(7) Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Authentic old-school North Carolina barbecue, cooked over hickory and pecan wood in Charlotte’s Belmont Neighborhood

Opened: December 2018 in Belmont near Birdsong Brewing.

Menu: Sweet Lew’s serves pork, ribs, chicken and brisket — and boiled peanuts, a Southern delicacy. The menu includes Lexington-style chopped and pulled pork, dry-rubbed spare ribs, smoked chicken and beef brisket.

Quote: “We’re trying to keep it simple,” says co-owner Lewis Donald, also known as Sweet Lew. “We’re not going to have mango jalapeño barbecue sauce.” Don’t expect anything super fancy. Think Price’s Chicken Coop but with seating.

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(8) The Waterman

Two-story, oyster-themed restaurant and bar with a rooftop terrace in South End.

Opened: October 2018 in the South End shopping center anchored by Harris Teeter.

Menu: Tacos, seafood plates, salads, po’ boys, burgers, sandwiches, shareables and of course, oysters. Noteworthy dishes include their low country boil with shrimp, smoked sausage, corn, red potatoes, tossed in lemon butter, seasoned with Old Bay; chargrilled oysters with lemon-herb butter with parmesan or creamed spinach with bacon grilled to bubbly perfection; and classic lobster rolls — your choice of Maine or Connecticut style.

Cocktails: The Waterman features signature craft cocktails like their piña colada float — Plantation Pineapple Rum, pineapple juice, almond milk and a coconut popsicle.

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The Waterman Platter


(9) Bardo

Cozy small plate and cocktail spot loved by foodies in South End

Opened: June 2018. Bardo takes reservations. 

Must-try cocktail: No Fig Deal ($13) — Old Forester Signature Bourdon, balsamic glazed fig, honey, bitters. Cocktails range from $12 to $14 and although it’s a restaurant first, they have one of the best cocktail programs in the city.

Menu: Bardo’s menu only features 13 dishes and a few dessert options. Portions are small, but the food is outstanding. Definitely order the aged ribeye ($23) served with kimchi butter, Carolina gold rice and wakame.

Layout: The kitchen is exposed to the restaurant, which makes for a very cool dining experience. It’s a cozy restaurant with only about 15 tables.

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Bardo’s bar is led by mixologist Amanda Britton

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Aged ribeye – so fancy and so delicious


(10) Superica

Trendy Atlanta-based Tex-Mex restaurant from chef Ford Frye in South End

Opened: May 2018 in South End. Don’t forget, they’re also opening a second Charlotte location in SouthPark’s Strawberry Hill development. Superica does not take reservations. 

Appetizer: Skip the guacamole and go with the queso fundido – broiled Monterey Jack and Chihuahua cheeses, warm tortillas and salsa cremosa ($10). Watch: Ted & Katie’s cheese pull challenge.

Cocktails: Go with the Matador – El Jimador Blanco, pineapple, lime, cilantro, served up ($10) or the Red Headed Stranger – Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka, Campari, fresh grapefruit ($11).

Pricing: Unless you do the $11.99 lunch special, Superica is pricey. Most entrees range from $18-$38; fajitas $20-$28; enchiladas $13-$15; and tacos $13-$16. You get it, it’s not a cheap Mexican spot.

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Bar area at 6:15 p.m. on a Friday evening.


(11) The Stanley

Seasonally driven, locally sourced restaurant in Elizabeth by James Beard Award Semifinalist Chef Paul Verica

Opened: May 2018 in Elizabeth. The Stanley takes reservations. 

It’s a big deal: The Stanley is a James Beard Award semifinalist in the “Best New Restaurant” category.

Menu: The focused menu typically has about a 12 small plates, five larger plates and five sides. My wife and I ordered four small plates and a dessert. It was the perfect amount of food. If the steamed bun and the surf and turf are on the menu, get them.

Layout: 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.

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Surf and Turf – beef tartar, fried oysters, veggie slaw, truffle aioli ($17)

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Agenda related story: Top 50 restaurants in Charlotte


(12) La Belle Helene

Upscale French brasserie in Uptown

Opened: July 2018 in Uptown. La Belle Helene takes reservations. 

Most beautiful: La Belle Helene’s space is like nothing you’ve experienced in Charlotte — it’s truly beautiful. 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. La Belle Helene’s restrooms are amazing and the selfie wall is a super savvy touch.

Appetizer: If you’re only doing one, make it the tuna tartare ($16) with sweet corn, confit lemon and a few pieces of popcorn on top. It’s a must-order and was the best thing we ate.

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La Belle Helene’s bar is popping — and the vibe will make you want to dress up (I kind of felt like I needed pants and a blazer). 


(13) Sushi Guru Plaza Midwood

Two-story sushi restaurant, poke bar and cocktail lounge in Plaza Midwood

Opened: June 2018 in Plaza Midwood near Whiskey Warehouse. 

Menu: In addition to sushi, the 11-page menu features ramen, skewers, meats and poke bowls. Yes, they’ve got a sushi doughnut.

Best roll: Sushi Guru’s signature roll (also their most popular) is their namesake Guru Roll ($15) – Tuna, lump crab, avocado drizzled with our signature spicy aioli, flash baked and topped with fried garlic and shallots.

Layout: The two-story restaurant features dining on each level, plus two large glass garage doors and a spacious outdoor patio. The poke is on the first floor and the sushi bar is on the second floor. The parking lot is tiny (I think I saw about 15 spaces), so they’ve installed seven car lifts. Yes, car lifts.

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Second story bar at Sushi Guru

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(14) Haymaker

Farm-focused restaurant in Uptown led by chef William Dissen of The Market Place in Asheville

Opened: March 2018 in Uptown. Haymaker takes reservations. 

Layout: 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. It seats around 150 people — 34 in the bar and lounge, 40 in the main dining room, 45 upstairs on the mezzanine and another 30 or so outside on the patio.

Bar:  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.

Popular dishes: 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).

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(15) Kre8 Gastropub at Wooden Robot

Instagram-worthy restaurant that shares space with Wooden Robot in South End

Opened: March 2018 inside Wooden Robot.

Popular dishes: Beer cheese ($11), chicken sandwich ($12), Bosshog Mac & Cheese Eggrolls ($12) and the Southern-fried tacos ($11). Must order for the group: He’s Having a Beer Cheese ($11) – Wooden Robot rotating IPA, salt-crusted pretzels, flatbread crackers and a pale ale mustard.

How it works: You can actually sit anywhere within Wooden Robot. There is a hostess station at the main Wooden Robot entrance where you can grab a menu and/or order and get a number for your table. Originally, I thought you could only get service in the new Kre8 space.

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Bosshog mac & cheese eggroll with fries ($12). Agenda related story: Best brewery food in Charlotte


(16) Holler & Dash

Fast-casual breakfast chain restaurant in South End described as “Cracker Barrel for Millennials”

Opened: March 2018 in the shopping centered anchored by Harris Teeter in South End.

Menu: Skip the bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and go with one of their two popular signature biscuits, the Kickback Chicken or the Chicken.Set.Go.

Pricing: At $9, signature biscuits are pricey, but don’t forget that you get a side as well. Sides include the following eight options: Baby potato salad with lemon buttermilk pesto, charred corn salad with mozzarella and lime, roasted sweet potato salad with apple and almond, fried green tomatoes with Hollerback sauce, grits, tots, fresh fruit or a side salad.

Ownership: Holler & Dash is literally owned by Cracker Barrel. They launched this type of concept to compete with quick-service chains like Panera Bread and Chipotle.

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My favorite: Chicken. Set. Go. ($9) – Fried chicken, pimento cheese, jalapeno, sorghum.


(17) Let’s Meat Korean BBQ

All-you-can-eat traditional Korean barbecue restaurant in South End

Opened: March 2018 next to Seoul Food Meat Co in South End. Let’s Meat does not take reservations.

Pricing: The all-you-can-eat experience is a $29.99 flat rate per person ($11.99 for kids 4-10).

Strategy: Food comes out and cooks fast, so you can order in waves (two to five dishes at a time). You have a two-hour limit at the table, which is plenty of time given how fast everything comes out. You’ll be seated once your entire group is there, not before.

Setup: Each table has built-in burners where your meat and veggies will be cooked. Don’t worry about undercooking your meat — your server handles the actual cooking.

Drinks: Unlike its sister restaurant, Seoul Food, there are no cocktails at Let’s Meat. It’s bottle/canned beer, wine, Korean wine and soju.

Scissors: Yes, there are scissors on your table. Yes, they’ll be used often. Your server will use the scissors to cut the meat, which is often in a bacon-type strip, into small bites. You won’t have to do any cutting. Let’s Meat doesn’t even provide you a knife because it’s unnecessary.

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