2018 Holiday Edition: Romantic Restaurant Power Rankings
Looking for a romantic rate night? I feel ya. Here’s a quick overview and ranking of the most romantic restaurants in Charlotte.
#10 Good Food
The OG of Charlotte small-plate restaurants.
Must-order dish: Steamed bun – Five Spice rubbed pork belly, hoisin, pickled vegetables ($10).
Agenda pro tip: Go with an intimate group of friends (or a hot date) and share a ton of small plates. You’ll probably need 2-4 small plates per person. It ends up being an expensive dinner, but worth it. Oh, and the cocktails are underrated.
Logistics: Good Food doesn’t do reservations; it’s first come, first served. But they do use the Nowait app if you’re looking to shorten your wait time.
The ideal neighborhood tavern, serving unpretentious food in historic Fourth Ward
Best for: The couple looking for something casual but intimate
Must-order dish: What It Is – blackened chicken breast over fresh rotini in a cajun cream sauce ($16.75). Eat in it in a booth.
Tiny, no-frills SouthPark restaurant where it’s hard to get a reservation without making it a week in advance
Best for: The married couple that’s just not into the new trendy stuff and wants a classic spot
Must-order dish: Seared organic chicken served with creamy mashed potatoes, wilted spinach and a garlic pan sauce ($23).
Agenda pro tip: The restaurant only has about a dozen or so tables, so make sure to call well in advance for a reservation. Also, it’s 30 yards from Foxcroft Wine Co – which makes for a great pre- or post-dinner drink.
Gorgeous, award-winning small plate restaurant in Davidson
Best for: The couple that’s tired of the usual stuff and doesn’t mind driving to Davidson and making a night out of it
Must-order dish: Crispy oysters with dill yogurt, Calabrian chile oil ($12). And of course you’re ordering their famous milk bread (save some and make French toast the next morning with it).
Agenda pro tip: Order a “Barkeep’s Choice” and the bartender will surprise you with a cocktail of his/her choosing.
Intimate, no-reservations space drips cool with resident DJs spinning every night of the week
Best for: The couple that’s cool and loves a good cocktail
Must-order dish: Asian glazed pork belly tacos on flour tortillas with watermelon salsa ($12).
Drink: Cucumber Mule on tap. They sell 100-150 a night. In the summer, I also can’t resist the grown-up snowcone (complete with a tiny wooden spoon).
Best for: The couple that loves steak and Budweiser
Must-order dish: 16 oz. choice-cut ribeye ($39).
Noteworthy: Instead of adding the salad toppings onto the salad, they give you a separate salad topping plate. Puts me to work and allows me to create the perfectly balanced salad and to dip the remaining veggies into my blue cheese salad dressing. Oh, and the cheese dip is money.
#4 The Stanley
Seasonally-driven, locally-sourced restaurant by James Beard Award Semifinalist chef Paul Verica
Best for: The couple looking for something neighborhood-y and sophisticated
Space: The Stanley only seats 63 total, 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.
Modern take on classic Italian dishes in an intimate Myers Park setting with an open kitchen
Best for: The pizza loving couple that wants a classy spot that isn’t stuffy
Must-order dishes: Start with the meatballs – local pork, parmesan, marinara and ciabatta ($10) and then go with the pepperoni and sausage pizza ($16).
Noteworthy: Pizzas are served with giant pair of scissors so you can cut it as you like. It’s fun.
#2 Fig Tree
Sets the standard for a white tablecloth, fine-dining destination in Charlotte — it’s the restaurant I chose after I got engaged to my wife 7 years ago
Best for: The couple that’s getting engaged.
Must-order dish: Fig Tree’s famous elk chop ($42) — grilled New Zealand elk chop over horseradish spaetzle with smoked bacon-braized purple cabbage and boursin-dijon sauce.
Space: Located in Elizabeth, you’ll find Fig Tree inside a Craftsman-style bungalow built in 1913.
New cozy small plate and cocktail spot loved by foodies
Best for: The foodie couple that wants to try a new restaurant
Menu: There are only 13 dishes on the menu and a few dessert options. Portions are small, but the food is outstanding.
Must-order dishes: Oysters ($18), ricotta tortellini ($15) and dry aged ribeye ($23).
Space: The kitchen is exposed to the dining room, which makes for a very cool experience. It’s a cozy restaurant with only about 15 tables.