5 best new Charlotte restaurants of 2016 – and 15 more honorable mentions

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Charlotte’s restaurant scene continues to explode – adding 20 hot, new restaurant concepts in 2016.

Here’s a map of these new hotspots along with the top 5 (ranked) and a list of 15 honorable mentions (A-Z).


#1 YAFO

Simple Mediterranean fare with bold Middle Eastern flavors.

Neighborhood: SouthPark

What To Order: Shawarma Bowl ($10.99) – Shawarma chicken, tzatziki, cucumber & tomato salad, tahini, sumac onion and schug.

Agenda Scoop: YAFO is planning a second location in Plaza Midwood.

Agenda Story: A few things that only YAFO addicts like myself will understand

food-at-yafo-kitchen-charlotte

Shwarma Bowl

ordering at yafo kitchen in southpark charlotte


#2 O-Ku

Sushi and small plates. Asian cuisine with a Southern approach.

Neighborhood: South End

What To Order: Salmon Tartare ($16) – truffled microgreens, wasabi, guacamole, yuzu tobiko + Potato Roll ($13) – tempura shrimp, avocado, kiwi, black tobiko.

Agenda Pro Tip: There are about 10 seats at the sushi bar in the back right which is a great spot to sit for a date night.

Agenda Story: Look at mouthwatering sushi inside South End’s new spot

potato-roll-sushi-oku-charlotte

Potato Roll

inside-o-ku-sushi


#3 Kid Cashew

Mediterranean and new American food with a focus on wood-fired dishes.

Neighborhood: Dilworth

What To Order: Spanish Octopus ($9.75) + Lamb Burger ($12.75) with Mac & Five-Cheese Gratin ($5).

Agenda Pro Tip: Go with the $33 carafe of the Goat’s Breast Milk cocktail and sit on the patio overlooking East Blvd.

Agenda Story: We ate most of the Kid Cashew menu for you

Spanish Octopus

Spanish Octopus

kid-cashew-chandelier


#4 Sea Level

Farm to table seafood and oyster bar with craft cocktails and craft beer.

Neighborhood: Uptown

What To Order: Lobster Roll with French Fries ($18)

Agenda Pro Tip: About a dozen outside patio tables that make for a great happy hour oyster spot for the Uptown work crowd.

Agenda Story: Sea Level brings fresh seafood to Uptown – scope out the menu highlights

lobster-roll-at-sea-level-charlotte

Lobster roll

sea-level-bar-charlotte-uptown


#5 Essex Bar & Bistro

Gastropub with small plates and craft cocktail bar.

Neighborhood: Uptown

What To Order: Butter Chicken ($12) – chicken marinated in indian spices, herb tomato sauce, micro cilantro with garlic naan.

Agenda Pro Tip: Sit in one of the 10 deep leather bar seats and enjoy an Italian Old Fashion ($11) served in a heavy glass before dinner.

Agenda Story: Essex Bar & Bistro brings a beautiful patio right to Trade and Tryon

butter-chicken-at-essex-bar-and-bistro-in-charlotte

Butter Chicken

bar-at-essex-uptown-charlotte


15 Honorable Mentions

Here’s a list of the other hot restaurants that opened in 2016 (A-Z, description copy is directly from restaurants).

204 North (Uptown) – Farm to table, craft cocktail-focused concept with modern Southern food.

Babalu (Dilworth) – Tacos and tapas restaurant serving authentic, gourmet tacos and Spanish style tapas with a southern twist. 

Burton’s (Park Road Shopping Center) – Upscale bar and grill chain featuring an extensive menu of American fare in a stylish dining room.

Comida (Plaza Midwood) – Elevated take on Mexican food offering a modern perspective on an ancient cuisine.

Coaltrane’s (Uptown) – Casual, industrial-chic new American restaurant offering rotisserie chicken, salads and sandwiches.

Flight (Uptown) – American pub food made with local ingredients.

Ink N Ivy (Uptown) – Southern-leaning American fare paired with cocktails in funky-chic digs. 

Inizio Pizza Napoletana (South Charlotte) – Industrial-chic pizzeria serving pies made with high-quality ingredients at communal tables.

Midwood Smokeshack (Matthews) – Casual-chic counter-serve hangout for BBQ plates and sandwiches.

Moo & Brew (Plaza Midwood) – A long list of burgers and craft beer served in a chill space with frequent live music events.

Murphy’s (Uptown) – Irish gastropub serving comfort food, beer and cocktails in traditional digs with two patios.

Poplar Street Tapas Cafe & Bar (Uptown) – Sophisticated cafe serving panini, salads and baked goods in the historic Morrison House.

Seoul Food (South End) – Casual restaurant serving Korean, Japanese and Asian fusion eats in a former gas station.

Stoke (Uptown) – A swanky all-day option for seasonal wood-fired plates, local craft beer and artisanal cocktails.

Tavolo (Uptown) – A modern rustic eatery and lounge serving classic Italian cuisine paired with wine.

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).