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A white bar with plates and glasses.
The seating counter at Counter.
Kenty Chung

11 Hottest Restaurants in Charlotte, January 2023

From tasting menu soundtracks to Korean barbecue, here’s what’s hot in Charlotte

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The seating counter at Counter.
| Kenty Chung

More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends, and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? What are the new restaurants? What’s everyone talking about? While the Eater 18 is a crucial resource covering old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the “it” places of the moment. Enter the Eater Heatmap, which will change continually to highlight the spots crowds are flocking to at the moment or generating a big buzz. Folks are asking, “Have you been yet?” Try one of these newbies today.

New to the list:

January 2023: Counter, Biblio

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Bar à Vins

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Caviar, potato chips, and a killer natural wine list? What more do you need? Bar à Vins is the hip new NoDa wine bar from sommelier Jeff Kellogg with a little help from Katy Kindred (of Davidson’s Kindred) who designed the interiors. All the cool kids in Charlotte will be there.

Ever Andalo

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Ever Andalo is pleasing palates with Italian comfort. Owners Jeff Tonidandel and Jamie Brown have spent extensive amounts of time in Italian and wanted to share those experiences with Charlotte. They import many of the ingredients to offer items like Calabrian chilie parpadelle, fresh focaccia, and fettuccine all’Amatriciana.

Seoul Food Meat Company Mill District

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Popular Korean-meets-Southern barbecue spot Seoul Food Meat Company opened a second location in the Optimist Park neighborhood. Like the original, expect menu mashups like pimento corn cheese, green tea cornbread, soy-pickled deviled eggs, and plenty of smoky meats.

Jimmy Pearls

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Chefs Oscar Johnson and Daryl Cooper opened Jimmy Pearls in 2020 but went on to pursue the food truck life in 2021. Now they are back at food hall Market at 7th Street to bring their famous Uncle Gene’s fish sandwich, shrimp rolls, and other Virginia tidewater cuisine to the masses. Get the Bubba Chunks — basically a warm corn fritter/hush puppy with sorghum butter — a non-serious name, for a seriously good dish.

Counter

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Chef Sam Hart and his team at Counter have a shiny new culinary playground in Wesley Heights. The original Thrift Road location of Counter won acclaim for its ever-changing tasting menu themes and unique music pairings (think MF Doom and the Pixies on the same soundtrack). With the updated address, the group plans to be more ambitious with its offerings. Customers are basically sitting in the kitchen as the plates, like expertly cooked duck with pungent truffles, are prepared in front of them. At only 16 seats, it’s an exclusive and immersive experience.

Biblio is the sister wine bar to tasting menu restaurant Counter. It has the same eccentric expertise as its sibling but is more accessible to those who couldn’t score a reservation next door. Biblio boasts a catalog of over 500 wines, and each is priced to include small plates created to pair with the wine and the customer. A recent Instagram caption read, “We don’t serve cheap wine, we don’t cook shit food,” so it’s a bit of a different attitude for an upscale wine bar.

Milkbread

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No need to drive to Davidson for crispy chicken sandwiches, fluffy doughnuts, or crispy rice salads from Milkbread. Davidson duo Joe and Katy Kindred (of acclaimed restaurant Kindred) started making these items during COVID to make takeout easy, and the idea was so popular that the owners decided to make it a permanent restaurant. The second location in Plaza Midwood is adorably housed in a former Dairy Queen and serves breakfast all day.

Vinyl (as in record; there’s an entire wall of them behind the bar) embodies the notion that music brings the people all together. To be sure, it is the rare bar in South End that attracts more than just the recent college graduate crowd that has come to define the neighborhood, and it has been standing-room only nearly from the moment it opened for business. One might chalk that up to Vinyl’s prime location, nestled between Vana and Wooden Robot Brewery on the corner of Tryon and Summit, but to do so would be to discount entirely the assured hands of the industry veterans who have converged to create something so thoroughly of the moment that connects almost immediately with anyone who visits. (In point of fact, when have banker bros, Tinder dates, influencers, and LGBTQ friends of a certain age ever been able to sit down, have a drink, and acknowledge that they have so much in common?) On the food menu, the garlic fries in particular are delicious, even startlingly so, and no that’s not the “You Only Get One Shot” talking. Served straight from the tap, that drink is Frenet Branca infused with coffee from local favorite Pepperbox Doughnuts, and despite the name, it is perfectly OK to have two.  — Timothy DePeugh

Para Charlotte

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Buzzy new restaurant Para sits in the South End neighborhood with a hip dining room and a small plate menu leaning heavily on seafood and Asian influences. Chef Alex Verica, formerly of Dot Dot Dot and the Stanley, says that he wanted the menu to incorporate as many local farmers as possible, while focusing on “a more global approach to the overall menu.” Items range from lobster toast with caviar to wagyu beef tartare with caviar to milk bread with foie gras, peanut butter, and jam. It’s an indulgent menu that’s sure to make a few rounds with the flashy Instagram crowds and folks looking to make it rain for a lobster shooter.

Warehouse dining room.
Para Charlotte.
Peter Taylor

Yunta offers Nikkei cuisine in a hip, modern setting. Nikkei food is Peruvian ingredients — tropical fish, quinoa, aji amarillo peppers — molded by Japanese techniques. Multiple chefs cite the modern preparation for ceviche as particularly indicative of the Nikkei style. And Yunta offers plenty of ceviche, along with pisco sours, shrimp croquettes, tostones, and more.

Ceviche at Yunta.
Yunta

Omakase by Prime Fish

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Prime Fish chef Robin Anthony recently added an extension to his sushi business with Omakase Experience, and it’s been booking up nightly. With only six seats in the dining room, reservations go fast. For $300, customers receive 16 courses of Edomae-style omakase — Anthony claims he is perhaps the only chef offering this style in North Carolina. Edomae style involves treating the fish (whether it be brined, cured, or aged) to bring out extra umami flavors.

Raw fish sitting on a wooden board.
Chef Robin Anthony only uses fish from Tokyo.
Omkase by Prime Fish

Bar à Vins

Caviar, potato chips, and a killer natural wine list? What more do you need? Bar à Vins is the hip new NoDa wine bar from sommelier Jeff Kellogg with a little help from Katy Kindred (of Davidson’s Kindred) who designed the interiors. All the cool kids in Charlotte will be there.

Ever Andalo

Ever Andalo is pleasing palates with Italian comfort. Owners Jeff Tonidandel and Jamie Brown have spent extensive amounts of time in Italian and wanted to share those experiences with Charlotte. They import many of the ingredients to offer items like Calabrian chilie parpadelle, fresh focaccia, and fettuccine all’Amatriciana.

Seoul Food Meat Company Mill District

Popular Korean-meets-Southern barbecue spot Seoul Food Meat Company opened a second location in the Optimist Park neighborhood. Like the original, expect menu mashups like pimento corn cheese, green tea cornbread, soy-pickled deviled eggs, and plenty of smoky meats.

Jimmy Pearls

Chefs Oscar Johnson and Daryl Cooper opened Jimmy Pearls in 2020 but went on to pursue the food truck life in 2021. Now they are back at food hall Market at 7th Street to bring their famous Uncle Gene’s fish sandwich, shrimp rolls, and other Virginia tidewater cuisine to the masses. Get the Bubba Chunks — basically a warm corn fritter/hush puppy with sorghum butter — a non-serious name, for a seriously good dish.

Counter

Chef Sam Hart and his team at Counter have a shiny new culinary playground in Wesley Heights. The original Thrift Road location of Counter won acclaim for its ever-changing tasting menu themes and unique music pairings (think MF Doom and the Pixies on the same soundtrack). With the updated address, the group plans to be more ambitious with its offerings. Customers are basically sitting in the kitchen as the plates, like expertly cooked duck with pungent truffles, are prepared in front of them. At only 16 seats, it’s an exclusive and immersive experience.

Biblio

Biblio is the sister wine bar to tasting menu restaurant Counter. It has the same eccentric expertise as its sibling but is more accessible to those who couldn’t score a reservation next door. Biblio boasts a catalog of over 500 wines, and each is priced to include small plates created to pair with the wine and the customer. A recent Instagram caption read, “We don’t serve cheap wine, we don’t cook shit food,” so it’s a bit of a different attitude for an upscale wine bar.

Milkbread

No need to drive to Davidson for crispy chicken sandwiches, fluffy doughnuts, or crispy rice salads from Milkbread. Davidson duo Joe and Katy Kindred (of acclaimed restaurant Kindred) started making these items during COVID to make takeout easy, and the idea was so popular that the owners decided to make it a permanent restaurant. The second location in Plaza Midwood is adorably housed in a former Dairy Queen and serves breakfast all day.

Vinyl

Vinyl (as in record; there’s an entire wall of them behind the bar) embodies the notion that music brings the people all together. To be sure, it is the rare bar in South End that attracts more than just the recent college graduate crowd that has come to define the neighborhood, and it has been standing-room only nearly from the moment it opened for business. One might chalk that up to Vinyl’s prime location, nestled between Vana and Wooden Robot Brewery on the corner of Tryon and Summit, but to do so would be to discount entirely the assured hands of the industry veterans who have converged to create something so thoroughly of the moment that connects almost immediately with anyone who visits. (In point of fact, when have banker bros, Tinder dates, influencers, and LGBTQ friends of a certain age ever been able to sit down, have a drink, and acknowledge that they have so much in common?) On the food menu, the garlic fries in particular are delicious, even startlingly so, and no that’s not the “You Only Get One Shot” talking. Served straight from the tap, that drink is Frenet Branca infused with coffee from local favorite Pepperbox Doughnuts, and despite the name, it is perfectly OK to have two.  — Timothy DePeugh

Para Charlotte

Buzzy new restaurant Para sits in the South End neighborhood with a hip dining room and a small plate menu leaning heavily on seafood and Asian influences. Chef Alex Verica, formerly of Dot Dot Dot and the Stanley, says that he wanted the menu to incorporate as many local farmers as possible, while focusing on “a more global approach to the overall menu.” Items range from lobster toast with caviar to wagyu beef tartare with caviar to milk bread with foie gras, peanut butter, and jam. It’s an indulgent menu that’s sure to make a few rounds with the flashy Instagram crowds and folks looking to make it rain for a lobster shooter.

Warehouse dining room.
Para Charlotte.
Peter Taylor

Yunta

Yunta offers Nikkei cuisine in a hip, modern setting. Nikkei food is Peruvian ingredients — tropical fish, quinoa, aji amarillo peppers — molded by Japanese techniques. Multiple chefs cite the modern preparation for ceviche as particularly indicative of the Nikkei style. And Yunta offers plenty of ceviche, along with pisco sours, shrimp croquettes, tostones, and more.

Ceviche at Yunta.
Yunta

Omakase by Prime Fish

Prime Fish chef Robin Anthony recently added an extension to his sushi business with Omakase Experience, and it’s been booking up nightly. With only six seats in the dining room, reservations go fast. For $300, customers receive 16 courses of Edomae-style omakase — Anthony claims he is perhaps the only chef offering this style in North Carolina. Edomae style involves treating the fish (whether it be brined, cured, or aged) to bring out extra umami flavors.

Raw fish sitting on a wooden board.
Chef Robin Anthony only uses fish from Tokyo.
Omkase by Prime Fish

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