Uptown Charlotte stretches across just over two square miles and towers with hotels, office and apartment buildings, museums and, yes, restaurants. Staying in town on business and need a quick bite? Living here and seeking the best classy dining option in the skyline? Here are 17 essential (and local) places to peruse, ranging from upscale to low-key.Read More
17 Essential Places to Eat in Uptown Charlotte
From oysters to hot dogs
Fondly called Al Mike’s by locals, this Charlotte staple that opened in 1983 offers a low-key tavern experience with unpretentious food. It’s impossible to go wrong with the quinoa black bean vegetable burger or the reuben on rye (get a basket of Cajun fries, too).
The Cellar at Duckworth's
Go back in time (and get a reservation) at this Prohibition-era speakeasy housed in a 106-year-old building near 7th Street. Dig into the gastropub fare (try the truffle mac and cheese and the preserved lemon risotto) and take a peek at the beer cellar stocked with 500 hard-to-find labels. Don’t overlook the signature cocktail list.
Under the prowess of former Top Chef contestant Jamie Lynch, the Charlotte-based eatery has grown in popularity and expanded to Charleston and Atlanta. The decor is stunning — feathered lamps hang above the bar and the restaurant ceiling is covered in writings from The Art of War. With brunch, lunch, late-night eats ,and dinner (from seared scallops to lamb burgers) plus a strong cocktail lineup, there’s something for every occasion.
A mix of modern and Southern styles, this quaint hotel restaurant brings approachable dishes like cast-iron biscuits with bacon jam, deviled eggs, a fried chicken sandwich, rice grits with seasonal vegetables, and more.
An Uptown stop since 1926, Green’s has long been known for hot dogs on fresh steamed buns (served with secret-recipe homemade chili), plus hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and other low-key items.
Loft & Cellar
The menu in this lounge-y hangout just got a makeover thanks to the onboarding of chef Greg Collier, known for his Rock Hill brunch hot spot The Yolk, and his leadership with the pop-up dinner series called Soul Food Sessions. Under his direction, the fall menu has been filled with a variety of interesting items — and a hint of comfort food — like ham and biscuits with cider aioli, squash chips, with caramelized onion remoulade, winter Caesar with cured egg yolk, and sea scallops, with brioche.
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What’s that? The most amazing aroma wafting along the North Tryon Street sidewalk by day or by night (it’s impossible to ignore after stepping out of a show at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center). This cash-only mobile restaurant serves hot food straight out of its walk-up window including chicken and lamb over rice with pita, falafel salad, Philly cheese steaks, and chicken gyros.
7th Street Public Market
Plan to spend a little bit of time at this wide open, one-stop shop for wines, cheeses, coffees and counter-service dining options. Get a cappuccino at Not Just Coffee, artisanal Italian foods at Zia Pia Imports, an acai bowl at Rico’s Acai, a freshly baked pizza by Pure Pizza, a raw juice from Viva Raw — the list goes on. There’s plenty of seating inside, plus free WiFi. Stay awhile.
Sea Level NC
This elegant establishment boasts farm-to-fork oysters grown in North Carolina, as well as other fresh seafood offerings sourced from the coasts of the Carolinas when available. Settle in for oyster shooters (there’s the Oyster Jammer with vodka, pale ale and mignonette), fish tacos, and steam buns, plus house favorites like fried catfish and paella with the daily catch from North Carolina.
Reid's Fine Foods
The third location of Reid’s opened Uptown this year to focus on more casual yet gourmet grab-and-go options for coffee cravings, breakfast, lunch, dinner (from wraps to build-your-own-salads), and dessert. Refrigerated and frozen items are stocked to grab as well. First thing: check out the avocado toast, the quiche du jour, or the customized breakfast bowl (add grits) to get the day going.
Settle into a seat by the soaring-high windows in this sleek and modern space overlooking Romare Bearden Park and order an exquisitely crafted cocktail with levain bread and cultured butter while picking out a selection of small plates. Farm-fresh, seasonal fare extends to items like squash soup and foraged mushroom toast, while large plates range from herb dumplings to roasted pork shoulder.
Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina
Warm and festive, Vida is an easygoing (and spicy) stop before a night out Uptown. Start with the queso chipotle dip before veering toward the tacos, all served with black beans and red chile rice. For something slightly lighter, the house salad with jicama and corn comes in a monstrous portion. Don’t skimp on the drinks — margarita and sangria pitchers are both available for sharing.
Rhino Market & Deli
Enter this lighthearted, hipster establishment when searching for a craft beer, bottle of wine, sandwich, or salad (there are plenty of snack-ish items like potato chips and kale chips to pair with either). The second location of its kind, Rhino Uptown is also known for its locally sourced goods (like kombuchas and coffees) and baked items (reach for a cookie). Stop by for weekly entertainment like music trivia and DJs.
JJ’s Red Hots
Easy-going and family-friendly, this hot dog joint has a longstanding devotion to Sahlen’s smokehouse hot dogs and sausages, as well as to handcrafting its own pickles, onion rings and chili. Try the JJ’s No. 1 Red Hot with chile relish, diced onions, mustard, and a dill pickle spear (with the option to deviate with a turkey, veggie, or all-beef dog). And take advantage of $2 hot dogs on Tuesdays after 3 p.m.
Fin & Fino
Soak up the bright and classy atmosphere (white and blue tones are reminiscent of the sand and sea) over fish and shellfish delivered daily. Offerings also feature seasonal ingredients from local farms. The restaurant works to keep at least 12 types of oysters on the raw bar menu around the clock. Sandwiches and entrees range from the crab cake BLT to the poke bowl with tuna and salmon.
Halcyon Flavors From the Earth
This gorgeous, fine dining space is housed within the Mint Museum Uptown. Anticipate artful, seasonally inspired dishes with ingredients often sourced from local farms and dairies. Shareable items include zucchini cakes and shishito peppers, while the entree list features Mediterranean spice lamb rack with tomato confiture, bacon-wrapped rabbit saddle with carrot puree, and beyond.
Amélie's French Bakery & Cafe | Uptown
Drop in for a hot cup of coffee or a bite to eat at this whimsical space (counter service makes it snappy). Named for the 2001 romantic comedy Amélie, this bakery is one of the most interesting coffee shops in town thanks to its clutter of mismatched tables, overstuffed chairs and that huge, faux tree hanging from the ceiling in the corner. Light meals include salads, sandwiches and soups (the signature soup with spinach, asparagus and leek is heaven), and a must-have pastry item is one of those cute macarons in the bakery case.
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