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Mojo Pork Bowl, Ropa Vieja Bowl, Croquetas Sara Akhavan

10 Charlotte Comfort Foods and Where to Find Them

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If there was ever a stage perfectly set for comfort food to make an all-star comeback and effortlessly reclaim its popularity, we can all agree: the time is now. Whether inspired by familiar cold nights, the flurry of sweatpants that have seized closets across the country, or a year-long pandemic (ding ding), the hunt for an extra bite of warmth and nostalgia is stronger than ever before. That comforting bite, where time escapes and even if just for a moment, everything feels a little nicer; a little quieter. But take note — the world of comfort food found in Charlotte has witnessed a tasty remix since its meatloaf-era beginnings. From old-school American classics to Sichuan dumplings, there’s something soothing in today’s diverse kitchens for every weathered soul. Here are Eater’s latest Charlotte picks to curl up and fend off the feels with.

A number of North Carolina restaurants have resumed dine-in service. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit here. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Haberdish

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3106 N Davidson St
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 817-1084
Visit Website

With menu highlights like “A Bunch of Bologna” and the “PB&J Bacon Plate”, it’s clear that NoDa neighborhood favorite Haberdish takes its comfort food quite seriously — or playfully, as the kitchen prefers. Starting with brined, battered and fried essentials, the fried chicken entrees range from crispy tenders (no age limit here) to a crispy whole fried bird. With eight signature sauces to drizzle on like habanero hot sauce, silky Alabama white sauce and honey butter maple syrup, the possibilities for pleasure are endless. The option to add a waffle to any fried chicken dish is the icing on the cake, or in Haberdish’s case, the traditional milk dip on the Southern sonker. That’s a subtle way of saying that here, dessert is non-negotiable and like most things, best cooked up in a cast iron skillet.

Fried chicken
Fried chicken at Haberdish
Haberdish

2. The Goodyear House

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3032 N Davidson St
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 910-0132
Visit Website

Goopy. Enough said. Though its name might hint at a touch of silly, this burger from the Goodyear House is anything but. If backyard burgers from childhood cookouts are the cozy equivalent to a worn-in hoodie, consider this bad boy an adulthood upgrade to a cashmere sweater. Lucious and fully loaded, this beast of a burger lives up to its name with a hefty portion of locally sourced Krenz Ranch beef, cheddar, onion, and shredded goopy lettuce all atop a fresh benne seed bun. That’s right — even the lettuce is bathed in the burger’s signature sauce. Take a monster bite, pop a handful of hot fries from the freshly shaken fry bag, and sit back as all the world’s worries magically disappear into thin air.

Cheeseburger at the Goodyear House
Cheeseburger at the Goodyear House
Peter Taylor

3. Leah & Louise

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301 Camp Rd
Charlotte, NC 28206
(980) 309-0690
Visit Website

From the heart, for the soul, and every corner in between. Leah & Louise is chef Greg Collier’s freshest concept in Charlotte — one that both debuted its grand opening mid-pandemic and has continued earning shining accolades ever since. Fans know that at Leah & Louise, keeping tradition alive is the name of the game, as seen in chef Collier’s ode to his Mississippi and New Orleans roots. Plates of sweet and salty Blacka Jacks (smoked pecans, country ham, caramel, and popcorn), River Chips (voodoo style chicken skins), Rich Boys (fried coastal oyster sliders) dance their way to tables at this Memphis-inspired juke joint, delighting diners with modern interpretations of classic dishes that aim for pure comfort. The oxtail and dumplings, a cold weather soul food siren, is beautifully stewed with oxtail burgoo, red rice calas, carrot escabeche, and hot chile oil. The Bird Is The Word is another top pick, a hearty sandwich stacked high with smoked and fried chicken breast and comeback sauce. And come back is just what diners are guaranteed to do here, not only to fill up on great flavor, but great spirit

Oxtail dish at Leah & Louise
Oxtail dish at Leah & Louise
Peter Taylor

4. Suárez Bakery & Barra

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1115 N Brevard St Stall #4
Charlotte, NC 28206
(980) 273-1788
Visit Website

While chilly temperatures linger and the promise of palm trees remains oh so far away, Suarez Bakery and Barra brings a Miami-style escape to Charlotteans who crave a taste of Cuban comfort. The pastel-laden sister concept of Charlotte’s beloved Suarez Bakery shines a savory spotlight on the family’s roots. Alongside freshly pressed sandwiches like the classic Cuban, Medianoche and Elena Ruiz, all toasted on the signature bread, the menu features hearty bowls of mojo pork and ropa vieja, made with braised chuck roast, sofrito, and green olives. The rice bowls are served hot and layered with jasmine rice, traditionally seasoned black beans, pickled onions and golden-yellow maduros (translation: addicting, sweet fried plantains). Like most comfort food, the ingredients are simple, but the power to transport you to South Beach, or Havana, or wherever home is for you, is powerfully felt in each bite. Aprovecho.

Mojo Pork Bowl, Ropa Vieja Bowl, Croquetas
Mojo pork bowl, ropa vieja bowl, and croquetas at Suárez Bakery & Barra
Sara Akhavan

5. Wu-Ron’s

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2200 Thrift Rd #1
Charlotte, NC 28208

For those who find comfort in wanderlust, look no further than West Charlotte’s newest ramen bar, Wu-Ron’s. Curiously tucked away with limited street signage, the intimate noodle shop recently made its soft opening debut and is already buzzing with well-deserved praise. Minimalists rejoice. From its sunlight-drenched natural wood paneling to its sleek, straight to the point menu, Wu-Ron’s embodies the most original Japanese ramen experience yet to hit the Queen City. Choose from three rich, velvety broths including chicken, pork or a vegetarian kelp and mushroom, all accompanied with a generous heap of hand pulled noodles. The Shirozaru classic tonkotsu is packed with rich, pork taste from broth to sliced belly and the Tokyo shoyu blends the best of both worlds within its chicken broth and pork belly topping, adding scallion and bean sprouts for a layered crunch. The labor of love behind each bowl is what makes this Japanese tradition more than just a trend, but a comfort food to stay — certainly as is Wu Ron’s. No flavor packets, no frills, just real-deal umami bliss bathing in each bite.

A bowl of ramen at Wu-Ron’s
A bowl of ramen at Wu-Ron’s
Andrew Colacchio

6. The Dumpling Lady

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1115 N Brevard St
Charlotte, NC 28206
(980) 595-6174
Visit Website

The first crunch of the golden brown scallion pancake is often enough to convert one from seeking a traditional pancake fix to a super-savory Sichuan one. Followed by the soft, pillowy pork belly dumplings and piping hot spicy beef noodles, no visit to The Dumpling Lady is complete without a symphony of textures and colors. It might not be filed (yet) under old-fashioned Carolina comfort food, but the throng of dedicated diners who make their way each day to the Optimist Hall stall speaks volumes on the genre’s transformation. Here, it’s sensory comfort that reigns supreme. From the soothing slide of the chopsticks out of the crimson sleeve and the irresistible, euphonic slurp of hot noodles from bowl to belly, this level of satisfaction is translated best, regardless of age, with a dab of a napkin and a spirited smile.

Bowls of dumplings at the Dumpling Lady
Bowls of dumplings at the Dumpling Lady
Sara Akhavan

7. Noble Smoke

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2216 Freedom Dr
Charlotte, NC 28208
(704) 703-5252
Visit Website

New England’s got chowder for comfort. North Carolina’s got barbecue. By little surprise does a platter of slow smoked meats make an appearance on the hunt for guaranteed regional satisfaction. Noble Smoke, whose West Charlotte flagship is halo-ed by thick clouds from its handcrafted smokers, has quickly become a barbecue haven for Charlotteans and beyond. While the Cheshire chopped pork is an absolute must-try, the menu boasts a variety of meats like hearty beef brisket, pull-apart pork ribs and top-grade smoked chicken. The sides shine just as bright as the proteins, and with over fifteen to choose from, there’s simply no holding back. No feast is complete without a touch of sweetness from a hot and glazed hand fry pie.. and perhaps an extra one, to go.

A table full of barbecue at Noble Smoke
A table full of barbecue at Noble Smoke
The Plaid Penguin

8. Lincoln’s Haberdashery

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1300 South Blvd suite s
Charlotte, NC 28203
(704) 910-4660
Visit Website

With its cognac-hued wooden interiors and cheeky antique-meets-modern charm, this “21st Century Country Store” is a great pit stop for warm feels and cozy eats. Feeling classic? Lincoln’s Haberdashery’s take on grilled cheese is a showstopper, loaded with mega melty gruyere, shallots, and thyme on crusty sourdough, baked daily in-house. Feeling more film noir? Go with the French-inspired croque monsieur, piled high with ham and creamy bechamel that checks all boxes crunchy, melty and cheesy. The Southend eatery also has a fun variety of soup specials from broccoli cheddar to turkey coconut curry and more, as well as Instagram-popular desserts like the stuffed brioche doughnuts.

Grilled cheese and soup at Lincoln’s Haberdashery
Grilled cheese and soup at Lincoln’s Haberdashery
Sara Akhavan

9. Lupie's Cafe

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2718 Monroe Rd
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 374-1232
Visit Website

As the temperature dips and seasonal chili cravings crank up, there’s one Charlotte landmark that answers the call. Lupie’s Cafe, where friendliness triumphs any modern frills, has dished up old-school comfort food for over 30 years. Regulars can spot its red rooster sign on Monroe Rd. from a mile away. Within its humble and timeless exterior, loyalists flock daily to fill up on mainstays like the chili mac (Texas style if you like it spicy, Cincinnati style if you’re into sweet) and massive nacho plates dripping with melty cheddar, beans and jalapenos. While the city transforms around this tiny cafe, its foundation, built on making everyone who walks in feel like family, stands effortlessly strong.

Loaded Chili Mac, Throw Down Nachos, Cornbread
Loaded chili mac, nachos, and cornbread at Lupie’s
Sara Akhavan

10. Little Mama’s Italian

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4521 Sharon Rd
Charlotte, NC 28211
(980) 209-0323
Visit Website

It’s a simple equation. Handmade pasta + variety of fresh cheese + juicy tomatoes = endless delicious possibilities. Long-time veteran in the Charlotte pasta game, Mama Ricotta’s, has recently refreshed its look in cozy, semi-swanky form through its new concept, Little Mama’s, located in the heart of Southpark. While Amma’s Ravioli is remarkable and sings of nostalgia (in a Frank Sinatra voice, of course), the menu touts an array of comfort-guaranteed Italian specialties to fill up on, from crispy Chicken Parm (or try combo-style with both chicken and eggplant), to Ziti al Telefono with calabrian chili, and every crowd’s favorite, lasagna, stuffed at Little Mama’s with ground beef, veal, and homemade pork sausage. Craving a little extra happiness amidst your visit? Ask for the mozzarella presentation, which includes a made to order ball of mega-fresh fior di latte mozzarella, served warm, with your heart’s choice of accompaniments. Badda bing, bada boom. No broken hearts here.

Ravioli at Little Mama’s Italian
Ravioli at Little Mama’s Italian
Remy Thurston

1. Haberdish

3106 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205
Fried chicken
Fried chicken at Haberdish
Haberdish

With menu highlights like “A Bunch of Bologna” and the “PB&J Bacon Plate”, it’s clear that NoDa neighborhood favorite Haberdish takes its comfort food quite seriously — or playfully, as the kitchen prefers. Starting with brined, battered and fried essentials, the fried chicken entrees range from crispy tenders (no age limit here) to a crispy whole fried bird. With eight signature sauces to drizzle on like habanero hot sauce, silky Alabama white sauce and honey butter maple syrup, the possibilities for pleasure are endless. The option to add a waffle to any fried chicken dish is the icing on the cake, or in Haberdish’s case, the traditional milk dip on the Southern sonker. That’s a subtle way of saying that here, dessert is non-negotiable and like most things, best cooked up in a cast iron skillet.

3106 N Davidson St
Charlotte, NC 28205

2. The Goodyear House

3032 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205
Cheeseburger at the Goodyear House
Cheeseburger at the Goodyear House
Peter Taylor

Goopy. Enough said. Though its name might hint at a touch of silly, this burger from the Goodyear House is anything but. If backyard burgers from childhood cookouts are the cozy equivalent to a worn-in hoodie, consider this bad boy an adulthood upgrade to a cashmere sweater. Lucious and fully loaded, this beast of a burger lives up to its name with a hefty portion of locally sourced Krenz Ranch beef, cheddar, onion, and shredded goopy lettuce all atop a fresh benne seed bun. That’s right — even the lettuce is bathed in the burger’s signature sauce. Take a monster bite, pop a handful of hot fries from the freshly shaken fry bag, and sit back as all the world’s worries magically disappear into thin air.

3032 N Davidson St
Charlotte, NC 28205

3. Leah & Louise

301 Camp Rd, Charlotte, NC 28206
Oxtail dish at Leah & Louise
Oxtail dish at Leah & Louise
Peter Taylor

From the heart, for the soul, and every corner in between. Leah & Louise is chef Greg Collier’s freshest concept in Charlotte — one that both debuted its grand opening mid-pandemic and has continued earning shining accolades ever since. Fans know that at Leah & Louise, keeping tradition alive is the name of the game, as seen in chef Collier’s ode to his Mississippi and New Orleans roots. Plates of sweet and salty Blacka Jacks (smoked pecans, country ham, caramel, and popcorn), River Chips (voodoo style chicken skins), Rich Boys (fried coastal oyster sliders) dance their way to tables at this Memphis-inspired juke joint, delighting diners with modern interpretations of classic dishes that aim for pure comfort. The oxtail and dumplings, a cold weather soul food siren, is beautifully stewed with oxtail burgoo, red rice calas, carrot escabeche, and hot chile oil. The Bird Is The Word is another top pick, a hearty sandwich stacked high with smoked and fried chicken breast and comeback sauce. And come back is just what diners are guaranteed to do here, not only to fill up on great flavor, but great spirit

301 Camp Rd
Charlotte, NC 28206

4. Suárez Bakery & Barra

1115 N Brevard St Stall #4, Charlotte, NC 28206
Mojo Pork Bowl, Ropa Vieja Bowl, Croquetas
Mojo pork bowl, ropa vieja bowl, and croquetas at Suárez Bakery & Barra
Sara Akhavan

While chilly temperatures linger and the promise of palm trees remains oh so far away, Suarez Bakery and Barra brings a Miami-style escape to Charlotteans who crave a taste of Cuban comfort. The pastel-laden sister concept of Charlotte’s beloved Suarez Bakery shines a savory spotlight on the family’s roots. Alongside freshly pressed sandwiches like the classic Cuban, Medianoche and Elena Ruiz, all toasted on the signature bread, the menu features hearty bowls of mojo pork and ropa vieja, made with braised chuck roast, sofrito, and green olives. The rice bowls are served hot and layered with jasmine rice, traditionally seasoned black beans, pickled onions and golden-yellow maduros (translation: addicting, sweet fried plantains). Like most comfort food, the ingredients are simple, but the power to transport you to South Beach, or Havana, or wherever home is for you, is powerfully felt in each bite. Aprovecho.

1115 N Brevard St Stall #4
Charlotte, NC 28206

5. Wu-Ron’s

2200 Thrift Rd #1, Charlotte, NC 28208
A bowl of ramen at Wu-Ron’s
A bowl of ramen at Wu-Ron’s
Andrew Colacchio

For those who find comfort in wanderlust, look no further than West Charlotte’s newest ramen bar, Wu-Ron’s. Curiously tucked away with limited street signage, the intimate noodle shop recently made its soft opening debut and is already buzzing with well-deserved praise. Minimalists rejoice. From its sunlight-drenched natural wood paneling to its sleek, straight to the point menu, Wu-Ron’s embodies the most original Japanese ramen experience yet to hit the Queen City. Choose from three rich, velvety broths including chicken, pork or a vegetarian kelp and mushroom, all accompanied with a generous heap of hand pulled noodles. The Shirozaru classic tonkotsu is packed with rich, pork taste from broth to sliced belly and the Tokyo shoyu blends the best of both worlds within its chicken broth and pork belly topping, adding scallion and bean sprouts for a layered crunch. The labor of love behind each bowl is what makes this Japanese tradition more than just a trend, but a comfort food to stay — certainly as is Wu Ron’s. No flavor packets, no frills, just real-deal umami bliss bathing in each bite.

2200 Thrift Rd #1
Charlotte, NC 28208

6. The Dumpling Lady

1115 N Brevard St, Charlotte, NC 28206
Bowls of dumplings at the Dumpling Lady
Bowls of dumplings at the Dumpling Lady
Sara Akhavan

The first crunch of the golden brown scallion pancake is often enough to convert one from seeking a traditional pancake fix to a super-savory Sichuan one. Followed by the soft, pillowy pork belly dumplings and piping hot spicy beef noodles, no visit to The Dumpling Lady is complete without a symphony of textures and colors. It might not be filed (yet) under old-fashioned Carolina comfort food, but the throng of dedicated diners who make their way each day to the Optimist Hall stall speaks volumes on the genre’s transformation. Here, it’s sensory comfort that reigns supreme. From the soothing slide of the chopsticks out of the crimson sleeve and the irresistible, euphonic slurp of hot noodles from bowl to belly, this level of satisfaction is translated best, regardless of age, with a dab of a napkin and a spirited smile.

1115 N Brevard St
Charlotte, NC 28206

7. Noble Smoke

2216 Freedom Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208
A table full of barbecue at Noble Smoke
A table full of barbecue at Noble Smoke
The Plaid Penguin

New England’s got chowder for comfort. North Carolina’s got barbecue. By little surprise does a platter of slow smoked meats make an appearance on the hunt for guaranteed regional satisfaction. Noble Smoke, whose West Charlotte flagship is halo-ed by thick clouds from its handcrafted smokers, has quickly become a barbecue haven for Charlotteans and beyond. While the Cheshire chopped pork is an absolute must-try, the menu boasts a variety of meats like hearty beef brisket, pull-apart pork ribs and top-grade smoked chicken. The sides shine just as bright as the proteins, and with over fifteen to choose from, there’s simply no holding back. No feast is complete without a touch of sweetness from a hot and glazed hand fry pie.. and perhaps an extra one, to go.

2216 Freedom Dr
Charlotte, NC 28208

8. Lincoln’s Haberdashery

1300 South Blvd suite s, Charlotte, NC 28203
Grilled cheese and soup at Lincoln’s Haberdashery
Grilled cheese and soup at Lincoln’s Haberdashery
Sara Akhavan

With its cognac-hued wooden interiors and cheeky antique-meets-modern charm, this “21st Century Country Store” is a great pit stop for warm feels and cozy eats. Feeling classic? Lincoln’s Haberdashery’s take on grilled cheese is a showstopper, loaded with mega melty gruyere, shallots, and thyme on crusty sourdough, baked daily in-house. Feeling more film noir? Go with the French-inspired croque monsieur, piled high with ham and creamy bechamel that checks all boxes crunchy, melty and cheesy. The Southend eatery also has a fun variety of soup specials from broccoli cheddar to turkey coconut curry and more, as well as Instagram-popular desserts like the stuffed brioche doughnuts.

1300 South Blvd suite s
Charlotte, NC 28203

9. Lupie's Cafe

2718 Monroe Rd, Charlotte, NC 28205
Loaded Chili Mac, Throw Down Nachos, Cornbread
Loaded chili mac, nachos, and cornbread at Lupie’s
Sara Akhavan

As the temperature dips and seasonal chili cravings crank up, there’s one Charlotte landmark that answers the call. Lupie’s Cafe, where friendliness triumphs any modern frills, has dished up old-school comfort food for over 30 years. Regulars can spot its red rooster sign on Monroe Rd. from a mile away. Within its humble and timeless exterior, loyalists flock daily to fill up on mainstays like the chili mac (Texas style if you like it spicy, Cincinnati style if you’re into sweet) and massive nacho plates dripping with melty cheddar, beans and jalapenos. While the city transforms around this tiny cafe, its foundation, built on making everyone who walks in feel like family, stands effortlessly strong.

2718 Monroe Rd
Charlotte, NC 28205

10. Little Mama’s Italian

4521 Sharon Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
Ravioli at Little Mama’s Italian
Ravioli at Little Mama’s Italian
Remy Thurston

It’s a simple equation. Handmade pasta + variety of fresh cheese + juicy tomatoes = endless delicious possibilities. Long-time veteran in the Charlotte pasta game, Mama Ricotta’s, has recently refreshed its look in cozy, semi-swanky form through its new concept, Little Mama’s, located in the heart of Southpark. While Amma’s Ravioli is remarkable and sings of nostalgia (in a Frank Sinatra voice, of course), the menu touts an array of comfort-guaranteed Italian specialties to fill up on, from crispy Chicken Parm (or try combo-style with both chicken and eggplant), to Ziti al Telefono with calabrian chili, and every crowd’s favorite, lasagna, stuffed at Little Mama’s with ground beef, veal, and homemade pork sausage. Craving a little extra happiness amidst your visit? Ask for the mozzarella presentation, which includes a made to order ball of mega-fresh fior di latte mozzarella, served warm, with your heart’s choice of accompaniments. Badda bing, bada boom. No broken hearts here.

4521 Sharon Rd
Charlotte, NC 28211

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