10 classic Charlotte restaurants you must try

Gnocchi at Mama Ricotta's. Courtesy of FS Food Group.

This story first ran in August 2017. It was updated in July 2018.

Restaurant history runs deep in the Queen City, with an array of classic institutions that have been committed to serving gastronomical grub with a hefty dose of of their own irreplaceable flair for years. Here I’ve compiled 10 timeless restaurants that have undeniably impacted the Charlotte food scene. I’ve listed what to order at each place, including some of my favorite dishes.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list, nor are they named in any particular order. If I forgot to mention your favorite classic establishment, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to try it out.

Brooks’ Sandwich House

Established in 1973, Brooks’ has been Charlotte’s go-to burger joint for decades. This small, unassuming eatery dishes out a variety of goodies from breakfast through dinner. Adding chili to your order is a necessity, and I suggest getting their “cheeseburger all the way”, as it is my favorite.

2710 N. Brevard St.

Art’s BBQ & Deli

Located in the heart of Dilworth, Art’s serves a noteworthy blend of hearty breakfast foods and home-style barbeque lunches. Fan favorites include home fried potatoes, biscuits, mac & cheese, and their Southern fried chicken plate (it’s their Thursday special). I’m just sayin’, there’s a good reason this eatery has been around since 1976.

900 E.Morehead St.

Mama Ricotta’s

This family-style Italian restaurant has served Charlotte’s kin since 1992. With a variety of house made items (mozzarella, breads, pastas, and desserts… just to name a few), this restaurant has a sure-fire method of melting their way into your heart. My recommendations include their mozzarella and tomatoes, chopped salad, literally all of their pastas, and homemade tiramisu.

601 S. Kings Drive, Suite AA

#handmade in house, daily. That's the Mama Ricottas way

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Price’s Chicken Coop

When it comes to satisfying those fried chicken cravings, Price’s has been Charlotte’s go-to poultry joint since 1962. As one of the oldest businesses in Charlotte’s posh South End community, Price’s has remarkably frozen in time and boasts the same look and feel as they did back in the ’60s. Most of their menu makes my approval list, but the must-try entrée is their 1/4 chicken (duh) that comes with coleslaw, French fries, hushpuppies and a roll.

1614 Camden Road                                               

Beef ‘N Bottle

“Famous for steaks since 1958”, Beef ‘N Bottle is a Charlotte standard. Be prepared to warp back in time to the mobster era, parallel to a scene from “Goodfellas.” Steaks are cooked to order and sides are served separately, encouraging patrons to share amongst other guests at the table. There are plenty of places in Charlotte that serve a great cut of meat, but Beef ‘N Bottle offers the classic character that is missing at modern steakhouses. You can’t go wrong with a medium-rare filet, house salad with homemade blue cheese, and the loaded baked potato topped with bacon and cheese.

4538 South Blvd.

The Asbury

Located inside the historic Dunhill Hotel (built in 1929), the Asbury is a newer concept on this list (est. 2014) but deserves recognition. Here you’ll find modern, yet rustic dishes that are sourced from local purveyors. The menu changes seasonally, allowing guests to experience the freshest elements of the season served in the most graceful of ways. They offer deviled eggs that change at the chef’s whim on a daily basis — and are a must try. Currently I also enjoy their warm kale salad and sticky biscuits.

235 N. Tryon St.

Zack’s Hamburgers

This classic burger window has been serving double-stacked cheeseburgers, mounds of delicious fries, and old-school root beer floats since 1975. There are a few booths and a stand-up window where you can enjoy your lunch, but with lines normally formed around the building, I usually ask for mine to be boxed to-go (and I’m perfectly fine with that). The Zack’s special is my favorite, and when I’m feeling extra spectacular I pair it with a malted shake.

4009 South Blvd.

Alexander Michael’s

I promise, it only takes one visit and you’ll be hooked on this tavern’s down-to-earth fare that is well prepared with quality ingredients. Serving Charlotte since 1983, “Al Mike’s” has had their fair bit of practice when it comes to creating the “Cheers” experience in the QC. Leave your coat and hat at the door, grab a seat at the bar and chat with the regulars where “everyone knows your name”. If you haven’t tried their spicy crab soup yet, that is a must. Along with the blackened chicken breast over rotini in a Cajun cream sauce (a.k.a. What It Is) and their house made quinoa black bean burger on grilled pita.

410 W. 9th St.

Green’s Lunch

Serving Charlotte since 1926, Green’s is the perfect pit stop for your pre-season tailgate celebrations. They serve a variety of items like hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, breakfast entrees, salads and fries. My office is located directly across the street, so I absolutely love stopping by here for breakfast; the sausage and egg sandwich on a biscuit is probably my favorite.

309 W. 4th St.

Bar-B-Q King

If you’re looking for a timeless drive-in that still serves their cuisine the same way they did back in yesteryear, this is the diner for you. Since 1959, flocks of foodies have been lining up their cars to get a bite of their famous BBQ dipped chicken, onion rings (dunk them in BBQ sauce, I promise you’ll never go back to ketchup again), cherry limeade soda and hushpuppies. You can also find this place featured on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” on the Food Network.

2900 Wilkinson Blvd.


    • Price’s is WAY over-rated Try the Shrimp-Boat in Gastonia or the one in Rock Hill. They have the best fried chicken hands down!!!

  1. Mr. Ks has been serving the best burgers, onion rings and soft serve ice cream in Charlotte for over 50 years in their South Blvd. location. I’ve been a loyal customer for 34 years.

  2. Places missed: chicken at Quik Shoppe corner East Blvd and South Blvd.
    Chicken at Mr Charles chicken corner of Lasalle and Statesville Avenue.
    Prices has nothing on these places-great chicken, mac and cheese….Well worth stopping at.

  3. I agree with Geri, Mr. K’ s should be on this list. We live down the street from Zack’s and they are great. In addition to dogs and burgers they have really good fried chicken. However, Mr. K’s has great burgers and dogs and shakes and soft serve…..yummy. It is a friendly place they make everyone feel like a regular. Try it and you will be a regular!

  4. Love your info. Been reading for about a year. I really wish you would put in map links instead of just the address. Especially when you reference a neighborhood.

  5. I think Toscana Ristorante deserved a mention. Great lunch and dinner spot. Large patio for alfresco dining by an outdoor fountain. Authentic Tuscan cuisine since 1998. Owner, Augusto Conte is from Napoli. It is tucked inside Specialty Shoppes on Morrison behind Willams Sonoma across from Macy’s at Southpark Mall.

  6. House Of Pizza on Central Avenue is one of the oldest & best of Italian in Charlotte. Their lasagna is covered with the thickest layer of mozzarella cheese I’ve ever had in any other Italian restaurant. And their steak sub is one that will melt in your mouth! You can order pizza from the menu or have them make your own to your liking! If it’s salad you’re going for this is not the place, their salads are very plain but they do have a very delicious homemade Thousand Island dressing & homemade Italian dressing that will compliment the salad. It’s not a fancy place & hasn’t really changed in the 42 years I have been in Charlotte. But it’s a very warm & welcoming place for lunch or dinner.


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