10 restaurant chains and brands people are dying to see in Charlotte

This Wednesday, May 11, 2011 photo displays a "Double-Double" at the opening of the In-N-Out in Allen, Texas. Hundreds thronged to the fast-food chain¬'s first openings in Texas in Frisco, Texas and Allen, Texas. In-N-Out boasts a menu that hasn¬'t changed since 1948. (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Michael Ainsworth) ORG XMIT: TXDAM101

Charlotteans have gotten a little giddy over the recent arrival of chains like the Mediterranean hotspot Cava (from D.C.) and constant-line-out-the-door Shake Shack (from New York City). As much as I love supporting local, it’s kind of fun to watch people go berserk over the restaurants (and brands) they miss from their own hometowns, or from their college towns, or from their travels.

We polled our CharlotteFive readers, and these are 10 of the chains people are dying to see in Charlotte:

In-N-Out Burger

The first In-N-Out hamburger joint was introduced in California in 1948. Today, people rave about the fast-food burger/fries/shake trifecta.

Hometeam BBQ

If you’ve lived in the Lowcountry, you’ve been to Hometeam. There’s an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients, and BBQ everything — from BBQ salad, to BBQ nachos, to BBQ sandwiches.

Smoked prime rib | mustard frills | griddled onions | horsey sauce. #WESTASHLEY

A post shared by Home Team BBQ (@hometeambbq) on

Weaver Street Market

This community-owned grocery has locations in Carrboro, Hillsborough and Chapel Hill and stocks North Carolina-roasted coffee beans, partners with NC hunger relief organizations, serves up a themed hot bar, and more. The vibe is a little hippy-ish, like an Earth Fare.

Tim Hortons

This Canadian-based fast-food restaurant whips up coffee and donuts, with an emphasis on fresh coffee crafted from 100 percent Arabica beans.


Headquartered in California, the Houston’s menu is heavy on American classics, and items range from brisket to freshly baked bread. The sit-down restaurant even has a dress code — collared shirts are suggested for the gentlemen visiting.


This international fashion company features a bright variety of men’s, women’s and kids’ fashions. As one Charlotte-area reader put it, “For the love, why do we have four H&Ms and zero Zaras?!”

Hops Burger Bar

This “salt of the earth” establishment based in Greensboro only offers Certified Angus Beef, plus craft beers (ah, the name makes sense now) and locally grown ingredients.

Seasons 52

This grill headquartered in Florida stresses seasonally inspired menu items and rustic cooking techniques. Special menus are also available for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-sensitive guests and lactose/dairy-sensitive guests.


This fast-casual mecca for salads and warm bowls pretty closely resembles Cava, and was created in Georgetown. The mission: To serve “simple, seasonal, healthy food.”

Portillo’s Restaurants

Headquartered in Illinois, this American restaurant chain first opened as a hot dog stand in 1963 — it was called “The Dog House.” Today, the restaurants feature hot dogs (chili included), burgers, salads, sandwiches and even pasta.

What are you hungry for?

Featured photo: Michael Ainsworth/AP


    • True that!!! Pappa Brothers anything would be awesome! How about Whataburger or Kolach Factory? This discussion is making me hungry, time for a road trip.

  1. Portillo’s is amazing and definitely should be on this list. I know people love In-N-Out, but if you are on the West Coast try Habit Burger. I think it’s much better and would love one here. I think they have a couple in Virginia so maybe one day.

    • Been to Cincy and Toronto many times, both Skyline (not chili, just bad Americanized spaghetti) and Tim Hortons (just another coffee shop) are vastly overrated. So is In-and-Out. Californians think anything that originated there must be great, but most of them have never left the state and have no idea what else is out there.

  2. Keep In ‘n’ Out. It’s highly overrated. Fries are awful. Bring in The Habit and El Pollo Loco. Best fast food in California.

  3. There used to be a chain called “Hops” that had locations here in Charlotte a few years back. They specialized in homemade craft beers and had huge copper brewing kettles prominently displayed in a glass room in the center of the restaurant. Served, I believe, fresh croissants with honey butter as a free appetizer to every table. Is this the same chain as “Hops Burger Bar” referenced above? Perhaps a decedent?

  4. meh…. how about supporting the locals instead of wishing for restaurants where profits will be sent elsewhere. #SupportLocal

    • Sometimes they do. Johnny Burrito, locally owned & operated, opened downtown at the same time (within a month) as Phat Burrito and another national chain serving the same kind of huge, California-style burritos. They’re long gone, but JB continues to thrive. High quality food and great customer service are usually the keys to success in the restaurant business.

  5. We need a California Dreaming! Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Atlanta all have locations!

  6. “We polled our CharlotteFive readers, and these are 10 of the chains people are dying to see in Charlotte” Wait….how did I miss this poll? Did you really poll us? *side eye*

  7. No – Hops Burger Bar has 2 Greensboro locations. I’m pretty confused on why we are referring to it as a “chain”. It is SO good. Best burgers ever. And they are very inventive. Once again, not really a chain restaurant at all.

  8. 54th Street Bar and Grill
    Need a restaurant that sells a homemade tenderloin sandwich which is a midwestern sandwich.
    Good bbq restaurants like Gates & Sons, Jack Stack or Smokehouse bbq.


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