On the surface, Pineville has all the chain restaurants that seem to neighbor any shopping mall. It’s also a town known for big box retail and speed traps. If you dig a little further, though, you’ll find a food scene that’s quite diverse, offering everything from Colombian and Peruvian to Indian and German.
Here are 10 of the best finds.
207 Johnston Dr.
Many of you may recognize OooWee BBQ from their food truck that can often be seen parked outside of area breweries. But did you know that OooWee BBQ also has a brick and mortar in Pineville? Neither did I.
Vibe: It’s a great place for families and for delivery to Pineville beer bars that don’t serve food like Pintville and Kit’s Trackside Taps.
Signature Dish: The BBQ Sunday — layered with baked beans, smoked mac and cheese, choice of smoked meat, housemade BBQ sauce, and dry rub coleslaw — is so filling that you won’t even be hungry for ice cream.
12101 Lancaster Hwy.
Can I get a raise of hands for everyone who’s been to Waldhorn Restaurant outside of the German restaurant’s annual Oktoberfest celebration? Yeah, that’s what I thought. German cuisine is much more than brats and potato salad washed down with liters of marzen.
Vibe: Waldhorn’s is great for special occasions or to fulfill that hankering for Wienerschnitzel.
Signature dish: For a true taste of German cuisine (owner Gritta Maier grew up in her family’s restaurant in Germany, also called Waldhorn), try non-sausage dishes like Jägerschnitzel (sautéed pork cutlets in a rich, hunter sauce) or Gebratene Ente (roasted duck with an apple-orange sauce).
8500 Pineville-Matthews Rd.
I’m not a big fan of Japanese steakhouses. I’ve always found them to be more about the show than the actual food. Nakato Japanese Restaurant is an exception to that rule.
Vibe: From the price tag to the absurd amout of sodium you’ll consume, Nakato’s is best for special occasions like birthdays.
Signature Dish: Go all in with the filet mignon and jumbo black tiger prawn combo.
325 S. Polk St.
In an era where donuts are becoming more art than a delicious start to your morning, MJ’s still keeps it old-school with the handmade donuts served in a no-frills shop that looks like a donut shop should.
Vibe: Stop here to pick up a few dozen for your co-workers on the way to work or for a morning pick-me-up of coffee and donuts.
Signature Donut: The cinnamon crumb or the apple fritter or the double chocolate cake. Heck, just order a variety dozen.
8318 Pineville-Matthews Rd.
Los Paisas Restaurant is one of only a few restaurants in the Charlotte area cooking up authentic Colombian cuisine. The restaurant does a nice job of highlighting everything from seafood-forward dishes found on the coast to rich, heartier platters more common in the mountainous regions.
Vibe: Los Paisas prides themselves on their family atmosphere. For a unique Colombian experience, head there for a soccer game and be a part of the fun as Charlotte-area Colombian families cheer their national team on.
Signature Dish: Those new to Colombian cuisine will want to try the Bandeja Típica Colombiana, which includes grilled beef, beans, red sausage, pork crackling, rice, a fried egg, sweet plantains, avocado, and white corn tortillas.
315 S. Polk St.
The South American culinary journey in Pineville continues at Machu Picchu Lounge & Ceviche. Perhaps plan a progressive dinner between Machu Picchu and Los Paisas to experience just how unique the cuisine is between these two Andean nations.
Vibe: Ideal for anything from family dinners to date nights.
Signature Dish: Ceviche is another dish that keeps getting “modernized” to the point where many have yet to try an authentic version. Start your dinner at Machu Picchu with a simple, yet delicious traditional ceviche featuring a Peruvian seafood mix of shrimp and Swai fish marinated in lime juice and onions.
10403 Park Rd.
In this food writer’s humble opinion, a city’s culinary scene is best measured by its top chicken wing joint. Pineville represents well with d.d. Peckers’ Wing Shack.
Vibe: With 12 TVs and over 25 homemade wing flavors, d.d. Peckers’ is a great spot to catch a game.
Signature Dish: Obviously, you should try the wings. The original Buffalo and Hot Gold (a hot mustard BBQ) are fan favorites, but I prefer the Hot Garlic (if you’re asking). Pair your wings with an order of homemade onion rings.
109 N. Polk St.
For 10 years now, The Dive-N has been treating Pineville residents to scratch-made diner classics like patty melts, milkshakes, and funnel cake fries. Stop in for breakfast or lunch (they’re not open for dinner) and taste one of Pineville’s best-kept secrets.
Vibe: This casual diner is a relaxing spot for an affordable breakfast or lunch out with family or friends.
Signature Dish: For breakfast, go all in with the Junkyard Special – a heaping mass of hash browns, cheese, peppers, onions, eggs, and your choice of meat cooked together on the flat top. For lunch, loosen up your belt for Jimmy’s Special – a double-decker cheeseburger topped with homemade onion rings, pickles, mustard, and a homemade Blooming Onion style sauce.
9101 Pineville Matthews Rd.
Chaupaati Casual Indian Kitchen regularly tops Charlotte’s best-of lists for their unique Indian street fare.
Vibe: As many menu items are vegetarian, Chaupaati is ideal for vegetarians. There’s also plenty of meat options for us carnivores though.
Signature Dish: Stay away from your traditional Indian dishes that you can find on name-your-favorite-Indian-restaurant’s menu and order a variety of “snacks” from the Chaat section of the menu.
314 Main St.
The international taste-of-Pineville experience culminates at Global, where owners Bernard and Shannon Brunet share their culinary travels around the world at their restaurant located in a circa 1920s downtown Pineville building.
Vibe: Great for date night, be it casual (in the first-floor bistro) or fancy (in the upstairs restaurant).
Signature Dish: As Global strives to source local, the menu changes seasonally. Chef Bernard is slightly addicted to duck and lamb though, so it’s always wise to order a dish with one of those two proteins.
Author’s note: For this article, I looked to Google to geographically define Pineville since there seems to be a lot of confusion even among folks who live in the town.
Featured photo: MJ donuts by Jen Rothacker