10 of the best places to eat near UNCC, from flying shrimp tails to phở and fried quail

Courtesy of Cava

With students from 85 countries and 49 states, it’s a good thing the range of cuisines in the UNCC area is so diverse. An argument could even be made that it is this area, along with the East Side, which provides Charlotte the eclectic mix of foreign fare seemingly ubiquitous in some of the nation’s best food cities.

Here is a list of 10 restaurants, featuring dishes from around the globe, all within four miles of the UNCC campus:

Banh Mi Brothers

230 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Suite A-7

Too many places screw up a good sandwich by serving it on bad bread. Not here, as the Vietnamese baguette is super light and crispy on the edges.

Vibe: The inside has a clean design with an efficient use of space.

Order: While the sandwiches are excellent, be sure to share a basket of Korean Fries (marinated beef, kimchi, scallion and cilantro aioli/$5).


8936 J M Keynes Drive

I know, I know—it’s a chain. But it’s a really good chain and worth a spot on this list. Ingredients are fresh, staff is helpful, and food is consistent.  

Vibe: It’s a make-your-own type of place so choose wisely. The inside is fine—about what you would expect from a quick service spot. Certainly, takeout is a great option here.

Order: Build-your-own Bowl (greens and grains, crazy feta, spicy lamb meatballs, tomato and cucumber, shredded romaine, pickled onions, kalamata olives, cauliflower quinoa tabbouleh, pita crisps, lemon wedge, lemon herb tahini and Greek vinaigrette/$10.82).

Pro tip: Order online and save time.

Giacomo’s Pizzeria

10230 Berkeley Place Drive #160

You can probably guess 90 percent of the menu, but that familiarity is comforting. Expect baked and tossed pastas, pizza, and lots of stinky, delicious garlic.

Vibe: It’s best to visit with smaller parties or get takeout.

Order: Baked Lasagna (includes bread and house salad/$10.45).

Pro tip: Either split the pasta with someone or plan on taking half of it home. The baked pasta portions, in particular, are giant.

King Fish Poke

350 E McCullough Drive C-110

Directly next door to Le Kebab (next on the list), King Fish Poke is good based solely on the quality and freshness of its ingredients.

Vibe: This is how I imagine the cafeteria on the Death Star to look—dark tiled ceiling, gray, and white.

Order: Yuzu Salmon Poke Bowl (salmon, sweet onion, cucumber, edamame, mango, sesame seeds, onion crisps, yuzu wasabi/$8.95).

Le Kebab Mediterranean Grille

350 East McCullough Drive

The wraps are good but platters like shawarma and kebabs are the better option here. Stay after dinner for a post-meal smoke from the hookah.

Vibe: The small dining room makes this place best for takeout or couples’ dining.

Order: The Mixed Shawarma over Hummus ($10.99) as an appetizer for the table.

Pro tip: Order a platter instead of a wrap here. Go with a friend or two and eat family-style.

Nakato Japanese Steakhouse

8601 University Executive Park Drive

If you don’t like going to Japanese steakhouses, then I don’t know how you define happiness.

Vibe: Spatula clanging, shrimp tail flipping, onion volcano flaming theatrics are all part of dinner at this concept which began in Charlotte in 1976. Don’t lean forward unless you want to be part of the show (or make a part of you, a part of the show).

Order: Hibachi Steak 7 oz. (includes onion soup, salad with ginger dressing, shrimp appetizer, hibachi vegetables, steamed rice, noodles/$22.50).

Passage to India

9510 University City Blvd. #101

This favorite lunch spot also has an a la carte menu for dinner.

Vibe: Some people may be turned off by the buffet-style lunch but the food here is legit.

Order: The Onion Bhaji (sliced onions sautéed in chickpea batter and fried/$3.99).


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Pho Real

440 East McCullough Drive #206

Pho Real is a cool spot whose interior surprises after first viewing it from the outside.

Vibe: Lights of various colors and sizes create a scene reminiscent of the bright streets of Hanoi.

Order: Chim Cut: Fried Quail (two whole quails, fried, served with lime/$8.95).

Pro tip: Only use half of your collection of garnishes for your phở. Use the rest while halfway through to liven it up, or save it with your leftover broth.

Quidley’s Delight

10901 University City Blvd., Suite 106

The authentic island food here doesn’t stray from the traditional with offerings from jerk chicken to whole snapper to stewed oxtails.

Vibe: It’s a Caribbean restaurant. What do you expect? It’s chill.

Order: If you’ve never had oxtail, this is the place to try it ($13/$15).

Thai House

230 East W.T. Harris Blvd.

Some of these dishes look straight out of a grandma’s kitchen. Is there a higher compliment?

Vibe: With a small bar that looks like a tiki hut made for the beach, you’ll feel a world away from Charlotte. 

Order: Stray from pad Thai and try the Half Roasted Duck (pineapple red curry sauce, mixed vegetables/$20.95).

Honorable mentions:

Seafood Connection


-Lazeez Mediterranean Grill


-Ciro’s Italian Restaurant



  1. Ciro’s is worth WAY more than an honorable mention. It’s a true locally- and family-owned Italian restaurant in the university area. It’s authentic and delightful. Food is delicious. It’s worth changing the title of this article to “11 of the best places to eat near UNCC.”

  2. A different list of the top ten places to go if you’re in the University area and want to go out to eat:
    1. NODA
    2. Plaza Midwood
    3. Uptown
    4. Elizabeth
    5. Southend
    6. Davidson
    7. Myers Park
    8. SouthPark
    9. Park Road Shopping Center
    10. Belmont

    In other words, why is this the weakest area in the region, restaurant-wise?

  3. Ignoring Toyama is a huge mistake. They’ve consistently been the go-to place for a quick bite of hibachi steak/chicken. The only time I don’t see them busy is when they’re closed. Drop the lame chains and stick with locals.


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