Top 5 Restaurants in Charlotte by Cuisine
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Want a list of restaurants in Charlotte that have been time-tested by yours truly? Places proven to be delicious, consistent, and have great service? Look no further. Keep reading to discover 5 of my top picks for restaurants in the city, listed by cuisine type.
So, I am currently on a hiatus from eating in restaurants for 30 days. It’s a personal challenge I gave myself in efforts to instill more discipline in my life and free up some extra time.
I know... me, not eating at a restaurant for 30 days... crazy right? Don’t worry about me too much; I’m on day 17… #igotthis
But just because I’m not dining out doesn’t mean a gal can’t share about her feasting days prior to setting this personal challenge.
So, as a way to live vicariously through myself, in this week’s blog I’m sharing my top 5 restaurants in Charlotte.
"But Charlotte is full of thousands of good restaurants Rue, how could you possibly narrow it down to 5?"
Listen, in no way am I saying these are the 5 best restaurants in #Charlotte. No one is in the position to write such a list because we all have our own unique tastes and desires.
What I am saying is:
I have very good taste in food
I have frequented most of these restaurants for at least 10 years
They are my go-to eateries that don't disappoint
These spots are Rue-certified so that should give them a tad bit of street cred, if you will.
So go ahead and devour this list of Charlotte classics and in the mean time, I’ll be day-dreaming about the next time I can be out and about giggling and nom-noming with friends! (T-minus 13 days).
1. Mexican – Paco’s Tacos and Tequila
As a California native, it should come as no surprise that Mexican food is my favorite. And because I’ve lived in the south for some time now, I have tried loads of Mexican food restaurants and needless to say, I have not always been impressed; enter Paco's, Tacos and Tequila!
The food here is not just Mexican food, it’s Tex-Mex and yes, that makes a huge difference.
Here they have an wide range of specialty tacos along with other Mexican favorites that is sure to please the palate.
My go-to dish: Although you can't go wrong with any of the dishes here, my fave is the Chimichanga! I make a special request to add brisket instead of the other meat options and it comes out perfect!
My go-to bev: Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita – The name says it all. Spicy and refreshing shaken with a house made sour, a very nice margarita indeed.
2. American – Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Hands down, Firebirds was "my first" favorite restaurant in the city. It’s what I like to call an “oldie but goodie” because, well, the food is impressive.
When you walk into this place you are hit with the beautiful aroma of their wood-fired grill which is what they prepare most of their mains on so, whatever you choose, you're winning.
From salads, to wood grilled salmon and aged steaks, this place has a little something for every taste. Any time I’ve taken someone here, which is often, they always rave about the fresh bread that they bring to the table. And yes, it is delish!
My go-to dish: Why… the ribs of course. This place has baby-back ribs that are to LIVE for! I always request the potatoes au gratin as my side and stick with their signature green beans. Ah! Just love this place.
My go-to beverage: The bar here is beautiful and screams "home bar goals" so when there, I’m always in the mood for a lemon drop martini which pairs perfectly with ribs LOL. (Let me live!)
3. Peruvian – Pio Pio
Pio Pio should have been named “perfect perfect” because that’s just what it is.
This #Peruvian rotisserie chicken spot is based out of New York and I have been going since the day they opened their East Blvd. location.
The menu has so much to offer - chicken, rice and beans, fried fish, sausages, this place is a true culinary delight!
Do yourself a favor and get to this place if you haven’t already been.
I have fed literally hundreds of people food from this place and I have never once heard a complaint (besides one of the sauces being too spicy, but hey, you’ve been warned).
My go-to dish: If it’s your first time visiting then the chicken is a must. But when I’m out living my best life, I order the Montanero platter (pictured below). It’s insane… don’t judge me please and thank you 😊
My go-to drink: The sangrias here are divine. So yummy and I usually go with the red. I also love the mango drink which is non-alcoholic and refreshing. I always order at least one while I’m there.
4. Italian – Mama Ricotta’s
In the deepest part of my heart I feel like everyone in Charlotte already knows about Mama Ricottas, or “mama’s” as we call it. But last month I found out that wasn't true so I'm happy to add it to this list.
Mama’s is one of the main reasons for this post. It is my absolute favorite Italian restaurant in Charlotte, if not the US.
Fresh pasta, wood-fired pizza bar, and an abundance of comfort dishes that are just down right decadent! The service here is top-notch and the prices will almost make you feel guilty that you got such a bang for your buck. Mama Ricotta's is Italian food royalty in the city of Charlotte. #periodt
My go-to dish: This past Valentine’s Day I went with the lasagna for the first time. Once I finished I shed a solitary tear down one cheek so it is worth a strong mention. But my actual go-to dish is the pasta primavera with cream sauce. Red sauce and an olive oil base are also options. You can get it with chicken, shrimp, or sausage and believe me, I've tried them all, but most times, I just get it vegetarian style. Either way, you will be delighted beyond measure.
My go-to beverage: I almost always sip wine while dining Italian so a nice Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with my pasta primavera. But if I am having pizza, I like to wash it down with an ice cold Peroni Italian Lager while here. Perfecto!
5. Japanese – Futo Buta
Okay, I know ramen isn’t a cuisine… but it should be. Instead, they are broth bowls of deliciousness full of flavor and all types ingredients. Needless to say, ramen is the reason Futo Buta made this list.
This place was a quarantine find for me. I have tried my fair share of places for ramen bowls in the city, this one hit the mark. Futo is the only place on the list that doesn't make the 10-year threshold.
Even though I haven’t been going here for 10-years, it seems like I have because after discovering it last year during quarantine, I visited 2-3 times a month!
In addition to ramen bowls, this “rock and roll ramen spot” has all types of Japanese delights like gyoza, buns, and shisito peppers. They also have a decent beer selection and a variety of sakes. I’ve tried a little bit of everything but it’s the ramen bowl that has me going back time after time!
My go-to dish: The Buta Bowl, or as I like to refer to it, the everything but the kitchen sink bowl. This dish has 2 different broths, smoked pork belly, spicy ground pork, duck confit, and tons of other ingredients! And when I tell this thing slaps!… I mean it. I ate this paticular bowl at least 12 times last year... and I barely discovered it in mid-July. Yeah, I know...
My go-to beverage: Sake. I’ve tried several. I just encourage you to be adventurous.
I was going to add a soul food restaurant but I couldn’t narrow it down to one. Not to worry, soon I will be writing an entire post about my top pics for soul food restaurants in the city so be on the lookout.
For now, I want to give honorable mentions to La’Wan’s Soul Food for the best fried fish in Charlotte (it's cornmeal-based which is hard to find in Charlotte and what I prefer) and Nana Morrison's Soul Food (Nana's) for those signature jerk wings that you can only get on Fridays. Lawd help us all!
So there you have it. My LIST! I hope you found something new, or a place the resonates with you.
Speaking of which, what’s your favorite restaurant in Charlotte? Let me know in the comments and be sure to include what type of cuisine it is. I’m always looking for new places to try!