35 iconic restaurants that have been serving Charlotte for 20+ years

35 iconic restaurants that have been serving Charlotte for 20+ years
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New restaurants are opening every day in Charlotte, it seems, and that makes it easy to overlook the classics.

Why it matters: Charlotte’s longstanding restaurants helped make the city’s food scene what it’s grown to be today. Often new restaurants draw inspiration from these classics.

Driving the news: Every time one of these iconic restaurants close, we lose a piece of classic Charlotte, and we’ve seen that happening a lot recently.

This list is meant to highlight the spots that’ve been in Charlotte before the developers rolled in and built shiny new restaurants and shops. There’s no shame in trying new places, but keep the old ones in your rotation, too.

  • Restaurants are listed newest to oldest.

 1998: Mert’s Heart & Soul

Low Country and Gullah-inspired soul food in Uptown. It’s also a popular tourist spot, as evidenced by now-president Joe Biden’s visit in 2020.

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Tia Bazzelle GM with Mr Biden at merts

General manager Tia Bazzelle with former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo courtesy of Mert’s

1997: Eddie’s Place

Casual neighborhood Cotswold diner famous for its She Crab soup. They also serve all-day breakfast.

soup-bread-eddie's-place-cotswold

1996: Sir Edmond Halley’s

Quirky basement-level pub in the backlot at Park Road Shopping Center. If you’re up to it, try their beer tower.

Sir Edmond Halley beer tower

Sir Edmond Halley beer tower. Emma Way/Axios

1995: Mimosa Grill

Banker-approved, Southern-inspired restaurant in the Wells Fargo Atrium. It’s also a great place to eat al-fresco. Try their Sunday brunch buffet.

Mimosa Grill, long-standing Charlotte restaurant, uptown, brunch

Paige Hopkins/Axios

1992: Mama Ricotta’s

The classic Midtown Italian restaurant also has a sister concept called Little Mama’s. Both are great for a big family dinner or for takeout. The penne alla vodka is a must-try.

lasagna mama ricottas past charlotte restaurant

1992: Red Rocks

Upscale American cuisine in a casual, family-friend setting.

1991: Luisa’s Pizza

Family-friendly pizzeria in Montford with a $9 all-you-can-eat weekday buffet.

1990: Selwyn Pub

Quintessential Myers Park hangout in repurposed old house with a great front patio.

pizza-transfusion-wings-at-selwyn-pub-charlotte

Selwyn Pub was established in 1990 in a what was an old house on the eastern edge of Myers Park.

1990: Lang Van

Popular family-run Vietnamese restaurant on the east side.

1989: McNinch House

Located in the Victorian home of Charlotte mayor Sam McNinch, the upscale restaurant has a small menu with items like lobster bisque and filet mignon.

McNinch House, long-standing Charlotte restaurant, mayor mcninch

Paige Hopkins/Axios

1988: Thai Taste

Charlotte’s first Thai restaurant that has rotating daily specials and large, flavorful dishes.

1987: Lupie’s Cafe

No-frills diner known for its four types of chili — Texas, Cincinnati, Vegetarian and Southern. Diners have the option to add toppings like beans, onions and cheese. You can also mix the different chilis.

1986: French Quarter

Uptown favorite in historic Brevard Court with a crazy popular baked chicken lunch special that draws a crowd on Thursdays.

1986: Floyd’s Soul Food

Homestyle Southern favorites passed down through generations. Founder Otis Floyd Jr.’s mother, Mrs. Cattie-Bell Floyd, is honored with a mosaic monument on Freedom Drive.

1986: 300 East

Eclectic American dining in a historic 1900-era Victorian home in Dilworth. A popular spot for brunch.

breakfast-pizza-300-east-brunch-charlotte

Breakfast pizza at 300 East.

1984: Cajun Queen

Charlotte’s spot for New Orleans-inspired food, like étouféé and cajun pasta, and live jazz in a 100-year-old house.

Cajun Queen, long-standing Charlotte restaurant, cajun

Paige Hopkins/Axios

1984: Fenwick’s

Quaint Myers Park staple serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

1983: Alexander Michael’s

Cozy neighborhood tavern in Fourth Ward “where everybody knows your name.”

Alexander Michael's Tavern

1978: House of Pizza

The Central Avenue classic has some of the best pizza in the city plus cheesesteaks and wings.

1977: Bojangles

Charlotte’s beloved fried chicken chain with super sweet tea and buttery biscuits. In Charlotte, June 13 is Bojangles’ Day.

cajun chicken filet pimento cheese at bojangles

1976: Carolina Family Restaurant

Family-run diner on the west side near the airport.

1973: Brooks’ Sandwich House

Humble family-run burger shack in NoDa — get the cheeseburger “all the way.”

cheeseburger-from-brooks

1969: Gus’ Sir Beef

Endearing Oakhurst restaurant with a forever perplexing “Fresh My Farm Vegetables” tagline proudly displayed on the sign and painted on the building. This place has a lot of history, for example, Elizabeth Taylor once ate at Gus’ while visiting Charlotte.

1962: Riccio’s

Family-run Italian restaurant. Often referred to as one of Charlotte’s best pizza spots.

1961: Pressley Park Restaurant

Classic small-town diner in the big city. Sit in here for a few minutes and just watch how many customers the staff knows by name. Go for the country ham.

country ham and egg sandwich at Pressley Park

Country ham and egg sandwich at Pressley Park. Photo: Michael Graff/Axios

1959: South 21

Old school burger drive-in on Independence Boulevard.

jumbo-cheeseburger-at-south-21-charlotte

1959: Bar B Q King

Retro curb service barbecue drive in on the west side. American restaurateur Guy Fieri has told Axios that the restaurant is one of his favorites in Charlotte.

1958: Beef N Bottle

Special occasion steakhouse in an unassuming little building on South Boulevard. Get half-priced wine on Monday nights.

beef n bottle exterior

1952: The Open Kitchen

Eye-catching Italian restaurant in Wesley Heights. Their menu has all the classics from ziti to pizza.

Open Kitchen, longstanding Charlotte restaurant, Italian

Paige Hopkins/Axios

1952: Original Chicken ‘n Ribs

Simple to-go counter featuring made-to-order burgers, fried chicken and seafood. Lunch is free for kids on Tuesdays.

1947: Greystone Pub

Longstanding family-run pub passed down through generations that prides itself on having a “Cheers” atmosphere. The Andy’s Heavyweight sandwich is one if the restaurant’s most popular hoagies.

1945: The Diamond

Charming retro diner in Plaza Midwood. Most menu items are under $10.

The-diamond-cheeseburger-charlotte

1933: Providence Road Sundries

Landmark family-friendly Myers Park restaurant and bar. Popular dishes include the fried chicken sandwich topped with sweet chili, slaw, bacon, “Picabu” sauce and pickle chips. Another popular dish is the Mediterranean grain bowl.

Providence Road Sundries

1928: Reid’s Fine Foods

The gourmet grocer has evolved over time — passing through different buildings and ownership throughout the years — but the original location opened on Morehead in 1928.

chicken sandwich from reid's fine foods in charlotte

1926: Green’s Lunch

Iconic Uptown hot dog counter that’s been around for almost 100 years. Everyday around lunchtime the restaurant gets slammed with everyone from construction workers to bankers looking for a quick bite.

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