The 20 most anticipated new restaurants and bars in 2021

The 20 most anticipated new restaurants and bars in 2021
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This article was last updated on February 24, 2021.

What’s opening soon in Charlotte? Here’s a quick breakdown of the 20 most anticipated new restaurants, bars, and breweries opening this year.

Coronavirus has delayed nearly all projects this year. Everything — from construction to the liquor license — takes longer in a pandemic. But there are still some exciting openings to come.

Expansions: The list below only includes new concepts to Charlotte. It doesn’t include big expansions like Ace No. 3 opening two new locations, LuLu’s adding a second location in Plaza Midwood or Bossy Beulah’s in South End.

Recent openings: Even during a pandemic, a few heavy-hitters have joined Charlotte’s food and beverage scene.

  • Kounter opened in the historic McCrory’s Building in Rock Hill.
  • Botiwalla, an Indian street food restaurant opened at Optimist Hall.
  • The fancy steakhouse Steak 48 opened in Apex SouthPark.
  • The Eagle, a Cincinnati-based fried chicken restaurant just opened in South End’s Atherton complex.

    Here’s our list of the most anticipated openings, in chronological order (not ranked).

    (1) Orto

    Italian spot somewhere between Stagioni and Mama Ricotta’s

    Opening: February opening in NoDa near Wooden Robot’s Chamber.

    Overview: Paul Verica, the chef, and owner of The Stanley is behind the concept. Orto, Verica says, is “not as high end as Stagioni and not as casual at Mama Ricotta’s, both of which are great restaurants.”

    Menu: Look for Verica’s square pizza, which is based off of his favorite pizzeria from outside of Philly, where he grew up. Pasta will be “seasonally driven” and made in-house, Verica adds.

    Expansion: Don’t expect Orto to be a one-off. If all goes well with this location, Verica and investors hope to “put this concept into a box and reproduce more around town.”

    Agenda related guide: Best Italian restaurants in Charlotte

    paul verica chef orto italian

    Chef Paul Verica makes fresh pasta. Photo courtesy Peter Taylor.

    (2) Margaux’s Wine, Pizza & Market

    Wine shop-turned-pizzeria and pantry staples market.

    Opening: Late February in Pineville.

    Concept: The idea was to bring delicious pizza and quality, imported wines to Pineville.

    Menu: Margaux’s will be serving up Neapolitan-style pizza topped with a St. Louis cheese blend. There will also be a variety of salads, charcuteries, appetizers, and calzones (with vegetarian and gluten-free options).

    Margaux's Pizza

    (3) The Vintage

    Upscale whiskey bar and cigar lounge.

    Opening: February 2021 in Dilworth.

    Background: Before it was an Iron Tribe Fitness, the gray-painted brick building was an auto body shop owned by Michael Jordan’s father, James Jordan. Now, the 3,400-square-foot building will get new life.

    Vibe: The Vintage will be a private members-only club. It’ll be styled as an upscale, Prohibition-era lounge with plenty of plush sofas and big wooden common tables.

    Read more: Dilworth’s Iron Tribe building will be converted into new whiskey bar/cigar lounge named The Vintage

    The Vintage Cigar and Whiskey Bar

    (4) The Exchange at 36th

    Part-market, part-bar in the heart of NoDa.

    Opening: February 2021 in NoDa on 36th Street.

    What to expect: Owner Kevin Samuel, who’s the chef at Bistro La Bon, says The Exchange will be a casual hangout with a bar and a place where people can pick up quick pantry essentials. The 1,400-square-foot market is Samuel’s first of two projects on 36th Street. Next door to the market is a 3,800-square-foot space that he plans to turn into a restaurant before the end of 2021.

    Read more: Bistro La Bon chef opening grocery concept and restaurant in NoDa

    The Exchange on 36

    (5) Supperland

    A new concept from the Haberdish team in a former Plaza Midwood church.

    Opening: February 2021 in Plaza Midwood.

    Overview: Supperland is the latest restaurant and cocktail bar concept from Jeff Tonidandel and Jamie Brown, owners of Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse, and Reigning Doughnuts.

    Space: The landmark 5,250-square-foot church, built in 1952, will serve as the main dining room and a 2,250-square-foot back building dating back to 1936 will be a craft cocktail bar. Ample outdoor space with a garden and patio will front The Plaza.

    Menu: Chef Chris Rogienski, former sous chef at Haberdish, will lead the kitchen at Supperland with a Southern menu that draws inspiration from traditional church potluck picnics. Tonidandel says to expect thoughtfully sourced proteins, quick-charred vegetables, and shareable family-style sides. A similar simplified menu will be available in the adjacent cocktail bar.

    Drinks: Haberdish bar manager Colleen Hughes will run an ambitious craft cocktail bar in the adjacent back building.


    Supperland main entrance

    (6) D9 Brewing – The Pavilion at Uptown

    Soon-to-be Uptown’s only brewery with a giant outdoor beer garden from award-winning D9 team.

    Opening: Early 2021 in Uptown, near Savoy apartments.

    Background: Two engineers and a doctor opened D9 Brewing Company near Lake Norman in 2014, and it quickly gained a reputation for its sour beers. In June 2020, D9 announced it would move all of its production to a facility 40 miles northwest of Charlotte in Newton. A taproom remains in Lake Norman. D9 is also opening a new taproom in Hendersonville.

    New concept: D9 will operate a 900-square-foot indoor “craft lounge” taproom and an expansive outdoor beer garden in Uptown’s Second Ward next to Savoy apartments.

    d9 brewing beer garden uptown

    (7) The Jimmy

    Jim Noble’s latest restaurant venture.

    Opening: Early 2021 in Myers Park.

    Concept: The Jimmy is named after what friends and family call owner Jim Noble. The restaurant will be open all day, and it’s inspired by the trattorias and bistros found along the Mediterranean coastline in Italy and France.

    Menu: Offerings will include coffee and pastries by Copain in the morning and light Mediterranean-inspired dishes at lunch. For dinner, expect Neapolitan-style pizzas, handmade pasta, and more.

    Read more: Jim Noble’s new restaurant called The Jimmy to open in the former Nolen Kitchen space in Myers Park

    The Jimmy Interior Bar Rendering

    Rendering courtesy of The Jimmy

    The old Nolen Kitchen bar in Myers Park

    The old Nolen Kitchen bar in Myers Park

    (8) A to-be-named concept at the Mint Museum Uptown

    After Halcyon closed in December, the same team will open a new international tapas restaurant in the space. 

    Opening: April 2021 in Mint Museum Uptown (pushed back from February).

    Concept: Expect an international tapas-style menu with influences from Morocco and India through chef Jonathan Moore’s Southern lens. It’ll still source ingredients locally, including from the restaurant’s own “victory garden.” The look will be more contemporary with a colorful mural and modern artwork that tie in with the museum.

    Outdoor dining: The restaurant’s balcony just got cooler with the addition of greenhouse dining pods for warmth and social distancing.

    Read more: Halcyon will close, and a new restaurant with greenhouse pods will open at Mint Uptown

    mint museum restaurant halcyon

    (9) Vaulted Oak Brewing

    Introducing the most Charlotte thing ever: a brewery inside an old bank.

    Opening: Early spring 2021 in east Charlotte on Monroe Road.

    What to expect: The 4,000-square-foot brewery will repurpose certain old elements of the bank, including the vault door, and the drive-up teller area, which will turn into a patio area with a walk-up window.

    Beer: Vaulted Oak will focus on small-batch beers from an array of styles — such as sessionable blondes, lagers, west coast IPAs, sours, saisons, and porters. The brewery will also have a selection of wine and cider.

    Read more: A new brewery is under construction in an old bank on Monroe Road

    Vaulted Oak Exterior

    Courtesy of Vaulted Oak


    (10) Konnichiwa Sushi, Steak & Seafood

    Sushi restaurant coming to East Boulevard.

    Opening: Early 2021 in Dilworth.

    Menu: Aside from the restaurant’s namesake, further details about the menu haven’t been disclosed just yet.

    (11) Urban District Market at Lintmen’s

    New food hall and Seoul Food Meat Co. location opening along the XCLT trail.

    Opening: Sometime in 2021. Massive construction projects like this one take time so I wouldn’t expect this to open until fall at the earliest.

    What to expect: The Lintmen’s complex will include Urban District Market, a food hall with 12 all-local stalls. Behind the food hall is Seoul Food Meat Co.’s second location coming in at 15,000 square feet.

    Read more: New food hall to open in Charlotte in 2021, one mile from Optimist Hall


    (12) Art Room

    A bar and art gallery that will showcase and sell local art, and even host events (once it’s safe to do so).

    Opening: Mid-February in NoDa.

    Concept: Co-owner Markus Hunter said the idea came to him while he was bored during quarantine. The goal is to create a fun hangout spot for artists.

    Drinks: Art Room will have a full bar, plus beer and wine. Cocktails start at $9.

    Read more: New NoDa bar wants to be a hangout spot for artists

    art room noda bar

    Finishing touches are going inside like a flower wall, mural, and an art gallery wall.

    (12) What the Fries

    The popular loaded fries food truck expands to its first brick-and-mortar restaurant.

    Opening: Spring 2021 in South Charlotte.

    Background: Chefs and co-owners Jamie Barnes and Greg Williams opened the food truck five years ago. And despite the pandemic, their sales have actually gone up.

    Menu: Food truck favorites include:

    • Shrimp and steak hibachi fries – sauteed shrimp and steak, bok choy, carrots, house-made yum yum sauce, and scallions atop hand-cut fries.
    • Bread pudding tots – fried bread pudding bites with rotating toppings.
    • Burgers – served with one, two, or three patties with garlic mayo and American cheese on a brioche bun.

    Read more: Loaded fries food truck What The Fries to open first restaurant

    What the Fries cheesy fries

    One of the most popular loaded dishes is the cheesy fries made with three cheeses.

    (13) Xiao Bao

    Legendary Charleston-based Asian restaurant coming to Optimist Hall

    Opening: Spring 2021 in Optimist Hall.

    Menu: Xiao Bao will offer the same favorites you’d find at the Charleston location like the okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake. The menu will focus on Southeast Asian cuisine, including dishes like pad kra pow (Thai basil chicken stir fry) and som tum (papaya salad). There will also be fried rice, a variety of curries, and other dishes on its rotating menu.

    Read more: Charleston-based Xiao Bao and its legendary okonomiyaki are coming to Optimist Hall next spring

    xiao bao optimist hall new food stall

    Photo courtesy Xiao Bao.

    (14) Babe & Butcher

    A cult-favorite charcuterie business.

    Opening: Spring 2021 in Camp North End.

    Background: Partners Lindsay Anvik and Rob Henricks launched Babe & Butcher in 2019, and the demand for their boards was almost immediate. In their first year, they created upwards of 13 boards a day.

    Read more: Babe & Butcher to open first storefront in Camp North End

    Babe and Butcher rendering

    Courtesy of ATCO/Camp North End.

    babe and butcher cheese charcuterie

    (15) Cheat’s Cheesesteak Parlor

    Authentic cheesesteaks.

    Opening: Spring 2021 in Plaza Midwood.

    Background: Co-founders Hannah Smith, Ryan Hart, and chef Greg Balch created the concept while working together at The Crunkleton.

    Menu: The classic “whiz wit” cheesesteaks on Amoroso’s buns are $12 each and cooked in front of guests at each pop-up. There’s also a vegan version with Beyond meat.

    Read more: Real-deal Philly cheesesteak “whiz wit” coming to Charlotte this spring

    cheats cheesesteaks

    (16) BOCADO Bar + Diner

    A new Southern American bar and diner.

    Opening: Summer 2021 at Atherton Mill.

    Background: The popular Atlanta restaurant plans to transform the Big Ben Pub space to have a modern and moody lounge vibe.

    Menu: Offerings will include the double stack burger, pasta carbonara, roasted chicken with stone-ground grits, and deviled eggs.

    From the bar, expect classic cocktails as well as a selection of wine and local beers.

    BOCADO renderings

    (17) Emmy Squared Pizza

    New York-based pizza joint serving up Detroit-style pizza.

    Opening: Summer 2021 in Plaza Midwwod.

    Background: Emmy Squared started in Brooklyn in 2016 and is known for it’s square-shaped, crispy-bottomed Detroit-style pizza and signature burgers.

    Read more: Emmy Squared will open this summer in Plaza Midwood

    Courtesy of Emmy Squared

    (18) Broken Promises

    Swanky bar from the team behind Lost and Found.

    Opening: Late summer/ early fall 2021 in South End.

    Concept: Owner Orlando Botero and his partners want Broken Promises to be a laid-back cocktail lounge. Unlike Lost & Found, which is temporarily closed due to the ongoing pandemic, it won’t have a dance floor and the menu will focus on craft cocktails.

    Read more: Lost & Found owners opening a new concept in South End


    Broken Promises will have a strong emphasis on craft cocktails.

    (19) Trolley Barn Fermentory

    New brewery and restaurant concept from Legion Brewing.

    Opening: Summer 2021 in South End’s Atherton near Indaco.

    Overview: Expect indoor and outdoor seating, a second-floor mezzanine, and patio with unobstructed views of Uptown.

    “I love South End, and to be able to bring the Trolley Barn Fermentory to this hip vibrant area of Charlotte is so exciting,” Legion Brewing owner Phil Buchy said. “The Atherton Trolley Barn is right on the Rail Trail, providing great pedestrian access with its walkability to multiple neighborhoods in Charlotte, making this a prime location to enjoy great beer and food with friends.”

    Name: The name comes from our city’s electric trolleys that began operating in 1891 and ran to neighborhoods like Dilworth, Myers Park, and Elizabeth.

    Read more: View renderings: Two-story brewery and restaurant going into Atherton’s Trolley Barn


    Interior rendering courtesy of Legion Brewing

    trolley barn fermentory

    (20) Gilde Brewery

    Gilde, one of Germany’s oldest beer-makers, is coming to the Queen City. 

    Opening: Late 2021 in LoSo (Lower South End).

    Concept: The idea is to provide an authentic German brewery experience to Charlotte’s extensive beer scene. Brewers will be instructed by experienced brewmasters from Germany.

    On tap: Pilsener is their flagship beer, but their selection includes Kellerbier, Urbock, Pale Wheat, Lemon Radler, and Red Rooster.

    • Guests can also expect shareable plates like flatbreads and cheese boards.

    All this restaurant talk making you hungry? View all Agenda food and drink guides here.

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