The 21 most anticipated new restaurants and bars in 2021

The 21 most anticipated new restaurants and bars in 2021
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This article was last updated on March 22, 2021.

What’s opening soon in Charlotte? Here’s a quick breakdown of the 21 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 in Myers Park, 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.

  • The historic-church-turned-restaurant, Supperland just opened in Plaza Midwood.
  • Xiao Bao, a Charleston-based Southeast Asian restaurant became Optimist Hall’s 24th tenant.
  • Margaux’s, Wine Pizza, and Market recently opened in Pineville.
  • The new Italian restaurant, Orto opened in NoDa.

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

    (1) What the Fries

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

    Opening: March 23 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

    WTF restaurant, What the fries, loaded fries, burgers, Greg Williams, Jamie Barnes

    WTF restaurant, What the fries, loaded fries, burgers, Greg Williams, Jamie Barnes

    WTF Fried snapper sandwich

    (2) Vaulted Oak Brewing

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

    Opening: 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

    (3) Konnichiwa Sushi, Steak & Seafood

    Sushi restaurant coming to East Boulevard.

    Opening: The restaurant tells us once it gets the go ahead from the county, it’ll announce its official opening date. Translation: Soon.

    Menu: The new Dilworth restaurant has teased a few of its dishes on Instagram, including a hibachi rice bowl and seasonal ramen.

    Konnichiwa Restaurant Dilworth

    (4) Calle Sol

    Latin American restaurant and cevicheria in the former NC Red space in Plaza Midwood

    Opening: May 2021

    What to expect: Calle Sol will have a casual cafe vibe inspired by Latin American restaurants in cities like Miami, restaurateur Frank Scibelli says. You’ll see Cuban and Peruvian flavors in dishes like ceviche and arroz con pollo.

    • By day, Calle Sol will serve coffee from a to-go window and offer affordable lunch specials meat and three-style. By night, the restaurant will have a “sexier” menu, Scibelli says, including cocktails made with fresh sugar cane. Most entrees will be in $10-$15 range.

    Read more: NC Red closing, Frank Scibelli to open cevicheria in the old Penguin space

    new plaza midwood restaurant ceviche

    Ceviche from SuViche in Miami. Photo: Rémy Thurston


    NC Red.

    (5) 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: Spring 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 Uptown March Update

    (6) Big Ben Pub

    A beloved British pub and second home for soccer fans in Elizabeth’s old Carpe Diem space.

    Opening: Spring 2021

    What to expect: Food and drink offerings in the new space will remain the same, with a few new items and the addition of live music.

    Read more: Big Ben Pub (and Charlotte soccer fans) will move to the former Carpe Diem space

    Former Carpe Diem, Big Ben Pub

    (7) The Jimmy

    Jim Noble’s latest restaurant venture.

    Opening: Spring 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.

    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) 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

    (10) 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

    (11) 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

    (12) 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 its 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

    (13) Old Town Kitchen & Cocktails

    Set to open in the former White Horse space of the historic Lowenstein Building in Rock Hill.

    Opening: Summer 2021

    What to expect: American fare like sandwiches and meat-and-twos.

    • Dishes include an “extremely spreadable” pimento cheese ball, salt-and-pepper catfish and a T-bone steak.

    Read more: Goodyear House team to open a new restaurant in booming Rock Hill

    rendering new rock hill restaurant cluck 2

    (14) 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.

    (15) Trolley Barn Fermentory

    New brewery and restaurant concept from Legion Brewing.

    Opening: Fall 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

    (16) Gibson Mill Market

    Food hall and market concept in a former textile mill.

    Opening: Fall 2021 in Concord.

    Background: Gibson Mill is the former Gibson Manufacturing Company, which opened in 1899. Now, Gibson Mill averages about 1,000 visitors each day. It houses a variety of tenants, including the largest antique mall in the south.

    What to expect: It’ll house food hall-style dining and shopping similar to Charlotte’s Optimist Hall, but on a smaller scale.

    Read more: Concord’s Gibson Mill Market targets fall opening. Here’s everything we know

    Courtesy of Gibson Mill Market/ D3 Studio.

    (17) “Super” Abari

    Game bar.

    Opening: Late summer 2021 in Belmont.

    What to expect: Abari will still have a full bar and a small food menu with novelties like homemade Hot Pockets from local bakery Dukes Bread.

    Read more: “Super” Abari game bar in the works in Belmont neighborhood

    new abari location

    (18) 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.

    (19) Night Swim Coffee

    A collaboration between two of Charlotte’s most popular coffee shops, Not Just Coffee and Undercurrent.

    Opening: Late 2021/early 2022 in Lower South End, Oakhurst, and two locations in Uptown.

    What to expect: The new spaces will have a “leveled up” atmosphere from the hip Brooklyn-coffee-shop feel at existing NJC and Undercurrent locations.

    Read more: Big coffee news: Not Just Coffee, Undercurrent teaming up for roastery and 4 cafés

    night swim coffee bank of america tower

    One of the new Night Swim cafes will be in the new Bank of America tower at 620 S. Tryon St.

    (20) The Crust Pizza

    A Naples-based pizza concept opening in the iconic Mr. K’s space in South End.

    Opening: An opening date hasn’t been announced yet.

    Background: Mr. K’s was a Charlotte institution and testament to the fortitude of a family-run small business. The restaurant closed after 50 years in business due to pressure from developers in South End in recent, as well as slow traffic during the pandemic.

    What to expect: Midwest-style pizza, toasted subs, and salads.

    Read more: Iconic Mr. K’s will close at 5pm today

    Mr. K's soft serve vertical

    (21) 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


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