For more than two years, the lunchtime stretch was a sadly quiet time for plenty of Charlotte restaurants. But with workers heading back to the office, lunch is coming back too.
Looking for ideas on where to go for lunch? We’ve rounded up the best lunch spots in Charlotte and what to order from each.
Of note: The last time we updated this list was 2018. In the years since, we’ve lost some notable spots (RIP Chris’s Deli and Sauceman’s) — but we’ve also gained a few restaurants that have soared in popularity, from Cheats to Romeo’s Vegan Burgers.
- Also, prices of ingredients, labor, equipment and nearly everything else a restaurant depends on have soared since our last update. Inflation seeped into the cost of menu items, so you’ll see that reflected in most of the prices below.
Also note: This list is in no particular order, and it is not a comprehensive list of all the great lunch spots in Charlotte. Just our current favorites.
Ace No. 3
The popular burger joint from the restaurateurs behind Sea Level and The Waterman. It opened in November 2019 in the Belmont neighborhood.
Must order: A single cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, house-made pickles, ketchup and mustard ($6.55). Make it a combo with fries and a drink for $5.
Neighborhood and location: Belmont — 1001 Belmont Ave., Myers Park — 829 Providence Road, Concord Mills — 8520 Pit Stop Ct NW #10
Agenda guide: 25 best burgers in Charlotte
Rhino Market & Deli
A laid-back sandwich shop and market with daily specials.
Must order: The chicken torta — pulled chicken, avocado, provolone, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, mayo on ciabatta ($8.99).
Neighborhood and location: Wesley Heights (1500 W. Morehead St.), Uptown (420 S. Church St.), Villa Heights (2320 N. Davidson St.) South End (1414 S. Tryon Ste. 120,) Charlotte Douglas International Airport (Concourse A)
A fast-casual Peruvian rotisserie chicken spot.
Must order: A Tacu Bowl with pulled chicken — cilantro infused or Jasmine rice, canary beans, salsa criolla, avocado, green onions ($11.30) and a side of fried plantains.
Locations: Elizabeth (1617 Elizabeth Ave.), Park Road (4500 Park Road), Ballantyne (12206 Copper Way), Waverly (11641 Waverly Center Dr.)
- You can also find them in Concord, Gastonia and Huntersville.
A neighborhood wine and cheese shop with a deli that opened during the pandemic in the Belmont neighborhood.
Must order: The “Uncle Sammy” — black pepper turkey, bacon, havarti, roasted tomatoes, lettuce and mustard aioli ($8.99). Try it on a wrap.
Location: 1425 Kennon St.
Romeo’s Vegan Burgers
Started as a vegan food truck in late 2020, Romeo’s exploded in popularity, drawing lines that’d stretch down the street. The operation quickly outgrew its mobile operations. Romeo’s claims to be the first Black-owned, vegan drive-thru to open in the Southeastern U.S.
Must order: The Romeo Mac Burger, which comes topped with mac sauce, onions, cheese and house pickles ($13.99).
Location: 5518 South Blvd.
Read more: Romeo’s Vegan Burgers truck to open first brick-and-mortar on South Boulevard
Relaxed sandwich shop serving up no-frills, handcrafted sammies for more than three decades. The shop opened in South End in 2021 and closed its original Elizabeth location soon after.
Must order: The Pressed TCB — Swiss, turkey, ham, bacon w/ mayo ($6.75)
Location: South End — 1601 South Blvd.
Agenda guide: Max serving up some of the best sandwiches in the city
A small Latin supermarket near Plaza Midwood serving sneaky good sandwiches from a counter at the back of the store.
Must order: The chorizo torta —dry-age Mexican-style chorizo topped with avocado, lettuce, jalapeño, onion and queso asado ($10).
Location: 4459 Central Ave.
Agenda guide: How to find and eat an authentic football-sized Chicken Torta at a supermarket near Plaza Midwood
Casual Mediterranean restaurant offering shawarma bowls, hummus and Angel Bakeries Pita (which replaced the famed laffah bread).
Must order: Yafo Shawarma – Shawarma chicken, tzatziki, cucumber and tomato salad, tahini, sumac onion and schug served as a bowl (starting at $8.99 and $9.99, respectively).
Location: SouthPark (720 Gov. Morrison St.), Plaza Midwood (1331 Central Ave.), Dilworth (1231A East Blvd.)
Brooks’ Sandwich House
Small, longstanding family-owned roadside stop serving burgers out of a window. Cash-only.
Must order: A single cheeseburger “all the way” — topped with chili, mustard and onions ($5.72).
Location: NoDa – 2710 N Brevard St.
Agenda guide: Trust me, go order the $3.50 burger from this seat-less restaurant in NoDa. And get it “All the way”
A hip local market selling wine, beer, snacks and sandwiches.
Must order: Spicy turkey — Roasted turkey, pepper jack cheese, onions and peppers, banana peppers and spicy mustard. Try it on a wrap ($10).
- Or try the reuben — Pastrami, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese and spicy brown mustard on rye ($10).
Location: Plaza Midwood (2007 Commonwealth), South End (235 W Tremont), Oakwold (4420-A Monroe Rd.)
Little Village Grill
Little Greek cafe offering loaded pitas and crispy fries. There’s often a line at lunchtime, but it moves quickly.
Must order: Grilled chicken gyro “Greek style,” topped with tzatziki, lettuce, tomato and onions ($7.95)
Location: 901A E 4th St.
Low-key market and deli serving handcrafted sandwiches, salads and wraps.
Must order: The Basic Wild — pesto marinated mozzarella, roasted tomato sauces, caramelized onions, jalapeño and pappadew peppers pressed on a baguette ($8).
Location: NoDa – 1200 E. 36th St.
A new brick-and-mortar cheesesteak spot that opened this summer in between the Plaza Midwood and Elizabeth neighborhoods after a series of wildly popular pop-ups.
Must order: The classic “wit-whiz” cheesesteak — made with ribeye steak and topped with Cheez Wiz and grilled onions ($13.86).
Location: 913 Pecan Ave.
Pasta & Provisions Wilmore
Hip pasta shop and deli specializing in fresh pasta and sandwiches topped with cured Italian meats.
Must order: The Royal – capicola, sausage patty, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, oil and vinegar with mayo on a fresh hoagie roll ($11.69).
- Of note: Also try their Cobb salad, which comes loaded with thick chunks of bacon, fresh avocado, crumbles of gorgonzola and grill chicken, among other tasty ingredients ($12).
Location: Wilmore (1600 S Mint St.), Myers Park (1528 Providence Rd.), Park Road (4700 Park Road)
Agenda guide: Wait, what? Is the #1 sandwich in Charlotte from a pasta joint?
Neighborhood store and deli offering handcrafted, made-to-order sandwiches.
Must order: Mercado — roasted turkey, apple smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, tomato, shredded lettuce, chipotle spread. Try it on wheat ($9.95).
Location: Eastover – 114 Cherokee Road
Agenda guide: What sandwich should you order at Laurel Market in Eastover?
An urban market in South End selling everything from fine wines to gifts to sandwiches and desserts.
Must order: The Lincoln’s Bedroom —soppressata, aged provolone, pickled pepper, onion ($10).
Location: 1300 South Blvd. Suite S
Deli specializing in Montreal-style bagels, bratwursts and other European street food and New York favorites like pastrami. Good Wurst is soon adding a South End location, in the Vantage South End development.
Must order: Bali dog — Hoffman’s White Hot, spicy peanut sauce, chopped onion, lettuce, smoked jalapeño ($5.95)
Location: Plaza Midwood — 3001 Central Ave.
Latin café and cevicheria from restaurateur Frank Scibelli that opened last year in the old Penguin spot in Plaza Midwood.
Must order: Shrimp tallerin — stir fried lo mein noodles cooked with snow peas, red peppers, onions, ginger, garlic, scallions, soy and garnished with toasted sesame seeds.
- Also: Try their cafeteria option for $8. Grab a lunch plate and pick one entrée and 2 sides from the hot bar from 11am-2pm on weekdays.
Location: 1205 Thomas Ave.
Related Axios story: Latin café and cevicheria Calle Sol now open all day on weekends
A lively new South End market and deli from the owners of Reid’s Fine Foods.
Must order: The sprouted salmon wrap — grilled salmon, quinoa, pickled carrot ribbons, pickled cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, pickled onions, sriracha mayo, avocado, pressed GF wrap ($12.75)
Location: 100 W Worthington Ave Suite 107
One of Uptown’s beloved lunch spots that routinely generates long lines. It’s been around for more than two decades.
Must order: A chicken burrito. Regular size is $8.78 — or try it “BIG” for $10.16. Comes with your choice of fillings, such as rice, pinto or black beans, tomatoes and guacamole.
Location: Under the Two Wells Fargo Atrium, down the escalators and to the right.
Need breakfast ideas too? Agenda guide: comprehensive list of the must-try breakfast spots in Charlotte
Editor’s note: We first published this list in October 2018. We updated it in October 2022. We updated it as well to clarify the kind of bread Yafo offers, and that they no longer offer bowls.