Nine restaurants on our recent list of Charlotte’s 20 best restaurants have reopened to dine-in customers. Others are planning to reopen in the next week or two. Here’s an overview of what to expect when dining out.
On May 22, North Carolina entered phase two of Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to gradually reopen the state. This means we’re no longer under an order to stay at home. Instead, state officials issued a “safer at home” recommendation.
Rules: In phase two, restaurants can now have dine-in customers and can reopen at 50 percent capacity for both indoor and outdoor seating. They must also follow social distancing and cleaning requirements. Bars must remain closed. Breweries can reopen.
Some popular breweries, including Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Suffolk Punch, are open, along with some bar-centric restaurants such as Queen Park Social, Seoul Food Meat Co., Charlotte Beer Garden, and Angry Ales. Expect all establishments to have limited capacity and new safety measures. Other busy destinations like Lost & Found are not yet open for dine-in customers.
Diner sentiment: Many are still cautious to dine out. In an Agenda survey sent to our newsletter subscribers on May 19, we asked: “If your favorite restaurant opens to dine-in customers this weekend would you feel comfortable going?” Of 6,703 respondents, 65 percent said no, they wouldn’t.
Earlier this year, we released our 2020 restaurant rankings. Below is the the status of each of these top 20 restaurants and what to eat at the restaurants that are open. (Note: Menus are changing frequently so some of these dishes may no longer be available.)
No. 20: Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth
Refined restaurant that’s obsessed with local ingredients
Status: Not open for dine-in customers. Halcyon is continuing its lunch and dinner curbside pickup and delivery.
Must-order dish: Springer Mountain Farms fried chicken on its takeout menu. Right now, Halcyon is offering it as a sandwich.
What to expect: Before it opens its inside dining room, Halcyon plans to open its patio overlooking the Charlotte skyline. Check Instagram for more details.
No. 19: Beef ‘N Bottle
Status: Open for dine-in service.
Must-order dish: 16-ounce choice-cut ribeye ($39). Every steak comes with a salad and choice of one side. Additional sides are $5 each.
What to expect: Limited capacity and reservations are required. Call 704-523-9977 to make a reservation.
No. 18: Haymaker
Farm-focused restaurant led by Chef William Dissen
Status: Open for dine-in service or takeout starting June 3. Full details here.
No. 17: Mama Ricotta’s
Traditional Italian restaurant
Status: Open for limited seating. This goes for all restaurants within FS Food Group, which also includes Yafo Kitchen and Midwood Smokehouse.
Must-order dish: Aside from Mama’s pasta, try one of the restaurant’s pizzas ($10-$19.75). They’re New Haven-style, which means a thin, crispy crust, cooked in a wood-burning oven.
What to expect: Limited seating, so make a reservation.
No. 16: Dogwood Southern Table & Bar
White tablecloth, but friendly setting serving Southern-style dishes in SouthPark
Status: Open at 50 percent capacity.
Must-order dish: Duck ‘n’ dumplings ($16). It’s listed as a small plate, but the portion of confit duck leg is substantial. The real stars of the dish are the pillow-like dumplings soaked in a buttery broth.
What to expect: Dogwood is starting with dinner service (5-9 p.m.), Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations available here. It’s also continuing curbside pickup options.
No. 15: Fin & Fino
Seafood and small plates in Uptown with a fun cocktail program
Status: Open at 50 percent capacity.
Must-order dish: Scallops with white-bean hummus, poblano, and fennel.
What to expect: Fin & Fino is starting with dinner service (5-9 p.m.), Tuesday through Saturday. Expect a condensed menu — for example, instead of a dozen different oyster varieties, there may only be three. Reservations available here. It’s also continuing curbside pickup options.
No. 14: Flour Shop
Intimate 66-seat restaurant focused on pasta with a central show kitchen in the middle of the dining room.
Status: Open for dine-in service at a limited capacity.
Must-order dish: Sourdough pizza with ham, mushroom, and pear ($24). Sounds a little strange, but trust us. The subtle sweetness from the pear is a nice contrast to the saltiness of the ham.
What to expect: Reservations now available for the coming weeks via OpenTable as well as some walk-in seating.
No. 13: Haberdish
Southern comfort food and refreshing craft cocktails
Status: Opens for dine-in customers on June 9. Haberdish remains open for takeout. “We are opting to wait a little longer to make sure our staff is trained up and we have all our new procedures in place,” the restaurant posted on Instagram.
Must-order dishes: Every meal should begin with Haberdish’s hushpuppies ($7) served with a sweet tea butter. If it’s your first time, order fried chicken ($10-$27 or $3 each for chicken tenders).
No. 12: Hello, Sailor
Kindred’s fun, waterfront kid sister with bountiful fried food
Status: Now open for dine-in service; they’re offering reduced seating on their patio.
Must-order dishes: Carolina shrimp calabash ($15.99), which is essentially a huge basket of popcorn shrimp. Order for the table and share. Round out the fried food with a side of watermelon ($4.99), which is served with sea salt and al pastor seasoning.
No. 11: Futo Buta
Modern, cozy space with creative ramen dishes in South End
Status: Continuing its takeout program, and diners can enjoy their food on Futo Buta’s patio.
Must-order dish: “Fire & Ice” ramen ($13) with kimchi and dashi broth, hot smoked salmon, fresh mint, bok choy, shaved carrot, radish, black sesame, scallion, and leek.
No. 10: Good Food on Montford
The O.G. of Charlotte small-plate restaurants
Status: Not yet open for dine-in service, but continuing to offer a takeout menu. Good Food owner Bruce Moffett plans to reopen on June 1.
Must-order dish: Steamed bun with Five Spice-rubbed pork belly, hoisin, and pickled vegetables ($10).
No. 9: Rooster’s Wood-fired Kitchen
Upscale Southern comfort food with a warm, welcoming setting
Status: Open for dine-in service. Rooster’s is also continuing its curbside pickup and delivery services.
Must-order dish: BBQ chicken ($13) with side of Margaux’s succotash ($6).
What to expect: Operating at 50 percent capacity so make a reservation here.
No. 8: Barrington’s
Tiny, no-frills SouthPark restaurant that helped establish Charlotte’s culinary scene
Status: Not yet open for dine-in service, but continuing its takeout program. Expect Barrington’s to reopen on June 1 with reduced seating available 5-10 p.m.
No. 7: Soul Gastrolounge
Adventurous global small plates and amazing cocktails
Status: Open 5 p.m. to midnight with reduced seating; and reservations are for 90 minutes. Delivery and takeout are still available.
Must-order dish: Asian glazed pork belly tacos on flour tortillas with watermelon salsa ($12).
Virtual DJ: Every Tuesday through Sunday, Soul live streams its DJs on Twitch.
No. 6: Stagioni
Modern take on classic Italian dishes in an intimate Myers Park setting with an open kitchen
Status: Not yet open for dine-in service, but continuing its takeout program. Stagioni will reopen on June 1.
Must-order dishes: Start with the meatballs — pork, parmesan, marinara, and ciabatta ($10) — and then order the pepperoni and sausage pizza ($16).
No. 5: The Fig Tree
Sets the standard for a white tablecloth, fine-dining destination in Charlotte
Status: Not yet open for dine-in service. The Fig Tree is planning to reopen on June 4. In the meantime, it’s continuing its family meal program ($56-$80, feeds four) and pop-up wine shop.
Must-order dish: Fig Tree’s famous elk chop — grilled New Zealand elk chop over horseradish spaetzle with smoked bacon-braized purple cabbage and boursin-dijon sauce.
No. 4: The Stanley
Seasonally driven, locally sourced restaurant by James Beard Award semi-finalist Paul Verica
Status: Now open for dine-in on the patio with limited hours 5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for Sunday brunch.
What to expect: You can make dine-in reservations through Resy.
No. 3: Bardo
Cozy small plate and cocktail spot loved by foodies
Status: Opens June 2. Cocktail kits and its takeout menu are still available.
Must-order dishes: Top dishes include oysters ($18), grouper ($17), and dry-aged ribeye ($23). There are only 12 dishes on the menu and a few dessert options. Portions are small, but the food is outstanding.
What to expect: Bardo is adding brunch to Saturday and Sundays, plus adding new menu items and cocktails once it reopens. Call 980.585.2433 or go to Resy for dine-in reservations.
No. 2: Peppervine
Progressive American restaurant from the owners of Banner Elk’s Artisanal, now open in SouthPark.
Status: Not yet open for dine-in customers, but you can order from its new to-go menu. Peppervine plans to reopen its dining room June 9 (details on the menu available closer to reopening).
Must-order dishes: Start with the fluffy yeast rolls ($5). Then order big eye tuna tartare ($18) and squid ink bucatini with Spanish octopus ($18).
No. 1: Kindred
Gorgeous, award-winning small-plate restaurant
Status: Remains closed for dine-in service, but continues its curbside pickup program. Joe and Katy Kindred plan to reopen the dining room on June 2. You’ll be able to make a reservation through Resy.
Must-order dish: Crispy oysters with dill yogurt and Calabrian chile oil ($12).
Looking for more Charlotte food and drink guides? Here’s a complete list of Agenda guides including best burgers, best bars, best sushi, best new restaurants, best weekly specials, best pizza, best cocktail bars, and best brunch.