Quantcast

Best New Restaurants

Where to Eat (And Drink!) Now



5Church’s bold, industrial-chic look pushes the city’s restaurant scene to a new level of competitiveness.

(page 1 of 3)

CHARLOTTE has had a big year and so has the city’s restaurant scene. It’s been a year packed with restaurant openings, including fresh concepts by two celebrity chefs and a premiere effort from a new restaurant group that’s already become a local favorite, plus reinvented spaces, upscale ethnic food, and lots (and lots) of small-plates menus.

Someday, perhaps, we’ll look back on 2012 as the year Charlotte started to come into her own as a foodie destination. In the meantime, from comfort food to haute cuisine, these twelve new restaurants (in no particular order) have us excited about the future of the city’s restaurant scene. Reserve a table, sidle up to the bar, or just pop into one of these newcomers—there’s no wrong place to start.

 

Bonus: Meet the brewmasters from Charlotte’s newest breweries

 

5Church (127 N. Tryon St., Ste. 8, 704-919-1322, $$-$$$)

When 5Church opened in May, the city’s restaurant scene got a lot edgier. The first effort from MAP Management (the new restaurant group from managing partners Mills Howell, Alejandro Torio, and Patrick Whalen) is easily the restaurant phenom of the year. With its dramatic black-and-white décor, large bar and lounge area, and already infamous ceiling—hand-painted with the entire text of The Art of War—dining here is a true experience.

Chef Jamie Lynch’s New American menu is executed with precision and originality. Offerings revolve around locally sourced fresh ingredients, and the elegant, modern menu manages to be interesting without being intimidating. Dishes most local restaurants might consider risky (like the tender 60-Second New York strip steak ($32) that’s cut to order and cooked on only one side) are fixtures, while others, such as the butternut squash, caramelized onion, and ricotta pierogies ($7) with pomegranate molasses and pumpkin seeds, change with the seasons. Vegetarians have plenty to choose from, including crispy marinated tofu ($16) with sautéed spinach, kimchi, brussels sprouts and teriyaki, and kale risotto ($9) with sherry vinegar onions and Parmesan. Other standouts include the grilled flatbread ($10) with shrimp, arugula, red onion, and Boursin and the lamb burger ($13) with red onion marmalade, Gorgonzola, and arugula, both of which are also available during the restaurant’s popular Sunday brunch.

 

Sushi Guru (6601 Morrison Blvd., 704-362-3021, $$)

With the opening of Sushi Guru, Executive Chef Cy Santos reinvented the former Cyros Sushi with a new, more creative and versatile menu. (He was also executive chef and co-owner of the former establishment, which operated out of the same space.)

The space is still small and still jam-packed with tables, but the décor is understated—all the better to let Santos’s cuisine be the star of the show. You can find some of the city’s best sushi rolls here, but if you only order one, make it the hamachi jalapeño roll ($12). Filled with crab and avocado and topped with delicate hamachi (yellowtail) and paper-thin slices of jalapeno, the roll is finished with a drizzle of wasabi citronette for perfectly layered flavors. Don’t miss the Guru Smoked Fresh Sashimi ($9 tuna, $8 salmon, $10 yellowtail), a smoke-filled jar with slices of smoked fresh fish, and the Fujisan Roll ($10), filled with lump crab and avocado with slices of Fuji apple and topped with eel and crispy wonton strips.

 

10 Park Lanes (1700 Montford Dr., 704-523-7633, $$)

Yes, 10 Park Lanes is a restaurant inside a bowling alley. But what it isn’t—and this is a big point of distinction—is a bowling alley restaurant. You won’t find stale nachos and rubbery cheese here.

Instead, the reinvented Park Lanes is a happy mix of fun and comfort food. The space’s new look preserves and enhances the mod style of the original 1960s George Pappas bowling alley (think Mad Men mixed with a touch of futuristic styling à la The Jetsons). The menu has an emphasis on barbecue, including St. Louis–style ribs, chicken, pulled Boston butt, smoked sausages, and brisket-style prime rib. Tender and unsauced, it’s all ready to be drenched (or dotted) with the restaurant’s house-made barbecue sauces, including sweet and tangy Double Honeycomb, vinegary Piedmont Blond, smoky and spicy Coffee Jalapeno, and the mustard-based Chipotle Apricot.

Crispy, thick flatbreads are standouts, with toppings including smoked prime rib and Applewood bacon. But the restaurant’s specialty, Mason Jar Signature Stacks ($9)—a Southern-inspired twist on the classic meat-and-three concept—should not be missed. Choose the Mason Jar Que with pulled pork,
barbecue smoked baked beans, and slaw layered into a large Mason jar, or build your own by selecting a protein and sides.

 

Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen (150 N. College St., 704-370-7667, $$-$$$)

Like the original in SouthPark, Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen’s uptown location is a Southern restaurant with French, Italian, and Spanish influences and a focus on local ingredients. The concept translates well to its new, two-level urban setting—in fact, this new location is poised to eclipse its sister restaurant. From College Street, guests enter a cozy bar that has the same welcoming charm as the original. A chalkboard menu specifies bar-only choices, such as a salumi and cheese plate ($7) and lamb sausage pie ($8). Upstairs, an intimate dining room wraps around the open kitchen (a Rooster’s trademark).

Executive Chef Joe Kindred does nearly everything—from making pastas to butchering animals—in-house. The menu doesn’t vary much from the à la carte offerings that made the restaurant’s SouthPark location a favorite, but the daily specials are Kindred’s creations, and he executes them well.

 

Levant Mediterranean Cuisine (135 Levine Avenue of the Arts, Ste. 120, 704-333-0930, $$-$$$)

The elegant sister restaurant to owner Omar Kweider’s Kabob Grill (with locations in Dilworth and Stonecrest), Levant Mediterranean Cuisine is tucked into an intimate but lavish space on Levine Avenue of the Arts. Filigree light fixtures, geometric woodwork, and furniture inlaid with mother of pearl give it an exotic, elegant charm.

The menu is straightforward and beautifully presented, featuring traditional Levantine cuisine, representing a section of the Eastern Mediterranean from Egypt to Turkey. Much of the food here is vegetarian friendly and flavorful, especially the starters, which include creamy baba ghanouj ($8), thick, velvety hummus ($8), and mijammara ($8), a spread made of breadcrumbs, walnuts, chili pepper, cumin, and olive oil—all of which are excellent options for those unfamiliar with Eastern Mediterranean food.

Kabobs are prominently featured as main dishes, with choices of lamb, beef, chicken, shrimp, and kafta (ground seasoned beef), but if you’re seeking something a little different, opt for the fried kibbeh ($14 for lunch, $23 for dinner), small, football-shaped dumplings stuffed with a mixture of sautéed ground beef, onion, and walnuts.

If you’re unsure where to start, let the servers guide you—they know the dishes well. And be sure to check out the wine and beer selection; craft beer may have taken over the city, but there are some interesting (read: hard to find) options from the Eastern Mediterranean here.

 

More »Related Stories

Around Towns: Concord

Where racing lives, shopping happens, The Avett Brothers grew, and the mayor knows everybody

The Knights Come Home

After 10 years of court cases, after a series of complicated land swaps, after two decades floundering away as the South Carolina baseball team with the Charlotte name, the Knights are home. And the pressure is on to make it all worthwhile

Anthony Abbott: More Than Words

Five decades ago, poetry saved a Davidson College professor from despair. He’s spent the rest of his life sharing the gift of writing with others

Real Estate 2014

Charlotte’s real estate market is coming back to life. Whether you’re starting a family, looking to invest, or retiring, there’s a house out there for you

We invite your responses and discussion. Please refrain from personal attacks, profanity, commercial promotion, or non sequiturs.

Reader Comments:
Dec 5, 2012 10:24 am
 Posted by  kelseys1014

Yum! Thanks for the great suggestions.

Add your comment:

Blogs »


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte (4/23/14): Gillian Welch, PostSecret, Othello, & Lady Antebellum

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

5 Great DIY Projects

Home renovations, gardening tips, and a backyard bash to inspire your creative side

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Food (Truck) Fights

New rules could hurt the industry

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

Charlotte Magazine Cover Shoot Featured in Matrimony Video

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Apply for a Grant from Keep Charlotte Beautiful

The committee will award $5,000 for projects that make lasting impacts

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

The Agenda 21 Derangement

How a wild conspiracy theory lassoes mainstream Republicans, Pat McCrory included.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

New Favorite Spring Side

Highlighting spring vegetables should be the highlight of your day, especially when its this

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

A busy week in Charlotte craft beer with events by VBGB, JJ's Red Hots/Triple C, Custom Home Pubs/Unknown, Olde Mecklenburg and Birdsong

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

McCrory's Coal Ash Proposal: All Sizes Fit One

Gov. McCrory's proposed coal ash legislation sounds like a strong step toward forcing Duke Energy to clean the stuff up. It's not. Here's why.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Spring Feasts

Ham, matzah, lamb, potatoes, and eggs, oh my. Passover kicked off Monday and Easter is coming up, so I've got a meal plan ready for you if you've put it off till now.

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Coming This Fall: RockSalt

Owner Travis Croxton on his new space at Park Road Shopping Center, his family's oyster farm, and his love of Price's Chicken Coop

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Matthews Market Opens for Spring this Saturday

After a snowy winter and early spring cold snap, farmers and customers are eager to return

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jarvis Holliday Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

Nightlife News: Sydney’s Martini and Wine Bar Opens, Rebranding Leads to 3 Trade, and Dharma Lounge Prepares to Close

Keep up with the changing landscape in Charlotte’s nightlife scene.

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

Charlotte’s first growler fill store to open this summer

Located in SouthEnd, The Beer Growler will have 45 taps

Comments


Dusk Till Dawn

Jarvis Holliday Chronicles Charlotte's Nightlife and Social Scene, Straight No Chaser

Springtime Events, ‘Illmatic’ Tribute Party, Cigars and Stilettos, Oak Room’s First Anniversary, and More April 17-20

The days leading up to Easter are quite eventful in Charlotte. Your social itinerary awaits.

Comments


Charlotte at Home

Creating Your Space in the Queen City

Carowinds in Bloom

The springtime festival continues through the weekend with flowers, cooking demos, and craft beer

Comments


Dine & Dish

News, Notes, and Gossip About the Charlotte Restaurant Scene

Sow Much Good

Providing fresh produce and farm goods to those in urban deserts, Sow Much Good has reopened

Comments


Revue

Andy Smith on Charlotte Arts & Culture

This Weekend in Charlotte (4/16/14): Blue Man Group, Springsteen, & Local Natives

Comments


Poking the Hornet's Nest

Greg Lacour on Politics

The 'Republican Civil War'

A Monday afternoon sampler.

Comments


On Tap

Matt McKenzie on Craft Beer in Charlotte

NoDa Brewing takes gold in World Beer Cup

Hop, Drop ‘N Roll lays claim to top American IPA

Comments