The days of over-the-top expense-account dinners in country club-style restaurants came to a screeching halt last fall, and we think the city’s dining scene may be the better for it. Now, just a little more than a year later, scrappy local restaurants have become more innovative, offering creative fare, cozy interiors, and some of the best dishes in town. Plus, a few great new ones have popped up here and there, with modern Asian ideas arriving in uptown and two brothers in south Charlotte offering small plates with big flavor. The restaurants we chose for this feature aren’t necessarily the ones with the longest wine lists or the most famous chefs. In fact, you may notice that a few longtime favorites are conspicuously absent—the past year has brought many changes to the scene with chefs moving and posh restaurants struggling to find their new place in the new Charlotte. The restaurants here are the ones that epitomize the city’s dining scene right now; where the food is delicious (and often local), the atmosphere is inviting, and the tables are buzzing with good conversation. They are where you should be eating. Right now.
Click on any image below to start the slideshow and read about each restaurantTHE RESTAURANTS