Where to Eat in Uptown Charlotte: 2019
French food had a moment this year, especially if the crowds at uptown’s La Belle Helene tell us anything. There’s a lot to take in at LBH: the massive, bull’s-eye chandeliers hanging above, the rotisserie chickens twirling gently on a spit, the bartenders pouring the gin-based South Side cocktail. But there’s even more to eat; try a mix of pour commencer and plats from its Parisian menu, piloted by chef Jim Stouffer. 300 S. Tryon St., Ste. 100, 704-969-2550.
Located in the Dunhill Hotel, this place is open for all meals, but really shines during dinner. It’s not unusual to find lesser-utilized ingredients, such as beef tongue or heart, on the menu, prepared in a way that makes them as approachable as possible. Such dishes help minimize waste, but if you’d rather stick to the traditional cuts, The Asbury excels in that as well. Mike Long took over the roles of executive chef and culinary director from Matthew Krenz in November. 235 N. Tryon St., 704-342-1193.
At any given time, Fin & Fino’s raw bar serves no less than 12 types of oysters. The dinner menu features uncomplicated dishes like North Carolina trout, Faroe Island salmon, and P.E.I. mussels. But as a “social seafood house,” its sweet spot is the shareable plates. Try the grilled banh mi shrimp drizzled with sriracha aioli and the scallops and latke, which punches up a classic potato pancake with crème fraiche and caviar. 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts, 704-800-5680.
This sleek rooftop lounge on the 22nd floor of the AC Hotel & Residence Inn in uptown is a gorgeous spot to sip a cocktail and take in sweeping views of uptown. Go with a group and order shareable plates such as the lobster club sliders and the bison tartare. For a refreshing gin and tonic, try the Nuvole GT, which comes garnished with strawberries, lime, and rosemary. 220 E. Trade St., 980-960-9800.
Uptown hasn’t always been friendly to fine dining restaurants, but Halcyon’s ingredient-focused menu continues to draw in locals and business travelers. Its location overlooking the southwestern entrance to uptown makes it an enchanting date night, and its treatment of expected and exotic ingredients—simply, yet with textbook technique and flavor combinations, such as its rabbit saddle or Spanish turbot, a white fish—make it a Charlotte classic. 500 S. Tryon St., 704-910-0865.
The pappardelle Bolognese and cioppino at Angeline’s are both excellent, but if you’re feeling adventurous, order a few of chef Robert Hoffman’s appetizers. The whipped ricotta with sourdough, lavender honey, and pistachio is an unexpected sweet-and-salty combo, and the lamb and pork meatballs are great for sharing. Ride the elevator to the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel for a nightcap from its sister cocktail bar, Merchant & Trade. 303 S. Church St., 704-445-2540.
This restaurant in the revamped Marriott City Center set out to show that hotels could be a destination for Charlotteans, too. The menu has slowly grown to push guests’ culinary comfort, with dishes that include mostardas, consommes, and agrodolces. Snuck into most dishes, though, is a nod to the South—whether it’s ingredients such as Lusty Monk mustard or a touch of sorghum in a glaze. 100 W. Trade St., 704-353-6005.
Owner Chef Jim Noble is both a Francophile and a Southerner, and that comes through at both Rooster’s locations. You’ll find fine wines and some of the best cheese and charcuterie plates in town, as well the North Carolina ingredients Noble grew up eating, such as butter beans and greens, in a convivial environment where you can watch the kitchen at work. Multiple locations.
This restaurant inside Le Meridien has a modern interior, and its menu is modern steak house. It’s hard to hide your mistakes when you’re cooking something as simple as steaks, and Evoke’s kitchen is nearly always on point. The tray of salts served with each steak lets you garnish the meat, giving you a new flavor each visit. 555 S. McDowell St., 980-237-5354.
Happy hour—when oysters from Sea Level, North Carolina, are $1 apiece—draws in an after-work contingent, and that crowd doesn’t thin until the dinner rush passes. The name is inspired by the name of a seaside town, but is fitting for Charlotte’s most consistent seafood restaurant. The cocktail menu run by Colleen Hughes is worth noticing, as well. Top that all with a beautiful interior punctuated with Edison bulbs, and Sea Level is a dependable uptown favorite. 129 E. 5th St., 704-412-2616.
This uptown spot, popular for businesspeople to grab a bite for lunch or dinner, is also a nonprofit. Owned by Jim Noble (Rooster’s), King’s Kitchen employs adults transitioning from incarceration in hopes that experience in the restaurant industry will set them on a path to employment. The menu is Southern classic, with meat-and-three options and crunchy, delectable fried chicken. 129 W. Trade St., 704-375-1990.
Guests go to 5Church to be seen, but that doesn’t mean they’re not getting great food from Top Chef contestant Jamie Lynch’s kitchen. Fifth and Church streets, 704-919-1322.
It’s still a Charlotte institution in a beautiful setting—an expertly restored, late-1800s Victorian home. Yet as more restaurants open up, it’s getting harder to justify the price of the tasting menus here, which begin at five courses. If you have the money, the wine pairings are impressive. 511 N. Church St., 704-332-6159.
Award-winning chef Luca Annunziata serves Italian dishes inspired by his childhood in Naples. Eat lasagna just like his mom made it, and carbonara the way you’d have it in Rome. His fagottini, which won Best of the Taste at this year’s Taste of Charlotte, is a crepe stuffed with mascarpone, Parmesan, herbs, and lobster, and topped with vodka sauce. Sous Chef Ashley Smith is responsible for those made-from-scratch breads, and the dessert menu with items like tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake, and fruit crostata. 230 N. College St., 704-602-2750