Where to Eat in Charlotte’s South End and Dilworth: 2021

From burgers to bento boxes
Chef Michael Noll at Bardo.

These picks are based on our 2020 Best of the Best Awards, the 2019 25 Best New Restaurants and 2021 50 Best Restaurants lists, and rolling editorial decisions.

The Waterman Fish Bar

This South End oyster bar has all of the essentials: lobster rolls, fried fish sandwiches, and oysters four ways. Start with the Waterman’s Platter, which comes with crispy oysters, fried shrimp, crawdaddy dippers, fries, and a variety of dipping sauces such as tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and aji verde. At sunset, head up to the rooftop terrace for a signature cocktail and views of uptown. 2729 South Blvd., 704-275-5558


The flower-shaped Sakura sushi roll is the most beautiful dish on YUME’s menu, but the Sora box sushi—a square-shaped roll with tuna, eel, and avocado—packs the most flavor. And if ramen noodles are more to your liking, the vegan ramen’s spicy miso can be adjusted to suit your taste. The drink menu doesn’t offer standard domestic beers, so instead ask your server to recommend a Japanese lager or cocktail. 1508 Mint St., Ste. A, 980-858-5678

Barcelona Wine Bar

Nosh on Spanish and Mediterranean-inspired tapas, or customize a charcuterie board with meats and cheese from different regions in Europe. Choose from more than 400 wines, and don’t miss the olive oil cake for dessert. 101. W. Worthington Ave., Ste. 110, 704-741-0300

Dilworth Tasting Room

On a warm summer night, savor a glass of chardonnay on Dilworth Tasting Room’s outdoor patio, a peaceful courtyard with a koi fish pond. A few of the favorites on the menu: the decadent truffled cheese melt, the roasted chicken breast, and the robust cheese and salumi lists. 300 E. Tremont Ave., 704-595-3337


This foodie destination serves seasonal small plates and creative cocktails. The dining room looks into a big, open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work. 1508 S. Mint St., Unit B. 980-585-2433

Let’s Meat KBBQ

Slices of bulgogi beef sizzle on the circular stove top while diners click their chopsticks together, waiting for the juicy meat to finish cooking. Proteins are served raw—with plentiful Korean sides including kimchi and a steamed egg soufflé—and diners do the rest. Well, sort of. Since first-timers won’t know how long to cook the meats, or even the names of most sides, a dining experience at this all-you-can-eat South End hangout relies on the helpful waiters. Or you can just mimic the Korean diners one table over. 1400 S. Church St., Ste. B, 910-299-4389


This second location of the Charleston-based Indigo Road restaurant group’s Japanese spot has great service, a beautiful interior, and dishes full of flavor. 2000 South Blvd., Ste. 510, 704-594-1922

Futo Buta

This ramen house promises authenticity, irreverence, and delightful, salty bowls of the hot noodle soup. 222 E. Bland St., 704-376-8400


Its setting may be a historic Southern church, but Bonterra serves up modern Southern flavors with top-notch service. Wine lovers will be impressed by the more than 200 wines by the glass. 1829 Cleveland Ave., 704-333-9463


Classic Indian dishes and creative specials are served in a homey dining room, with service that’s nearly always on point. 311 East Blvd., 704-333-0063

300 East 

There’s always a lively crowd in this old home-turned-restaurant, enjoying hearty American fare or a salad to save room for some of the city’s best desserts. 300 East Blvd., 704-332-6507

Rai Lay

This small South End spot serves delicious Thai noodle dishes in a warm environment, as well as sushi and Asian comfort food classics. Friendly service only adds to the homey experience. 1520 South Blvd., Ste. 130, 980-207-0991

Eight + Sand Kitchen

Come here for breakfast, brunch, lunch, an afternoon snack, or an evening out. The made-from-scratch bakery has sandwiches, salads, and artisan breads, and the café serves drinks all day. 135 New Bern St. B

Inizio Pizza Napoletana

Two words: pistachio pizza. Seriously, try it. Then grab a spot on the patio beneath the bistro lights and enjoy a bottle of wine with friends. There are additional locations in Providence Commons and Huntersville, too. 2230 Park Rd., 704-900-0929


Choose from a menu of bento boxes, ramen noodles, and hibachi bowls, plus a roster of Charlotte-themed rolls like the Juicy Jay, Hornets, and CLT Roll. 1315 East Blvd., Ste. 130, 980-498-0420

Fat Cat Burgers + Bakeshop

Longtime favorite Fran’s Filling Station reopened with a new name and a walk-up donut window, where a dessert case brims with maple bacon donuts and confetti cookies straight from the oven. The revamped menu has loaded burgers, sandwiches, and salads. But don’t worry, you can still order old favorites like the New South Fried Chicken Sandwich and Fran’s famous Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots. 2410 Park Rd., 704-372-2009

BOCADO Bar + Diner

The Atlanta-based restaurant’s Double Stack Burger already had a cult following when it opened in Atherton Mill—and we can confirm it lives up to the hype. BOCADO—Spanish for “bite,” “morsel,” or “mouthful”—also has a menu of small plates and craft cocktails, plus a prime location along the Rail Trail. 2000 South Blvd., Ste. 530, 704-248-4848

Categories: Food + Drink, South End Topper