The 10 Best Southern Restaurants in Charlotte

(Left) Sweet Lew’s smoked chicken with mac and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread. (Right) Smoked beef brisket with pickles, boiled potatoes, and baked beans.

These picks are based on our 2019 25 Best New Restaurants and 2018 50 Best Restaurants list.


Foraged isn’t a word that chef William Dissen uses lightly on the menu at Haymaker; he actually combs through North Carolina for the best fungi for his foraged mushroom toast dish. Such details make Dissen’s restaurants (including The Market Place in Asheville and Billy D’s Fried Chicken at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro) a success, even as the new guy in town. For the main course, try the roasted pork shoulder with flowering cauliflower and cider jus. 225 S. Poplar St., 704-626-6116.

The Asbury

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.  235 N. Tryon St., 704-342-1193.

Dogwood Southern Table & Bar

Each staff member here seems to have their own set of regulars, giving this SouthPark restaurant a friendliness and familiarity that’s hard to find. Part of Jon Dressler’s Rare Roots Hospitality Group (Dressler’s, The Porter’s House), Dogwood’s focus is on modernized Southern fare, such as duck and dumplings, trout, and pimento cheese served bubbling hot in cast iron. Whether you prefer to sit at a table or barside with ultra-talented mixologist Brian Lorusso, you’ll find a warm welcome. 4905 Ashley Park Ln., Ste. H, 704-910-4919.

Sweet Lew’s

Demand for Lewis Donald’s barbecue hasn’t wavered since the “shack” opened last year; it’s not uncommon for Sweet Lew’s to sell out of its brisket and chopped pork shoulder. “We don’t want to serve day-old barbecue,” Donald told Charlotte magazine in our June issue. “That’s the bottom line … I think if you’re not running out, you’re not serving a quality product.” The relaxed Belmont “shack”—as Donald calls it—is open from Tuesday to Sunday, but on Friday, they serve hushpuppies. 923 Belmont Ave., 980-224-7584.

The King’s Kitchen

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.


The menu at this space may be simple—fried chicken and Southern sides—but it’s inspired by NoDa’s mill history, something that could easily be forgotten as progress changes the neighborhood. The cocktail program, on the other hand, is more cutting-edge than any other in town. 3106 N. Davidson St., 704-817-1084.

Flipside Cafe

Jon and Amy Fortes’ first restaurant got a facelift since our last list, earning it a spot on this one. Renovations made the dining room bigger and spaced out the tables, but the menu of comfort classics didn’t need any tweaks. 3150 US-21, Fort Mill, SC, 803-802-1711.

Stone Table Bistro

Creative breakfasts and lunches created with local ingredients make this small spot in Monroe feel like it’s in a big city. The butter coffee alone will make you want to come back. 101 W Franklin St., Monroe, 704-225-7675.


Going to this restaurant, housed in a former church, has long been a pilgrimage for Charlotte epicureans. The wine list is one of the best in town, and chef Blake Hartwick’s menu celebrates Southern ingredients. 1829 Cleveland Ave., 704-333-9463.

NC Red

This spot from Bruce Moffett combines the shore food of his native Rhode Island with Southern cuisine. Fish preparation reflects this: with grilled Northern-style and Southern fried options. Also ont he menu: fried chicken, smoky mac and cheese, corn pudding, and much more. 

Categories: Food + Drink