Whether you’re looking to impress a date, close a business deal, reconnect with your family or catch up with the girls—Charlotte has a dining experience for every occasion.
CLOSE THE DEAL
For the business-minded diner, Bernardin’s Fine Dining blends high-end elegance with speedy service. Located amid the bustle of Tryon Street, and adjacent to a charming pocket park, Bernardin’s sits in the heart of all the Uptown action. Entrees range from lavish—like grilled Australian lamb chops with a rosemary jus over sweet pea and mint couscous risotto—to a quick lunch (the grilled ahi tuna sandwich comes thick, stacked with lightly fried eggplant, lettuce, tomato, onions, Provolone and a kick of wasabi mayo). Looking for something a little lighter? Opt for the lobster gazpacho and fresh side salad.
ELEVATED DATE NIGHT
Housed in a historic church with a dignified, elegant vibe, Bonterra Dining & Wine Room is the solid choice for elevating any special occasion or impressing a date. Executive Chef Blake Hartwick, who gained experience as chef de cuisine at The Greenbrier in West Virginia (among other popular Queen City locations), sources from nearby farms whenever possible and keeps true to his ingredients’ original flavors. Start with a rare wine by the glass and a cheese board for two, then splurge on entrees from fried lobster tail to embered octopus and braised short rib with Cabernet fondue.
FUN FAMILY OUTING
Put away the smart phones and reconnect with your family at 10 Park Lanes. Located along Charlotte’s hip Montford Drive, this buzzy restaurant/bar/bowling alley offers not only throwback entertainment, but a huge menu with items to please everyone. Starters include scratch-fried pickles and jalapeños, plus hand-breaded onion rings. For a more substantial meal, go with a burger, dog or stacked mason jar filled with pulled pork or brisket (don’t skip the many housemade barbecue sauces to top). Lighter fare go-tos include salads, sliders, sandwiches, wraps, flatbreads and vegetarian options. Shakes and desserts round out this night—or afternoon—of family fun.
FOR THE COCKTAIL LOVERS
Originally a staple of the Chapel Hill cocktail scene, The Crunkleton recently expanded south to Charlotte’s historic Elizabeth neighborhood. Believing in not-to-be-altered classics, Manhattans and Sazeracs are served up right. Bartenders delight in crafting cocktails made from the colorful liquor wall, plus fresh juices and homemade infusions. But it’s not just about the drinks at this new favorite. Charred wings with just the right kick of housemade hot sauce plus a creamy, subtle blue cheese impress and entrees include comfort food like a N.C. softshell crab po’ boy and a Reuben or bologna sandwich. Special diners, The Crunkleton “members,” gain access to special tastings and pairings.
GIRLS NIGHT OUT
Round up the girls and light up the night starting at La Belle Helene, Charlotte’s latest upscale French brasserie. The high ceilings, chic lighting and black-and-white tiled floor all add to the swanky vibe. A pewter-topped bar stretches the length of the restaurant and is great for grabbing quick drinks before a concert or show, or for longer catch-up sessions, opt for a leather banquette or dine al fresco, if the weather suits. Cocktails, local beers and a huge array of wines are all available. Shareable hors d’oeuvres include cheese boards, daily oysters and escargots, deviled eggs, and tarte flambe (an Alsatian thin-crust pizza with zucchini, tomato and fresh basil). For something sweet to close out the night, opt for the Thyme Gateau Basque, a lemon creme patissiere with almond and rhubarb.