ARIA TUSCAN GRILL—
Italian. Pierre Bader delves into classic Tuscan Italian cuisine with this Uptown venture. On the main floor, witness kitchen action through a large glass window, or sit up close and personal at a chef’s table inside the kitchen itself. Upstairs, a quiet bar is the perfect place to stop in for a drink and antipasti before a show at Belk Theater or Booth Playhouse (which open up into Founders Hall), or a concert or game at Time Warner Cable Arena. L (M-F), D (M-Sa). www. ariacharlotte.com. 100 N. Tryon St., 704.376.8880. Map 2 F4
Contemporary American. Across the street from the Levine Center for the Arts complex, this Uptown fine-dining restaurant is the sister location to its original spot in WinstonSalem and offers creative menu items, sauteed brie-stuffed chicken breast with caramelized Pearl onions, in a classy, convenient setting. L (M-F), D (M-Sa). www.bernardinsfinedining.com. 435 S. Tryon St., 704.332.3188. Map 2 E5
Steakhouse. Any restaurant located off the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton is bound to specialize in upscale dining, so it comes as no surprise that BLT Steak (BLT standing in for Bistro Laurent Tourondel) serves up great food. Not a steak fan? Order form plenty of other options, such as tuna tartar or mouthwatering sides such as jalapeno mashed potatoes. B (daily), L (M-F), D (M-Sa), brunch (Su). bltrestaurants.com/blt-steak/charlotte/. 110 N. College St., 704.972.4380. Map 2 E5
THE CELLAR AT DUCKWORTH’S—
Gastropub. This gastropub serves elevated, imaginative cuisine in an atmosphere that epitomizes the building’s rich history. Built in 1912, the cellar’s
exposed brick and ceiling beams in this largely un-marked restaurant evoke the 1920s hush-hush feel of a speakeasy. The cocktails, though, have modern twists on old school classics. D (daily) www.thecellaratduckworths.com. 330 N. Tryon St., 980.349.4078. Map 2 G4
COCO AND THE DIRECTOR—
Coffee Bar. Hip factor earns this newcomer a spot on Charlotte’s modern, in-the-know scene. Enjoy live music while you sip your single origin pour-over from stadium seating, or catch up with a colleague in the free-to-reserve co-lab space. There’s also a nicely curated selection of unique (yeah, truly unique) gift items, for when you’re in a jam or just-must-have-it. But, of course, coffee is the star here; have it cold brewed, Aeropress-ed or as espresso. Open daily 6 am-10 pm. cocoandthedirector.com. 100 W. Trade St., 704.353.6003.
MERT’S HEART AND SOUL—
Southern. This stylish yet down-home eatery offers patrons simple, savory Southern, soul and Lowcountry cooking: Think award-winng mac ‘n’ cheese or sweet cornbread sitting alongside fried chicken, fried catfish or blackened pork chops. It’s a huge favorite with the lunch crowd. L and D (daily), brunch (Sa-Su). www.mertscharlotte.com. 214 N. College St., 704.342.4222. Map 2 F4
New Southern. There are so many amazing things to say about Stoke—far too many to mention here. But for starters, there is Chef Chris Coleman’s refined, Southern-inspired and sourced food. Then there is the wood-over flavor, the bar’s french pressed cocktails, the action-packed view of the open kitchen, and the indulge-worthy one-pound doughnut. L (M-F), D (daily), brunch (Sa-Su). www. stokecharlotte.com. 100 W. Trade St., 704.353.6005.
THE MCNINCH HOUSE—
New Southern. Reservations are required here and you can expect to be treated like royalty during this unique five-course meal (you choose your entrée, but everything else, including the wine, is chosen for you). This is Charlotte’s premier special-occasion restaurant located in a beautiful 1892 Queen Anne-style home. D (Tu-Sa). www. mcninchhouserestaurant.com. 511 N. Church St., 704.332.6159. Map 2 E3