In Charlotte’s booming restaurant scene, the food is center stage (as it should be). But what about the atmosphere? You might have heard of research about music, lighting, and other environmental elements in dining settings that supposedly cause you to eat more, order more, and, therefore, spend more, but I prefer to think the dining experience is much less clinical than that. After all, plating is an entire culinary discipline powered by the idea that what you see is almost (if not equally) as important as what you taste.

With such calculated and carefully orchestrated details having little to do with your palate, overall aesthetics are not lost on Charlotte’s restauranteurs. We not only have a wide range of culinary gems, but also design and architectural gems serving up some of the best food and feasts for your eyes.

Vivace – Modern Italian food meets modern decor in The Metropolitan. They also offer a to-die-for brunch with views of Uptown from their patio on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

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Bonterra – Housed in a former 100+ year-old church in Dilworth, this sinfully beautiful interior is matched only by the extensive wine list and elegant Contemporary American Cuisine.

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Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth – Located in the Mint Museum Uptown, Halcyon is a blend of natural whimsey and modern elegance with a strong focus on seasonal dining.

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Stagioni: Four Seasons of Food – staying true to its heritage as a grand place to gather, Stagioni is located in the historic Reynolds-Gourmajenko House in Myers Park. Sleek and modern meet welcoming and warm with some of the most lauded old-school Italian cuisine in Charlotte being hand crafted with care in Stagioni’s open kitchen.

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CO – Charlotte’s newest Asian concept in Park Road Shopping Center is crowned with a “tree of life” sculpture that extends across the ceiling of the entire space, enveloping guests in sleek luxury.

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Gallery Restaurant – Worth the trip to the Ballantyne Resort Hotel, Gallery Restaurant decks their walls with original art and offers large tufted seating for guests to relax while they sample upscale farm-to-table cuisine.

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5Church – See and be seen at this swanky Uptown restaurant and bar. Explore multiple levels with 2 bars and a unique American menu. If you get tired of people watching The Art of War is hand-painted on the ceiling… knock yourself out.

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McNinch House – A historic house in 4th Ward is home to this beloved Charlotte staple that provides a classic twist on the “fusion” concept, offering French and Southern cuisine.

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Did we leave one of your picks for best looking Charlotte restaurants off of our list? Please, share! Comment below and thank you.