20 Under-the-Radar Restaurants That Deserve A Spotlight. 

Get ready to venture to parts unknown and discover your new favorite restaurant. 


Charlotte’s ever-changing culinary scene is booming, as there seems to always be a hot new restaurant that’s creating hype all over the Queen City. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love visiting the establishments that are creating that weekly buzz… yet some of the best food I’ve tried has been hidden in the shadows and often overlooked.

Below you’ll find 20 Oldies but Goodies that are a must-try on your next culinary quest.

FYI: These are listed in no particular order; they’re all spectacular. 

local restaurants Jess Slice of Jess


Hi, I’m Jess and I’ll be your cuisine tour guide.

Get ready to dig-in at the best hidden-treasures around the Charlotte region.


Alino Pizzeria (pictured above):

500 South Main Street, Mooresville NC

There’s something that needs to be said about a pizza joint that flies in their produce, artisanal buffalo mozzarella and flour from Italy on a weekly basis. How cool is that? Honorable mention: Alino’s Tomato Sauce. This pizza sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes (only grown around Italy’s Mount Vesuvius region), fresh garlic and olive oil. It’s simple and simply amazing. Make sure to grab a warm side of sauce for dippin’. Oh, and did I mention that their wood-fired ovens were custom made in Naples with volcanic sand? In addition to some of the best pizza I’ve tried in the states, they have traditional Italian desserts that are to die for. Bring your appetite folks, you’re about to have a spectacular meal.

Luna Hombre:

31 North Main Street, Downtown Belmont NC

local restaurants luna hombre
Via LunaHombre.com

An intimate wine & tapas establishment that focuses on international flavors and specializes in offering boutique wines from around the world. What you’ll find here is a hipster, groovy vibe with a twist of elegance. There is a small but well executed menu that truly boasts some big flavors. If you’re in the mood for a delicious cheese & charcuterie board with a perfectly paired glass of wine, this is your spot. Insider note: They offer wine tastings every Tuesday for only $5. Check out some of their delicious specials, small plates and decor on their instagram: lunahombelmont.

IPho:

5110-1G Park Road, Charlotte NC

local restaurants ipho - Charlotte

 via Yelp.

Do you think you could master the PHO BOWL CHALLENGE? Look at that enormous bowl of deliciousness! If you’re up for the adventure, this massive bowl can be yours for free… just as long as you finish it in under 90 minutes. As a reward, you will receive a $100 gift card and your very own photo up on the Wall of Fame. How fun is that? iPho is a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant that is ran by power couple, Hien Ly and wife Van. They are known for their extreme hospitality and have mastered the recipe for some of the best, lip-smacking Pho in Charlotte. Order N3 on the menu and tell them Scoop Charlotte sent you!

Disclosure: This is a newer restaurant in Charlotte and the secret is out; as they are on the rise to full-blown popularity. They were a hidden gem for a bit, so that’s why I had to keep them on this list.  

Wolfman Pizza:

106 S. Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte NC

local restaurants Wolfman Pizza

Feast your eyes on Wolfman’s Mexican Pizza, happily eaten by Charlotte native, Jessica Moore from finickylady. In fact, if you surveyed a group of native Charlotteans, you’d find that most of them have been eating at this local pizza joint since they were kids. Let me give you a sneak peak of their specialty pizza menu, just to get your mouth watering. Some of their imaginative inventions include:

Baked Potato:

Roasted Red Potatoes, Bacon, Scallions, Cheddar & Mozzarella Cheese with a roasted garlic butter crust.

Blue Moo:

Olive Oil crusted dough with Mozzarella Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, Balsamic Onions, Bleu Cheese Crumbles, and topped with savory Steak.

Thai Chicken Pizza:

Asian Chili, diced Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, Mozzarella, Scallions, Bean Sprouts and homemade Thai Sauce. Garnished with Cilantro.

Kabab-Je Rotisserie & Grille:

2233 Matthews Township Pkwy, Ste. E, Matthews NC

kabab-je-

Via Kababje.com

You’d never guess that a Kabab joint sharing the parking lot with Best Buy and Costco would have such a flavorful and exquisite menu.  The food here is inspired from the Lebanese cultural region that is known for their use of lean proteins and mixed vegetables. Prices are very affordable, so I like to order a smorgasbord of small plates and feast on a little bit of everything.

Greco Fresh Grille:

9820 Rea Road, Suite E, Charlotte NC

(Located in between Five Guys & Brixx Pizza)

Lamb Platter - Greco Fresh Yelp

Via Yelp

If you’re looking for another authentic Mediterranean restaurant that is over-the-top delicious, Greco Fresh Grille should be your next destination. This quick and casual restaurant is a family-run operation; committed to exceeding customers expectations while offering healthy options that leave you wanting more… and more. I highly reccomend the Hummus (flavors change weekly), Gyros and authentic desserts.

Hong Kong Bakery:

7323 East Independence Blvd, Charlotte NC

(Located inside Super G)

Egg Tart - Hong Kong Bakery

Via Yelp

I lay awake at night and drool over their pastries. This Cantonese bakery makes a plethora of traditional pastries and breads that you can’t find anywhere else in Charlotte. (If you do discover them elsewhere, they will be nowhere near as good as the ones you’ll find here.) Popular items in my basket tend to include the fruit cocktail sponge cake, Thai tea with boba, various sweet buns and random custard filled pastries.

Kung Fu Noodle:

8625C Lindholm Drive, Huntersville NC

Kung Fu

Located off the main path at Birkdale Village is a quaint noodle house with a menu that will blow you away. Every time I’ve eaten here I’ve left feeling happy, satisfied and amazed with how much money I still have in my wallet. Hello shopping spree! Dishes here are very affordable and extremely tasty. My favorites include: Soup Dumplings (order these first off, as they take about 10-15 minutes to make), Thai Basil Mad Wings, literally all of their Soup Noodles, and the Pad See Yew Stir-fried Noodles.

La Poblanita:

1925 Westinghouse Blvd., Charlotte NC

La Poblanita Mexican Food

Via Yelp

La Poblanita Mexican Restaurant AND Candy Store is a diamond in the rough. I’ll keep this short and to the point. If you’re in the mood for authentic, marvelous and affordable Mexican fare: this place has it all.

Things you should know:

They sell traditional Pinatas.

The restaurant turns into a club after 10pm (no joke, this place is hoppin’).

Every Tuesday is $1 Traditional Taco Tuesday.

Passage to India:

9510 University City Blvd. Charlotte NC

Butter Chicken - Passage to India

Via Yelp

I highly recommend this place for lunch, as you can get a gigantic take-out box for just $5. Seriously, it will feed a small army. The food is flavorful and they even offer a lunch buffet. If you’re looking for ambience with pretty decor, this place probably isn’t for you. But if you’re truly looking for tasty, genuine Indian fare then you’ll be very happy here.

Brickhouse Tavern:

209 Delburg St. Davidson NC

Brickhouse

Situated right next to Davidson college is a establishment that’s absolutely perfect for grabbing a bite to eat while watching the game. They have several TV’s throughout the bar for your viewing pleasure; however, let’s get to the important stuff… the food. You can expect hand-crafted pizzas baked in their brick pizza oven, fresh bowls of crisp salad, perfectly cooked burgers and crazy-good chicken wings. Be prepared to bring a box home for your next meal, portion sizes are huge.

Sugar Donuts:

11914 Elm Lane, Charlotte NC

Sugar Donuts

This small (and extremely cute) donut shop operation creates some unique flavors that are hard to find anywhere else in the Charlotte region. They only use natural ingredients, which makes you feel good about every sinfully delicious bite you take. I highly recommend the Maple Bacon, Banana Pudding, Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Salted Caramel. Mmmmmm, Donuts.

Ilios Noche:

11508 Providence Road, Charlotte NC

Moussaka - Ilios Noche

Via Yelp

Here’s another Greek fusion restaurant that I would recommend for a date night, entertaining out-of-town guests or simply when you want a melt-in-your-mouth Mediterranean entree. They have a very nice ambiance and charming staff that will make you feel right at home.

Zizi’s Vegan Takeout:

7945 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte NC

Quinoa Salad - Zizi's Vegan Takeout

Via Yelp

Let me just start by saying I’m not a practicing Vegan… but my father is so when we found this little gem we were hooked! Everything I have had thus far is very good and I look forward to continuing our quest to trying every item on their menu. Meat-free, comfort food takeout, at it’s finest.

Eastfield Bar + Grill:

8709 Arbor Creek Drive, Charlotte NC

Dirty Southern - Eastfield Bar + Grill

When I talk about a hidden gem, I mean it. This restaurant barely has a sign outside so it can be a bit tricky to find. But once you’ve located it…. you’ve found true gold. What do I order here? The BURGERS! They have a very large selection of some of the yummiest burger concoctions in Charlotte. All in which can be made with your choice of Angus Beef, Turkey, Vegetarian Black Bean or swapped for a Chicken Breast. The picture featured here was my very own Dirty Southern Burger and I highly recommend it to everyone! Oh, and see those onion rings? They are made with OMB Porter and are very addicting.

Babushka’s Pierogi:

8700 Pineville-Matthews Road, Ste. 570, Charlotte NC

Babushka's Pierogi

Via Yelp

Another gem hidden in a strip mall. Authentic European food with excellent customer service. They have a small marketplace in the shop if you’re in the need for some European grocery items. Deserts are also a must try.

Sun Up Cafe:

120 Langtree Village Drive, Mooresville NC

Benedict - Sun Up Cafe

This is my go-to place for Sunday breakfast and brunch. Seriously though, you can find me here on most Sunday mornings with my family. Make sure to ask for Gabriel, he’s the best! My personal recommendations: The Captian Crunchy, any of the Benedict’s, and the Fried Chicken + Waffles. You can find pictures of all these lovely entree’s on my instagram feed.

Baoding:

4722 Sharon Road, Ste. F, Charlotte NC

Baoding

Via Yelp

Looking for excellent Asian Food in Southpark? Well look no further. This joint is owned by a Taiwanese family that shares their passion for cooking in their perfectly spiced entrees. I’d also like to point out that the decor is beautiful and the service is outstanding.

Caruso’s:

631 Brawley School Road, Ste. 404, Mooresville NC

Caruso's

Via Yelp

Remember when your mom would tell you to not judge a book by its cover? Well that rule is strictly applied here. This little gem is hidden in a dull strip mall where you would NEVER guess the food is THAT good. Oh, and the service? Spectacular! Bring your appetite because you’re going to want to try a little bit of everything from this fine Italian restaurant.

Local Dish:

217 Main Street, Fort Mill SC

Local Dish Pulled Pork Nachos

Via Yelp

This quaint, locally owned restaurant serves up comfort food at its finest, traditional southern. Move over grandma, we’ve found a chef that has mastered the recipe for fried green beans, chicken pot pie, chicken and waffles, braised pork belly and pulled pork nachos. OMG, the nachos.


I will end this love food affair with a special thank-you to a few of my fabulous Charlotte food bloggers for their recommendations.

 If you haven’t checked them out yet, make sure to stop by their instagram pages and say hello.

Tell them SliceOfJess & ScoopCharlotte sent you!

Aimee Hobbs – See Aimee Cook

Allie Papajohn – EatDrinkClt

Ashley Korizis – The Olive and The Sea

Alyssa Rodgers – The Mexitalian

Chrissie Nelson Rotko – Off the Eaten Path

Jazmin Rode – Frugality Gal

Jessica Moore – Finickylady 

Susannah Brinkley – Feast & West

Tiffany Dahle – Peanut Blossom