Let's jump right into it! These locations are listed in no particular order, and are all equally delicious in my book. I can guarantee that even if you only try one or two of the places named, you will thoroughly enjoy your meals in Charlotte. 

1. Trolley Barn 

2104 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203 

Anne Tavierne

Trolley Barn is a fermentory and food hall with unique beers, cocktails, and innovative cuisine. It was inspired by the electric trolleys that began operating in Charlotte in 1891. The place houses a brewery, taproom, and three food stalls. Guests can order food from any of the three Trolley Barn food stations, at their tables, or from seats at the bar. I would recommend this place for anytime of day, as they offer a weekend brunch menu in addition to their daily lunch and dinner selections. They also have a vegetarian and gluten free menu.

Anne Tavierne

Featured in the first photo is the Kebab Salad, Smoked Brisket Grilled cheese, and Buffalo Chicken Sliders. The Kebab Salad is worth highlighting, featuring za'atar spiced grilled chicken kebabs, quinoa tabouleh, hummus, feta, pickled red onion, Campari tomatoes, cucumbers, grilled shishito peppers, romaine lettuce, pita chips, and a tahini vinaigrette. It was the perfect combination of light and fresh with hearty and filling. Their other salads looked equally delicious, including the Santa Maria Steak Cobb Salad and Salmon Harvest Salad. On the handheld side, the pork belly smashburger with a spicy peanut sauce and the Carne Asada Grilled Cheese Torta sounded like other phenomenal choices. 

2. Haberdish 

3106 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 2820

Anne Tavierne

A mill town southern kitchen and craft cocktail bar, Haberdish is another Charlotte gem. They have Carolina inspired cuisine with crispy fried chicken, southern veggies, and other locally inspired side dishes. Prepare for your soul to be warmed by the comfort of ingredients like buttermilk, sweet potatoes, NC trout, house-made pickles, and homemade desserts. They are located in the NoDa neighborhood, which is 2 miles northeast of Upton Charlotte. If you're as indecisive as I am, I highly recommend ordering multiple dishes to try and share between friends and family. 

The photo features the Kale Salad, Mac & Cheese with added spicy, crispy chicken skins, and the 1/2 Fried Chicken with Alabama white sauce. The kale salad has oranges, candied benne seeds, goat cheese, and a pomegranate-molasses dressing. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can upgrade it with a cast iron shrimp skewer. The Mac & Cheese is cooked in a creamy three-cheese mornay sauce with a baked cheese topping. Adding the spicy, crispy chicken skins made it an absolute 10/10. And although the fried chicken may seem like the red-headed step child of these three dishes, it is a classic for a reason. You can choose between fried chicken or fried chicken tenders, and then select either 2PC dark, 2PC white, 1/2 chicken or a whole chicken. I'm telling you: this was the crispiest, juiciest chicken I have never had. I crave it constantly. It's so good I could eat it dry, but the sauce selection is too delectable to pass up. They offer ranch, barbecue, honey mustard, habanero hot sauce, Alabama white sauce, wing sauce, honey butter syrup, and maple syrup. 

3. Hawkers Asian Street Food

1930 Camden Road Suite 260, Charlotte, NC 28203

Anne Tavierne

Hawkers has an Asian street food vibe with the best dishes for sharing. My personal suggestions are the Roti Canai, a popular Malaysian flatbread served with a side of their signature curry sauce, the Pork Belly Baos, and the Pad Thai, featured in the first photo. If you have to pick one of the three, I consider the Pad Thai a Hawkers staple. It consists of rice noodles, shrimp, sliced chicken, eggs, and veggies wok-fired in a tangy, red chili pepper sauce, topped with roasted peanuts and a squeeze of fresh lime.  Chef's kiss. 

Anne Tavierne

I lied. The Pad Thai is great, but the photo above is another MUST HAVE. If you leave without ordering the Korean Twice Fried Wings, you did it wrong. Covered in a garlic gochujang sauce and topped with peanuts, sesame, and cilantro, they are nothing short of scrumptious. This has to be one of the best dishes I had in the city of Charlotte. The chicken melts in your mouth. . .I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

4. Optimist Hall

1115 N Brevard St, Charlotte, NC 28206

Anne Tavierne

Optimist Hall is food hall with a rich history and even richer dishes. The location and building were previously called Highland Park Gingham Mill and Highland Park Mill #1. Originally, it was home to Charlotte's largest textile mill. It was built in 1892 and the plant's signature smokestack was added three years later to service a boiler room. 

Now let's unpack the extensive dining selection. The tenants include Archer, Ava, Bao and Broth, Billy Sunday, Botiwalla Indian Street Grill, Collier Candy Company, Oxcar Betty's Fried Chicken Sandwiches, The Dumpling Lady, el Thrifty, Enat Ethiopian Restaurant, Celim's Hamemade Empanadas, Fanta Flora Brewery, Famous Harriet's, Honeysuckle Gelato, Mezeh, Noble Smoke Barbecue, Papi Queso, Paradiso Plant Shop, Pet Wants, Spindle Bar, Saurez, Undercurrent Coffee, Velvet Taco, Village Juice Co, Xiao Bao, and Zukku. Whew! So many choices. 

Anne Tavierne

I chose to try the Velvet Taco and Zukku. If you're in the mood for Mexican, Velvet Taco's Korean Fried Rice taco, Spicy Tikka Chicken taco, and Buffalo Chicken taco are delicious. The Spicy Tikka Chicken taco had to be my favorite, with crisp tenders, spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema, Thai basil, and four tortilla. But if you're in the mood for Asian, Zukku's Sunset Roll and Zukku Roll are just as yummy as they are beautiful.