Fast-casual concepts are increasingly growing in popularity, and Charlotte’s got some killer options to choose from. Below are 10 order-then-sit (or stand) establishments, in alphabetical order, for a quick bite to eat. If you don’t see your preferred restaurant below, perhaps I’ve already listed them in one of my other recent roundups.
Per the usual: This is not a catch-all list… just a few places that I personally enjoy. If you’d like to share your favorite fast-casual eateries in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.
Vibe: Owner and operator, Joe Huang, sure knows what he’s talking about when it comes to lip-smacking burgers. I thoroughly enjoy watching his cooking blogs, which actually give the viewer a great deal of insight behind his ground round creations. (Personal Side Note: Joe – can I come cook with you sometime? That would be EPIC.) His original location in the Elizabeth neighborhood is cozy, comfortable and serves as a great spot for a speedy lunch.
What to Order: If it’s your first time visiting, I suggest going with the original Bang Bang Burger, $9.50 (and I highly recommend making it a double for $12.50). It’s a surefire classic that comes with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and Bang sauce.
2710 N Brevard St.
Vibe: This cash-only establishment is known for their burger patties served all the way with house-made chili, mustard and onions. The menu is small and to the point… you’re coming for classic burgers, hot dogs or sandwiches smothered in chili (and coleslaw at no charge when requested). They have outside seating only, so come prepared with your money in hand and be willing to eat while you stand.
What to Order: Go for the single burger with cheese ($4.25) and a hot dog ($2.75). Both will be served with the almighty chili, mustard and onion combo unless you note otherwise. If you’re feeling adventurous, add an egg to the mix for only 50 cents.
Vibe: It’s all in the name. Customers pick their favorite lettuce, various toppings and select a dressing. Next, they’ll watch a salad sorcerer chop all ingredients into perfectly portioned bite-sized pieces for feasting. Genius.
What to Order: There are many pre-selected salads to choose from or you can build-your-own. The Kabob Cobb ($8.59) is aways a tasty choice; it comes with FreeBird grilled chicken, local feta, charred red onion, Mama Lil’s spicy peppers, pita chips, romaine and Greek Yogurt Tzatziki.
Vibe: Seating is open and airy, with large communal tables that encourage mingling among guests. The kitchen is completely open, allowing guests to watch their pie come together. Pizza is served on large baking sheets and brought to your table shortly after you order.
What to Order: I’m a huge fan of San Marzano tomato sauce, but something always draws me to their Pistacchio Pizza ($15 for 12 inch, $22 for 16 inch). This pie is topped with rosemary, sea salt, ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, garlic, pistachio pesto sauce, and pistachios on freshly baked crust.
Vibe: You’ll get a different atmosphere at each location, and I honestly think they’re all grand in their own special way. The Dilworth restaurant is their original joint, and it was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
What to Order: I personally think that “Slice of Tiki” (Pineapple Salsa, Bacon, Cilantro-Lime Crema and a drizzle of BBQ Sauce) is absolutely perfect. Perhaps I’m biased because it’s my own signature dog… but still… it’s grand. Another favorite is their Quarter Hounder ($3.99) that comes with queso, bacon, lettuce, tomato and secret sauce.
350 E. Mccullough Dr.
Vibe: This eatery is modern (clean lines and seating) with a hint of old-world charm (from the tapestries and wall decor). Service is always top-notch and the staff is very friendly and helpful.
What to Order: The Falafel Wrap ($5.99) is one of my favorites in town. It’s authentic, perfectly seasoned and never disappoints. Guests can expect a fried falafel with lettuce, tomato, pickle, tahini sauce and hummus wrapped in your choice of pita or flatbread.
Vibe: When I’m craving street tacos or South American specialties (hello arepas and empanadas), this is my preferred spot to indulge. The decor is simple and fresh… and each location has a salsa bar filled with multiple sauces at various heat levels. Added bonus: they serve margaritas.
What to Order: If you’re looking for something that’s a little different but tastes familiar, grab an order of the Carne Asada Fries ($8.25). This loaded masterpiece is a delicious pile of French fries covered in grilled steak, queso, pico de gallo, guacamole, cotija cheese and sour cream.
Vibe: This eatery has a vibrant ambiance and is known for their authentic Peruvian rotisserie chicken that’s marinated 24 hours in a family-recipe of exotic herbs and spices. I crave their menu at least three times per month and am absolutely addicted to their three signature sauces. The interiors at each location are familiar… boasting large wooden tables, clean-patterned upholstery and a friendly staff who will assist with anything you need.
What to Order: You can never go wrong with their 1/4 chicken that comes with two sides ($8.95). I personally opt for their cilantro rice and green beans (the plantains are super yummy too).
Vibe: Situated in the heart of SouthPark, Yafo’s eclectic menu serves vegetarian and vegan-friendly fare from an open kitchen. There are meat-options as well, and each dish is flawlessly flavored with Israeli-imported spices. The space is roomy and filled with positive energy… and I swear, I see someone I know every time I visit. It’s a Charlotte favorite for sure.
What to Order: I usually order an array of mezze items to share with my table (get the beets). Then for my own entree, the build-your-own hummus bowls ($8.99) are always a great option. Make sure to try the schug if you’re a fan of spicy condiments.
137 Brevard Ct.
Vibe: Located in Uptown’s bustling French Quarter, I recommend swinging by before noon to avoid the lunch-time rush. There is limited seating inside, so I like to eat my rectangle box of goodness at Romare Bearden Park across the street.
What to Order: All pizza’s are $10.72 and you can even get gluten-free for just $1 more. The Vampire Slayer is pretty popular; it comes with roasted garlic puree, ricotta, ghost pepper salami, basil, cracked pepper and a signature cheese blend.
On my list to visit (or revisit):
Have you been to one of these places yet? What do you recommend trying?