When we were making our 2020 vision boards and resolutions, it’s pretty safe to say that none of us included a global pandemic in those plans. Charlotte’s culinary scene has been hit hard by stay-at-home orders and limited capacity dining rules. We’ve lost some gems in our crown, but in the past few months, we’ve gained some standout newcomers. Down, but never out, Charlotte is a resilient city and in no place is that more evident than in our restaurant scene.
Diners are beginning to venture out more and are returning to patios and restaurants. Whether dine-in or carryout, restaurants are offering a variety of cuisines at various price points. Charlotte is still establishing itself as a formidable foodie city, COVID-19 be damned. The list of restaurants below is a round-up of the newest entries to the Charlotte scene along with some of the tried-and-true options from the past five years.
The gist: After construction delays and COVID shutdowns, the team behind Bardo opened its second concept, VANA, further cementing its footprint in the South End area.
The food: VANA’s menu reflects a theme of rustic-comfort food combined with elegant cooking techniques from chef-owner Mike Noll. The pickled local vegetables on the starters menu are reminiscent of grandma’s endless supply of a seasonal haul from her garden. The pork cheeks served with pattypan squash are a standout, as is the whole-roasted fish. Now serving lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends, the spot also features amazing cocktails created by Amanda Britton and her team behind the bar.
The cost: Snacks and entree approximations are $7 all the way up to $180 for the big boy, a 40-oz Joyce Farms bone-in ribeye. Most cocktails are $12, and beer and wine from $4-17.
How to order: VANA is open for diners, but is not currently taking reservations. Call 980-819-5913 to order takeout.
The gist: Bardo is the older, fancier sister restaurant of VANA. Perfect for dates and special occasions, Bardo specializes in shareable and unique dishes.
The food: Chef Michael Noll and his team can be seen from the exposed kitchen at the back of the dining room preparing small plate dishes such as sea trout with compressed watermelon and delectable desserts like the brown butter cake served with charred pineapple and white chocolate ice cream. Bartender Amanda Britton creates cocktails meant to bring out the flavors of Noll’s dishes, such as the Paradise Paloma made with Illegal Mezcal, kombu, watermelon, and lime.
The cost: Dishes, meant to be tapas-style or not if you don’t want to share, range from $10-25. Cocktails are about $13, and beer and wine run from $4-17.
How to order: Dine-in options are now available, as are carryout options from Toast.