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10 Best Restaurants (right now) in Charlotte, North Carolina’s NoDa Neighborhood
Story by Vanessa Infanzon
Like most cities, Charlotte, North Carolina, is made up of neighborhoods, each recognized for its vibe and character. The NoDa neighborhood—so called for its main drag, North Davidson Street—developed a reputation as an art district more than 25 years ago when husband and wife team, artists Ruth Ava Lyons and Paul Sires, saw potential in the dilapidated mill village. They needed cheap studio space and NoDa had plenty of old buildings ready for restoration. Among other things, the couple started once-a-month Friday night gallery crawls that led to a resurgence in the area.
NoDa has become a destination for art, music, and food. People arrive by bike, car, or public transit: The 36th Street Station on the LYNX Blue Line is steps away from the heart of the neighborhood.
When I purchased a house in NoDa in 1998, only a handful of restaurants were open. Our choices were limited back then: Cajun, Italian or vegetarian. Now, no matter what we’re in the mood to eat, we can walk to a restaurant within a few blocks of our house. The restaurants listed below represent a variety of cuisines, chefs who source ingredients locally, and dishes made from scratch.
Right now, these 10 restaurants (in alphabetical order) are the best bets for good food in NoDa:
Boudreaux’s has stood the test of time: It’s been open since my first days in NoDa. My go-to choice is the etouffee, but there’s much to savor on this menu. The lunch and dinner features include entrées, salads, soups and sandwiches such as gumbo, po’boys, and Sriracha shrimp. Weekend brunch calls for a Cajun Mary or mimosa paired with a crab omelet and sweetbread cornbread flapjacks. Takeout is available and reservations are recommended for dine-in.
Get a behind-the-scenes peek of Cabo Fish Taco on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Order burritos, wraps and fish, salmon, steak or tofu tacos, made with fresh local ingredients. Signature spices are created by Carolina Spice. Choose from a long list of margaritas: For something spicy, try the Jalarita muddled with fresh jalapeños. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery are available.
This European gastropub works with regional farmers to provide fresh, seasonal ingredients in an intimate setting. The menu offers savory crepes such as ‘the duck confit’ as well as sweet options like ‘nutella & bananas,’ but items like the homemade burrata and pesto brie fries are big stars at the table. The Crêpe Cellar Burger is a surprise on the menu and a favorite among locals. Takeout is available and reservations are recommended for dine-in.
Deejai Noodle Bar is north of the hustle and bustle of downtown NoDa and the short walk is worth the sushi and traditional Thai dishes. Choose from a variety of cucumber wraps and noodle, rice, and sushi poke bowls. Thailand-inspired street food such as pad Thai and drunken noodles are on the menu. Feeling adventurous? Try the ‘three amigo poke bowl’ with salmon, tuna, Hamachi cubes, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño, onion, lime juice, and guacamole on rice. Takeout is available and reservations are recommended for dine-in.
Chef Chris Coleman, formerly of Stoke which is Marriott’s fine dining concept in uptown Charlotte, has created a farm-to-table restaurant with a welcoming atmosphere. An old mill house was renovated to accommodate The Goodyear House. The full menu includes burgers, chicken, shrimp, and several dishes for guests who need special dietary options. Porchetta and North Carolina trout almandine are among the gluten-free options; smoked cashew mac and ‘green monster sammie’ are vegan dishes. Takeout is available and reservations are recommended for dine-in.
At Haberdish, contemporary Southern foods such as fried chicken, smoked deviled eggs, and sweet potato dumplings are paired with aesthetically-pleasing craft cocktails. Don’t miss weekend brunch where the mouthwatering options include homemade cinnamon rolls, chicken with waffles, and more. Outdoor seating overlooks North Davidson Street. Takeout is available and reservations are recommended for dine-in.
Don’t let Jack Beagle’s bar vibe give you the impression the food is frozen and fried. Even the dressing and sauces are made in-house here. Burgers, chicken wings and tenders, and sliced ribeye for cheesesteaks are fresh and made to order. Add the ‘blue-black-mac’ with gorgonzola, bacon, and cracked black pepper for an out-of-this-world mac and cheese experience. Seating is open on the back patio. Bands will play on the outdoor stage when pandemic protocols are lifted. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery are available.
Walk or drive on 36th Street toward The Plaza to find NoDa Bodega, a casual deli and eatery. Chef Bryan Moore, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, kept a list of interesting sandwiches for years before opening the Bodega with his wife, Lisa. Order a salad, sandwich, or wrap off the menu, try a daily special, or create something of your own. My favorite is the Namaste, a vegan sandwich with an assortment of veggies and hummus. NoDa neighbors come for the ‘Italian stallion’ with prosciutto, finocchiona salami, and capocollo on a baguette. Grab items for a picnic or come for breakfast or lunch. Indoor and outdoor dine-in and takeout are available.
An all-vegan menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner at Oh My Soul might amaze meat-eaters. The ‘grilled vicken & friendly-bacon ranch wrap’ features a juicy lemon and herb marinated “vicken” with a maple glazed “vacon,” fresh salad leaves tossed with a house-made creamy ranch dressing in a toasted tortilla wrap. Outdoor seating is in a serene garden setting. A new vegan deli is expected to open in the spring with vegan artisanal cheese, charcuterie, breads, pastries, and salads. Dine-in and takeout are available.
Room & Board is hard to miss in NoDa: It stands on the corner of North Davidson and 36th Street in a renovated rooming house. CharlotteMagazine named it “Charlotte’s Best New Pizza Place.” It’s a sports bar at heart with local craft beer on tap, plenty of outdoor seating, and live music once the pandemic guidelines are lifted. The Detroit-style pizzas and in-house smoked brisket, pork, and ribs make this a can’t-miss stop for locals and tourists. The rotating brunch menu is available Saturdays and Sundays. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery are available.
Photo Credit: Justin Sprowles
Taste More of NoDa
Beyond its restaurants, NoDa has more reasons to treat your taste buds to a visit.
NoDa’s craft brewery scene has grown steadily over the past decade, with many breweries offering outdoor seating. Find a favorite among these options: Divine Barrel Brewing, Free Range Brewing, Heist Brewery, Noda Brewing Company, Protagonist Noda and Wooden Robot Brewery. Looking to tote some beer home? Stop by Salud Beer Shop for a great selection of craft beer and specialty beers from around the world.
The Artisan’s Palate, The Exchange at 36th, and the NoDa Company Store highlight local artists plus offer specialty drinks, light fare, and cool vibes. Amélie’s French Bakery & Café, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Reigning Doughnuts are great options for sweet treats. Coffee drinkers will find an assortment of drinks and pastry options at Smelly Cat Coffee House & Roastery and Summit Coffee Co.
Plan A Trip
Charlotte, North Carolina is accessible by planes, trains and automobiles. Center city is close to interstates 77 and 85. Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Amtrak are available to travelers. NoDa is two miles Northeast of uptown. The Yellow Cab Co. offers service throughout the metro area. Uber, Lyft and other rideshare programs are also active.
In NoDa, performances at The Evening Muse and the Neighborhood Theatre attract music enthusiasts with local, national, and international musicians. Ruby’s Gifts and Pura Vida carry local and international art and handmade crafts.
A visit to NoDa may be combined with other area attractions. Walk or ride bikes to Optimist Hall, a food hall with indoor and outdoor seating just minutes from NoDa. The heart of Uptown Charlotte offers art exhibits at several music venues, museums, and parks.
Vanessa Infanzon moved to North Carolina for college and never left. She lives in a renovated 105-year-old house in NoDa, her home neighborhood for more than 20 years. When not writing about food and travel, she can be found paddleboarding at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.