Romantic meal
Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Fotolia

Find the perfect romantic date spot in Charlotte, North Carolina, a city well known for its vibrant food scene. Whether you are looking for an upscale eatery or a casual place with lively entertainment, there is plenty to choose from. The restaurants that made our list serve a diverse selection of flavors, including Southern, New American, Asian, Peruvian, Italian, French and other dishes. Order excellent sushi, pizza, sandwiches, burgers or BBQ and enjoy your romantic meal in Charlotte. These are the best romantic restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina.

»Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem


Located in the historic Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, Carpe Diem is an upscale restaurant with a beautiful Art Nouveau dining room. Glossy marble floors, mahogany doors, and discrete copper lightning create an atmosphere of opulence and refinement. Carpe Diem has been around for more than 25 years, and this is its third location.

The menu is eclectic New American, with modern interpretations of classic favorites. Besides the regular menu, Chef Paul Ketterhagen offers specials every day, so be prepared for surprises. He occasionally brings old favorites back to the menu, including North Carolina trout crusted in pistachio and served with pineapple, white butter, kohlrabi, Carolina rice, and turnip and apple salad.

1535 Elizabeth Avenue, Charlotte, NC, Phone: 704-377-7976 (website)

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»Upstream

Upstream


Upstream is an upscale, elegant, and contemporary seafood and sushi restaurant in the Phillips Plaza Mall in the South Park area of Charlotte.

A magnificent cobalt blue ceiling and wall hangings create the sensation of looking at the ocean depths. Chef Scott Wallen plays with freshly caught fruits of the ocean and rivers using flare and imagination, and he perfectly melds seafood with seasonal local ingredients to create unique flavors.

You will find some pretty wild combinations – don’t miss Big Eye Tuna Tacos with heart of palms, wasabi aioli, and pickled jalapenos. Upstream also has a superb wine list and excellent premier sake. Check their schedule for cooking classes.

6902 Phillips Place, Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-556-7730 (website)

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»The King's Kitchen & Bakery

The King's Kitchen & Bakery

The King’s Kitchen, located in a spacious and bright location on West Trade Street, is unique on so many levels. First, it is non-profit. The owners donate the profits to the local ministry to feed the poor and homeless. They also offer a training and employment program for those who are otherwise unemployable.

They believe that helping people should start with helping them regain dignity and allowing them to believe in themselves. The Kitchen works with a number of local farmers and food growers, meaning they support the local economy and get super fresh, seasonal and local ingredients in the process.

Then, there is the menu, a collection of amazing Southern favorites cooked to perfection. Their sandwiches, made with fresh baked breads from their own bakery, are world class.

129 W Trade St., Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-375-1990 (website)

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»Pinky's Westside Grill

Pinky's Westside Grill


Seeing a colorful VW on the roof of the former auto shop that is now Pinky’s Westside Grill should tell you right away that things are quite unique there.

Vibrant red walls and eclectic décor suit the VW, and the food is just as striking. And with celebrated Chef Greg Auten in command, that is no surprise. Claiming to be a “lowbrow diner,” Pinky’s is incredibly appealing. It serves quite a range of everyone’s favorites, but with a twist.

You will find burgers with crunchy peanut butter, vegetarian hot dogs, and Pimp’n Fries served with their signature pimiento cheese. Just browsing through the menu will make you smile and put you in a good mood even before you get to eat. You can also get bottomless coffee and free refills on most sodas.

1600 W.Morehead St., Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-332-0402 (website)

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»Zen Fusion

Zen Fusion

Zen Fusion is a trendy, modern restaurant in the heart of historic Dilworth. The understated décor is very Zen, but the high backed boots are plush and comfortable, creating an appealing fusion theme.

The menu mostly features small plates – tapas – that range from typical, well known Spanish tapas, to small, exotic nibbles from destinations such as Vietnam or Thailand. Dinner also offers a nice selection of sushi. The restaurant serves both Spanish and Asian dishes, and it doesn’t mix the ingredients or dishes of either influence, preserving the integrity and flavors of both.

One of the most interesting dishes is the Asian stir-fry, where the diner can choose the mix of vegetables and meat or seafood. Zen Fusion has a nice wine list and makes very good cocktails, but their sangria is the real hit.

1716 Kenilworth Ave., Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-358-9688 (website)

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»Futo Buta

Futo Buta


Everyone loves well-made ramen, and at Futo Buta, ramen is a work of art. Chef Michael Sortino uses fresh, seasonal produce and mixes flavorful ingredients to produce very creative ramen and a range of other authentic Japanese dishes.

The dining room is modern, with rustic rough wood and Zen-like décor, but it has an energetic atmosphere, and Futo Buta has become quite popular. There are about 40 seats inside and 40 more outside. Ramen is the star of the show, and they make fresh noodles every day from organic red wheat that is sourced locally.

To find out how Chef Michael makes an authentic Japanese ramen with Carolina twist, you should definitively try Shio, made of chicken broth with katsuobushi salts, bean sprouts, bok choy, Carolina prawns, and salmon smoked in-house.

Bland St Light Rail Station, 222 E Bland St., Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-376-8400 (website)

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»The Fig Tree

The Fig Tree


Located in the charming 1913 Craftsman-style bungalow called Lucas House, The Fig Tree has five distinct dining rooms with several fireplaces and elegant furnishing. They also offer romantic outdoor seating on the patio and veranda, which overlook the signature fig trees.

The elegant decor creates a perfect backdrop to fine dining with Italian and French influences, but the cuisine is still firmly based in Carolina tradition and fresh, seasonal produce. Chef Greg Zanitsch is a master of blending textures, flavors, and ingredients using traditional culinary techniques to produce some outstanding dishes.

His Carolina version of Fois Gras is particularly memorable: he serves it pan-seared with cornbread pudding, blackberry gastrique, and bacon praline. The Fig Tree has an award-winning and extensive wine list with vintages from all over the world.

1601 E 7th Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-332-3322 (website) Photo: The Fig Tree

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»Viva Chicken

Viva Chicken


Peruvian rotisserie chicken is a great way to get introduced to Peruvian cuisine. Free-range chicken is marinated for about 24 hours with a special Viva Chicken mix of exotic spices and herbs and then roasted slowly on a spit rotating over an open charcoal fire. Viva Chicken serves their delicious chicken with a range of Peruvian sides such as Cilantro Infused Rice or fried yuka, along with their special sauces, either hot or mild.

They offer a range of other Peruvian dishes you might want to try to get a good idea of the flavors typical of this small Latin American country. Try their signature juices such as Maracuya, which is Peruvian Passion Fruit Punch. Viva Chicken now has two locations in Charlotte, and both are doing brisk business in bright, clean spaces, one on Elizabeth Avenue and the other at Toringdon.

1617 Elizabeth Avenue, Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 980-335-0176 (website)

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»Luna's Living Kitchen

Luna's Living Kitchen


It is amazing how many complex dishes can be made with raw organic plants. Luna's Living Kitchen in Charlotte's Historic South End wants to change some preconceptions and teach people about healthy eating with plant based organic nutrients prepared in an imaginative, original, and totally delicious way.

No animal products, refined sugars, eggs, preservatives or dairy are used, and everything is prepared each day from scratch to preserve all the nutrients and important enzymes.

Try their lasagna or Lunasagna made of layers of zucchini noodles, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms – it is a revelation. Luna also makes fresh fruit and vegetable juices, available in store or from their truck that cruises around Charlotte. Interested customers can put their address on the truck’s schedule to get the juices regularly.

2000 South Blvd. Suite 300, Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-333-0008 (website)

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»Midwood Smokehouse

Midwood Smokehouse


When you give an experienced pit master like Matt Barry a custom wood-burning computer controlled smoker, you can expect some spectacular meats. Midwood Smokehouse serves everything from true Texas style briskets to tender and juicy Carolina pulled pork. The smoker chugs along 24 hours a day using only real hardwood hickory logs, and what comes out is tender and bursting with flavor.

They even smoke their veggies. Midwood Smokehouse has a spacious dining room with a lovely rooftop deck in Charlotte’s Plaza-Midwood neighborhood and another location in South Charlotte near Ballantine. They have some great sides and salads to go with their fabulous meats, and the full bar has a nice selection of craft beers. If you have any space left, try their banana pudding.

1401 Central Ave. Suite 101, Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-295-4BBQ (website)

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»Mac's Speed Shop

Mac's Speed Shop


Mac's Speed Shop is large, cool and fun. The smells of succulent grilled meats will greet you as you walk in the door. The menu is Southern; you’ll find smoky pulled pork with Carolina barbecue sauce, dry-rubbed Carolina beef brisket, and so much more. The expansive menu has something for everyone, and with more than 60 kinds of beer, many of which are on tap, you are sure to find something to go perfectly with your meal.

Expect bigger crowds on Saturday when the local bands take over the stage. Sit outside on the patio, listen to the music, and admire the bikes that are often parked nearby. There are two locations in Charlotte.

P2511 South Blvd., 704-522-6227; 2414 Sandy Porter Rd., 704-504-8500 (website)

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»The Asbury

The Asbury


The Asbury is a modern Southern restaurant located on the ground floor of the Dunhill Hotel, formerly the 1929 Mayfair Manor. The restaurant is rather striking and features bold blue walls decorated with attractive original art.

The modern décor creates the perfect setting for a classic North Carolina menu interpreted in the unique and original way typical Executive Chef Chris Coleman. He works with rarely used heirloom ingredients that are native to the area, some ancient grains, and other special ingredients grown by regional small family farms.

The result is good old favorites that have been artfully reinvented. Try Jerk Shrimp with Carolina Gold rice coconut salad and served with eggplant, peach, and peanut salsa, and bell pepper reduction. Asbury’s selection of Reserve Wines is spectacular, as is the selection of local microbrews.

235 North Tryon St., Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-342-1193 (website) best-things-to-do-in-louisville-ky.html">Things to Do, Whitehall, Louisville Zoological Gardens, Locust Grove, Kentucky Science Center, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville Mega Cavern Photo: The Asbury

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»Tanaka's Grill and Sushi

Tanaka's Grill and Sushi

Tanaka’s Grill and Sushi is an understated, modern Japanese restaurant that serves traditional Japanese fare such as hibachi, sushi, and sashimi. Some of the sushi has even strayed from tradition and joined the 21st century. The Knock Off Roll is a meal in and of itself with tuna, crab, scallions, jalapenos, and cream cheese, and panko-breaded and fried. Finally, it is topped with sriracha and mayo and served with Ponzu sauce.

There are a number of options and combinations of sushi rolls, each one more interesting than the next. For those who are not sushi eaters, the best option is the hibachi combo that serves two, and includes items such as fried rice with chicken or shrimp and steak mixed together. It is served with scallions, eggs, and carrots. They have a nice selection of sodas, beers, and sakes to go with the delicious food.

5332 A Prosperity Church Road, Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-948–9518 (website)

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»Dressler's

Dressler's

Dressler’s has an elegant and dramatic dining room that is a superb setting for a celebration, a romantic evening for two, or a girls’ night out. Their outdoor patio is more casual but no less upscale, and its tables are set with white tablecloths and fine cutlery.

This elegant background prepares guests for the artistry of Executive Chef Scott Hollingsworth. He offers modern American cuisine focused on grilled meat, fresh seafood, and some very imaginative small plates (don’t miss the Lump Crab Cake with remoulade of roasted pecans).

Try to save room for dessert, as Dressler’s founder’s mother brought her own recipe for the famous New York cheesecake, which is a hit. Dressler’s has a well stocked bar specializing in ports, single malt scotches, and martinis. The wine list is extensive and quite good.

1100 Metropolitan Avenue, Suite 125-E, Charlotte, North Carolina, Phone: 704-909-6295 (website)

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»Pure Pizza

Pure Pizza

With one of the two locations in Charlotte’s 7th Street Market, Pure Pizza does not have to go far to get fresh ingredients daily. However, what they make requires a little more than just organic, locally sourced produce. They also use a very special proprietary mix of sprouted ancient grains, which is the secret behind their completely unique pizza.

The mix consists of quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and a little bit of wheat for the necessary gluten. The result is a nutty, airy, and light crust like nothing anyone else can make. The crust is topped with low sodium tomato sauce, low fat local cheese, and lots and lots of local produce, from bacon to mushrooms. You won’t find fillers, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or molasses. No wonder they call it Pure Pizza.

P1911 Central Ave, 980-430-1701; 224 East 7th St, 980-207-0037 (website)

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15 Best Romantic Restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina