Apartment Living BlogFood & Entertaining › 4 Charlotte Culinary Staples You Have to Try

There’s no arguing that Charlotte has a vibrant culinary scene. It seems like almost daily, the Charlotte Agenda is touting the next hot new restaurant. As the restaurant industry goes, those hot new pillars of gastronomy are soon forgotten as yesterday’s news. However, a handful of restaurants have stood the test of time in the Queen City. Find out why by eating at one of these four Charlotte culinary staples.

Brooks’ Sandwich House and Chili

Before Five Guys opened shop and Charlotte’s restaurateur deity Frank Scibelli blessed us with Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, there was Brooks’ Sandwich House and Chili. Located in what many consider to be that “sketchy” shack on the outskirts of the booming Historic NoDa neighborhood, there’s nothing sketchy about Brooks’ Sandwich House and Chili. The family run business has been specializing in Carolina style cheeseburgers and other regional treats like liver mush for over 40 years.

For Charlotte newbies, a Carolina style cheeseburger comes topped with cheese, chili, mustard, and chopped onions. At Brooks Sandwich House and Chili, they call it “All the Way.” And yes, you can order a Liver Mush sandwich “All the Way,” too. At $3.50 for a hand-patted, flat top burger, that’s a heck of a deal! Especially since the chili is made in house according to the family’s safely guarded recipe.

Know Before You Go – Brooks Sandwich House and Chili doesn’t accepted credit cards nor do they offer seating. You either take your burgers to go, eat it in your car, or stand around the community table in the gravel parking lot.

charlotte-culinary-1The Open Kitchen Restaurant

Good people of Charlotte, please quit touting Portofino’s as the best Italian-American restaurant in Charlotte. There is better pizza, better spaghetti, and better “al forno” dishes at Open Kitchen Restaurant. How do I know? Because Open Kitchen Restaurant has been pumping out hearty Italian-fare since 1952 in West Charlotte — a neighborhood that is just now starting to become cool.

The pizza parlor’s cavernous interior is complete with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, Italian flags, marble busts, and college pennants. It’s reputed that owners Speros and Steve Kokenes were the first in town to sell pizza. While the pizza is definitely good enough to stand the test of time, I highly recommend the braciole and the manicotti. Just like my Italian grandfather made!

Bar-B-Q King

Guy Fieri attempted to put the Bar-B-Q King on the map with Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. In fact, America’s favorite greasy-spoon-guru loves Bar-B-Q King so much, that he also mentioned it on another popular Food Network show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. “Every time I go to the airport in Charlotte — on my way out of the airport and into town —I stop at Bar-B-Q King. And on my way out of town and going back to the airport, I stop at Bar-B-Q King.”

Yet, the 58- year-old drive-in remains off most Charlottean’s radar. Perhaps that’s because the drive-in is located in a not yet gentrified neighborhood on Wilkinson that you may remember passing on your way to the airport. Next time, do yourself a favor, make like Guy, and stop-in! Everything is scratch made as it has been since the Karapanos family opened the Bar-B-Q King three generations ago. While the pulled pork is definitely worth ordering, you can’t stop at the Bar-B-Q King without also ordering the BBQ fried chicken — perfectly fried chicken that’s dunked in the family’s tangy secret sauce.

Know Before You Go – Like other restaurants on this list, make sure you bring cash, as the Bar-B-Q King doesn’t accept credit cards. Also, it should go without saying since this is a drive-in, but you either eat in your car or take the food home.

Price’s Chicken Coop

Lost among the towering new apartment buildings that are sprouting up all over the Queen City’s South End neighborhood is a 55-year-old storefront; where not much has changed over the years — and that’s a good thing! Price’s Chicken Coop has been serving up decadent fried chicken, gizzards, and livers since the neighborhood was home to hungry factory workers — that’s well before health conscious millennials moved in.

Every day, people of all ages and backgrounds line up around the block (including us aforementioned health conscious millennials) for a cardboard box filled with Price’s Chicken Coop’s famous chicken and tater tots (seriously, the tots rival the chicken on the awesome scale). Once inside the basic cinder-block building, the scene is reminiscent to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. The line wraps around to the right to order. Once you order, you wait to the left while one of the many fryers cooks up your chicken (and your stomach grumbles). Don’t worry; if you screw it up like I did, somebody is likely to help you with a pleasant smile.

Know Before You Go – Price’s Chicken Coop doesn’t accept credit cards nor do they offer any seating onsite. If you can’t wait to get back home to dive into the best fried chicken you’ll ever eat, then head across the street to the Rail Trail Park and pop a squat on one of the many benches.


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About :

Bryan M. Richards is a beer, food, and travel writer based in Charlotte. His work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Beer Advocate, and just about anything with the word Charlotte in it. Follow his food and drink adventures on Instagram.


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