Food & Drink

The Best Lunch Spots in Charlotte

Published On 10/21/2015 Published On 10/21/2015
Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Aside from bailing for happy hour, lunch is likely the highlight of your workday. Before you scramble for the nearest office exit, check out this lunch spot compilation to ensure that you make the most out of your break. You may not win “Employee of the Month,” but your co-workers will think you’re pretty cool.

Viva Chicken

Viva Chicken

Elizabeth

This Peruvian rotisserie churns out some of the most flavorful, mouthwatering chicken in town with addicting sauces and sides to complement it (seriously, you’ll want to drink the huacatay sauce). It’s made fresh every morning with cilantro, black Peruvian mint, jalapeños, and some other secret stuff. Other must-haves include the sweet plantains, cilantro-infused rice, and quinoa-stuffed avocados. You might need to be rolled out of this place, but you won’t regret it.  

Lang Van Vietnamese

Eastland

It really doesn’t matter what meat you choose to put in it, the pho at Lang Van is where it’s at. The aromatic broth is made with fresh flank beef bones simmered overnight with herbs and spices. Each hearty bowl of pho is served with all the right accouterments like basil, bean sprouts, chili pepper, and lemon to spice it up however you like.

Common Market

Common Market

Plaza Midwood

Part deli, part grocer, and part wine/beer bar (bonus), this hip hotspot hosts all, from buttoned-up bankers to tatted-up hipsters on a quest for an awesome lunch. Its unique menu is chock-full of hot paninis and cold sandwiches (with whiteboard specials that change daily). And, its cold box is filled with essential sides like potato salad and country caviar, as well as some weird offerings like vegan chicken salad (even meat eaters love it). Whatever grub you choose, take it outside to the patio, which has a cool scene unlike any other.  

Price’s Chicken Coop

Price’s Chicken Coop

South End

This long-standing Charlotte fixture continues to lure lunch-goers with its savory smells (seriously, you can practically taste the crispy goodness from blocks away). A to-go counter only, you’ll have to take your Southern fried chicken and hit the road, but you won’t find anything like it anywhere else in town. Have it your way with either dark or white meat and don’t miss the hushpuppies on the side.

Dish

Plaza Midwood

Guy Fieri’s face is plastered on the wall so you know this Southern kitchen has to be good. Serving up simple country cookin’ just like mama’s, this place does comfort food right. Their homemade entrees are super fresh and always come with a buttery biscuit, deviled egg, and a side of your choice (major “Mmm” award goes to the smoky lima beans and mashed sweet potatoes, but you really can’t go wrong with anything you order).

Dan Gentile/Thrillist

Sushi Guru

South Park

Served with four pieces of its famous Guru roll (tuna, lump crab, and avocado topped with spicy aioli, flash baked, and sprinkled with fried garlic and shallots), this bento box is no joke. You’ll also get sashimi, a ginger-dressed salad, fruit, and tempura shrimp on rice. You know how you’re always hungry an hour after stuffing your face with sushi? Not happening here.

Sauceman's

Sauceman’s

South End

If you’re living in the South, one thing you must take advantage of is hickory slow-smoked pork. Get your fix at Sauceman’s, where high-quality pork is cooked to perfection and served either chopped or coarse cut. Each piled-high plate comes with slaw, hushpuppies, and a side (go with deep fried corn or fried green tomatoes and worry about your diet tomorrow).

Brooks Sandwich House

NoDa

This cinder block building is no looker, but it’s what’s inside that counts, right? Serving up greasy lunch fare since 1973, this place apparently has the recipe down for serving up a mean burger. You’ll definitely have to wait in line (probably even out into the street) to have yours loaded all the way with Brooks’ legendary chili, but it’ll be so worth it. P.S. Where else are you grabbing lunch for less than four bucks?

Pure Pizza

Pure Pizza

Uptown

Housed inside of Uptown’s 7th Street Public Market, this pizza stand offers a good and quick midday pick-me-up. If you’re even mildly into eating right, you’ll dig this place, as the handcrafted pizzas can be made with an organic ancient grain crust option, and its cheeses and farm-fresh toppings are sourced locally whenever possible. The zesty chorizo pizza is topped with the obvious as well as onion, sliced radish, cilantro, and lime. This pizza’s so good you won’t realize it’s actually kinda good for you.  

Pinky’s Westside Grill

Pinky’s Westside Grill

Wesley Heights

From the quirky design (there’s a VW Beetle on top of the building) to the random assortment of burgers, sandwiches, and dogs, this place is just plain awesome. Everything on the menu is good but burgers reign here so go for the White Trash Burger, a 5oz patty topped with provolone, fried pickles, onions, and a spicy ranch sauce. You also can’t go without the sweet potato fries or waffle fries with the infamous wasabi ranch dipping sauce.

Anita’s Mexican Grill

Yorkmont

Unless you work at one of the corporate centers off of Tyvola, you’ve probably never experienced the goodness that is Anita’s. It’s practically inside of a gas station, but this authentic joint serves some of the tastiest Mexican fare in town. Every part of your meal will be good and fresh, from the handmade tortillas to the meaty, perfectly seasoned shrimp, and the ultra-fresh toppings like house-made guacamole and salsa. Get there by 11am or wait until the lunch rush is over, otherwise you’ll be waiting in line with other folks who’ve sniffed out this hidden gem.

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Lauren Blake enjoys writing about restaurants and bars just as much as she likes frequenting them. Well, almost as much. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @palieblake.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Viva Chicken 1617 Elizabeth Ave, Charlotte, NC 28204

This Peruvian-inspired rotisserie churns out some of the most flavorful, mouthwatering chicken in town with addicting sauces and sides to complement it. Other must-haves include the sweet plantains, cilantro-infused rice, and quinoa-stuffed avocados. Wash it all down with one of their signature juices, like the Inca-Cola or passion fruit Maracuya.

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2. Lang Van 3019 Shamrock Dr, Charlotte, NC 28215

If there was a Vietnamese restaurant version of Cheers, it would be filmed at Lang Van. While this ethnic gem is located off the beaten path, you'll still find a packed house full of locals, and an attentive staff and owner that can remember your order every time you walk in the door. The Vietnamese dishes are traditional and fresh, from bun, to pho, and Vietnamese yellow crepes, which are not to be missed.

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3. The Common Market 1515 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28203 (South End)

This eclectic market with its sandwich shop, coffee bar, and beer & wine selection is the ultimate neighborhood hub. Most afternoons you’ll find a packed patio with meetings happening over drinks, while evenings often bring live music, and events like beer and wine tastings. There are six beers on tap, but be sure to peruse the shelves as well. The market’s curated selection of intriguing suds from unexpected places like India or the Middle East has made it a favorite for beer aficionados.

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4. Price's Chicken Coop 1614 Camden Rd, Charlotte, NC 28203 (South End)

Grab a wad of cash and head to Charlotte’s one-and-only fried chicken institution where not much has changed over 50 years. The chicken is deep-fried, hot and crispy — order by the quarter, half or whole chicken and go nuts with a slew of Southern-staple sides like gizzards, hush puppies, slaw and potato salad. White collar, blue collar, no collar — this place attracts people of all types who find solidarity in the possession of Price’s coveted grease-stained takeout box.

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5. Dish 1220 Thomas Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205

Serving up simple country cookin’ just like mama’s, this place does comfort food right. Their homemade entreesm like the shrimp & grits, or the salmon patties, are super fresh and always come with a buttery biscuit, deviled egg, and a side of your choice.

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6. Sushi Guru 6601 Morrison Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28211 (Southpark)

Served with four pieces of its famous Guru roll (tuna, lump crab, and avocado topped with spicy aioli, flash baked and sprinkled with fried garlic and shallots), the Sushi Guru bento box at this Japanese eatery is no joke. You’ll also get sashimi, a ginger-dressed salad, fruit, and tempura shrimp on rice. Or, you could always just opt for one of dozens of sashimi, roll, or nagiri options. Don't worry about reservations; this massive restaurant has ample seating in its low-lit dining space, accented by plants hanging from the ceiling and clean, white tile lining the walls.

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7. Sauceman's 228 West Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203

If you’re living in the South, one thing you must take advantage of is hickory slow-smoked pork. Get your fix at Sauceman’s, where high-quality pork is cooked to perfection and served either chopped or coarse cut. Each piled-high plate comes with slaw, hushpuppies, and a side of deep fried corn, fried green tomatoes, or any of the other savory dozen options.

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8. Brooks' Sandwich House 2710 N Brevard St, Charlotte, NC 28205 (Noda)

Brooks' Sandwich House is a rundown red shack on the side of the railroad tracks, but the line of hungry customers trailing into the dirt parking lot should be enough confirmation that you're in the right place for a good burger. The “All the Way” version includes mustard, onions, and a homemade chili so thick it’s as meaty as the patty. The burger is the show-stealer here, but if you come before the lunch rush, you can get your hand on a highly underrated gooey egg sandwich for breakfast.

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9. Pure Pizza 224 E 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202

Housed inside of Uptown’s 7th Street Public Market, this pizza stand offers a good and quick midday pick-me-up. If you’re even mildly into eating right, you’ll dig this place, as the handcrafted pizzas can be made with an organic ancient grain crust option, and its cheeses and farm-fresh toppings are sourced locally whenever possible. Choose from craft pizzas like the double tomato sauce, double mozzarella, double pepperoni, and double black olives Big Don C, or the five-cheese Lil Weezy Five Cheezy.

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10. Pinky's Westside Grill 1600 W Morehead St, Charlotte, NC 28208 (Freemorewest)

Honey-cilantro slaw, crunchy peanut butter and spicy Sriracha piled together on a burger might sound weird, but once you've had a bite of Pinky's Ding Dong Style Burger in Charlotte's Ashley Park, you'll know you've just got to trust them. And that's only one item on its incredibly diverse menu (it's not every day you see ginger tuna salad and korean pork tacos sharing a menu with reuben hot dogs and greek-style pita sandwiches). No matter what corner of the globe your meal is inspired by, it'll go perfectly with a custom margarita or one of their many quirky house cocktails.

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11. Anita's Mexican Grill 2904 Yorkmont Rd #B, Charlotte, NC 28208

This joint serves some of the tastiest Mexican fare in town -- from the handmade tortillas to the meaty, perfectly seasoned shrimp, and the ultra-fresh toppings like house-made guacamole and salsa -- everything is fresh and delicious. Get there by 11am or wait until the lunch rush is over, otherwise you’ll be waiting in line with other folks who’ve sniffed out this hidden gem.

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