Unlock Uptown’s Secret Spots
From hidden-away spots to beloved businesses with a cult following, Uptown Charlotte is bursting with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Whether you work or live in Uptown or only visit a few times a year, don’t miss these lesser-known experiences during your next outing in the city. Or better yet, make a special trip to visit a spot or two. We promise—you won’t regret it
Do a quick drive down Uptown’s main streets and you’ll find dozens of enticing eateries beckoning you to enjoy a meal. But if you go a little deeper into Uptown or explore offerings on the edge of the district, you may happen upon one of these under-the-radar local favorites.
Alexander Michael’s, Poplar Tapas Wines & Spirits and McNinch House Restaurant are all located in beautiful, tucked away historic homes in Fourth Ward, serving up fantastic fare and rich stories of Charlotte’s history. Head to Alexander Michael’s for a laid-back neighborhood tavern experience in what used to be the Crowell-Berryhill Store. Poplar, located in the Queen Anne-style Morrison House, features a Peruvian-inspired small plates menu. And the purple-painted McNinch House Restaurant is the epitome of luxurious fine dining.
If you haven’t already, you’ll probably pass by these easy-to-miss eateries at some point while you’re in Uptown. Located under the Two Wells Fargo building in the College Street Shops, Johnny Burrito is known for its big California-style burritos and Mexican food (Tuesday and Friday are tamale days). Little Village Grill features an American-Greek menu with pitas (the lamb and beef gyro is a must), subs, burgers, sandwiches and salads. The no-frills local fast-food spot has two street-front retail locations: 710 W. Trade St. near Johnson & Wales University and 901 E. Fourth St. behind the large hand sculpture art piece. Off of Graham Street, Sub One Hoagie House and Freshwaters are located in a small strip mall. Sub One has been serving delicious hot hoagies in Charlotte for nearly 30 years. A few doors down, Freshwaters opened in 2015 featuring Southern and New-Orleans-style cuisine and live jazz on Friday nights.
Also on Graham Street, Crave Dessert Bar is a nightlife lounge and bar specializing in savory appetizers, decadent desserts and craft cocktails. The hip spot is located in the Old Charlotte Cotton Mills development, the first cotton mill built in the city in 1880. Green’s Lunch near Truist Field in Third Ward is the oldest restaurant in Uptown. It’s been grilling breakfast and lunch favorites, including world-famous hot dogs with secret homemade chili, since 1926. A newer addition to the scene, Community Matters Cafe opened near Bank of America Stadium in 2019. An extension of the Charlotte Rescue Mission, a nonprofit that supports the homeless and those battling addictions, the cafe is a full-service restaurant and coffee shop that provides life skills training for employees while supporting the organization’s programs. Speaking of coffee, don’t miss Waterbean Coffee off Tryon Street—it’s the only drive-thru coffee spot in Uptown.
In the early 1900s, Tryon Street was the area’s most popular retail row with stores like Belk Bros., Efird’s Department Store and Ivey’s Department Store bringing people from all over the region to shop. Over time, department stores started moving to suburban malls. While large retailers aren’t as prevalent in Uptown today, local shops and boutiques still call the area home. But where are they?
Various retail shops are sprinkled throughout Uptown, but three retail-centric spots are hidden away underneath Uptown’s towering skyscrapers: The Market at 7th Street, Latta Arcade/Brevard Court and Overstreet Mall.
The Market at 7th Street opened in 2011 as North Carolina’s first food hall, featuring culinary vendors and retail shops. The nonprofit operates as a small business incubator that helps entrepreneurs grow while providing local products to residents and visitors. Retail shops include the Charlotte-centric gift boutique CLT Find and zero-waste beauty refill store Good Earth Essentials. While new vendors pop up often, the market’s current food and beverage stalls include Assorted Table Wine Shoppe, Geno D's Pizza, It’s Poppin! Gourmet Kettle Corn, Momo Station, Not Just Coffee, Orrman’s Cheese Shop, Rico’s Acai, SC Cafe, and Viva Raw.
Latta Arcade opened in 1915 and is one of Uptown’s only historic retail landmarks still in operation. The two-level property features retail shops, offices, restaurants and bars with a pedestrian walkway through the middle that leads out to Brevard Court, a light-covered exterior courtyard. Commonly called the French Quarter (the name of one of the courtyard’s anchor restaurants), Brevard Court also features a variety of shops and culinary options with outdoor seating. Potbelly and Chipotle flank the unassuming Latta Arcade entrance on Tryon Street, but once you walk inside, you will be transported back in time. Current occupants include Arcade Men’s Room, Technicuts, Cell Phone Repair (CPR), Pie in the Sky Pizza, Phil’s Deli, Ohana Poke, Queen City Bites & Crafts, Belfast Mill, Clover Joe’s, Nefelie’s, Valhalla and more.
Overstreet Mall is a secret network of connected pathways inside towers in Uptown that house retail shops and restaurants. As you walk down the interior pathway, you will stumble upon gift shops like The Beehive Gifts, clothing and accessory boutiques like Ivy & Leo, and jewelry stores like Brownlee Jewelers. Other tenants include New Creations Salon, City Barbers, McAlister’s Deli, Chick-fil-A, Which Wich and more.
When you think of activities in Uptown Charlotte, major attractions may come to mind like the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Mint Museum, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Bank of America Stadium or Spectrum Center, but other somewhat secret spots offer entertaining experiences you didn’t even know you were missing.
If you enter Uptown Charlotte on North Tryon Street, the corner of your eye may catch the large photos of acrobats dangling from fabric ropes on the front windows of a stone-covered building. As you take a second glance, you’ll see the name AerialCLT on the door. Drop in for a beginner-friendly fitness class, where you will learn how to fly on an aerial silk fabric, trapeze and lyra hoop—no pull-ups required.
Just next door with a similar stone-covered facade, the McColl Center for Art + Innovation is housed in a more than 90-year-old former church turned art gallery that now operates an artist-in-residence program with more than 30,000 square feet of studio and exhibit space. Also located in a former church, Spirit Square is home to two small theaters—McGlohon Theater and Duke Energy Theater—as well as classrooms, studios and gallery space. The Square at Spirit Square is a light-covered outdoor patio that hosts free concerts and moving showings during warm weather months.
Enjoy a night on the town at a speak-easy style bar like The Cotton Room or The Cellar at Duckworth’s. Each have a prohibition-era vibe with expertly crafted cocktails. Or head to Middle C Jazz, a local live jazz club featuring national, regional and local jazz artists, plus delicious small plates and libations.
Uncover more hidden spots and secret experiences on a free self-guided tour through Uptown or take a guided tour with Charlotte NC Tours, C-Charlotte Tours, Queen City Rides or the Funny Bus City Comedy Tour. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tell us your favorite under-the-radar spots in Uptown.