Our favorite restaurants keep changing as new ones continue to pop up in Charlotte. If you have yet to experience them, these are three recent openings we think you should add to your going-out list.
Ink N’ Ivy
This is a no-brainer, but we’ll list it again anyway. This is the only restaurant that can pull off having diamond chandeliers and a motorcycle in the same room. It accentuates the beauty and meaning of tattoos and overcomes the stereotypes of the past. All the quirky aspects, such as the dogs walking on the ceiling, down to the purple and green chairs choices on the ink-swirled patio floor make it strangely comfortable. We love that we can dress up or down to eat their exceptional food from maple glazed salmon to pasta jambalaya. And what’s a bar without specialty cocktails? Poison Ivy or Gentlemen’s Choice will complement the flavors or simply enhance your social experience. The huge space has multiple rooms and that will give personality to your next event. Need New Year’s Eve plans? Celebrate at their Confetti and Cocktails party.
Essex Bar & Bistro
Like Ink N’ Ivy, Essex incorporates tattoos, but through large black and white photographs. The dark wood and teal paint give it a mysterious appeal while the hanging light bulbs make for a dim romantic evening or productive private work discussion. The finest craft cocktails, like the raspberry smash or anejo honey sour, are served by talented mixologists. You can taste the perfected art. They also have a wonderful selection of reds, whites, and beers. This gastropub features worldly foods such as veal meatballs, Mediterranean eggplant, and lamb chop lollipops. Don’t skip dessert: try their Beignoli, a deep fried cream puff with a chocolate ganache and you won’t leave hungry.
Charlotte has a lot of sushi joints, but none quite like this. Since opening in September, O-ku has done an excellent job combining Japanese cuisine with the American south in his menu and specialties of great variety. All dishes, from the Yakiniku duck legs to the black dragon roll come fresh directly from local sources. Their astounding presentation of their sushi is something to be proud of (and unapologetically take pictures of for Instagram). O-Ku’s warm brick walls and lighting combined with the large mirrors and tree branches stretching out of the pillars give it the modern look. This is the kind of place you’ll want to eat regularly.