Soul Food in Charlotte, North Carolina Best Western Experience | Travel Zone by Best Western

Soul Food in Charlotte, North Carolina

By Virginia Brown

Soul food conjures thoughts of down-home cooking and comfortable digs. Pull up a chair and order feel-good favorites like fried chicken, barbecue ribs, and smothered pork chops, or savor mouth-watering sides and other specialties at these top soul food restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Mert’s Soul Food 

The funky, colorful interior at Mert’s Heart & Soul is about as classic as the food at this uptown Charlotte mainstay. Mert’s opened in 1998 with a focus on classic soul food choices, like fried chicken, jerk-seasoned Carolina barbecue, fried catfish and ribs, plus a few Low Country and Gullah-inspired dishes (think shrimp and grits and Charleston red rice). Kick off your meal with an order of “soul rolls,” fried egg rolls stuffed with collard greens, seasoned rice, black-eyed peas, and chicken, with a spicy honey mustard dip. Cornbread and signature salmon cakes are go-tos on the starter menu, and you can’t go wrong with any combo of sides, including yams, grits, okra and tomatoes, and more. 

Jimmy Pearls 

At Jimmy Pearls in uptown Charlotte, Chefs Oscar Johnson and Daryl Cooper let the rich heritage of their native Virginia inspire their popular soul food menu. Fresh catches and specials are shared on the chalkboard daily. “Uncle Gene’s” fish sandwich comes topped with a special “Jimmy” sauce and hot sauce with a side of field-pea slaw. The crab cake sandwich and fish or shrimp plates are also good options after an order of crispy chicken gizzards or creamed corn fritters. 

Nana Morrison’s 

At Nana Morrison’s, the soul food is all the family. At age 16, Gabby Morrison took over as general manager of the Morrison family’s popular soul food spot, which expanded to its second location in northwest Charlotte in 2023. The original location, near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, on the city’s southwest side, opened in 2011. Black-eyed peas, lima beans, pinto beans, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes are favorites from the robust sides menu. Pick three and make a meal of it with an order of cornbread or a roll. Mains include a special-recipe fried fish, baked chicken, barbecue ribs, and smothered pork chops. Save room for some sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, or banana pudding. 


A newcomer to Charlotte’s soul food scene, Sol’Delish opened in University City in 2022. While the menu focuses on the staples you’d expect – fried flounder, burgers, jerk or barbecue wings, and crab cakes, elevated twists, like the collard and kale three-cheese “Everything Green Dip,” and a rich and gooey lobster mac and cheese keep things current. Sides include yellow rice and fresh-cut fries. Lighter fare is also an option here. Try a “Sol Salad” topped with salmon, chicken, or shrimp. 


Tucked away in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood neighborhood, Dish is a longtime local favorite for southern comfort foods. In 2010, it was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” Start with an order of fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs, or pimento cheese, made with Duke’s mayonnaise, a sharp and white cheddar cheese blend, and Tabasco sauce. The crab rangoon ravioli pays homage to the building’s former life as a Chinese restaurant and laundry. For the main event, you can’t go wrong with the chicken and dumplings or shrimp and grits – the classic preparation blends tasso ham, cream, tomato and peppers with a cajun sauce over stone-ground grits – or ask to “funk it up” with green tomato curry, black garlic, and cilantro. Pot roast, country-fried steak, and meatloaf are also top choices with a side of smokey lima beans, carrots, or collards. 

Leah & Louise 

Inspired by the comfort cuisine of the Mississippi River valley, Greg and Subrina Collier have already gained major acclaim for their southern soul interpretations at Leah & Louise. “Big Ole’” entrées not to miss include oxtail and grits or the “Chop Chop,” a brined and grilled pork chop with fermented apple glaze and fried Brussels sprouts in Carolina barbecue sauce. Other great options are the squash grits and Leah’s cabbage, which is slow roasted with pepper honey, smoked sausage, and pork neck bisque. 

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