Count on freshness, well-prepared seafood 300+ miles from the Outer Banks seems risky. But a growing number of Charlotte restaurateurs are getting started. These days, you can get your fill of raw oysters, lobster rolls, crab cakes, and fish grilled, fried, taco-wrapped, or slathered in Cajun spices. Here are some highlights.
129 E. Fifth Street
Every head in the dining room turns when a server emerges with the Truist Tower, a $135 three-tier column of 24 oysters, 12 mussels, 10 raw clams, shrimp ceviche, salmon poke, Maine lobster and caviar. Feast on classics like Maine Lobster Rolls or East Coast Shrimp & Grits, or try an unexpected dish like Catfish Rueben. Azure Cassidy, the “Barmacist,” runs the drink program, and happy hour — when oysters cost $1.50 apiece — draws crowds after work.
20210 Henderson Road, Cornelius
Enjoy blue crab claws or spicy North Carolina catfish in a mid-century modern dining room with stunning views of Lake Norman.
End & End
135, avenue Levine des Arts
The raw bar serves a variety of oysters, but as a “social seafood house,” its forte is sharing plates like Verlasso Salmon and Littleneck Clams.
Carolina Oyster Bar
120 Stonewall Street E.
Head to the second level of the 22-story downtown JW Marriott hotel to sip a cocktail and enjoy the raw bar’s fresh daily selections.
11212 Providence Road West, Ste. B
Chef Robin Anthony is a Certified Sake Advisor who pairs Japanese rice drink with fish the same way a sommelier pairs wine with food. Book a seat at the 10-seat sushi bar to watch the master at work.
3100 Apex Drive
Take a seat at the chef’s counter to watch the Robata grill sizzle with charred lobster, prawns and vegetables, or sample a range of maki rolls and fresh, raw seafood in the dining room.
6706 Phillips Place Court, Ste. VS
This menu is heavy on cornmeal-crusted, fried shrimp, catfish, and oysters. Think Texas and Louisiana packed for a high end SouthPark customer.
512 Brandywine Road, Ste. 500
Visit this cozy spot behind the Park Road Mall for the large patio and fresh seafood. Order from the raw bar, which offers several varieties of half-shell oysters, or opt for the catch of the day.
3718 Central Ave, Ste. A
Charlotte got her first “quick and laid back fishing camp” when the popular seafood chain opened in east Charlotte, and dishes like the Big Cat & Skrimp Po Boy taste just right.
516 N. Graham Street
Owners Sharon and Cliff Freshwater—yes, that’s really their name—serve crab cakes, cornbread, and their popular blackened Cajun catfish.
LuLu’s Maryland Chicken and Seafood
2400 Tuckaseegee Road
The name LuLu pays homage to owner Jay Davis’ mother, and the Baltimore native makes the best (and only) Maryland-style crab cake in Charlotte.
1800 E. Seventh St.
A jazz band plays upstairs every night, and the main menu features Creole dishes like Étouffée shrimp and Diane crayfish, which you can order as spicy or mild as you like.
Cabo Fish Taco
This “Baja seagrill” serves the title dish along with quesadillas, burritos and salads in a fun surf-themed atmosphere.
The Waterman Fish Bar
2729 South Blvd., Ste. D
The South End Oyster Bar offers all the essentials: lobster rolls, fried fish sandwiches and four-way oysters. As the sun sets, head to the rooftop terrace for a signature cocktail and downtown views.