Counting on fresh, well-prepared seafood more than 300 miles from the Outer Banks seems dicey. But a growing number of Charlotte restaurateurs are giving it a go. These days, you can get your fill of raw oysters, lobster rolls, crab cakes, and fish that’s grilled, deep-fried, wrapped in a taco, or smothered in Cajun spices. Here are some highlights.
129 E. Fifth St.
Every head in the dining room turns when a server emerges with the Truist Tower, a three-tier, $135 column of 24 oysters, 12 mussels, 10 raw clams, shrimp cocktail 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 the Catfish Rueben. Azure Cassidy, the “Barmacist,” runs the beverage program, and happy hour—when oysters are $1.50 apiece—draws the after-work crowd.
20210 Henderson Road, Cornelius
Enjoy Blue Crab Claws or Jerk Spiced North Carolina Catfish in a midcentury modern dining room with sweeping views of Lake Norman.
Fin & Fino
135 Levine Avenue of the Arts
The raw bar serves a variety of oysters, but as a “social seafood house,” its sweet spot is shareable plates like Verlasso Salmon and Littleneck Clams.
Caroline’s Oyster Bar
120 E. Stonewall St.
Head to the second level of uptown’s 22-story JW Marriott hotel to sip a cocktail and enjoy fresh daily selections from the raw bar.
11212 Providence Road W, Ste. B
Chef Robin Anthony is a certified sake adviser who pairs the Japanese rice drink with fish the same way a sommelier pairs wine with food. Reserve a place at the 10-seat sushi bar to watch the master at work.
3100 Apex Drive
Grab a seat at the chef’s counter to see the Robata grill sizzle with lobster, shrimp, and charred vegetables, or enjoy a lineup of maki rolls and chilled and raw seafood in the dining room.
6706 Phillips Place Court, Ste. C
This menu is heavy on shrimp, catfish, and oysters that are cornmeal-crusted and deep-fried. Think Texas-meets-Louisiana packaged for an upscale SouthPark customer.
512 Brandywine Road, Ste. 500
Visit this cozy spot behind Park Road Shopping Center for the spacious patio and fresh seafood. Order from the raw bar, which has several varieties of oysters on the half-shell, or go for the daily catch.
3718 Central Ave., Ste. A
Charlotte got its first “fast-casual fish camp” when the popular seafood chain opened in east Charlotte, and entrées like the Big Cat & Skrimp Po Boy taste just right.
516 N. Graham St.
Owners Sharon and Cliff Freshwater—yes, that’s really their name—serve crab cakes, cornbread, and their popular Blackened Cajun Catfish.
LuLu’s Maryland-Style Chicken and Seafood
2400 Tuckaseegee Road
The name LuLu pays tribute 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 entrée menu has Creole favorites like Shrimp Étouffée and Crawfish Diane, which you can order as spicy or mild as you want.
Cabo Fish Taco
This “Baja seagrill” serves up the title dish as well as quesadillas, burritos, and salads in a fun, surf-themed atmosphere.
The Waterman Fish Bar
2729 South Blvd., Ste. D
South End’s oyster bar has all of the essentials: lobster rolls, fried fish sandwiches, and oysters four ways. At sunset, head up to the rooftop terrace for a signature cocktail and views of uptown.