Insider’s Guide to Charlotte, N.C.

If you’re planning a trip to the Johnson & Wales University Charlotte Campus, you should also plan to take full advantage of what this bustling North Carolina city has to offer! Whether it’s your first time in the Queen City or you’ve visited the vibrant Southern town before, check out these favorite Wildcat locations. We’ve rounded up the best spots for breakfast, a midday snack or a night on the town, all recommended by our staff, faculty, and students. Have fun exploring and getting to know JWU Charlotte!

Charlotte skyline with stadiums

3 things to expect on your visit to Charlotte

1. Great food

For starters, you won’t be hungry: Charlotte is a foodie destination, many thanks to the many JWU culinary alumni who stayed here to practice their craft. Make sure you check out JWU alumni-owned and -managed restaurants.

2. A strong economy

The city also means business: It’s ranked the second-largest banking center in the United States. Forbes ranks Charlotte in the top 10 cities for “Best Places for Business and Careers.”

3. Nonstop attractions

The Queen City is flush with history, beautiful parks, museums, trendy restaurants, boutiques, high-end retail and so much more!

What to Eat, See, and Do

Two students together for a picture in Charlotte


You may want to grab a bite to eat before or after your tour of campus. You won’t want to miss any of our top picks.

Breakfast picks

Cool coffee house

Darin Spencer, College of Business assistant professor, likes the specialty roasted coffees and fun vibe of Coco and the Director Coffee House at The Square, located at the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets in the heart of Uptown. It’s just a half-mile away from campus, too.

Taste of the South

For Mashona McAfee, director of Student Financial Services, says it’s casual, home-cooked dining for her: Both the Sunflower Family Restaurant and Maria's Grill offer perfectly prepared Southern favorites such as grits and corn beef hash.

24-hour diner

OK, you can actually slide into a booth at Midnight Diner any hour of the day. Lauryn Straker '23 said, "this was one of the most talked-about restaurants that I had to try." Stop in for the famous chicken and waffles or creamy shrimp and grits; stay for the great music and conversation.

Lunch spots

Casual and delicious

Chris Plano, director of alumni relations, walks a few blocks from JWU to Little Village Grill to grab what he considers the “best French fries in town!”

BBQ done right

Joe Konst ’25 says for barbecue there is no better place to go than Midwood Smokehouse in the iconic Park Road Shopping Center. It’s not only a cool place to eat, but you can also stroll around the outdoor mall and browse the shops after your meal.


Hawkers restaurant spread of Asian food

Street Food with an Asian kick

When he wants his taste buds to travel without leaving town, Jerry Lanuzza, dean of culinary education, heads to Hawkers in the historic South End. There he finds small plates and good drinks that remind him of Singapore.


Authentic Vietnamese

Dean Lanuzza also recommends Lang Van restaurant in East Charlotte, which is a local mainstay for its excellent service and variety of foods. “The owner loves his flavors!”

Local favorite

Want casual dining in a historical landmark? Professor Spencer says head to Alexander Michael's nestled in historic Fourth Ward, just five minutes or so from campus.

Trendy American fare

Raymond Zoller, associate professor in the College of Food Innovation & Technology (CFIT), says you should head to South Charlotte and Good Food on Montford for this “it” place to eat.


Camp North

One-stop entertainment

Do it all at Camp North End: Sample street food as you peruse art and leisurely shop. These 26 acres house daily fitness classes, gardens, outdoor seating, startups and artists, a brewery, restaurants and a salon. For Trudi Lacey, director of athletics, this is her “absolute fav!”

Greenspace getaway

Melinda Law, director of communications & media relations, is an avid runner and dog-walker, and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is her go-to. When complete, the greenway will have 19 miles of trails and connectors winding through the city, including near the residence halls!

Little Sugar Greenway Charlotte

Classic French treats

How about macaroons for a late-night dessert? You’ll find three Amelie's French Bakery & Cafe locations in Charlotte, one Uptown, plus it has alumni ties!

How to Get There and Get Around

Light rail Charlotte

As a major hub for American Airlines, Charlotte is easy to fly into. Once you’re in the city, the Charlotte Light Rail connects much of downtown, making for convenient public transportation and easy access to all the city’s hotspots.

Where to Stay

The heart of downtown has plenty of lodging options, but why not get the true JWU experience and stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel? You'll be right on campus, and because many JWU students intern here, you'll have a first-hand experience of the university's real-world experience at work.

Get a taste of Southern hospitality, amazing cuisine prepared by the best chefs (and JWU alums) in the Queen City, and campus life, all in one incredible trip. We can't wait to welcome you to JWU Charlotte soon!

Visit JWU Charlotte

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