Optimist Hall in Charlotte, NC is one of the best places to eat in Uptown Charlotte for foodies of all ages. Learn everything you need to know to plan your visit.
Optimist Hall, the amazing food hall near uptown Charlotte, is such a popular lunch spot for the working crowd and a date night hang out for young adults.
But for our family? It is one of our favorite places to go with the kids when we’re all in the mood to try something a little different.
We’ve been dining out at Optimist Hall for the last several years whenever we get the chance to go out in uptown Charlotte and my kids now love it so much, they beg to visit.
I’m sharing everything you need to know to enjoy your first visit along with our favorite menu items and restaurant recommendations so every bite is better than the last!
- Plan Your Visit
- How the Food Hall Works
- Step 1: Explore Your Options & Order Food
- Step 2: Find a Place to Sit
- Step 3: Collect Your Orders and Enjoy
- Best Places to Eat in Optimist Hall
- The Dumpling Lady
- Bao and Broth Ramen + Bun Shop
- Boxcar Betty’s Charlotte
- Honorable Mentions
- Suarez Bakery’s Tres Leches Cake
- Papi Queso’s Pig Mac
- Noble Smoke Barbecue’s Chopped Brisket
Plan Your Visit
1115 N. Brevard St.
Charlotte, NC 28206
The hours vary depending on the day but Optimist Hall usually opens between 7 am – 8 am and closes between 9 pm and 10 pm during the peak summer season.
NOTE: Check with the specific food vendor you’re interested in ordering from, their hours may vary from the general hall hours.
There is limited parking available in an on-site parking lot. The first 90 minutes are free and you can pay your parking fee via a phone app.
How the Food Hall Works
There are currently 17 different food stalls partnering at Optimist Hall serving a variety of international cuisine items to simple coffee and snacks.
There is ample seating both at indoor tables and at outdoor picnic tables all throughout the site.
Step 1: Explore Your Options & Order Food
Stroll through Optimist Hall and take a peek at the different menu offerings at several of the vendors.
Once you and your dining partners have settled on places to eat, order your food at the stall and you’ll be given a buzzer so you can return for pick-up.
You could place a few orders at several counters and just plan to circle back around to collect the food and beverages.
Want to order your food before you arrive? You can view their current vendor list and find links to online ordering here.
Step 2: Find a Place to Sit
With your food orders placed, go find an open seat at one of the many indoor tables with benches or at any of the several shady outdoor picnic tables.
Step 3: Collect Your Orders and Enjoy
When your buzzers buzz or you get the text notification that your food is ready, send someone back to the stall to pick up your food.
We like to work in pairs and send teams back in for food while the rest of our party holds our tables.
Best Places to Eat in Optimist Hall
There are so many delicious restaurants to enjoy at this hot spot, the most difficult choice you may have is just narrowing it down!
Many restaurants offer smaller sized portions so you could easily order a little something here and a little something there and enjoy the sampling as you go.
Over several trips with my kids, here are our favorite places to eat:
The Dumpling Lady
Absolutely at the top of your must-eat list should be the spicy Pork & Chives Dumplings from The Dumpling Lady at Optimist Hall.
That one dish alone has kept us going back for visit after visit and my daughter begs to get her dumpling fix between trips.
Fun Fact: The Dumpling Lady even sells frozen dumplings you could pick up to make at home but don’t forget to grab a jar of the spicy Sichuan chili oil to go, too.
You can view the entire menu at The Dumpling Lady’s stall at Optimist Hall and even place your order ahead of time right here:
Bao and Broth Ramen + Bun Shop
My kids and I agree that a visit to Bao and Broth is going to be a permanent fixture to our future Optimist Hall orders.
We sampled the KFC bun which has crispy fried chicken, sweet and spicy Korean bbq sauce, cucumbers, and kewpie mayo during our last visit and it was one of our new favorite things.
We also ordered the Spicy Pork Ramen which has Chasu pork belly, shoyu egg, shredded cabbage, pork and chicken stock, and fresno chili paste with tender ramen noodles at the base.
This was our first time trying ramen and though we enjoyed the flavor, we found it was a little messy to eat at the picnic tables. I think we’d stick with the bao buns next time and try the sampler with a few other flavors.
You can view the entire menu and even order your food ahead of time here:
Boxcar Betty’s Charlotte
Sometimes my kids’ “safe choices” make me want to cry. While I was eyeing up the amazing sounding “Chicken Not So Waffle,” my daughter insisted on trying Betty’s Buffalo Sandwich.
In the end, she made a seriously solid choice and the couple of bites she begrudgingly shared with me from her awesome, crispy chicken sandwich were absolutely delicious.
Next time, we’re totally ordering the Sweet Potato Fries with cinnamon and brown sugar topping, too.
And I may have to put my foot down and try the official Boxcar sandwich which features pimiento cheese, spicy mayo, and a peach coleslaw. YUM.
A mom and her girls can only eat so much during a single visit to Optimist Hall but based on the smells and happy faces of the diners that were sitting all around us, a big shout out goes to the following menu items:
Suarez Bakery’s Tres Leches Cake
If you want to end your visit to Optimist Hall on a sweet note, don’t forget to stop by Suarez bakery and grab a tres leches cake to go. They also offer plenty of cookies (sugar, chocolate chip, and sprinkles) along with brownies and bars.
Papi Queso’s Pig Mac
Papi Queso is a grilled cheese kitchen and my daughter said the Pig Mac Melt, a grilled cheese sandwich filled with mac & cheese and Carolina pulled pork with caramelized onions, is on her wish list for the future.
Noble Smoke Barbecue’s Chopped Brisket
My husband and I have sampled Noble Smoke’s barbecue at the Charlotte Food Festival in uptown and it is absolutely delicious. If you’re super hungry, you can’t go wrong with their classic brisket sandwich with yummy southern sides like potato salad and slaw.