Dining on Lake Norman

MEGAN PINCKNEY | 6/28/2018, midnight
Slightly north of Charlotte sits Lake Norman, North Carolina’s largest man-made body of water.
Lake Norman Megan Pinckney photo

Slightly north of Charlotte sits Lake Norman, North Carolina’s largest man-made body of water. The lake stretches for more than 30 miles, providing electricity to the region, serving as a backdrop for multimillion dollar homes and acting as a place where many from the Queen City go to simply enjoy the weekend. One of the things I truly appreciate about Lake Norman is its abundance of waterfront dining options that boaters can get to by water. It might seem like a pretty small attribute, but after spending a week on the lake and never going to the same place twice for dinner, I realized just how important it is to have options.

Midway Boathouse Grill might not have the greatest view of the actual lake—you can hardly even see the water while sitting in the dining room—but it is the only waterfront dining option on Lake Norman with a daily breakfast menu. So for that reason alone, it would get ranked pretty high on any list. And the only thing better than having breakfast choices on your menu is having really good breakfast food. Boathouse, as the locals refer to it, has the most delicious biscuits sandwiches that I couldn’t get enough of. You can taste the grill on the food and it tastes like heaven. Boathouse serves lunch and dinner daily as well, and for your convenience, there’s a gas station, ship store and boat rentals all within the same vicinity.

Hello, Sailor is the newest addition to Lake Norman’s food scene, and its bringing a completely different feel along with it. Whereas most restaurants on the lake approach décor with the same mundane nautical motifs, Hello, Sailor takes the idea and makes it much more contemporary. The interior is that of a Palm Springs hangout, complete with banana leaves and mid-century modern architecture all about. The menu is made up of mostly seafood, but with Southern twists subtly thrown in. However, the most noteworthy aspect of the entire restaurant is the tiki bar you’ll find out back. Among the tiki leaves, grass skirts and neon lights that read “Smooth sailing, y’all,” you won’t be able to help but feel as if you’ve sailed down to the Caribbean as you look out onto the water and enjoy a few of their specialty drinks.

North Harbor Club is the perfect place if you’re looking for a fancier place to dine on Lake Norman. The regatta-themed restaurant offers a sophisticated menu and exceptional service, something you’d expect to find in a restaurant downtown, not out on the lake. The view from the patio is stimulating because aside from the open water just beyond the harbor, there are large boats (yachts, actually) continuously docking and leaving directly out front. There’s also usually live music being performed, so it really does become a full experience. This restaurant is not only great for the entire family but also just as good if you’re looking for a romantic evening. On Saturdays and Sundays, brunch is offered; every other day, they only serve lunch and dinner.