Pull up a boat and get grubbing.
Cornelius is definitely the place to go for lakefront eating, bars and breweries here in North Carolina. Here, you can enjoy some amazing waterside restaurants along the “coast” of Lake Norman after a fun-fueled day on the lake. What’s even better is that some of these bars have dock parking, so you can pull your boat right up to the docks, hop out, and enjoy a quick bite of some upscale American cuisine and cocktails. Without further ado, here’s 10 of our favorite hidden gems.
1. Penninsula Prime
First stop is Peninsula Prime, where you can grab a cocktail like their French Martini fireside with friends or the family. Start off with an order of crab fries made with delicious lump crab on top of fries, then move onto a plate of baby back ribs served with a twice-baked potato or coleslaw and fries. You could also pop in for a Sunday brunch and order prime rib hash or baked french toast if you enjoy sweets for breakfast.
Where: 19918 North Cove Road Cornelius, NC 28031
2. Port City Club
You won’t want to miss out on this waterfront restaurant focusing on surf & turf-esque menu items. The restaurant is circular with full-sized glass windows that offer panoramic views of the lake. Pull up a seat inside or check out the outdoor patio which is dimly lit during the evenings. One of their signature items is their lobster roll with fresh lobster and topped with capers, carrots, and pickled onion, or if shellfish isn’t your fancy, you could try the yellowfin tuna with a black sesame crust, served alongside daikon slaw and a Sriracha remoulade.
Where: 18665 Harborside Drive, Cornelius, NC 28031
3. North Harbor Club
The first thing you’ll notice is the large sailboat hanging from the ceiling that greets you when you walk in. If you have a boat of your own, you’ll be happy to know that North Harbor Club has 9 boat slips for you to dock before dinner. When ordering, we recommend grabbing a dish with a bit of a southern flair, like their Shrimp n’ Grits or their Fried Green Tomato BLT.
Where: 100 N Harbor Pl, Davidson, NC 28036
4. Barrel & Fork
Barrel & Fork is an excellent cocktail and wine bar with innovative types of drinks to choose from, as well as elegant American dishes like blackened salmon and tomahawk pork chops. Their signature cocktail is their Barrel & Fork Old-Fashioned with Redemption bourbon, hickory-smoked bacon washed Dolin Dry, Zucca, Rabarbaro, and Turbinado.
Where: 20517 N Main St, Cornelius, NC 28031
5. Hello, Sailor
Hello, Sailor is what it would look like if summer were a restaurant. The bright interior, warm-toned dish ware, and rattan-styled chairs are complimented by beautiful lake-side views and even tastier food. Get a plate of Blue Crab Claws or a Citrus Crab Louie Salad, then try a crispy North Carolina flounder or spiced jerk cat fish, then end an incredible meal off with a slice of seasonal pie for dessert.
Where: 20210 Henderson Rd. Cornelius, NC, 28031
Get a load of this crab and pimento cheese stuffed jalapeño taco you can get from Osito’s in Cornlius. Southen-rooted and Mexican inspired, there’s a special love for tacos and tortas here. Come check out “Little Bear” and grab a fried fish of the day taco or a side of maza-fried okra.
Where: 20700 N Main St, Cornelius, NC 28031
7. Choplin’s Steak & Seafood
If you’re looking for an elevated dinner experience, go check out Choplin’s, a steak and seafood place coming from the high quality chef, Wes Choplin. Produce and spices are purchased from farmers and east coast seafood is caught from the Gulf Stream to the Atlantic Ocean. They’ve also invested in high quality and tender top-quality steaks and vintage wines. Check ’em out!
Where: 19700 One Norman Blvd, Cornelius, NC 28031
8. Maola’s Pizzeria
For Italian, check out Maola’s Pizzeria, which is serving authentic Italian food to the Cornelius and Lake Norman area. The restaurant opened up in 2017 and has since updated their menu to include more seafood and beef. From Margherita to Spicy Italian or even get a hot sandwich or entree salad. It’s the perfect place for the whole family.
Where: 20129 N Main St, Cornelius, NC 28031
9. Lost Worlds Brewing
There’s no shortage of breweries in North Carolina, and Lost Worlds is no exception. From flagship beers like their Equator Island IPA, to their adventure series like the Emmer Cherry Wheat, a wheat lager. Check out the field guild to get a look at all of their upcoming beer plans.
Where: 19700-D, One Norman Blvd, Cornelius, NC 28031
10. The Harp & Crown
Harp & Crown is Cornelius’ best Irish pub, perfect for a night out with the besties pounding Guinness and snacking on greasy, delicious Irish snacks. They’ve also got an amazing brunch menu with menu items like their salmon and goat cheese omelette, chicken and pancakes, and an Irish Banger breakfast sandwich.
Where: 19930 W Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031