When Charlotte’s scorching hot temperatures start to dip, football stadiums fill with cheering fans, and landscapes become littered with fallen hues of red and gold, it is a sure sign fall is just around the corner. It’s this time of year everyone starts to crave warm, hearty foods, and the Charlotte restaurant scene takes full advantage of that by showcasing decadent autumn desserts inspired by the season’s offerings. These are the area’s best.
3415 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC 29517
This farm-to-fork hidden gem is located just a stone’s throw across the South Carolina state line, and offers the perfect lush ambiance for snuggling with your sweetie on a chilly fall evening to share a dessert. Because the ingredients used by Passion8 are fresh, local and seasonal, you just never know what fall-inspired desserts await you. If you’re lucky, perhaps it’ll serve the yogurt mousse that features dried tart Michigan cherries along with a delightful combination of star anise, cinnamon and fresh rosemary topped with peach coulis and fresh local berries. If you’re even luckier, you’ll find the tart crafted with Hungarian shortbread, sautéed fresh apples infused with vanilla and brandy topped with a strudel topping, smoked peanut brittle, cranberry sauce and Chantilly cream. It’s the flavors of fall all on one plate. Passion8 looks unassuming from the outside, but once you’re inside you’ll revel in the charm of the atmosphere and top-notch customer service.
2001 E. 7th St. and Pecan Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28204
This Elizabeth sweet spot features a resurgence of autumn flavors on its menu with moist pumpkin apple muffins loaded with local mountain apples and streusel topping with pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin whoopee pies, one of its most year-round requested menu items. Arrive early because these delicious cakes sandwiching rich cream cheese icing fly off the shelf, but stick around to enjoy your treats with a cup of organic, fair trade coffee or hot tea. Wrapp up a perfect fall evening with a gingered carrot cake cupcake topped with citrus buttercream paired with a glass of wine. Sunflour’s homemade croissants are buttery, tender and flaky and out of this world.
Related: Best Bakeries in Charlotte
518 Griffith Road
Charlotte, NC 28217
New to the Polka Dot line up this fall will be a selection of from-scratch pies with tender, flaky crusts and decadent, fall-inspired fillings such as North Carolina sweet potato, Tollhouse, and either a pecan or apple cream cheese. Polka Dot’s regular dessert repertoire rotates on a daily basis, but you can bet your sweet potatoes that ginger molasses cookies, sweet potato crackers and sweet potato granola will come back to the menu during the cooler months. Purchase cupcakes individually or by the dozen, and no doubt you’ll be carrying out its salted caramel cupcake out by the arm loads. A vanilla bean cupcake with a homemade caramel center topped with salted caramel buttercream garnished with cashews and sea salt … expect to take home more than one.
Related: Best Cupcakes in Charlotte
1601 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC 28204
Situated in one of Charlotte’s Registered Historic Landmark homes, The Fig Tree Restaurant at the Lucas House offers seasonal fine dining in each of its five elegant dining rooms, three of which offer a bit more of an intimate and cozy setting. Finish off your five-star meal with its scrumptious apple cinnamon bread pudding drizzled with bourbon caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla gelato. Cozy up next to one of the fireplaces with a sinfully rich slice of pumpkin cheesecake with a dollop of spiced Chantilly or freshly prepared beignets paired with coffee gelato. Made to order, these fritters are tossed in cinnamon sugar and fill the entire dining area with their intoxicatingly delicious aroma. The Fig Tree Restaurant epitomizes early 20th-century development in Charlotte with its quaint bungalow-style construction and gets its name from the brown turkey fig tree that once prospered on the property under its original owners.
327 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
An Uptown favorite, Mimosa Grill’s menu features unique Southern farm-to-fork specialties, and the dessert menu is no exception. Pastry chef Jennifer Cubillos suggests after-dinner drink pairings to complement her dessert creations and suggests La Marca Prosecco as the perfect companion to fragrant gingerbread adorned with spiced cream, candied cherries, and sweet and sour caramel. Warm your heart with Smith Woodhouse Lodge Reserve Port served alongside the candied pecan tart featuring vanilla fleur de sel ice cream and bittersweet chocolate. If you just can’t decide, satiate your sweet tooth with the dessert tower, your choice of any three of Mimosa’s desserts — the perfect way to finish a chilly evening in the Queen City.