214 N. College St., Charlotte
HOURS: Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.,
Sat. 9 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
COST: Most entrées between $10–20
Owner and chef James Bazzelle is a Georgia native with a passion for Southern food. He moved to Charlotte  in 1991 and opened a catering company, GA Catering, followed by a restaurant called GA on Tryon, also in Uptown.
One of his earliest supporters was Hugh McColl, the chairman and CEO of Bank of America, who helped Bazzelle expand the restaurant to its current space. The new location—a nondescript storefront in Uptown filled with chalkboard menus and diner tables—inspired a new name.
Bazzelle chose the name in honor of Mertle Lockhart, his most loyal customer at GA on Tryon, who passed away before the 1998 grand opening; the restaurant was dedicated to her memory.
Mert’s serves up traditional Gullah (African-inspired Southern dishes) and Low Country cuisine. The mac-and-cheese is award-winning; the shrimp and grits also get rave reviews from the Uptown crowd that frequents the restaurant.