My goal on any trip is to avoid the franchises and try to find the local flair. Most of the time local flair means sports bar or hoity-toity, but in Charlotte there are several just-plain-good opportunities:
Near downtown in Myers Park, I recommend Fenwicks at 511 Providence Rd. - Good menu, very small restaurant, nice people and atmosphere. My wife and I go here for a quiet, good and affordable meal. Just down the street you will find Big Ben's British Pub & Restaurant - this is one of our favorite "in town" restaurants. There is little else like having a nice St. Peter's Ale with a Ploughman's Platter. The patio is great on a spring evening.
For lunch or breakfast in Southend, good local eats can be found at Pikes Old Fashioned Soda Shop on Camden just off of West Blvd. In the same area, another local favorite is Fuel Pizza at the intersection of West Blvd and South Blvd. Also in the same area is the world famous Price's Chicken Coop
I live on the east side of town and I have a few favorites over my way too. If you make it over here, the best short-order breakfast or, for lunch, barbecue sandwich outside of Lexington, NC, is at Gregs Famous Barbecue on Monroe Road in Matthews. If you need a sports bar fix, my buddy Donnie can hook you up at the Beantown Tavern in downtown Matthews. He's still getting over his Superbowl loss, so buy him a beer. For finer dining on this side of town, we have two standbys that never fail: Sante in downtown Matthews for just some great food in a historical setting - tell Adam I said hello. At what was once Dakotas, but is now the New South Restaurant & Bar in the Arboretum at Hwy 51 and Providence Rd you'll find chef Chris Edwards and his flair for low-country cooking exemplified with some of the best shrimp-and-grits outside of Charleston.
If you don't put on a pound or two while you are here, you weren't trying. Have a good one!
Chef Mark Hibbs at Ratcliffe on the Green is one of the leaders of the "eat local" scene here in Charlotte. His food is fabulous and he does a great job of establishing relationships with local growers. You can also check out Grateful Growers website www.ggfarm.com/ and see their list of which restaurants are carrying their pork- a good clue on a "slow, local" restaurant.
As far as local color goes, The Penguin over by the Plaza and Lupie's Cafe on Monroe are always fun.
To avoid misinterpretation, could you explain your idea of local dining? Local dining to many of us would be restaurants that purchase and buy from local meat and/or vegetable producers. If your interest is in locally owned restaurants the list would be much longer but not necessarily local food.