Travel

Eat Like a Local in Charlotte

Dot Dot Dot’s Stefan Huebner picks his top spots in the Queen City

photo: Jacqueline Stofsick

From left: Seafood tower at NC Red; the Queen City skyline; and a shrimp and grits special at Eddie's Place.

Charlotte, North Carolina, is growing—fast. Over the past decade, as the Queen City’s population surged nearly sixty percent, apartment buildings began sprouting on every corner of South End, skyscrapers climbed in Uptown, and the city sprawled ever outward to accommodate the estimated sixty new people who move there each day.

It’s only natural, then, that the Charlotte culinary scene evolved, too. “Five years ago, it was a lot of meat and potatoes,” says Stefan Huebner, the co-owner and mixologist at cocktail bar Dot Dot Dot, which was recently named one of Garden & Gun’s Best New Bars. Huebner, a New Jersey native, has worked in nearly every aspect of the culinary field (from butcher to baker to barback) since moving to Charlotte twenty-six years ago. Now, “people’s style of eating has changed,” Huebner says. “It’s small plates, tapas, farm-to-table. In New York and Chicago, those farms are three hours away. Here, our farms deliver it themselves. As far as chefs go, it’s a really cool, very young scene now.”

photo: Kyohyun Nam

Stefan Huebner, the co-owner and mixologist at Charlotte cocktail bar Dot Dot Dot.

Huebner himself has been a part of that shifting landscape. “I kept thinking that Charlotte might not have been ready for a classic cocktail bar,” Huebner says. But he figured he’d never know until he tried. In 2017, he opened Dot Dot Dot, serving up timeless tipples such as Moscow Mules and Palomas and inventive small plates—foie gras with strawberry gel, for instance, or steak tartare with tobiko roe and a duck egg—in a speakeasy setting tucked behind a shopping center in Myers Park, and Charlotteans flocked. These days, when he’s not stirring old fashioneds or mixing Manhattans to keep up with the crowds, Huebner heads to the following spots to get a taste of the city.


 

Haberdish
3106 N. Davidson Street

“Haberdish is in the NoDa neighborhood. It’s known for its fried chicken, but the sides are where it’s at—stewed and fried okra, mac and cheese. And Colleen Hughes’s cocktail program is awesome. Up until recently she had an all-female staff, and all the cocktails have an amazing feminine touch. It is great for people watching.” haberdish.com


 

photo: Jacqueline Stofsick

Breakfast served all day at Eddie's Place.

Eddie’s Place
617 S. Sharon Amity Road

“Eddie’s serves breakfast all day, which is perfect for a bartender. I can get an omelet at noon, which is when I start my day. Their specials are all good, but my go-to is a three-egg omelet and hash browns. You can get a full breakfast for ten bucks.” eddiesplacerestaurant.com


 

Dogwood Southern Table & Bar
4905 Ashley Park Lane

“This place has super great cocktails. The food is rich and buttery and Southern. Their porkchops are ridiculous and their hospitality game is so strong. It’s one of those places where the average waiter has been there three years.” dogwoodsoutherntable.com


 

photo: Jacqueline Stofsick

From left: Soul Gastrolounge’s Midnight Tokyo roll; exterior; and Dracarys cocktail.

Soul Gastrolounge
1500 Central Avenue

“It’s the perfect blend of food, drink, and environment. DJs play here seven nights a week. The food has a heavy Greek influence, but there’s also a sushi bar in it. Plus, the cocktails are amazing. They’re about to celebrate their tenth anniversary. They were ahead of the curve, but they still feel cool today.” soulgastrolounge.com


 

Bardo
1508  S. Mint Street

“This is a new kid on the block that’s really good. Food-wise, I’d say it’s the most kindred spirit to [Dot Dot Dot]. They’re pushing the envelope, and have really neat plate presentations: Every dish looks like a work of art.” bardorestaurant.com


 

NC Red's Lobsta Roll and a glass of rosé.

NC Red
1205 Thomas Avenue

“Bruce Moffett’s Northeast-meets-Southern seafood and fried chicken place has lobster rolls, eight different types of oysters, six rosés. It’s very casual and beachy on the inside. Everything Bruce does goes to gold. He’s a top three favorite chef of mine.” ncredclt.com


BONUS

“The ethnic scene has come up big in the past five years: Futo Buta (222 E. Bland Street) has the best ramen. Lang Van (3019 Shamrock Drive) is the best Vietnamese. Tacos El Nevado is the best tacos. Hibiscus (1600 E. Woodlawn Road #150) has great Lao street food.”

 

photo: Jacqueline Stofsick

From left: The Fire & Ice ramen at Futo Buta; dining alfresco; and strawberry basil ice cream.


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