In the dining room or on the go, talented chefs are serving up hearty comfort food, traditional southern classics, tempting treats and beyond. We asked a few of them which dish on their menu is the must-try meal. Here’s a list of locally made fare that’s not to be missed.
Let’s start with the most important meal of the day.
For breakfast that’ll blow you away, try OMG Donuts & Bakery. “The most popular item on our menu is the Apple Fritter,” says owner Mia Shoe Chang. “It’s a prefect ratio of yeast dough and apple chunks cooked crispy on the edges and fluffy on the inside. Like all our donuts, the fritters are handmade fresh every day.” We may never know how Mia manages to pull off the perfect pastries, but you donut want to miss out.
We didn’t need to ask chef and owner, Dana Sweat which item was number one at Carm’s Café. Stop in for lunch and you’ll repeatedly hear patrons ask for a scoop of the Avocado Chicken Salad. It’s also written in bold on their menu, and for good reason. The perfect balance of creamy and crunchy, this choice is good in a wrap, as part of the Cold Salad Trio or by the pound in case you can’t get enough.
Homecooked staples are the fuel that keeps this community running in the fast lane. Other local favorites to try are Cabarrus County’s iconic What-A-Burger, Harrisburg Family House and 2 Gals Kitchen in Downtown Concord.
With the area’s largest concentration of independently-owned restaurants, Historic Downtown Concord is perfect for breakfast on the weekend, a quick lunch, and special evenings on the town.
Inside one of the twinkling windows along Union Street, owner Gianni and Executive Chef Heather Stadler of Gianni’s Trattoria are creating inspired European-style meals with both local and imported ingredients. “One of our most popular menu items is our Bone-In Veal Stuffed Veal Chop,” says Stadler. “We actually cut it off the chop to order, french it and then pocket and stuff it before it even hits the pan. The ability to cut our meats to order, including our steaks and our pork, enables the meat to maintain its freshness and quality, and that carries over into the actual taste of the meat.” Put this authentic Italian restaurant on your list for local flavor.
Other stops with an upscale atmosphere include Union Street Bistro in Downtown Concord and 73 & Main, located in the Historic Mount Pleasant Hosiery Mill. Guests can also experience The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice a year during Charlotte Restaurant Week and Speedway Christmas. Make reservations early to dine above the track in this awe-inspiring setting.
More international cuisine can be found at Havana Carolina. Perfectly cooked Cuban dishes like Ropa Vieja and the classic El Cubano pressed Cuban sandwich are served with sides including congris, yuca and tostones. And over at Enoodles, Karen and Alex are serving up seriously flavorful food that keeps the locals coming back. For more than 10 years, this family-run Asian Bistro has satisfied the community’s craving for dim sum, wok fired noodles, broth bowls, sushi and more. Save room for dessert—the Tempura Fried Oreos are out of this world.
Along with these global flavors, the area’s food scene features a critical North Carolina cuisine. Barbecue is a tradition that many people are passionate about here in the Old North State.
Whether it’s whole-hog eastern-style with vinegar sauce or chopped, tomato-based western-style, the debate rages on. From longtime favorites R&R BBQ and Troutman’s to the Alabama influence at Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Que, there are many delicious versions in Cabarrus County.
But partners Devin Barbee, Jeremy Beaver and Joey Graham of The Smoke Pit are mixing it up. When we asked which plate reigns supreme, Joey says it’s whatever is sold out first. Despite cooking all they can on the weekend, The Smoke Pit still sells out every Friday and Saturday. It’s a safe bet that one of what he calls the “big three” will be gone first—Pork ribs, Texas brisket and North Carolina pulled pork. Along with the mains, this crew stays busy concocting seven rubs, six sauces and scratch-made sides. With Concord as its first, the restaurant now has locations in nearby Salisbury and Monroe and tends to a robust catering business in the region.
No matter the destination, nothing brings people together quite like food.
So, we can’t forget about gatherings in Cabarrus County. In 1998, Kannapolis native Kristin Rodgers took on a labor of love, Doughgirls Catering founded in 1981 by her mother and two friends. From weddings and reunions to other special celebrations, clients rave about their Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Party Potato Casserole. But the real star of a Doughgirls spread? “People go nuts over our brownies!” says Kristin.
But before we dive into dessert, let’s not forget gatherings on the go. In addition to making regular appearances at Cabarrus County Food Truck Friday events, Comfort Food on Wheels can drop in and make any get together delicious. Edwina Corprew’s menu is “designed to remind you of meals Momma used to make.” Favorites like Shrimp & Grits and Chicken & Waffles will have you chasing this truck down anytime you get the chance.
Husband and wife team Jean Luc and Ann Marie Barrucand pair as well as the wine and delicate desserts sold inside their French bakery. At Chocolatier Barrucand, guests can also enjoy a sandwich and take home imported French items from their Parisian market, Le Bon Vivant. “Oreo cheesecake is our biggest seller, but everything we make is special.” says Ann Marie. It’s not hard to understand why. The meticulously crafted confections are what make this specialty spot a must-try.
One of the latest sugary shops in town, C3, serves up a trifecta of treats. Cynthia Echevarria is keeping it sweet with made to order crepes, coffee and ice cream. Established in April 2017, C3 has residents falling for a popular crepe called the Carolina Love. What’s not to love about fresh strawberries, biscoff cookie butter, a drizzle of maple syrup and homemade whipped cream? “The most popular ice cream is our Signature Oreo Delight,” says Cynthia. “It just seems like everyone loves “Oreo’s.” True.
Other essential sweets include homemade ice cream from Cabarrus Creamery, ready-to-eat cookie dough at Cookie Dough Bliss, larger-than-life cupcakes from The Sweet Life, and classic specialty desserts from DOUGH New York Style Bakery.
Hungry yet? No matter what adventure comes next, one thing is for certain—You’ll find the food to fuel it and the ideal places to recharge right here in Cabarrus County!