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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

September 20, 2023

Where Chefs Eat: Coquette’s Christian Medrano

Executive chef’s go-to spots range from grab-and-go to fine dining

by TM Petaccia

Coquette executive chef Christian Medrano. TM Petaccia/UP

Folks in the restaurant industry know good food, so we want to know where they eat when they’re not cooking. In this series, we ask a local chef, bartender, restaurateur, or food artisan to share their favorite restaurants in town and what they order there.

This week, we interviewed Christian Medrano, executive chef at the new Coquette in Uptown. Born in Peru, he has an appreciation of dishes from around the world — especially classic French and Middle Eastern cuisine. His resume includes stops at Four Season Hotels, plus two Washington, D.C. Michelin-star restaurants, Albi and Fiola. When he’s not on the clock, he takes an international approach to dining out, listing these five as his top stops:

Banh Mi Brothers, University City
Casual family-owned restaurant specializing in banh mi sandwiches, spring rolls, and noodle bowls
Medrano’s order: Grilled Pork Banh Mi
Medrano’s take: “I am a huge fan of pickles. The pickled carrots and cilantro give a nice bite to the soft and toasted bread. The grilled pork is grilled and charred, giving a nice smoke flavor to the sandwich. Add a fried egg if you feel super hungry.”

Supperland, Plaza Midwood
A renovated church-turned-restaurant specializing in steaks and Southern-influenced sides
Medrano’s order: Oysters with Smoked Butter
Medrano’s take: “One of the most memorable dishes I’ve ever had. In my work experience, I’ve developed a passion for smoke and char. Superland introduced me to smoked butter. When I added some fresh lemon juice, it created liquid gold.”

Yunta Nikkei, South End
Fusion concept combining Peruvian and Japanese cuisines

Yunta’s Tiger’s Milk Ceviche combines traditional “citrus-cooked” raw fish with fried fish is a spicy broth. TM Petaccia/UP

Medrano’s order: Ceviche
Medrano’s take: “I am from Peru, and I love a good ceviche at any time. I have really high palate expectations. Lots of South American countries have their own, but for me, Peru is very much the real deal. Their Leche de Tigre (“tiger’s milk” – made by blending fish trimmings, onions, garlic, ginger, coriander, and chili) is something I grew up with at the Mmercado (market) as a child.”

El Puro Cuban Restaurant, LoSo
Cuban restaurant inspired by styles of pre-revolutionary Cuba
Medrano’s order: Cuban Sandwich
Medrano’s take: “My favorite thing to eat at all times. El Puro makes a really tasty version, with slow roast pork, true Cuban bread, and a layer of ham and mustard. I lived in Tampa Bay for over 12 years, where there is a lot of Cuban influence in the community. This sandwich brings back memories of me living in Florida and going to my friend’s house after school.”

Lupitas Carniceria & Tortilleria, LoSo
Takeout spot offering a wide variety of Latin American dishes
Medrano’s order: Chicharrónes
Medrano’s take: “Chicharrón is always a nice snack in my house. These are crispy and delicious. When bitten into, the crunchy sound is like heavenly music to me.”

See where other Charlotte chefs and industry pros eat

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