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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.

June 23, 2023

Where Chefs Eat: Brandon Sarkis

This chefs works around working hours to find delicious eats

by Kristen Wile

Brandon Sarkis represented Plaza Midwood at the Charlotte StrEATs Festival. Ryan Allen/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 interview Brandon Sarkis, an executive chef and the recent representative of Plaza Midwood in this year’s Charlotte StrEATs Festival Neighborhood Cookoff. With more than one discerning palate in the house — his wife is Yunta mixologist Ashley Sarkis — this chef can often be found at places with great food you can depend on outside of traditional restaurant hours. When he has a night off, Sarkis can often be found at Customshop or Restaurant Constance — he says used the latter to convince friends to move here recently. “They had reservations about the level of dining innovation in Charlotte and the meal here assured them that their expectations were exceeded in every way,” he says. Here’s where Sarkis is often eating around town.

Ace No. 3, multiple locations

Brandon’s order: Burger and fries with a Topo Chico. “I’m ashamed to admit I am not a fan of the Comeback sauce so I get it without, but the burgers themselves are amazing,” he says. “The fries? Sublime. I do wish that the Bologna sandwich was still available though.”

Open Kitchen, FreeMoreWest

Brandon’s order: Chicken Barcelona (grilled chicken breast tenderloins over brown butter spaghetti with sliced mushrooms). “It’s simple, delicious, and won’t drag you down and make you sleepy,” he says.
Pro tip: “Definitely get the cheesy garlic toast and try to not eat it all, because you’ll definitely want to.”

Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, Independence Blvd.

Brandon’s order: The three-entrée combo with a crispy beef taco, a cheese enchilada, and a tamale with rice and refried beans. “As a Texan, good Tex-Mex is impossible to find here but this one gets awfully close in many ways,” Brandon says.
Pro tip: “Ask for the hotter salsa, as the table salsa has zero kick to it. Of particular note, too, is the quality of the rice and beans — both are typically afterthoughts in so many other places and that absolutely is not the case here.”

Pizzeria Sapienza, Fourth Ward

Brandon’s order: By-the-slice pizza.”This is the best “by the slice” place in town,” Brandon says. “I know, I know: Benny’s… hear me out: Sapienza is way better. The pizza is always fresh, the crust could be its own dish, prices are insanely good, and the wings are top shelf.”

The Good Wurst Co., multiple locations

Brandon’s order: “They have the best breakfast sandwich ever: It’s the Pastrami, Egg, and Cheese on a roll,” he says. “They could double the price and I’d still get one every Saturday morning. (Please don’t do that). I’ve had friends from out of town visit and they’ll occasionally text me and tell me how much they miss it. They aren’t wrong.

See where other Charlotte chefs and industry pros eat

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