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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.

    July 1, 2022

    Where Chefs Eat: Hot Box’s Michael Bowling

    This chef on the move keeps it casual, with a few notable exceptions


    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 Michael Bowling, executive chef and owner of Hot Box “Next Level Kitchen,” located inside Southern Strain Brewing in Concord, as well as founding chef of Soul Food Sessions. His fast-paced days take him all over the area and his list of meal break spots reflect that.


    GroundWork Common, Concord
    Coffee shop in a converted 7-11
    Bowling’s Order: Goat cheese and strawberry jam toast. Cappuccino with oat milk and a splash of caramel. “When I decide to grab breakfast and not cook it myself, I stop here,” Bowling says.


    Table 11, Concord
    Family-owned restaurant featuring grilled items
    Bowling’s Order: Cheeseburger. “Chef Bob grinds the beef in house and you can tell.”


    Dot Dot Dot, Montford
    Speakeasy with a fine dining menu
    Bowling’s Order: An old-fashioned or Sazerac. “For a night on the town, cocktails are important to me, so it is always important I go where the bartenders care,” Bowling says. “I do not have a regular food order, but I work through the small plates. There was a corn fritter that woke me up on my last visit. The chef is doing great work there.”


    What The Fries, Pineville
    Restaurant featuring riffs on hand-cut loaded fries
    Bowling’s Order: Double cheeseburger and fries.


    Jimmy Pearls, food truck
    Food truck, popup featuring reinterpreted soul food plates.
    Bowling’s Order: Fish sandwich. “Completely cures my cravings,” Bowling says.


    The Goodyear House, NoDa
    American cuisine with a southern flair
    Bowling’s Order: Varies. “I like everything on the menu! I also like the indoor/outdoor feel,” he says. “I’m not big on dining outdoors, but there, it’s the best of both worlds.”

    The marinated shrimp is served with a mignonette butter and crackers. Peter Taylor/Peter Taylor Photography


    Sweet Lew’s BBQ, Belmont
    Classic barbecue
    Bowling’s Order: Burnt ends when they are available, smoked sausage, and brisket.


    More from this series:

    Julia Simon of PlantJoy
    Kyle Gaddas of The Wine Loft, The Vintage

    Counter-‘s Sam Hart
    Community Matters Cafe’s Ashley Anna Tuttle

    Your Farms, Your Table’s Sam Diminich
    Para’s Alex Verica

    Posted in: Latest Updates, News