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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

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