Restaurant Picks: Where Midwood Smokehouse’s two head pitmasters eat around Charlotte

Restaurant Picks: Where Midwood Smokehouse’s two head pitmasters eat around Charlotte
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This content was created in partnership with Midwood Smokehouse


Now more than ever, local restaurants need support. We talked with pitmasters Matt Barry and Michael Wagner of Midwood Smokehouse to find out the top Charlotte eateries they enjoy when they’re not picking up ‘cue from their own spot.

Matt Barry, Midwood’s executive pitmaster, oversees barbecue operations at the restaurant’s five different locations. A Charlotte native, he’s been smoking meats since his college days at N.C. State University. He’s been with Midwood Smokehouse for over eight years.

Related: How I work: 21 quick questions with Midwood Smokehouse Executive Pitmaster Matt Barry

For Michael Wagner, pitmaster and sous chef at Midwood, barbecue was part of his Texas upbringing. “I’ve been around barbecue for my whole life — I’m 40 — have been personally cooking barbecue ‘seriously’ for over 10 years, professionally for about six,” he says.

Matt Barry and Michael Wagner on a recent trip to Texas to cook with some of the country’s highest lauded pit masters, like Will Buckman of Corkscrew BBQ in Houston.

If you’ve ever had Midwood’s ‘cue, then you know that these two are pros. Artfully smoking meats keeps them pretty busy, but when they have a spare meal away from Midwood, here’s where Matt and Michael love to eat around town.


First of all, what’s your favorite thing to eat at Midwood Smokehouse?

Matt: The ribs. I also love the bacon-wrapped jalapeños.

Michael: The brisket and pork.

bacon wrapped jalapeno peppers midwood smokehouse charlotte

Midwood Smokehouse’s bacon-wrapped jalapeños

Where’s your absolute favorite place to eat in Charlotte? What’s your go-to order?

Matt: Baoding. I order the Crispy Duck. My birthday is New Year’s Day and we’d always go there.

Michael: That’s a tough one. My favorite place to eat is anywhere I haven’t eaten before. I’m on a constant hunt for cool places with great food. Recently, I’ve had pupusas at La Salvordeña, tacos at Ely Tortilleria y Comida, and the Gruben at Zoe’s Kitchen.

What’s your favorite upscale or date night spot?

Matt: Baku. That’s where my wife and I went on our first date.

Michael: Not sure I could even name an upscale spot, not really my thing. Mama Ricotta’s, probably, to be honest. Go-to’s there are penne alla vodka, bruschetta, and pizza.

penne alla vodka at mama ricottas restaurant charlotte

Mama Ricotta’s penne alla vodka

When you want to go out and grab breakfast, where would you go?

Matt: I’m not a big breakfast guy but lately I’ve liked Earl’s Grocery. I like their sweet potato hash breakfast bowl, breakfast sandwich, and breakfast baja burrito.

Michael: Chuck’s Grill on old Statesville. Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, gravy biscuit, black coffee. Huge breakfast fan. Love to cook it, love to eat it. Want to try Cafe 100. I’ve heard good things.

What’s your favorite bar or place to grab drinks?

Matt: It used to be Midwood Country Club and Elizabeth Billiards. I lived over off Shamrock Drive for like 6 years.

Micahel: In the Wind in Huntersville. Hands down. Hattie’s Tap and Tavern after that. I like Budweiser and pretty much any IPA. Charlotte’s got great beer.

What’s your favorite old school Charlotte spot?

Matt: Bill Spoon’s Barbecue. I grew up going there.

Michael: Not sure I’ve been around long enough to be credible answering this question. Does fried pork chops at The Diamond count?

When you’re cooking at home, what do you like to make?

Matt: I like to grill. I’ve got a cast iron dutch oven and I’ll do a roast or short rib. I did some beef short ribs and carrots and potatoes the other week.

Michael: Anything breakfast related or anything on my Big Green Egg. You can follow me on Instagram to see things I cook and eat.

via Instagram

If you want to try some of Matthew and Michael’s Midwood Smokehouse barbecue, it’s currently available for takeout, delivery, and dine-in service at its five Charlotte-area locations.


(This content was created in partnership with Midwood Smokehouse.)

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