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Savoring Southern Traditions at Dish Restaurant: A Plaza Midwood Favorite

Updated: 2 days ago

Southern Comfort food is a favorite of mine.  I think that is largely due to the fact that I ate a lot of it when I would visit my extended family who lived in a rural part of Western North Carolina.   At any gathering of the family, there was sure to be fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, squash casserole, potato salad, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and several pies and cakes. My three favorite desserts were the coconut cake and butter pound cake that my grandmother, Dora, made as well as my Aunt Marty’s red velvet cake.   My Aunt Marty, who is approaching 90, will still make that red velvet cake if she sees me.  

sitting outside of Dish in Plaza Midwood (Charlotte)

Charlotte's Southern Comfort Evolution

Understandably, there have always been Southern Comfort restaurants in Charlotte although they have evolved over time. Of course, there were the “meat and three” diners like Athens, The Knife and Fork, Gus’ Sir Beef, Anderson’s, and The Diamond.  We grew up going to Gus’ and The Diamond regularly. There were also cafeterias like K&W, Morrison’s and Barclays.  The latter two

were located in SouthPark Mall.  Morrison’s was the favorite in our family, so we went there regularly. Unfortunately, The Diamond is the only one of these establishments which is still in business.

famous deviled eggs at Dish in Plaza Midwood (Charlotte)
food at Dish in Plaza Midwood (Charlotte)
food at Dish in Plaza Midwood (Charlotte)

Today’s version of South Comfort food restaurants is much nicer. Places like The Kings Kitchen, Mert’s Heart & Soul (both located in Uptown), Haberdish in NoDa, Supperland as well as Dish located in Plaza Midwood. I’ve been to all but Supperland, and as I’m writing this review, I realized that we have never written a review of The Kings Kitchen or Merts.  Those will go on the list of future reviews, but now I will tell you about Dish.

Discovering Dish Restaurant in Plaza Midwood

Dish is located in Plaza Midwood - an area east of Uptown that many describe as eclectic and bohemian.  When the area was first developed in the 1910’s and 1920’s, it was believed that Charlotte was going to grow eastward. That is a big reason why Charlotte Country Club was built there.  Notably its golf course was the final course designed by famed golf course architect, Donald Ross.  However, the city ended up growing to the south which meant that the development of Plaza Midwood was not as upscale as what was initially envisioned.  However, that has changed greatly in the past 10 years. As Charlotte has grown and traffic has increased, many people discovered the combination of Plaza Midwood’s charm and its desirable location.  

The Founders Behind Dish

Dish was started by Penny Craver, Maggie & Lawrence Stubbs. They first got together in 1991 when Penny and Maggie co-owned The Milestone Club - a well-known alternative music venue that has been around since 1969.  Lawrence, not married to Maggie at that time, was the bartender.  After selling Milestone, Penny went on to open Tremont Music Hall which became one of the premier venues for alternative, metal, and independent music.     

When the three opened Dish, their goal was to bring the foods that they grew up on to their customers.  Some of the recipes came from Penny’s grandmother.  “She didn’t write a thing down and if I asked her, she would say ‘salt till it taste right,’ you know, or ‘just a pinch’ or ‘you just do a little of this and a little that.’ The location that they selected on Thomas Street had been well-known as the former location of Ho Toy Restaurant - a “descendant” of Charlotte’s first Chinese restaurant, Oriental.

Ownership has changed hands twice since the trio first started up.  But the feel of the restaurant is still similar as is the menu. Just like its food, the space feels comfortable as well.  It’s a place where you can dress up or down - though the latter is more prevalent for sure.

A Family Dinner at Dish

Recently, we have been spending more time in Plaza Midwood, since our son Jack is now living in the area.  It had been a while since I had been at Dish. So, we gathered a bunch of the Fagan clan there since none of them had ever been. The clan included my dad, Jim, Jack and his girlfriend Sara, and our nephew, Jason, who was visiting from Michigan.   The weather was beautiful, so we elected to sit outside.

The menu is filled with some Southern favorites such as homemade pimento cheese, deviled eggs made fresh each morning, lima bean dip, and fried green tomatoes. Some of the classic entrees include chicken & dumplings, pot roast, grilled chicken livers, and my favorite, chicken fried steak. Do you know the difference between chicken fried and country fried steak? Many people think the two are interchangeable names for the same dish. But chicken fried usually has a thicker, crispier coating than country fried - more like true fried chicken does.   And chicken fried has a white pepper gravy generously served on top where country fried has a brown gravy. Ironically, Dish calls their version country fried, but it is actually chicken fried.

For our recent family dinner, we ordered the deviled eggs and fried green tomatoes for our appetizers. Then each person either ordered the chipotle flank steak (marinated slices in a spicy chipotle mojo sauce topped with black bean salsa) or the chicken fried steak.  Everyone really liked their choices.

Is Dish the best Southern comfort restaurant in Charlotte?  That is hard to say. The Kings Kitchen and Mert’s Heart and Soul are really good also.  The Kings Kitchen. Is a nice blend of Southern cuisine in a finer dining establishment, however the prices are more reasonable than Haberdish and Supperland. Supperland prices are 3-4x those at Dish. Plus, the Mission of The Kings Kitchen is something that resonates with me. So, if you want a good meal in Uptown, try The Kings Kitchen. And if you want a similarly good meal in eclectic Plaza Midwood, then try Dish for sure.  

Pro Tip for Visiting Dish

When going to Dish, don’t fight for a parking space on Thomas or Commonwealth which is notoriously busy with little on-street parking. Instead, there is a large parking lot behind the Wells Fargo on Central Avenue that adjoins the rear of the restaurant.  



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