Creative Loafing’s 3rd Annual Moo & Brew Craft Beer and Burger Festival takes place at the AvidXchange Music Factory on Saturday, April 22. The festival will offer samplings from over 50 local, regional, and national breweries as the Queen City’s best restaurants compete for the coveted title of “Creative Loafing’s Best Burger.” As an official sponsor of the upcoming event, we’re profiling the two-time Best Burger champion, Bang Bang Burgers!
Located on E. 7th Street, Bang Bang Burgers features burgers made from grass-fed, corn-finished Black Angus whole muscle cuts of short rib & chuck, produced by New York City’s own Pat La Frieda, as well as Grayson Farms 100% grass-fed beef. These tasty burgers are served on buttery brioche buns that are delivered daily by local bakery Dukes Bread.
Bang Bang successfully defended their “Best Burger” award last year, but can they retain their title at this year’s festival? I sat down with owner and head chef Joseph Huang to talk about what’s new with his restaurant and what we can expect out of burger joint at this year’s Moo & Brew:
So what’s new at Bang Bang Burgers?
Since last year’s Moo & Brew Festival, we’ve invested in some new kitchen equipment, including a top-of-the-line charbroiler, a new flat top grill, and fryers. We also installed two three-ton air conditioners in the kitchen so we can keep things cool for the summer. We’re still serving up chuck and short rib black Angus burgers from NYC’s LaFrieda Meats. I just spoke with the president of LaFrieda, Mark Pastore, last week and he’s proud of what we’re doing down here in Charlotte! We also appeared on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…
Can you talk a little about what that process was like? How has appearing on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives affected your business?
Last November, Triple D called and asked if we wanted to be featured on the show. I was hesitant at first because we would have to close for two days and couldn’t tell anyone why. We also knew that being featured on the show would make the restaurant extremely busy. Busy is great, but it can also impact quality and make your employees tired, so we had to consider that. Ultimately, we decided that the positives outweighed the negatives and agreed to be on the show. The guys from Triple D were super professional – they were like the Navy Seals of TV crews. They came in and got things done in two days. We filmed with Guy Fieri on the second day. If we’re not a culinary hotspot yet, we’re certainly headed in that direction!
Since I moved here from NYC in 2008, I’ve seen dozens of restaurants open in Charlotte. The city has received so much exposure from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, with people traveling from all over to visit the restaurants featured on the show. As for how this has affected my business, the exposure translates into dollars which restaurateurs like myself can then put back into their restaurants. This means better wages for employees and better food (and service) for the dining public.
Last year, we asked what your favorite restaurant was, and you said Pho Hoa Noodle Soup. Have there been any new restaurants to come along since last year’s festival that you’re excited about?
Honestly, I don’t get out very much. And when I do, I don’t go to highly marketed restaurants. Recently, I’ve been going to Umai Sushi & Asian Bistro, located in the Quail Corners Shopping Center. The previous owner focused on all-you-can-eat sushi, but the restaurant has since been purchased, and the new owner hired real deal Chinese chefs who make killer authentic Chinese food. We order stuff like crispy fried pork intestine, fried soft-shell crab, cumin spiced lamb stir fry, and whole fried fish with sweet and sour garlic sauce. The only problem is, you have to convince them to give you the “Chinese” menu, which means you’ll probably need to take someone who speaks and reads Chinese, which I don’t. I always go with my fiancé, who is from Hunan, China.
What will you be serving at Moo & Brew this year?
We struggled with what to serve this time around. There’s a lot more competition this year, and we don’t want to come across like we’re taking it easy by serving the same burger three years in a row. Ultimately, we decided that if people voted us the best burger two years in a row, who are we to change up a winning combination? So, we’re going to go with what we’ve been doing for the past two years. We’ll switch it up if we lose!
We’re serving a specially made chuck and short rib slider on a Dukes bread brioche bun, topped with homemade pimento cheese made with a blend of shredded Swiss, Monterrey Jack, and American cheese, and a side of hand-cut sweet potato chips drizzled with a maple dip. We’re super proud to have won the “Best Burger” two years in a row – hopefully we can make it a three!